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Over at the highly testicular Caleb reckons rifles are the way to go for home defense. He makes his case by pitting shotguns against rifles in four categories: Cost, Firepower, Shootability and Ease of Use. After giving the shotgun cost kudos, Caleb proclaims “this post isn’t about home defense on a budget.” OK, then. And while we’re at it, I’d rather have nine rounds of Conversation Stopper than 30 rounds of Are We Done Yet? If cost isn’t an object, why not both? My Benelli and SCAR are BFFs. But if I had to chose, it’s Big Ben for the win. Which long gun do you prefer for home (as in in the home) defense?

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      • OH, and I keep a green laser on my nightstand in case I don’t want to wake the neighbors. I can blind someone in the next state in seconds with that.

    • Exactly. 12 ga. Mossberg 500 “3 in 1” for me and 00 buckshot. Only cost me $344 OTD 2 years ago. Best deal going in firearms. 1st shot effectiveness is much higher than any carbine according to all of the published data.

  1. Mossberg. 930 SPX is great but my 590 works just fine. You can’t belt out an ounce of lead from a rifle in one shot unless you want to disable the perp, his friend, the car parked out front and the streetlight it’s next to.

    Sure .50BMG is a great round but…weight in this case is a winner if we are only looking to shoot once…and not change the landscape. Shotgun please.

    • 930SPX classic stock (no p-grip) is my go-to. Outside of a contentious 100rnd break in period, an upgraded follower, and thousands of rounds in… she’s flawless. Eats everything from dove to 3″ and I love shooting it every time.

      C-More ATAC, Nordic tube & clamp/rail, and MesaTac SureShell 8rnd are icing on the cake. Only missing an Urbino stock, but who knows if we’ll ever get one for the SPX. Either way, I’m satisfied.

  2. Rifle. Because 12 gauge is not as effective as everyone says. The same people that believe 12 gauge is a one shot stop also probably believe the same thing about 45 acp……

      • The wound channel of a 20mm Vulcan is pretty devastating too, doesn’t mean it’s the best for a home defense situation.

        You can’t kill someone deader.

        • But you can do it more efficiently for a given environment.

          That said, the fact you’re packing is a win!

        • I think you may be missing the point somewhat. I don’t think anyone questions the lethality of either choice. The issue as I see it is which weapon will stop a potential attack quicker. What good is the rifle if it possibly affords the assailant the opportunity to kill a loved one or myself before the attacker expires themselves?

        • You first argued that 12 guage “is not as effective as everyone says,” Now your saying you can have too much power and go over board in home defense. Which one is it? 12 gauge is not effective or overkill?

  3. I have an AR and M1A on the rifle side and an 870 and Benelli M4 on the shotgun side. If I had to pick just one, I would stay with the 12 gauge shotgun. I don’t live on expansive property where I would need the extended ranges of the 5.56 or 7.62 NATO rounds. I think there is far greater versatility with the 12 gauge. If I was pressed to choose between the 870 and M4; then I would keep my 870. Thankfully I live where I can own all of these and have no plans to rid myself of them.

  4. I’m going to go with 12 gauge, because I don’t want to inadvertently kill any of my neighbors.

      • This is true. The extreme speed and light weight of the 5.56 causes deformation when it hits barriers.

      • True, but what if there is nothing to penetrate like an open window or door. I think everyone situation is different. If you like on a farm, a rifle may be best. If in a town home, perhaps a shotgun. Personally, I use pistols for home since I am more comfortable with one in tight quarters. Also, my neighbors house is less than ten feet away. I have to admit that I am curious to see what an intruder would do if I racked a shell or round from a rifle or shotgun.

        • This would be my reasoning. Pretty much the entire back half of my house is glass, and I have a ton of huge windows. I also don’t use buckshot, but #4 or #5 birdshot. It patterns pretty nicely. Since a handgun wasn’t an option in the question I went with what I’d do given those two choices. Idealy, and in a real life scenario, it would be the Glock 19 sitting on my nightstand that would most likely be used in a home invasion. The AR’s live in a safe to avoid being stolen while I’m at work, I just don’t feel like taking one out every night and setting it beside my bed. I’m sure 55gr soft points are great for home defense, they just aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. JMO though. Different stroke for different folks.

        • Actually, police units are beginning to abandon their pistol caliber sub machine guns and switching to 5.56 caliber rifles due to 9mm rounds over penetrating drywall. Data suggests that 55gr 5.56 is less likely to over penetrate dry wall and cause harm to bystanders.

    • Box. Of. Truth.
      5.56 may actually penetrate wals less than OO buck in some cases.
      Don’t perpetuate myths. This is TTAG after all.

      • Not perpetuating any myths, I understand penetration difference between 12 gauge and .556, it is just that my neighbors live about 15 feet away and I have a ton of large windows…so do my neighbors.

        • Is that .556 in caliber or mm? If it is the former, it is going to penetrate everything. If it is the latter, it isn’t going to penetrate anything. Decimal places matter.

        • Ha ha. Got me there. I had typed .223, but saw the dude I was responding to was referring to 5.56. D’oh 🙂 decimals have meaning…20 lashes with a bore snake for me.

  5. Shotgun all the way. Rifle is queen of the battlefield but the shotgun is the king of the castle.

  6. I saw that article and thought some of the logical assumptions were bogus. As some of the others had posted on the original article, at least compare a semi-auto shotgun with a semi-auto rifle. And as great as AR-15s are, not everyone wants to needs to spend at least $700 on a self-defense gun when a $200 Mossberg Maverick will do just fine.

  7. A shotgun with Federal low recoil buckshot will work awesome out to 40 yards. Best home defense setup I have ever trained with.

  8. Strictly calibers – 12g 00 or 000 beats 5.56 hands down.

    However if you look at actually using one in the house against armed intruders – give me the wall penetrating 30 round AR over the shotgun in 99% of situations.

    Here’s alternative question though – why not both?!

    • because a shotty in your left hand and an ar in your right hand seems a tad impractical. unless you were talking about the wife covering your back with the ar as you blast away with the shotty.

  9. I prefer to use my Benelli M2 for home defense. I have an AR10 but that doesn’t seem practical in a urban environment.

  10. LMT MRP 10.5″ SBR, Aimpoint Micro T-1, CSAT/Troy back-ups, BCM gunfighter grip, tango down fore grip, CTR stock, offset X300 light, PRI gas buster charging handle.

    I would say suppressed also, but my CLEO will not sign off on suppressors, he’ll only “allow” SBRs/SBSs and MGs. In TX nonetheless. FML.

  11. In my case neither. Any position in my apartment is less than 30 feet. My 45acp carry is optimal. Plus with a rifle or shotgun I’d be deaf after the first shot.

  12. AR-15. With a pump shotgun you have to worry about short stroking; semi-auto shotguns are expensive and not as reliable as a reliable AR15 from what I hear. Shotguns have more recoil and are heavier than AR’s, and less capacity.

    With an AR you get high capacity, low recoil, fast follow-up shots, reliability, lower weight, point and shoot, and a very effective round that actually penetrates walls less than both buckshot and handgun rounds.

    Great resource for picking the right round to use:

      • I’m no ballistics expert but based on the images I’ve seen (including in the link I posted), the permanent tissue damage area at its peak will actually be larger with a .223 / 5.56 (thanks to yawing and fragmentation) than a 12-gauge with buckshot.

  13. I’ll grab the 870 pump and my wife will have the HiPoint 995TS. She won’t touch the shotgun but she and my MIl will shoot the 995.

  14. My mossie 500 is for home defense the mosin nagant is nice but I’m afraid the muzzle blast would burn the house down and set my neighbor’s yard on fire.

  15. Must be a slow day to haul out this chestnut again. But I’ll play just the same. First hit probability. If you fire one shot, hands down the shotgun has first hit probability going for it. Something on the order of 95% for shotgun, 50% for rifle and 3-5% for handguns.

    Fatal wound with 1 hit also runs about the same % as above.

    So, it’s 1 am and you hear breaking window glass downstairs and your wife and babies are counting on you to deal. What’s your primary going to be?

    • It does seem to be a recurring theme on slow days, but hell, its 15:30 on a Friday and I’m probably not going to get anything else done in the next hour…so…I’ll play. Again. Shotgun>Rifle>Pistol

      I wonder if anyone makes and AR-15 Pistol Shotgun? Cause that would be awesome.

      • I have an AR pistol, but its not my go to for home defense. Between a rifle and a shotgun, I’ll take a shot gun. Throw a pistol into the choice, and its a pistol for me. Revolver or autoloader? For the HD scenario, it will be the revolver since there is no safety, and no spring follower to fatigue in case I forget to check it. and in case of a failure to fire, its just one more squeeze of the trigger.

        • Agreed on all counts. For reliability, stopping power and ease of use when my brain is foggy with sleep; in a perfect world, I’m going to go with S&W 686. But again, she’s in my safe. If I have to perforate someone and have my pistola taken away, I’d rather it be an easily replaceable one like my G26 or G19. Also I’d hope I had enough time and sense to grab the shotty from the closet. I’ve never been in that situation though, I hope I don’t ever have to see how that plays out. I don’t think it ever would, my house isn’t that attractive to invaders and three big dogs should be a sufficient deterrent.

      • Why settle for only one? Unless money is an issue, a firearm owner will probably end up with both eventually. If you train with both you can be equally deadly with both. I believe they are equally balanced because they trade off positive characteristics in a defense situation. Magazine capacity for load power, etc.

        • The drawback that I see with a rifle is that if you miss you inadvertently nail your neighbor’s house, and maybe your neighbor. I’m thinking wall penetration vs. badguy penetration.

  16. I understand he was comparing ARs to shotguns for HD but what about pistols (in the opening paragraph he states ‘inexperienced shooter for self defense,’ which conflicts with the title – words have meaning)? For a new shooter/gun owner, a pistol is less intimidating and easier to use than either an AR or shotgun. If you then carry a pistol everyday for protection outside your house, why not use the same gun that you train with and are comfortable using under duress (assuming you train)? If you have to move in your house when you suspect a bad guy is in there, somewhere, with you, a pistol is easier to handle. I have an 870 HD model in the closet as a back up, but my carry gun is my primary HD gun.

  17. Sorry, but hands down I’ll take a trusty, reliable easily carried and maneuverable pistola every time.

    But…that said, I do keep the Mossberg 590 (w/tac light) in a ready mount *inside* the safe door for reasonably quick access, fully loaded (I like the long 8rnd mag. tube), and UN-chambered. A full shotgun round bandolier is right next the shotty, in the safe.

    It would be a purely tactical decision to deploy the shotty over an automatic pistol or magnum revolver as it isn’t my go-to weapon, so that infers some time to react.

    I keep it un-chambered because of the audible clear, unmistakable implications of chambering the first round.

    I wouldn’t choose a carbine for home defense in a subdivision. If it was a country setting, that would be something to reconsider.

  18. The AR15 is a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Not as clumsy or random as a shotgun.

    I see you have constructed a new AR15. Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen.


  19. Depends. Some lighter members of the family can not handle the full firepower of the fully operational 12ga death star, too much recoil, even though its semi-auto. For them, the ranch rifle.

  20. I have a SCAR 16S loaded with 30 rounds of 75gr Hornady TAP beside my bed when I sleep at night. For myself, I’m more comfortable with a carbine than a shotgun, and I like the flexibility should the engagement scenario force me outside or in need to evacuate quickly.

  21. Both, but use the pistol to get to the long guns. Currently the AR has 50 grain varmint loads.

  22. Shotgun. It’s Biden approved.

    Seriously its whatever is stashed nearest to me. Outside my house is a pretty large yard. Inside the shotgun or pistol rules the hallways.

  23. I use my Remington 700 5R in .308… I believe in shot placement over some mythical knockdown value attributed to all these fancy schmancy rounds and ‘clabbers’ people are talking about. The 20x Mark 4 makes it easy to tell hydrostatic wound channel impact after I pull the trigger and before I do a ninja roll and reload to set up for his partner…

  24. TO: All
    RE: It All ‘Depends’…..

    ….on the size of the ‘party’ you’re ‘hosting’.

    ARs hold 30 rounds. And you can double-stack them with duct tape for easy reloading.

    Shotguns? No so many rounds. And it DOES take time to reload.


    [Celebrate Diversity….own multiple weapons of various types.]

    P.S. How about the man of the house packs the shotgun and the lady the AR? And both pack sidearms of calibers beginning with ‘.4’.

    P.P.S. If it’s going to be REALLY BIG ‘party’, I’d suggest offering ‘party favors’ as well.

  25. For anyone who practices enough to be able to handle a shotgun effectively and safely at household distances, an extended-capacity, auto-loading, 12ga shotgun (i.e. Mossberg 930SPX 7+1 or similar) is king. 8 rounds of 00 Buck It will end almost any fight decisively.

    The issue is that whole “anyone who practices enough” concept. Shotguns are much more difficult to fire accurately and repeatedly than a rifle in 5.56mm. In this respect, also consider the possibility that there may be any one of several individuals in a household who may be required to address the threat. My wife (who has MS) and my oldest 2 daughters either cannot handle a 12ga., or require a LOT more practice and training to do so.

    Conversely, an AR15 is almost childishly easy to handle. My wife – having almost no upper body strength to speak of – can handle her AR very effectively, and put shots quickly & repeatedly where they need to go. At typical household ranges, a round of hollow-point 5.56mm will separate meat from bone quite devastatingly, shattering femurs and humerus into tiny bits. Soft-tissue wounds tend to take on the characteristics of softball-sized regions of gelatinous red goo. It’s difficult to imagine any discussion of “ineffective” being taken seriously.

    00 Buck WILL penetrate walls very easily, and there will be a wider pattern of them heading in the direction of a potential innocent, collateral victim. 55gr, 5.56mm HP rounds tend to lose ‘oomph’ much faster in such cases, and you are serving them only one-at-a-time.

  26. Personally I prefer my Beretta 92 for most situations because it’s easy to hide behind your back when the Chinese delivery guy gets the wrong address at 11:30pm. I live in a pretty low crime area and there’s no need to make the poor guy run home and change his shorts. That said I keep a Winchester 1300 loaded with 41 pellet #4 buck in case of emergency. At 25 yards it spreads a perfect torso sized pattern.

    All depends on where you live. In an apartment a 12ga. with birdshot is more than enough to blast a big hole in the bad guy at 12′ without subjecting your neighbors to unnecessary risk. But even slugs are about useless at 200 yards.

    • You have a 200 yard hallway? Let’s get back to reality here. A home invasion will probably be a duel at a range of feet.

      • Not everyone lives in an apartment. Some people live in the country. Some people have ranches on the Mexican border. Drug cartels don’t always sneak up to your house before shooting. A lot of good a shotgun is going to do you when the mules decide you’re probably calling the cops and open up with their AKs at 200 yards.

        And indoors at ranges less than 4′ I’d rather have a handgun since an intruder could get a hold of your muzzle (rifle or shotgun) and prevent you from pointing it in his general direction. Everyone has to do his/her own threat assessment and choose the weapon they feel is most likely to be best.

        • Muzzle strike or rifle butt. Knee to the groin/crotch, front kick to knee..any one of those options and the fight is over.

          This IS home defense we are talking about. There is no excuse for losing on your home court.

          Look up Rob Pincus’s video regarding High-Ready vs Low ready. An enemy grabbing your muzzle is ZERO reason to press the panic button.

    • At short range 7 1/2 bird will take down a kodiak bear, IF some one is brave enough to let it get that close. Don’t ask me about spescifics, ask Floyd Reagan, a former game warden who claimed to have taken, and nearly been taken by one. The mass of shot will still be about fist sized in most homes unless you have a badly mauled scatter gun that was sawed off by a rank amateur.

      • At close range the entire mass of shot hits as if it were one giant slug. Massive damage, although those skeet loads don’t have nearly as much energy as buckshot loads.

        The downfall of shot, IMO is that there is a narrow band where it has an advantage over a pistol or rifle. At close range the shot doesn’t spread out, so there’s no “can’t miss” advantage, and after a few yards out the pattern is large enough that it can not only be ineffective at taking out the bad guy quickly, but can also pose a severe risk to bystanders. Still, you just can’t compare 400ft./lbs. of energy to 2500.

  27. Ran this experiment with some first time female shooters between an Ar15 and 870 pump.
    Target was about 10ft away and they had to shoot 3 rounds in 5 seconds with me screaming. None hit the target or fired all 3 rounds in the time allowed with the 870. About half did it with the ar15.
    All preferred the rifle over the shotgun because it was easier for them to control.
    For home defense it’s the Ar15.
    (This mobile site is awful for answering )

    • Ooh. I like the idea of using light (40 or so grain) varmint rounds in .223 or 5.56mm to avoid over penetration indoors. I would not want to be on the receiving end of a forty-something hollowpoint bullet traveling at something like 3500 fps.

  28. Shotgun. Let’s face it, if Uncle Joe Biddy has said, “For self-defense, get a shotgun”, and shut-up right there, it would have been hard to argue with him. It’s only when he kept running his mouth and revealed his full thoughts on the subject that he displayed what a crazy, old fool he is (again).

  29. Since I daily carry a Beretta 92 and it rests beside the bed at night while I sleep then I’d have to say pistol. It’s what I grab at 1am to check out whatever has woken the hound.

    However, with enough warning to open the safe… Carbine length AR and maybe in the future a Cx4 Storm given it is a little shorter and can be operated with one hand.

  30. Shotgun.

    The idea that any .223 round is going to remotely approach the killing power of a shotgun loaded with something like a Brennke slug or heavy buckshot is pure mental masturbation.

    If, at house interior ranges, you can’t kill something very, very dead with a shotgun in a couple rounds, you need to learn a lot more about shotguns.

    • That and I would rather have the cops take my $300 shotgun as evidence than my $1000 AR. Still, I would prefer my Beretta 92A1 to anything else.

      • Exactly.

        And, if the intruder’s family is from Chicago and brings a wrongful death lawsuit against me because I, as a while male, killed their precious little felonious son who was “turning his life around,” I can hold my head high on the stand and say “I was just following Vice President Biden’s advice: I bought a shotgun.”

  31. What about apartment buildings or townhouses with paper thin walls? The above options are good in detached single family homes but not everyone that wants to defend themselves lives in one.

  32. Remington 870 12 Gauge with 7 round tube loaded as follows:

    Round1: Beanbag
    Round2: Beanbag
    Round3: Buckshot
    Round4: Buckshot
    Round5: Slug
    Round6: Slug
    Round7: Slug

    The philosophy is that its a graduated response. The beanbags act as a “warning” they’ll knock an intruder down and give me time to give a verbal warning that a fatal response is coming if they fail to surrender.

    If that doesn’t work – the buckshot should get the message.

    Finally – the slugs starting at round 5 represent that after 4 shots things have escalated to a point where much more severe response is required.

    This is a solution that I came up with not just as an effective defensive solution. Starting as not lethal and transitioning to very lethal – it is also something that I would be comfortable defending in court. The post-shooting implications are important to consider.

    • Negative on the Beanbags, friend. An overzealous DA could easily argue that you weren’t in sufficient fear for your life if you felt you could use a non-lethal deterrent (not saying I agree, but don’t give them any more ammo, no pun intended) vice a lethal one. Despite your use of a less than lethal bean bag round, they will construe your use of a firearm as reckless endangerment. Retarded, I know. Also, less than lethal leaves more people that can sue.

    • I agree with Charles on this one. I have a couple of bean bag rounds as a novelty, but would never use them for self defense. What if your first “warning” shot tags them in the temple and kills them? Even if it was found to be a justified shooting you would be opening yourself to all of the civil lawsuits.

    • If you’re pointing a gun at someone, you better have a reasonable fear of life or GBH. Even if you’re loaded with only rock salt.

      • Or….”why on earth would you plan to launch a bean-bag round at someone who’s trying to kill you? Do you think you get to chose your perpetrator and he won’t be aiming a pistol at you? Can you shuck four rounds of beanbag faster than he can empty his Glock into you?”

        Everybody likes AR’s. I like them. I have, like many commentators, lots of experience with them in bad times. But traditional buck that opens up a bit at 4-10 yards provides a much higher probability of a stop. If your perp is one of those zany ones that wears a rifle plate, LA Bank Robber Style, you’ll definitely be better off with non-Flight Control wad buckshot, by following the contemporary (post-plate) doctrine, “the second shot goes to hip line or shoulder line.” I won’t get into the #1 vs 00 buck debate. Take your pick.

        Over-penetration: Only misses over-penetrate. SSA Urey Patrick, FBI Quantico, said: “Over-penetration is a myth we created when trying to overcome the public’s resistance to JHP ammunition, and we started to believe it ourselves. We know of no case in which legal action resulted from a bullet passing through a bad guy.” “Only 20-30% of FBI shots fired hit the intended perpetrator. Yet people are worried about over-penetrating the bad guy?”

  33. I say handgun wins in every category. full size, high capacity 9mm. 226 w/ a few 19 round mags or glock 17…..Maybe shotgun if I lived in alaska and thought i was going to get eaten when i had to go pee in the woods…..

  34. You guys keep electronic hearing protection to throw on next to your boom sticks, right? I only ask because touching off a 12 ga or 5.56 or 7.62 in a residential dwelling is going to be, well, memorable… And more than likely painful. Before someone goes all “sensory gating” on me, it’s 50/50 with that bet me thinks…

    Tha being said, stoeger cougar.45 ACP with tac light in the night stand because it’s easy, I’m lazy, and the gun safe is in the other room. Yes, rifles are better and faster at killing people.

    • I honestly question using hearing protection when in a home defense scenario, yea its better for your ears but It can probably be argued as being “overly prepared” or “expecting it” or some other none sense by a DA. Any lawyers here that can provide input?

      • Never thought about the legal ramifications of ear pro, but I’d like to think that shooting an armed intruder in your home would make the DA going after your ear pro a weak argument. Good point though, crazier things have happened.

        • Wait, so you mean my batting helmet w/ 500 lumen headlamp and electronic ear protection is a no go?


          That said, my answer to the original question, in theory, is shotgun.
          However, in real life, everytime I’ve felt the need to strap up (wierd noise, etc), I’ve grabbed whichever handgun was closest. Might be a familiarity thing, or the tight corners in my place, but that’s been my instinctual response.

          If I knew there was def. someone in the house who shouldn’t be, I’d call the fuzz and take the best concealment/cover position available. In that case, I’d definitely default to a shotgun. I just don’t think they’re that great on the move (that’s coming from upland game hunter).
          Maybe time to look into an AK. (223 ain’t getting it around here, w/ our despicable magazine limits).

    • Lt. Cmdr Rourke Denver (SEAL Ret.) writes in the forward of his book how a lions roar is capable and should result in the lion deafeaning itself, yet somehow the mind protects the body…goes on to say they don’t use hearing protection in combat and everyone comes out okay.

      Something to think about/investigate more. I do know firing something in a hallway is deafening. Hence why I recommend .300 AAC SBR suppressed ^_^

  35. Assuming that you live in a sturdy home:

    While shotguns are inexpensive and have undisputed “stopping power”, they are also deafening when fired indoors, are generally limited to five rounds, and generate a huge amount of recoil. The recoil increases the time for follow up shots and is so excessive that many women cannot shoot a shotgun at all. For those reasons, I prefer the 5.56mm round in a rifle with a 16 inch barrel: it provides respectable “stopping power” at close range, minimal recoil, and plenty of magazine capacity. Unfortunately 5.56mm rounds are quite loud as well although not as loud as a shotgun.

    Assuming that you live in an apartment or condominium:

    For apartment and condominium dwellers who have nothing but two layers of drywall between themselves and their neighbors, I would have to go with a 20 gauge shotgun and #6 or smaller shot. That combination is fairly potent at close ranges (12 feet or so) and yet poses minimal risk of serious injury to a neighbor on the other side of a wall. Alternatively, a .410 shotgun with two rounds of #6 shot and then three rounds of slugs would be a fair choice.

  36. This is one case where I really prefer an AR pistol. While not practical in many situations. Here you would have a hand gun size, possibly 1 handed gun, with rifle size ammo. I would duct tape 2 x 30rd mags together as personally the high cap mags >30 are not reliable, and have a flash light, laser, and what ever doohickey I want hanging off the thing. Also a I would have sling for hands free and bayonet for up close work.

    In addition, I would forgo any flash hider, as a few flames out the end would scare the sh*t out of any one stupid enough to enter my home uninvited. 😉

  37. What about a FAL or a SOCOM 16? No, I do not have either for home defense but I do have a Glock 19 and a S&W J-Frame in the bedside table.

    Yes, a guy shot with a pistol is more likely to run away versus a long gun where he’s more likely to croak. A much ignored factor is the one hand capability of a pistol. Holding a pistol one handed you can:
    1) Open doors
    2) Lock doors
    3) Turn on lights
    4) Operate a phone
    5) Hold kids back from dangerous areas
    6) Do hand and arms signals
    7) Apply pressure to a wound
    8) Carry a flashlight
    9) Punch, prod, poke an attacker if you have to

    That’s off the top of my head. If you like a shotgun, go for it, if you like a rifle, go for it. I am a qualified “OK” with either. I’m much better (IMHO) and more comfortable with an autoloader.

    NB. The J-frame is for the wife if I have to leave her to secure the other kids.

  38. “Sir, I have an opinion on this matter…”

    “Well, by all means, share it with the squad.”

    I happened to be thinking of this very question t’ other day. My starting point was wives and girlfriends— just between me and some of my better friends, whatever our own skill levels, most of the better-halves are working on it; learning to shoot, etc… but not neccisarily “there yet”.

    So, pistols require vastly more skill than long guns (and some have rightly pointed out, less stopping power)… shotguns have a lot of blast and recoil. AR’s? Well, yeah… except, there’s that nagging you’re-responsible-for-every-bullet thing. It suddenly occurred to me, thinking of both my house and my best friend’s, that we have houses directly across the street, seen through the front door. Home invasions or robberies based on kicking in the door / ringing the bell scenarios may very well lead to a situation where you’re shooting at a BG standing in the open front doorway. We have no sightline that does not include the house across the street. So, even with the most responsible TAC-varmint-‘splody/unstable bullets imaginable, a clean miss over Mr. Invader’s shoulder *could* not encounter a damned thing until it gets across the street… and if the first thing it found on your neighbor’s house was an open window, it could be screaming along *inside* your neighbor’s bedroom still looking for something to do the initial impact upon.

    Nursery? Crib? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Pistol-caliber carbine— that’s what I settled upon. It’s the right answer, I believe, considering all the unknowns. Easier to shoot than rifle, shotgun, or pistol… less “stopping power” than rifle or shotgun, but with the longer barrel, *more* performance out of your favorite pistol ammo, and LESS NOISE than any other option. More stopping is just another trigger-press away.

    For any who might think, “Noise-schmoise, when lives are at stake, I don’t care about noise,” I must refer you back to “train how you fight” thinking. Experience it. I have heard 4 guns fired indoors in my lifetime. If you have not, and there’s no safe way to fire a real gun indoors anywhere you know of (say, out of an open window in a rural/farm setting— which is how I heard one of mine), you owe it to yourself— buy a starter pistol and fire it indoors. Sans hearing protection. When the ringing stops, and you regain your feet, tell me what you’ve learned.

    Short answer is, it matters a LOT. I heard a .38 Special standard-pressure Nyclad hollowpoint come out of a Detective Special in a closet, filled with clothes— it was so loud, and so disorienting, it took me a minute to even sort out what had happened. Much less make decisions.

    Something I’ve always thought about movies is, I’ve never seen one where they show the real aftermath of an indoor shooting— everyone would be yelling, and many would keep looking around trying to figure out what’s making that noise. In fact, indoors, you do not even hear a “BANG”— what you hear is “BA–OOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo”. The “ringing” of your ears is lounder than the gunshot; it drowns it out. You do not hear the whole bang— you hear the very first part of a bang, followed by what sounds like the loudest electronic tone you’ve ever heard in your life, a constant pitch, coming from everywhere and nowhere, and it just goes on and on.

    • Shooting indoors without hearing protection sucks…but the roach is dead and my wife is happy.

    • I agree with the pistol-caliber carbine solution. I prefer a lever action. A .357 or .44 Mag out of a rifle barrel is devastating. A trained shooter can rack a lever-action faster than a pump shotgun, and they’re more reliable than a semi-auto. These rifles have been used to effectively defend people and property for a century. 16 or 18 inch lever carbines are light, handy, and maneuverable. Every person in the house can be trained to effectively operate one, because the manual of arms is very simple.

      And, as others have mentioned, if you have to defend yourself with a gun, you might find yourself having to defend yourself in court. A DA can’t make much hay with Grampa’s cowboy gun, like he could with an AR dripping with lights, lasers, scopes, and other tactical doodads.

  39. This question is like that bane of math problems :

    “No Real Solution ”

    Sure,a rifle is a good idea in a strict tactical sense.Unless you live in New York State or New Jersey, where an AR15 induces spontaneous hyperventilation by the jury pool.

    A 12 gauge works well enough, unless you live on a large property in Ruralville USA.

    Ultimately there is no one answer to this question.

    • Agree. Of course there’s no right answer. And almost no one answering is going to face a hot burglary. There also aren’t very many criminals who want to have a shootout. The topic is amusing click bait… but here I am. laugh.

    • “Sure,a rifle is a good idea in a strict tactical sense.Unless you live in New York State or New Jersey, where an AR15 induces spontaneous hyperventilation by the jury pool.”

      ^OMG THIS! LOL

  40. 870 with a shortened barrel, mag tube extension, light and laser. It’s black too! Loaded with #1 buck. It was just a fun mid-winter project. The shotty hadn’t seen daylight in years so I don’t have much invested. It’s a single purpose gun and hangs inside a bifold closet door. I can grab it in the dark, but it would be difficult to find if you didn’t know where it was. I don’t know that I prefer it over a rifle, but in a moment of crisis I’m sure it would be sufficient. As far as the “scattergun effect”, a shotgun won’t have much of a pattern at household range. Still need to practice–rifle or shotgun.

  41. I don’t really care, I have both and will use both…

    Depending on where I am located in the house when mister bad guy(s) breaks in is going to get the determining factor on what size bore he(they) are going to be looking down (.223 or 12 gauge).

  42. Not owning a defense shot gun or an AR, and being married to a hoplophobe, I’ll go with handgun under the mattress (not enough room on my side of the bed for a night stand). If I had to choose, I’d go rifle, as I have four dogs that would inevitably be downrange. And that rifle just might be an M1 Carbine with hollow points–double the power of a .357, plenty of capacity, less muzzle flash, and easier to shoot as well with milder recoil. Light weight (just over 5 lbs) and short, what more could you ask for?

  43. Dad’ll give them six 125 grain JHPs from his Model 10 and if they keep coming they’ll find out personally what 5.56 Hornady TAP can do.

  44. What can you use better? Isn’t that the question?

    After 10 years in baggy green jammies, I can handle an AR in my sleep. I don’t have to think about how to clear a jam, etc.

    It would take way too long and cost way too much to get nearly as proficient on anything else.

    • Valid point. As a reformed hillbilly my formative years were spent hauling a shotgun around. I can run a pump gun in my sleep.

      • +1, I spent more time being a swamp redneck than wearing green (more like tan in my case) Jammie’s. I’ve taken more turkeys than tangos (no tangos actually), so I’ll stick with my 12 gauge Boomstick.

        AR15’s are fun, and effective for those who know how to use them, but they’re all in the back of my safe, with their Russian friends out front since I shoot my Mosins and SKSs more than my ARs (I’m poor and AR food is expensive) I can’t imagine a scenario wherein I would be digging an AR out of the safe when something goes bump in the night short of a commie invasion or zombie apocalypse.

  45. I would use my H&R Pardner or Mini -14. I have an AR, but since I’m not that familiar with it yet, I’ll go with technology I trained with in the Navy. Yes I have a M-1A, but the Mini is the same tech, just smaller. But that’s all mote as I’ve injured my left shoulder and can’t even hold a long gun, let alone pump a shotgun or hold a .45 ACP. So I’m relegated to having my PMR-30 close by with all three mags loaded. May be small, but 91 rounds should be a convincer. Especially when that idiot/thug may assume I have 10-15 rounds, or less, and I’m empty. Just stick your head out and you’ll be dead wrong.

    • Not to mention, the noise and the fireball the PMR-30 makes will have the bad guy thinking that you’re rocking RoboCop’s sidearm…

  46. Need a tech tip here: I can’t hear the sound on this video, though the video itself plays fine. Video and sound both work perfectly on the “There’s your stopping power” video; but this one and any video directly played on youtube’s site play without sound. It’s really odd and frustrating and just occurred this afternoon. I can play mp3’s just fine, and even videos on xfinity’s site, but youtube videos play without sound all of a sudden. I’ve scoured the net and tried about a dozen different remedies so far to no avail. I’m certain the problem is not TTAG’s site, but rather some setting on my laptop I must have inadvertently bumped. Any tips?

    • Did you try turning it off and turning it back on again? 😛

      In all honesty did you mute a previous YouTube video? Sometimes it defaults back to the previous sound setting.

      • Thanks. I managed to figure it out. I never knew that there was a hidden volume scale that pops up on youtube embedded videos. When I muted a video today, I must have muted it not by hitting the mute button itself; but by hovering briefly over the mute button, revealing the hidden volume scale, then hitting *just* to the right of the mute button proper and on the volume scale. That turned the volume down to zero, such that subsequent muting and un-muting had no practical effect, since that was just muting and then returning to zero volume.

        The other videos must still have worked because they originate from other sites and weren’t subject to that youtube-specific volume control. Just never occurred to me that an embedded video would have its own volume control beyond mute/unmute, like Windows itself does. Really, if I hadn’t already spent a frustrating hour and a half earlier today tearing the house apart on my day off looking for any ONE of my THREE tape measures, I probably would’ve been in a better mindset to figure this out earlier. I’m ready for my moment of Zen now, by which I mean bottle(s) of Sam Adams.

  47. I’m going to go shotgun on this one, as I’ve always said. For those concerned about the noise, I’ll hear exactly as well after both barrels of my Baikal in a closed space as I’d hear after a full mag out of my MkII. That’s to say, not at all. Yes, the 12 gauge might cause more long term damage, but that’s not what we’re discussing.

    As far as overpenetration, if it won’t penetrate drywall, it won’t penetrate bad guy. The best advice for that concern: don’t miss.

    I don’t like .223/5.56 for anything more dangerous than a piece of paper or maybe a possum. Then again, I’d use a .22 defensively if it was at hand.

    I don’t find a 12 gauge difficult to control at all, but that’s because I’ve been firing them most of my life and practice with them regularly. I think a lot of this control “issue” is more about flinching and perceived recoil than actual recoil. People feel it harder because they’ve convinced themselves they will. I’ve gotten a sore shoulder from shotguns exactly twice, and both times it was only an issue the next day. The first time was when I was ten, and I went through the entire tube on an 870 with improper shoulder placement and at a high rate of fire. The second time was a few years ago when I was practicing “rapid” fire with a single barrel and 3″ 000.

    And, as far as cost/firepower/shootability/ease of use, shotgun by a mile in every category.

  48. What about something in .308 with JSP? Y’know, go the Tom Clancy route keep a HK91 by your bed.

  49. Given my meager beginners collection of long guns it’s a toss-up between my 12g Huglu over and under or my Marlin 1894c 357. If I’m just investigating a bump in the night I’ll grab the handy Marlin. If I wake up in complete alarm because evil is in my house I’ll grab the 12ga with 00.

  50. 930SPX with PDX ammo and a surefire light. Wife has an 870 with pistol grip and # 1 buck+ surefire on the front. Say hello to my little friend.

  51. 6.8 SPC.

    Wall penetration is an issue for any load worth a damn, but some rifle rounds fragment and penetrate less than some shotgun rounds. Also sometimes it’s multiple attackers, including those who don’t back down easy. There is also the issue of less bouncing pellets when dealing with a rifle. Both are tolerable for home defense.

    I put softip varmint rounds and try to keep the gun safety rules in mind. I may never have to use all 25 rounds, or any, but whether 1 or 8, they’re gonna face some decent firepower.

    That being said, my ideal home defense gun would probably be an AA-12.

  52. 12 gauge 870 all the way, loaded with #4 buck low recoil loads. Less overpenetration but nice tight pattern and less recoil than 00.

  53. Definitely my Mossberg 930 SPX. As a military veteran trained in close combat quarters, for home defense, especially with family members near by, my choice is the shotgun. This is a generalization, but in most circumstances it would be my first choice. My home defense setup is my 930 SPX under the bed and my Springfield XDMC .45 on the bed stand as a backup.

    BTW, I’m drooling after the civilian Benelli M4. If I could afford it, that would be my primary home defense firearm.

  54. Like everyone else, I’m going to use exactly what I thought was a perfect solution when I was at the gun store. LEOs want us to use handguns because the things are less lethal at more than a few yards (it’s an aiming problem), which keeps the county crime stats looking better. Around town, fine. But if a person’s fool enough or nuts enough to come into an occupied dwelling showing immediate intent to kill or main, I’d like to stop the guy(s) effectively.

  55. My go to HD shotgun is an 870 with a 20″ smooth bore slug barrel, shurshot furniture, fiber optic iron sights, a +3 tube extension, loaded up with PDX1 defenders, until I track down some 0000 buckshot. That is until i can afford a VEPR-12.

  56. AR always wins. Why cops and soldiers play with them. More accurate, less recoil, more rounds (all three of these reasons also help against multiple intruders). And if the fight goes outside…….forget about it at any distance, AR destroys. Remember, the AR still has twice the energy of the ‘man stopping’ 357, or a 44 magnum, that can dump ALL the energy into the victim instead of a fraction, because the 44 over penetrates so badly.

  57. If 12 gauge shotguns are so effective for home defense, then why do US SOF and SWAT units use AR15s for house calls? Home defense/home assault…once you’re in the house, the rules are the same. So why don’t we see an entire SWAT team loaded with shotguns? This flawed logic is like when people think drifting is faster than gripping in racing…if that were true, F1 drivers would be drift kings, but they’re not.

    • Special Forces tend to prefer shotguns, and SWAT teams tend to perform for cameras. That’s why.

      And F1 drivers are expert drifters. There’s just more math when you’re driving a F1 car at 130 mph around a specific bend than when you’re driving your Ram at 90 in a thirty zone.

      And I’m really, really sorry to all the Dodge drivers reading this. I’m not even driving American right now, and I’ll extoll the virtues of a fifteen-year-old BMW somewhere else. But, it does seem like the sheepshead logo on your truck is some sort of get out of jail free card.

      • Tell me more about how F1 drivers drift every corner at Spa-Francochamps.
        Tell me more about how SOF uses shotguns in Iraq and Afghanistan during HVT raids.

        What’s that badass shotgun they came out with? The HK416 right? Oh wait…

    • Maybe because swat teams and military teams don’t have a purely defensive mission when they deploy. We citizens without military or police ties have one basic job. Defend our castle and our loved ones from an aggressor. Within the confines of our castle, for the most part. For that job the shotgun is king. Pistols are good and rifles are good and I have a selection to chose from.

      In my life I have had to hold a stairwell in my home against an intruder that broke in on the first floor. 1 time. The only time as a non military citizen. No shots were fired. The racking of the shotgun(I know, Iknow, internet experts will tell you that’s a myth, but guess what) cause the intruder to run before the cops got there.

      This event happened many years ago and something just occured to me. My wife manned the phone and after she talked to the cops they knew the homeowner was armed with a shotgun. I was still armed with the shotgun when I opened the door to them. They were relaxed and not threatening me and at no time did they ask me to disarm or hand the gun to them. Would they have felt the same if I appeared armed with a pistol or AR?

      • Again, “Home defense/home assault…once you’re in the house, the rules are the same.”
        By that, I mean shooting down a stair case or up a stair case, you still have a chance of missing and your rounds still have a chance of penetrating walls. That said, it’s time to bring physics into the conversation. What happens when you fire something that’s high speed into water? It essentially explodes and doesn’t penetrate beyond 2 inches. Something that moves slower (like a fist) is able to breach the surface tension of the water as opposed to a 5.56 round. Now granted sheet rock isn’t water, but the idea and laws of physics still apply.

        The idea that home owners don’t face the situation the same way a SWAT team faces a high risk search warrant is total crap. Both parties are super alert and trying not to die, trying to be mindful of their shots, and trying to make it home and survive the encounter.

        Glad your shotgun sound effect worked, but here’s a hypothetical:
        What if after you rack the pump, the subject opens fire because you essentially told him “HERE I AM!”? If you get shot and died, you chose to surrender the initiative (Definitive victory) in favor of intimidation (Coin-toss victory). In my opinion, you should have made your intentions very clear before the guy even got into the house, but I don’t have all the details, am not a DA, not a resident of your State, so I will concede this point. I’m just trying to make you aware that there COULD have been a different outcome that night.

        Also, consider the spread (or lack thereof) of a shotgun in close quarters. Barrel length, load, choke, hallway engagement distance are all factors you have to consider.

        Hickok45 Double Barrel Shotgun vs AR (try to see the big picture)

        “This event happened many years ago and something just occured to me. My wife manned the phone and after she talked to the cops they knew the homeowner was armed with a shotgun. I was still armed with the shotgun when I opened the door to them. They were relaxed and not threatening me and at no time did they ask me to disarm or hand the gun to them. Would they have felt the same if I appeared armed with a pistol or AR?”
        ^—And no offense, consider yourself EXTREMELY LUCKY for not getting shot by the cops. There are TONS of stories out there where the homeowner shot the bad guy, cops were on their way and told about what happened, home owner is outside the house and gets blasted by the boys in blue. Cops don’t care about the weapon type…they care about their safety. You were incredibly lucky the cops didn’t go SEAL Team Six on you.

        • DTB, I think we’re comparing apples and oranges. A private citizen defending his castle has a different set of rules to operate under than the swat or military. Swat or military may penetrate a houses perimeter and engage inside. They may also have to engage outside or manuver or even pursue over streets. Citizens defending their castle have just their castle to worry about.

          I’ve never been a cop but I was active duty and yes I’ve been shot at and returned the compliment. As a cop or soldier I would want a reliable rifle. Backed by a reliable pistol.

          As a private citizen I stand by my choice of shotgun for castle defense, backed up by a reliable handgun.

          As for racking a shotgun. Small kids around the house made safety from AD’s more important than a chambered round. And except for hollywood action films I’d like to see 1 documented case of a good guy coming under fire by racking the gun.

          As for the cops. All I can tell you is that my interaction with local, county, state and federal cops have been positive. I’m not saying bad things don’t happen. But my personal experiences aren’t as negative as some possting here.

  58. Yes, the classic gun-gear-head question that drives traffic.
    Next it will be about .40 vs .45 vs. 9m. Oh wait that was last week.

    The real answer is:

    Whatever you PRACTICE with enough to hit where you aim, including the mental rehearsal and practice of all the steps leading up to pulling the trigger.

    Like the guy with the first time shooters- yes, the smaller person not going to do well with an 870. But that begs the question- that is NOT the “you”, implied here-

    The “you” is the AI, responsible enough to practice enough to be able to hit what you aim at, after:

    FIRST considered the elements of legal use of force, and when to shoot-

    AND making the 911 call,

    AND issued the warning- I am armed and will shoot unless you leave immediately.

    AND practiced enough to move thru the house, with lights on, or weapon light, to ID the target, so you dont shoot:

    your drunken teenager sneaking in late from their first kegger,
    your kids buddies on a sleep-over, after toilet-papering friends house…
    the neighbors kid sneaking in to steal an Ipod –
    cops say 70 percent of residential burglaries are those…

    AND you have ‘gamed’ your movement thru the house to clear rooms,
    and where to shoot, so you DONT find yourself shooting thru the wall where

    wife and kids are in bedroom other side,
    neighbors across the apartment hall,
    the family 40′ away in next lot of the suburban stick-built with drywall tract house.

    AND put in the range time to hit 10 out of 10 in the pie plate at the max range indoors,

    then the relatively minor differences between pistol, shotgun, and rifle come into play.

    • 10mm

      Moving on…never issue a warning. Your presence as the lawful homeowner is the warning. Seriously, a gun is not a “warning” or “intimidation tool.” If you knock in the window on my house and see two twelve-gauge barrels or a GLOCK, it’s because I hesitated. (The difference between “in” and “on” is definitely applicable here.) Rule number one: never point a gun a something you’re not ready to kill.

      • Duke University would disagree with you, or at least the idiot who wrote this op-ed:

        ” Carrying a gun comes with an implicit threat. Gun holders can, at any moment, kill the people around them, and college campuses cannot remain centers of free inquiry and exchange if students and faculty are faced daily with the threat of violent death. In our view, the only place for a gun on a college campus is in the holster of a trained police officer.”

        *double face-palm*

  59. And I see the point about the AR being easier to aim, shoot, and be back on target, recoil-wise.

    Thats an even more attractive platform from the perspective of KISS, for an all-in-one solution to start off, if you also need something for longer range, and would like to be able to hunt game.

  60. Rifle, easy to control, less recoil, more rounds.
    Shotgun, more recoil, less rounds.
    If there are only a couple of bad guys the shotgun would be fine, but if the fight goes to more than 8 rounds, or to a longer range then the rifle would be the best bet.
    Either would be fine in my circumstances.
    I have both

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  62. I like the idea of ripping an intruder in half and not penetrating walls that my daughters are sleeping behind. Plus it’s nothing to slide loads into my mossberg. Not that I’ll need to. It only takes one and mine holds 8. On top of all that… I’d rather not have to take the time to aim when I can just fire from the hip and obliterate somebody. Rifles are good for the accomplis who is running away from the loud bang. But these are my own opinions.

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