Choosing a Home Defense Weapon

defending your home from a break in

You awake with a sudden jerk. Did you hear something? Was it glass breaking or were you dreaming? Silence. Maybe your mind was playing tricks on you. No! There it was again! You did hear something! Someone is trying to get into your house! What to do?

You quickly but quietly leap from the bed. Your heart is racing.You try to gather your thoughts, to calmly assess the situation.

You reach for something to protect yourself, to defend your home and family. It feels good in your hands, comfortable, familiar. It would deter anyone in their right mind. In their right mind? “Please, oh please, let it deter whoever is at the other end of this house.”

Personal Defense or Home Defense?

A middle of the night home invasion. It’s a scenario that no one looks forward to, yet we would be remiss if we did not prepare for it.

home securityMany people consider personal defense and home defense the same. And I suppose at times they can be. But I like to draw a distinction between the two. Personal defense involves protecting yourself regardless of where you are. It may be while walking to your car in a parking lot, while on a short jog for exercise, or while stopped at red light. Protecting yourself no matter your location requires that your defense be portable and easily concealed.

On the other hand, a good home defense doesn’t need to be nearly as portable or as stealthy. In fact, an intruder may be more easily dissuaded by a larger and more obvious weapon.

What’s A Good Home Defense Weapon?

As you read through the scenario and pictured yourself living it, what did you reach for? A 9-iron? A baseball bat? Your pocket knife?

None of those impromptu security devices are what I want in my hands. When my life is on the line, when the lives of the ones I love and who depend on me are on the line, I want something more. I want something I can count on.

If were to have only one weapon with with to defend my home, what would it be? Some would choose a .44 Magnum, “the most powerful handgun in the world” according to Dirty Harry. Others may choose a 9mm for its high capacity magazine. Still others may opt for the easily hidden .380.

Not me.

If I were to have to choose one weapon with which to defend my home from a home invasion, it’d be a 12-gauge pump such as the Remington 870. Why?


shotgun for home defenseThere’s one unmistakeable sound that will drive fear into the very heart of anyone who hears it from an adversary. A pump shotgun has a sound like no other. It’s very distinctive and frightening to someone facing it.

Chambering a shell with the chi-chink sends a message to the intruder. It lets him know that you are there, that you are armed, and that he now has skin in the game.  He may have thought that he was breaking into an easy home to pilfer, but know he realizes that it’s defended. That may be all that’s needed to convince him to turn away and find less suspecting and easier prey.

A load for every occasion

Shotguns shells come in a wide variety of loads, ranging from a number 9 shot that’s commonly used for skeet shooting to buckshot and slugs that can take down a large deer. You can mix and match loads in any order.

The first shell chambered can be one that will scatter,such as number 6 shot. It will still get the point across while decreasing the need for accuracy. If your first attempt doesn’t turn the intruder away, the second round can be something much more substantial such as buckshot or a slug. Either of those will have enough stopping power to do the job.

A multi-purpose weapon

Unlike some of the other options mentioned, shotguns are not limited to self or home defense. They are very flexible and, with the right load, can be used to hunt birds, squirrels, rabbits, and deer.

If money is a significant constraint and you don’t have the finances to purchase more than one weapon in the foreseeable future, a 12-gauge shotgun is an inexpensive entrance into arms that will serve more than one purpose.

It’s Up to You

Choosing a weapon is a personal decision; as personal and unique as the one making it. What’s right for me may not be right for you

If you could choose but one weapon for home defense, what would it be? 

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45 Comments on “Choosing a Home Defense Weapon”

  1. Ken Nestle Says:

    A. This is a subject that has been beaten to death multiple times. Your inept input is not needed.

    B. You say “Choosing a weapon is a personal decision.” Yet you force feed the idea of a 12-gauge shotgun.

    C, Your description of the various loads available, and the reason for their uses, it totally inadequate.

    In short, a useless article, poorly done.


    • Laura Says:


      We are Christians and we view our blog as a ministry- we want to help those who are just starting out and have a lot of questions. In addition, for those a little further along the road, we are trying to share our experiences to save others the trouble of the steep learning curve. We do not claim to be experts or ultimate authorities on any topic, but we offer our research, first-hand experience, and personal insights.

      One of the main things we keep in mind is the decision people may be making about which item they should purchase first. For example, “If I can only allocate X dollars to home defense right now, what would be the most effective weapon I could choose?”

      As you and Joe both mentioned, this would be a matter of opinion. Joe expressed his in his post. We welcome alternate opinions. You did not offer yours, just insults.

      If you are not able to find helpful information here, you might try the sites listed in the blogroll, but I would encourage you to be more temperate and constructive in your comments when you visit them. For the most part, I have found this to be a very kind community of people who are giving their time to help other people they will probably never even meet.


    • Joe Says:

      Hi Ken –

      Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and comment. We work hard to provide good and actionable information to fellow preppers. We recognize that some people are further along in their journey than others. We strive to offer our insight on and share our experiences with those at the start of their journey as well as those more seasoned in prepping.

      I’m glad you are at a point in your journey where you’ve read a lot of prepping information and find many posts repetitive.

      I hope you continue to read the blog and will comment in a constructive manner. If you disagree about a topic, I’d love to hear your perspective. If you don’t want to engage in a productive conversation, however, I’d ask that you just move on and read another post or blog. Life is too short to get bogged down in that which frustrates.



    • Sentient American Says:

      Maybe the article is written for novices and people who don’t know diddly about firearms. Did you ever THINK of that, omniscient one? Actually, a 20 gauge would be a better choice in that it has less recoil and is easier to handle for novices and women, Yet, it is just as deadly. What a putz.


    • rod Says:

      I am new to blogging but I don’t see what is wrong with the post. Is it redundant or common sense that is wasting bloggers time?


    • Devon Says:

      I would disagree with you. I think that this article is a good one. I like the description of the ammo types and i don’t think that this article “forcefed” anything to you. With all due respect, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. The bloggers who made this article are doing us a favor just by writing articles. I am a new prepper and I find their insight helpful. If you don’t like it DON’T READ IT.


    • Rhonda Warmerdam Says:

      Mr. Nestlé, I read this article and I’m afraid that I would have to disagree with you. I for one read this article with the understanding this was written from one persons viewpoint. I’m sorry you didn’t catch that part of the article. The gun info will be added to my personal files for future decisions. I found the article containing good information for a person who is just starting to put things together. It helped by presenting ideas not thought of before. I’m sorry to say that many of the younger generation has no idea about the concept of pulling their weight. It would not occur to them to see a need and step up to the plate and do it. And to an extent this is not their fault. We as parents in many situations have not made demands on our kids and as a result they haven’t learned the simple idea of responsibility. It could be a new light discovered to read, HELP
      OUT. Mr. Nestle I found your review lacking in any information. What has happened to common curtesy. Maybe you have never heard the quote….. If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all. Especially if you have nothing to contribute.


    • Ken Nestle Says:

      Sometimes all you need is a stick.

      Another little adventure for which I assume I will be thoroughly criticized.

      Warmer weather is arriving here, which reminds me:

      August 2014

      No air conditioning in the house and my upstairs bedroom gets really hot, so I was sleeping on a foam pad in my entryway near the front door.
      With the door propped open a few inches and a kitchen window open on the other side of the house there was a nice breeze through the house that made for comfortable sleeping there even in hot weather.
      About 3.00 AM I was awakened by a sound that I recognized immediately. A knife slicing through the screen of my storm door. A few moments later, now wide awake, I heard the same sound again. Someone was cutting the screen at the other angle of the corner.
      Since I was less than two feet from the door, all I had to do was speak up. “Go away!”, and it would be all over, he’d be gone.
      Another option was to dial 911, my phone is ALWAYS within reach, and hope the cops arrive before he gets in, or leaves.
      Neither of these is the way I do things. The bastard damaged my storm door!
      I waited while he pulled the screen back and fumbled inside for the storm door lock. He found the lock and snapped it open. The lock is old, stiff, and rusty. It makes a noise like a gun shot when it snaps open. I find it hard to believe he’d think no one would hear that.
      He pulled open the storm door, which is a flimsy aluminum piece of crap that rattles on its hinges like a bunch of aluminum cans in a pickup bed.
      Anticipating what would happen next I got up from my sleeping pad and picked up my staff/walking stick/club that I got from COLD STEEL. It’s four feet of white oak, one and a quarter inch diameter.
      Exactly as I anticipated, he pushed on the door which is blocked by several cases of canned chili. When the door wouldn’t move a skinny black hand slipped through the gap and began feeling around the knob on the inside.
      Gross stupidity! The door is already open four inches. Why would he be trying to find the lock or turn the knob?
      Anyway, I waited until his hand was all the way in and he had a grip on the doorknob.
      My entryway is too small for a full swing with a four foot staff, so I choked up to about three feet and took a hard swing.
      I caught him on the wrist and the back of the hand. He screamed and jerked his hand back and I could hear him moaning as he ran away.
      A couple days later I saw one of my neighbors with a shiny white cast from his forearm to his fingertips. He gave me a really hard look.
      It cost me $40 to get a new screen installed in the storm door and my inside doorknob now slants slightly down and left.


  2. antiqueone Says:

    I just have to say that we are just starting to prep. My wife has been held up at gunpoint at her job about 2 years ago and for a time we got and learned how to use 9mm’s. But beyond that we know nothing about guns. Your article was quite helpful to me. The idea of the chi-chink sound makes eminent sense. Thank you! Yes, I know the article is basic, but I need basic!


  3. Stu C. Says:

    Good for a basic article. I would definitely suggest reaching out to other preppers to get a better cross sections of weapon to possibly test fire. I do have a respectable firearms collection, which has come in handy when someone who has questions would like to see the differences. The 12 ga. is a great weapon, but I do not personally rely on “chi-chink” to scare someone away. A more hardened person might not be affected by this mere noise. On the other hand it may work, you never know. Something that should be mentioned regardless of decision is barrier penetration, if you do engage a threat what is the likelihood of it penetrating through the intermediate walls of your’ home. This has to be accounted for in any home. I personally recommend something in .223/5.56 with a good frangible round because the recoil is manageable for a very large cross section of shooters, something that can be mitigated with a 12 ga. but takes more time. I do agree with the utility of the 12 ga., it cannot be argued with. Simplychanging the cartridge changes the weapons purpose-you gotta love that versatility. Nomatter what one tenet holds true- it all comes down to personal preference. Take care 🙂


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks Stu C. I didn’t read your comments as being snarky. In fact, I agree with them. A shotgun is a great first choice of weapons for many new preppers who are starting from scratch. But I’d encourage everyone to do their own research and determine what is best for their own specific circumstances.


  4. poormansprepper Says:

    Hey Joe

    Your article was short simple and to the point, and I appreciate it.
    For those that might read this in the future there is ENDLESS debate on this topic on MOST forums.
    What Joe has done here is establish several facts in quick succession,
    a) he has decided to he is going to defend his family and home
    b) he is going to do it with deadly force if necessary
    c) he is going to use a gun to do this
    d) his weapon of choice is the shotgun

    I agree with his choice that choice being willing to defend his a family with deadly force if necessary. This is a CRITICAL point deciding beforehand that you can in fact take a life if necessary. If you cannot then don’t pick up a gun!
    The shotgun is an excellent choice due to its multi function capabilities, you can defend your home and hunt both small and large game, depending on the load you use.

    Joe you did an Excellent job and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.



    • Stu C. Says:

      @ Jeff, good point and well said. While reading my comment i think it did come off a bit snarky. I need to work on that. 🙂


      • poormansprepper Says:


        I thought your comments were fine (I myself caught no hint of your aforementioned snarkieness) mine were aimed more at Ken. Talking guns is like talking cars, (Ford vs Chevy for example) there is a lot that can be learned from an informed debate but it can also get to the point that there is so much noise going on that the people that really need the advise get drowned out. That is why I so appreciate Joe and Laura and this blog, it contains simple no nonsense information that is great for the beginner and also a good reminder for those who have been doing it around for a while.



        • Stu C. Says:

          @ poormansprepper,
          The guns/Cars analogy is spot on. Being a modest firearms collector/prepper I have my own opinions, but they are just that – opinions. When a friend of mine asks the question “what do you think is best” I always try to temper it with stating that they are merely my opinions and biases. I love taking new shooters to the range so they can see what works for them, not what some “expert”(the ones that drown people out) says is the only thing that will ever work. To me what it comes down to are a few simple questions :
          1) Can I hit the target with what is in my hand, repeatedly, and under stress
          2) Does the weapon go bang every time I manipulate the trigger
          3) Can I operate the gun effectivley and safely
          I am a new comer to this blog. I have been very impressed so far, and hope I can contribute to it in any way. I believe the simple no-nonsense approach is generally best, and just when you think you know everything murphy will kick you square in the face.
          I do enjoy this discourse, it’s friendly and constructive.


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks, Jeff! I really appreciate it.

      Posts like these are bound to draw some criticism. I didn’t write it intentionally to be a lightening rod, but so simply offer some straightforward insight to those weighing their first weapon purchase.



  5. Jack Fallin Says:

    Not everyone is an expert. Many who read this blog are novices who welcome any and all advice. I agree that a 12 gauge is a good defensive weapon and also that it is and opinion but that is why people look for information, after all opinions are also information. If a reader already knows everything why is he reading this blog. I am 61 years old, been prepping for 50 years and learned from almost everyone I read, talk to or listen to. We were given 2 ears and 2 eyes to be able to see and hear twice as much
    as we say. I thought the article was a nice simplified opinion piece and is as valuable as you want it to be. I try to learn every day and I learned two things today. The writer likes, trusts and values a 12 gauge pump shot gun and the first opinion writer believes he knows everything there is to know about writing, opinions and blog material, not to mention the fact that he gave no clue as to his choice of weapon. Good luck to him in the real world, he will need it.
    Semper Fi


    • poormansprepper Says:


      Very well said!

      OOORAH Devil Dog!!

      Semper Fi



    • Stu C. Says:

      @ Jack, I agree very well said.
      Semper Fidelis


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks, Jack! As for the first commenter, I learned long ago that my value, my identity, and my sense of worth is not dependent on what others think of me or my work. Yes, I want to do well, and everyone likes to be liked, but I cannot control what others think. I can only control how I react to it. Sounds like drivel and touchy-feely stuff, but it’s true nevertheless.

      As for my choice of weapons. The reliability and flexibility of the pump shotgun is hard to beat for a first weapon. Personally, I have more than one weapon that I can reach for if/when things go badly. The one I choose will be based on the situation, but I realize that not everyone will have that luxury. I was mostly writing to the newer prepper who has realized that he need something more than a 9-iron.

      Again, thanks for your perspective and wisdom.

      Thank you for your service and even though I’m not a Marine – Semper Fidelis!



  6. Jack Fallin Says:

    Thanks for the nice response. I forgot to mention my choice of home defense weapon. Since I can not legally own grenades and an M-79 launcher, I have a slightly modified Winchester Pump with alternating #6 counting down to slugs with a couple of buckshot rounds thrown in. Worked in the Southeast Asia Conference and should work anywhere. My major advice is to practice, practice and practice some more with your weapon of choice. A well place 22 will stop a man as quickly as a 375 winchester in the chest but the main thing is to learn to shoot and be confident in your ability with whatever you choose. There are no wrong weapons, some are just more appropriate than others. Confidence in your ability with a weapon can overcome caliber almost always. I really miss my M-79 Launcher. Just a bigger shotgun. There are always nice people out there you just have to be nice to find them. Thanks for the blog and the good readers you have.
    Semper Fi, and OOh Rah to those who know.


  7. Oakspar77777 Says:

    You do not want to “cha chink” the shotgun. That reveals your position, that you are armed and should be dealt with, and you are one less round than full.

    You want the criminal to not know where you are, if you are armed, or what your intent is until lead is in the air.

    Risking yourself and your family in the hope that the robber runs off with wet pants to rob someone else later that night (junkie’s gotta pay for his fix)? Not worth it.


    • Joe Says:

      Good point, Oakspar77777.

      If you assume that the intruder means you harm, then being stealthy is good. You don’t want to reveal your location or equipment.

      If you’re intentions are to avoid a conflict and scare the intruder away, then the chi-chink let’s them know that you are not a push-over and that they now have skin in the game.

      In the end, it’s going to depend on the situation. A petty thief looking for a television to steal for his next fix will flee when he hears the sound of a round being inserted into the chamber. He’ll look for an easier target.

      A desperate, starving, addict with withdrawal symptoms bent on finding some prescription medication may not be so easily convinced to leave.



    • anonymous Says:

      I agree Oakspar 77777 You need every advantage you can get, I keep my weapon next to my bed, as full as it can be with slugs and 00 buck. A round is always chambered and all that is needed is to disengage the safety. If I can eliminate the threat with only one shot and none by him, so much the better.


  8. Eric Says:

    I have read the article and the comments after it. The article is good and the comments interesting. The thing that isn’t mentioned in any of it is the protection of the family. Most of the weapons mentioned are fine weapons and good for self/home defense. The problem is that they all go right through a wall without a problem.
    A shotgun is good for people who are not good with a weapon. Depending on the ammo you use will spread out and at least wound the person coming into your room or house.
    The thing is the BB, junk, or slug/ball ammo of a rifle will go right through the wall and possibly hit a loved one.
    A .410 with a light powder load or special ammo has the least chance of penatrating the wall. It also can be used by anyone due to low kick. It comes in pump, bolt, and semi auto actions.
    The best thing is actually praticing with a weapon and practicing how you would defend your home or self. Knowing where the bed and other things are in each room will help out in keeping from injuring a loved one.
    As far as the ca-chunk is concerned, it marks your position, but also lets the intruder know that you are willing to use deadly force to protect yourself and house.
    It is a psychological thing that many of the intruders will walk away from.


    • Dave Says:

      Eric I read all comments waiting to see who if anyone would bring up the fact bb or slugs could penetrate a wall and injure one of those you are trying to protect. #6 or #4 are more than good enough to stop and put down anyone invading your home. Now if you live alone,let em fly…. Good article for the beginning prepper We all have opinions,….



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