As an firearms and personal defense instructor for just shy of 25 years, I’ve had countless people ask me what’s the best gun for home defense over the years. If it were only so simple. It’s analogous to “which car should I buy?”
The answer? “It depends…”
For those wanting to buy their first defensive handgun, especially for those who aren’t going to practice much, I generally recommend selecting a revolver and I’ll tell you why: The operation of revolvers is very simple, making it a great selection for first-time handgun owners or those who aren’t going to practice. What’s more, they are dead nuts reliable compared to semi-auto pistols.
From a safety perspective, they are very safe because once the cylinder is open, even Alec Baldwin can figure out if the gun is loaded or not. That is if he opens the cylinder.
To use a revolver, simply stuff the cylinder with live rounds, close it, point it at the target and pull the trigger. It’s the ultimate point-and-click interface.
It even works great from the pocket or purse! “Surprise, sucka!”
Semi-auto pistols, like the ones most cops carry today are a little more complicated to use. And they don’t work as well from the pocket or purse.
If modern pistols like Glocks appeal to you, that’s fine. You’re not alone. Seek out training to learn how to safely load and unload the gun and how to handle it – safely.
Shotguns – simple, affordable pump-action shotguns – make outstanding home defense guns. Loaded with buckshot, a 12-gauge or 20-gauge will decisively drop an intruder with a single blast.
Plus everyone knows the sound a shotgun makes when chambering a round thanks to Hollywood. Some call it the “universal sound of peace.” If an aggressor ignores that sound and continues their attack, that’s a clue that they aren’t there selling Girl Scout cookies.
Intimidated by a shotgun? Rest assured, the intimidation flows both directions. Even bad guys who have had guns pointed at them previously generally want little to no part of a shotgun.
What do I have for home defense? The same thing as my fellow GSL Defense Training instructors.
Each of my fellow instructors are quite fluent in handguns and pretty good to exceptional with long guns as well. In other words, we can have whatever we want and make it work.
Except the one fellow who has an autistic son at home, we all have pump-action shotguns as our go-to home defense gun. Ponder that for a moment.
In any event, once you find a gun that fits you (or your hand for handguns), consider visiting an indoor range and asking to rent that particular gun to try it out before you buy. You might discover that the gun that looked and felt good to you isn’t one you can manipulate if you have physical limitations (including things like arthritis, for example).
As you will soon learn first-hand, there’s some paperwork and a three-day waiting period in the Land of Lincoln after you initiate the purchase before you can walk out with your new gun.
You’ll also learn from your visit to the gun shop that gun aficionados are generally nice people.
Lastly, get some formal training. Classes are readily available and affordable. They’ll make you safer and more comfortable around the gun.
A good training class will never make you an expert marksman or gunfighter overnight, but they can make you an expert on safety in a day.
After class, you can then share proper, safe gun handling skills with your friends and family to keep them safe too.
Training or not, you’ll need to practice once in a while if you hope to successfully operate your gun under stress. So go visit your favorite local range at least a few times each year to get the dust bunnies off our familiarity with shooting your new gun – aka safety rescue tool.
Enjoy your new hobby. It’s fun, empowering and could save your life someday. You can’t say all that about most recreational activities.