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The Best Guns for Your Home Defense: Pistol, Shotgun, and Rifle(s)

Last Updated: July 31, 2022

The best gun for your home isn’t just one gun. It’s a set and growing armory.


As humans, protecting the place where we and our loved ones live represents a survival instinct that goes centuries back into human civilization.

While early humans used rocks and sticks to keep danger away, we now have guns by category, range, and purpose.

But what are the best guns and arms for home defense, especially with so many options on the market?

And what should you consider before taking that step to keep your house safe from intruders with firearms?

In this guide, we’ll answer those questions in-depth and recommend some of our favorite guns to use for home protection.

Pistols, Rifles, and Shotguns

The first thing you should do before buying your gun is to consider all three types of firearms traditionally used for home defense. Pistols, rifles, and shotguns are all good candidates, but each has pros and cons.

In this section, we’ll help you understand what each gun is so that you can make a well-informed decision.

Pistols for Home Defense

A lot of people favor pistols over rifles and shotguns because they’re much smaller. This way, they can be easier to hide and concealed carry. Additionally, they’re convenient for use in small rooms or narrow hallways because they don’t take a lot of space.


Advantages of Using Pistols for Home Defense

  • Very lightweight and easy to handle
  • Easier to conceal both at home and on the go
  • Can be used with one hand
A wide variety of handguns (wikipedia.org)

A pistol is a handgun without any revolving cylinder. A revolver is any handgun with a revolving cylinder.

These two guns differ in capacity and reload speed. Each factor greatly affects any shooter’s preferences.

For example, a handgun is much faster to reload and higher in capacity than a revolver, its magazine can reach all the way to 15 rounds.

Revolvers take longer to reload, and they’ll only have five to six rounds to offer you.

With certain types of ammunition, the dependability of firing with your revolver is higher than that of a semi-automatic pistol.

Modern handguns tend to have more customization features and ways to enable add-ons. For example, you can add lights, sights, and silencers to semi-automatic pistols whereas a revolver has more limited options in terms of add-ons. This is a must-have feature since when in a situation where a gun might be needed to protect oneself, there’s rarely ample lighting.

Let’s not forget that pistols are available with a huge variety of ammo. However, for home defense, you have a range of options including expanding hollow-point bullets, which promises suitable stopping power and reduces the chances of over-penetration through walls. And the potential to create giant holes in any invader upon bullet exit.

Be wary in your usage and training. Guns are not toys, and are to be treated with respect and the potential destruction they can cause.

The average weight of an average pistol: 1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg.)

Disadvantages of Using Pistols for Home Defense

  • Not as much stopping power
  • Recoil is a huge factor in inexperienced shooters
  • Less reliable than shotguns and rifles

Despite the many perks of owning a pistol, it still comes with some disadvantages as with any defensive measure.

Due to its size, accurately aiming a gun, especially if you’re still partly asleep, can be challenging in a home defense scenario. Plus, in some instances, the smaller size might increase the recoil of the gun, making handling the gun for your initial shot, and following shots somewhat difficult.

Nonetheless, you can always learn to overcome these two nuisances with consistent practice, some stronger forearms, and shoulders, and experience on the shooting range.

Also, in comparison to shotguns and rifles, handguns are MORE likely to face failures. Therefore ensure that isn’t an issue, you should be ready to react quickly and recover after a failure to get the next shot, or be ready with your next-go-to line of defense.

Rifles for Home Defense


According to homeowners who use rifles, these guns are best if you want to shoot farther and more accurately. With a higher capacity and more reliable performance, rifles make the best choice for long-range defense.

In addition to the rifle’s importance to home defense, this firearm represents a survivalist’s most effective hunting tool.

With accuracy from short, medium, to long-range, and with still-lethal impact beyond 600 yards for your average AR-15, rifles are the most effective weapon an individual can possess in any long-term survival situation.

Nonetheless, there are pros and cons to handling a larger weapon upon firing and reloading as well as maintenance.

Advantages of Using Rifles for Home Defense

  • Truly awesome stopping power
  • Highest capacity of rounds
  • Most accurate

The greatest advantage about rifles is that their capacity is almost unmatched, with the norm being approximately 30 rounds.

Magazines with a greater number of rounds can be found and added to your rifle, but you sacrifice weight and accuracy. Thirty rounds should be enough for home defense anyway, you’re not Rambo.

The second thing to admire about rifles is that when held with two hands, the handling of a rifle is significantly more ergonomic. Because they’re big enough to provide you with more contact points with your hands, forearms, shoulders, and the crooks of your elbows, a rifle becomes an extension of your arm and aim.

Add lights, scopes, and sights to their gunmetal frames to complete the rifle setup, complete with a shoulder-carry bag.

Firearm, Wikipedia

Disadvantages of Using Rifles for Home Defense

  • Heavy — the average weight of the average rifle is give-or-take 8 lbs or 3.6 kgs.
  • Very, very loud — can cause permanent hearing damage (wear ear protection)
  • $$$$$

Rifles are expensive.

Sure, some are affordable, but those tend to be less reliable than tried and true brands, models, and guns that have survived ultimate punishment and testing. Still, it all depends on what you’re looking for in a rifle, what your budget is, and what your true goals are in the next years of gun ownership.

These things are built to last. Choose wisely.

Another drawback to consider here is that rifles are relatively long, which may not be convenient if you have to maneuver in tight corners.

Shotguns for Home Defense


Last but definitely not least, shotguns have been THE classic favorite of property owners for years in terms of bang-for-home-defense. The shotgun, traditionally the man’s best friend at close range and stopping power.

The most remarkable advantage of the shotgun is the range of shells. With at least 20 different types of lead/steel birdshot, buckshot, and BBs, your selection of shotgun shells gives you a range of options in how your stop your invader.

For example, the difference in penetrating power between birdshot and buckshot. While both are lethal, buckshot pellets are larger and punch through walls. On the other hand, birdshot or BB pellets are smaller and rarely penetrate thicker walls.

Advantages of Using Shotguns for Home Defense

  • The Most Stopping Power (MSP) at close range
  • The versatility of shotgun shell selection
  • Nostalgia and “feel”

The earliest shotgun dates back to the 15th century. A go-to choice for home defense for centuries, the manufacture of shotguns has resulted in the least expensive of all three firearm types. You’ll find a wide range of prices on the market to match your current budget and preferences.

Even better, the most affordable shotguns are considered effectively reliable, so failures should be the least of your concerns.

In the selection of any firearm, reliability upon firing is one of three main factors with the other two being range and damage potential.

Aiming in a general direction is a thing of movies and video games. Be sure to aim properly and have preemptively prepared for the buck — recoil from the firing of a bullet (i.e. #pulling-the-trigger)

The range and subsequent blast range of a shotgun are wider than a pistol or rifle.

Dragon’s Breath Shotgun Rounds – pewpewtactical.com

Disadvantages of Using Shotguns for Home Defense

  • Short-stroking a shotgun can cause jams
  • Heavy — the average weight of an average shotgun: 6-8 lbs. or 2.7-3.6 kgs.
  • Big recoil
  • Longer reload time than pistols and rifles

Despite their qualities, the cons of shotguns far outweigh their pros, which is why they’re becoming less and less popular. However, if you’re still drawn to their charm, you should consider the following downsides to have the full picture.

Despite the long history of the shotgun in home defense, with better and better options available on the market due to technological advances, shotguns are becoming less of a favorite in home defense.

There are some disadvantages.

First, shotguns are considerably heavier and longer than pistols and rifles. With a length of 40 inches, that can put you at a huge disadvantage if your home is full of small spaces and narrow hallways.

Second, their recoil can’t be taken lightly, especially if you have a small body frame.

Third, a shotgun takes significantly longer to reload when compared to a magazine-fed gun. To reload it confidently, you’ll have to practice to be able to do it quickly.

Another major drawback of shotguns is that their capacity is limited, stretching to on average six total rounds.

When compared to the 15 rounds of most handguns and 30+ rounds of rifles, shotguns enable you a series of shots to defend your home and then switch to another line of defense if needed.

Shotgun on the wall

Lastly, shotguns are often associated with over-penetration of the walls, in terms of piercing power, or punch. Known to go through several different types of materials upon firing through objects and walls, shotgun blasts are known to go swiftly through thin walls, furniture, and fallible structures. Not ideal for home defense, we really don’t want to destroy our homes in the process of defending it.

A shotgun projectile could also enter a neighbor’s home; shoot wisely and understand that your line of sight, is exceeded by the shotgun blast range.

We think twice about using a shotgun if we have family members sleeping in other rooms.

Now that you have a clear idea about the pros and cons of pistols, rifles, and shotguns, you have made progress in selecting the first (or three) of your home defense gun selection.

Semiauto vs Pump Action
A gas-powered semi-automatic shotgun

A pump-action shotgun is loaded with the classic shotgun “get-ready” movement. But beware of short-stroking or copying action heroes too much; you risk jamming your gun.

The Benelli M4 — gas-powered semi-auto shotgun

A semi-automatic shotgun has become more and more popular as upon pulling the trigger, the shotgun reloads itself, dismissing the need to pump to reload.

The following list is an incredibly difficult selection to make; this section of this article will be regularly updated, and its selections, are pursuant to the reader’s needs, research, and access to the best available options on the ready-market.

The Best 3 Handguns for Home Defense

File: Glock 19 Gen 4 Pistol made in Austria

#1 The Glock 19, Gen 5 | Potentially the Best Handgun Ever Made

Traditionally known as the best handgun ever made, the Glock 19 was first produced in 1988, primarily for military and law enforcement. Five generations of the #19 model exist, with the most famous Gen 4 and Gen 5 models.

As the most treasured firearm for homestead defense, and for civilians for recreational and competition shooting, the Glock 19 is American Patriot Survivalists’ #1 Handgun for Home Defense.

Each version offers you a preference for the different scenarios in any type of home defense. One such model is the Glock 19C (compact), utilized for easier concealed carry. The other popular Glock 19 variation is the X model, which is a crossover between the G19 and G17, another extremely popular Glock pistol.

The Glock 19 uses a .45, .40, or 9mm round and can fire up to 17 times in standard magazines. Reliable, efficient, and with a fire rate that survives multiple weather conditions, the Glock 19 massive productive scale offers modifications and addons of every variety.

  • Scope
  • Lighting
  • Silencer
  • Extended magazine

With a firm, trustworthy trigger most experts agree on, having learned its value, you can’t possibly go wrong with a Glock 19 for self-defense.

#2 The Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0


The M&P M2.0 pistol, is a steel chassis & polymer gun, in the respected M&P polymer pistol line.  Designed for personal, sporting, and professional use, the M&P M2.0 delivers a finely-tuned crisp trigger, grip, frame, and finish for home defense.

The lighter pull and a tactile and audible reset make for extremely easy home defense measures in firing shot after shot.

Highlights of the M&P M2.0 pistol include an extended stainless-steel chassis and a low barrel bore axis for reduced muzzle rise and faster aim recovery.

The thing we love about Smith & Wesson, is not only its rich history, but that dependability comes with Includes a limited lifetime warranty and a lifetime service policy.

#3 The Sig Sauer P320 | The Perfect Gun?

Creative Commons

In the same line of modularity as the Glock 19 and Smith & Wesson, the Sig Sauer P320 has been designed to be modded without tools. Every switch and modification in caliber, range, and magazine, can be accomplished by hand.

By utilizing SIG’s series of X-Change caliber conversion kits, and its series of modular and interchangeable grips and frames, the P320 transforms into whatever you need it to be.

The P320 is a unique pistol. It has a standard stainless steel chassis, but its integration with the surrounding polymer frame makes it a standout. Other handguns have similar construction, but none matches the seamlessness of the SIGs integration. That translates into a smooth shooting and reliable handgun. 


The 3 Best Rifles for Home Defense and Your Homestead

There are two main categories of rifles for home defense and your homestead. The AR-15 category is a civilian

#1 The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II M-Lok Rifle

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II is one of the most solid rifles on the market, and the good news is that you can use it in other scenarios besides home security. This gun is engineered for recreational and competition purposes as well, which is a plus point if you’re into target shooting.

It’s lightweight to carry with no effort, strongly built to withstand collisions, and is always open for modifications.


#2 The Springfield Armory M1A


Versatile to boot, the Springfield Armory M1A is the long-range survivalist rifle of the century. This is an incredible rifle option to invest in if you have a knack or even a goal for hunting. Selected for its top-notch accuracy, will serve as your generational home defense rifle and means to have meat in any homestead, survival, or disaster scenario.

Most of those who have fired this gun comment on the ease of aiming. Point, sight, breathe, and fire.

The perfectly, well-thought ergonomic design of the M1A’s stock and trigger work in perfect sync with most body types and scopes.

Recoil was efficiently designed out of this model, and according to the opinions of people who used it, the M1A doesn’t tend to face any jamming issues.

#3 The Ruger Mini Thirty 7.62×39 Rifle with Flash Hider

Now, this is a rifle that is a collector’s edition. Revered and renowned throughout story after story of survival, The Ruger Mini 30 rifle is one of the best semi-auto rifles ever designed and manufactured.

For home defense, and homeowners alike building out their homestead, let’s see why this Ruger is such a popular choice for homeowners these days.

First off, the rifle’s factory-installed sights make for easy reight-out-of-the-box shooting. Scope not included.

Second, the Ruger Mini 30 looks pretty intimidating without having to fire a single shot! It has that special look of being carried by a wisened, gruff mountain man. Available in an all-black rugged finish, the Ruger. Mini 30 will scare off anyone who tries to step into your property.

The versatility of this model of Ruger rifle extends from efficient target practice to Olympic shooting competitions. Your next survival hunt, at least you won’t worry about your weapon, but getting a hot meal in your belly.

1988 | Strum, Ruger & Co.

The Top 3 Shotguns for Home Defense

#1 The Mossberg 590A1

This is the shotgun that’s in the front seat of all the police cars in the movies.

If you’re ready to pick up a solid self-defense weapon, the Mossberg 590A1 will have your back. Selected for its reliability and classic pump action, it is the shotgun chosen by most law enforcement. With different finishes and options, note even the basic model is good enough to have next to your bed for that sound peace of mind.

The biggest perk of this pump-action shotgun is the balance between affordability and reliability. Just keep in mind that its buck kicks like a real shotgun, because, it is.

#2 The Beretta 1301 Tactical


The Beretta 1301 Tactical is the best combat shotgun available on the market.

Known for its sleek and slim design rare in shotguns AND rifles, the Beretta Tactical is a combat choice, and a luxury. Ranked as highly as the Glock 19 in terms of best-design-ever, the Beretta 1301 Tactical is a shotgun you can roll and fire with, and look good while doing it.

Yet, nothing is ever perfect, right? The 1301 is more than double the price of a Mossberg 590A1. However, when you compare the recoil of your standard police issue shotgun to that of the Beretta combat shotgun, you’ll know the difference.

#3 Benelli M4


As a close third option for a semi-automatic shotgun, the Benelli M4 is easy to shoot and has a solid build and immense damage output. Its power rivals the Berreta Tactical 1301.

The Benelli M4 is a lifetime purchase; you will only need one throughout your life and for your home defense.

As one of the most durable options on the market, wondering about what shotgun to select generally stops at the M4.

Ear Protection

Guns should be used with ear protection, and knowing exactly when, why, and how you will shoot.

As your knowledge and skill with your weapons grow, so will your ability to modify them.

Adding silencers, scopes, and customization enhances the effectiveness of your home defense.

Protect yourself from hearing loss.

If you lose your hearing practicing, what’s next?

If you can’t hear them coming in a real emergency, how can you protect your family effectively?

Conclusion — The Best Guns for Home Defense

The ideal home defense begins with four firearms. Whether we are homesteading, hunting, or protecting our family, these guns would make up our complete survival set.

We would go with the Glock 19 in our pistol holster.

The Berretta Tactical 1301 combat shotgun mounted above the front doorway.

Above the oak backdoor, within easy reach for a hunt, our collector’s edition Ruger Mini 30 hunting rifle.

As the last line of defense, in a gun locker in the safe room, our AR-15, the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II.

“Always Be Ready” Max

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