A gun buyer has definite options for home defense: pistol, rifle, or shotgun? Which makes the most sense? First, there are a couple of clichés to do away with. “Any Gun Will Do.”
If faced with a threat in your home, you could absolutely use any functioning firearm to combat it. You could also pick up a baseball bat, golf club, or fire poker; but simply having a means of fighting back does not ensure survival.
When choosing a firearm for home defense, you have a responsibility to select the one not only best suited to you and your circumstances but offering the greatest advantage and versatility. You also have a further, even more important, responsibility to train with and stage it so that it is a reliable part of your protection strategy.
“Use What the Police Use.” The job of a police or SWAT officer isn’t the same as a home defender’s. Law enforcement trains to engage with armed threats if called to, which means their requirements for weaponry, because they need to serve another purpose, can be far different. Law enforcement may need to be able to advance on a danger. A home defender needs to hold it off.
With those simplistic ideas dispensed with, what makes sense?
People who carry a concealed handgun for protection in the public space consider their defensive handgun to be their best primary home-defense gun, and rightly so. You trust it for personal carry, where you have much less predictability and control over engagement distances and other conditions; so why should it be less trustworthy at home?
An appropriate handgun offers enough power to halt a threat and be controllable enough to hit a target inside the confines involved in home defense. Within a distance of two arms’s reach, it is much easier to defend yourself with a handgun. Long guns of any type can be excellent choices when you are barricaded, but are much harder for movement inside a dwelling. You can carry a handgun holstered, freeing your hands to use flashlights, open or close doors, carry children, or call 911. Having your gun holstered when you don’t know exactly what is happening during a chaotic event will also make it less likely that you might make a tragic mistake and shoot someone who is not a threat.
If you don’t carry a firearm regularly or if your home defense plan involves a static barricaded position, a long gun may be the better choice for you. Rifles and shotguns are often more powerful than handguns and increase your ability to hit your target under conditions beyond two arms reach, especially for those with less training and practice. An added consideration with long guns, though, when choosing ammunition, is possible pass-through of the projectiles, less likely with handguns. Whatever type of firearms you chooses, Winchester® has an ammunition option in its Defender® line.
In any case, be sure that you train with your firearm under dynamic situations and stage it responsibly in your home to prevent unauthorized access. Most importantly, decide what you will turn to before the need arises. Home defense is not a last-minute decision.
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