Best Guns for Home Defense

There’s a raging debate going on in America over firearms. The lines are clearly drawn and neither side is prepared to offerquarter or take prisoners. It’s an issue that’s come between family, friends and neighbors, turned father against son, brother against brother.

Am I talking about the debate over the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, the freedom to bear arms and the God-given right to self-defense? No, I’m talking about an even more heated and divisive argument, the one about the best guns for home defense.

I’ve seen many a flame war in forums over this issue and I’ve no doubt that in some cases had the opponents been face-to-face they would have come to blows. It seems to be a very personal and subjective decision for a lot of people. But really there’s nothing very complicated about it, it comes down to a rational and logical assessment of your personal situation and which type of gun best meets your needs. Let’s take a look at the options.


There are many who will say that the shotgun is the best choice for home defense and there’s no doubt that in the world of short-range small arms it reigns supreme, and causes much less property damage than a grenade or a LAWS rocket. Although a cursory search turns up no readily available statistics and I don’t want to wade through the propaganda it’s probably the most popular home defense weapon too. You have your choice of pump-action, semi-auto, double barrel and single shot. Here are a few off-the-top-of-my-head suggestions:


The Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500 are long time favorites for their time-tested quality and reliability and the fact that both can be purchased new for less than $400 and used for as little as $150. Both have a wide variety of aftermarket accessories available such as pistol grips, folding stock, extended magazines and barrels. One note about the Mossberg though, it’s safety is located on the back of the receiver instead on near the trigger and this can take a little getting used to. Practice will take care of that.


I’ve been hearing good things about the Linberta G2 Tactical Semi-Auto. Available in 12 and 20 gauge, they’ve been made in Turkey for over 20 years but have just recently begun showing up over here. New about $400 and comes with a free 25 shell bandolier!

Double & Single Shot

Honestly, not what I would recommend but they’ll certainly get the job done and they have simplicity of use on their side. No U.S. manufacturers are currently offering a double so you could buy an older one or check out the Stoeger Double Defense Shotgun, set up for tactical use with picatinny rails and high-visibility sights, new $350-$400. The New England Arms Pardner has been around a long time and is a fine choice for a single, short and easy to handle, great for smaller people and kids. And only $99.

For home defense a shorter barrel is best for use in hallways and other confined areas, 18” is the legal limit.

Recoil is one of the disadvantages of a shotgun so if this is a factor consider going with a 16 or 20 gauge instead of a 12, there’s really not much difference at short ranges. And it’s not necessary to use 00 buckshot either, it’s very effective but will also travel through drywall into the next room or apartment. #3 or #4 shot is often preferable.


Since we’re talking about guns for home defense concealability isn’t really an issue. One of the advantages of handguns is the ability to store them in small, easily accessed spots around the house, I’m a big believer in having one in the bedroom, near the front and back doors, and in the office.

Obviously if you have small children in the home this might not be an option. But their small size makes them perfect for the confinement of the home, they can be used with either hand if necessary, and they’re hard for a bad guy to take away from you.

Semi-auto or revolver is a matter of personal preference, both are effective and have their pros and cons. But if you’re going to use a handgun for home defense, you’ll need to practice a lot, and it’s a grand idea to get some instruction. Choose one with a 5 or 6 inch barrel for a longer sight radius and the most velocity from your loads. You’ll want at least a .380, .38 or 9mm though larger calibers are fine too. Some recommendations:


This gun emerged from the search by the Austrian Armed Forces for a new service arm and was first introduced in 1982. Since then it has been adopted by innumerable police and military forces around the world. It has earned a reputation for flawless reliability and function and is available in a variety of calibers. $500-$600 new.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Special

Born in 1899 and battle tested in every war since, the Military and Police model is no longer in production but can easily be found used in good condition. Called the Victory Model in WWII, over 500,000 were produced for the U.S. military and our allies and these can be found dirt cheap. Nothing fancy, just a reliable and effective weapon. My wife loves hers.


Every home should have at least one rifle in a readily available caliber. For home defense a .223 or a .30 caliber rifle is a good choice, we’re not talking long range sniping here. A shorter, carbine type rifle is ideal. As usual, regular practice is an absolute necessity and with the higher velocities and longer ranges extra attention to surroundings is a must.

AK and SKS

The most recognizable arms in the world, legendary for reliability and effectiveness. Easy to find and still reasonably priced, though prices have risen in recent years. The 7.62X39 or .30 caliber round is acceptably accurate out to medium ranges, with the SKS having a slight edge over the AK in accuracy because of it’s longer barrel.However the SKS must be loaded with a stripper clip while the AK uses a detachable magazine and can be loaded much faster.

The More the Merrier

All of these types of firearms are appropriate for home defense, and you should have all of them handy to be prepared for different situations. It’s really hard to have too many guns.

Mainstream Preppers is extremely interested in hearing what you have to say about the best guns for home defense. Weigh in below with your personal recommendations, observations and experiences. Share your expertise. We want to hear from you!

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3 thoughts on “Best Guns for Home Defense”

  1. In the quest for the perfect gun combo, I would advise that in fact, you can almost have too many.
    I would say have a long gun, room cleaner, and an “oh crap, you got too close” option.
    Too many calibers and different kinds of mags can be problematic. Focus on two or three calibers, such as .308, 12g and .22 – then stock the hell out of those. Also, don’t spend $1,000 on yet another handgun, but maybe put that money into a few spare parts kits; springs, recoil rods, pins, etc.
    If you have 5 minutes to leave your position you can pack those three weapons and ammo without having to leave anything behind for the looters later on.
    In the prepping world, I think it is important to realize that you may end up having to leave 75% of your gear behind at some point.

  2. If you can only choose 2, pick the rifle and handgun. the “I got too close” gun IS your secondary gun, i.e. your pistol. After all, we’re talking defense, not multi-use gun. Bottom line is reliability. Glock or wheel gun it doesn’t matter. AR or AK it doesn’t matter. Just have one, and train with it.

  3. A few thoughts:

    In the hands of an unskilled/unwilling person any firearm is a liability. Ensure that you become VERY proficient, preferably through professional training. Learn to shoot in a variety of scenarios; different ranges, standing/kneeling/prone, open/from cover, into bright light/in low-light, relaxed/timed, weak-handed/one-handed, after sprinting/climbing, in a noisy/distracting environment, etc.

    Additionally, learn the ins and outs of your chosen weapon(s). Learn to deal with malfunctions reflexively. Become comfortable tearing down, cleaning, inspecting, and repairing/upgrading your chosen weapon(s).

    Consider a number of factors when selecting weapon(s); context matters!

    Will you likely be hunting, or just using it/them for protection? If hunting, what will you be hunting and where? Match the capabilities of your weapon(s)/ammo/training to the highest probability.

    Do you expect conceal-ability to be much of an issue? Is your likely environment urban, rural, or somewhere between?

    What is your topographical situation?

    What are your physical capabilities? Can you handle carrying this and the required ammo all day? Can you safely control it while shooting under duress? Not everyone can safely handle a short-barreled 12GA, or a 1911.

    Consider the reliability of any weapon(s) you are thinking of acquiring. Can you easily get spare/replacement parts? How common is the weapon and why? What about the ammo options? Some ammo is very versatile and ubiquitous, I recommend beginning your search with these. Exotic ammunition may simply become impossible to source, leaving you with an awkward club.

    There are a number of great options out there, just be sure to do your homework and make selections based on your personal context and please actually train, A LOT.

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