It goes without saying that different guns serve different purposes, and when it comes to protecting your family and your home, there’s no question that you want the best home defense gun out there. We’ve done the researched and selected the 5 best home defense guns for your protection. Some people may prefer a smaller gun that is more immediately accessible while others may desire the fearsome sound of a pump action shotgun being racked. In any case, we’ve got the firearm that will best suit your needs!
Depending on the features and characteristics you’re looking for, we’ve got them all and organized the list in terms of categories, including from pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
For those who live in an apartment or perhaps single women living alone, a pistol is the ideal home defense weapon. It’s small enough to keep tucked away and bring out at night on your nightstand. For young single women living alone, this is very appealing! Others really like pistols as opposed to a shotgun or a rifle because it is much easier to grab (even if it’s in a safe) and use in close corners.
Those who opt for a pistol as a home defense weapon ought to consider staying in the same family as their concealed carry weapons. For example, if you have a Glock 26 for concealed carry, pick a Glock 17, 19, or 34 for home defense. Some pistols may even have the capability of doubling as a home defense gun and as a concealed carry weapon. If you go this route, you might want to have a longer, extended magazine when using the firearm for home defense.
You should also consider how you store your pistol (or any firearm really) for home defense. Some people really want to have the gun out on a nightstand; this may be a good fit, especially if you live alone. But for those with kids, you really ought to consider putting your pistol in a gun safe, not just sitting on a nightstand. It’s safer that way.
There are a lot of great gun safes out there, including ones that use fingerprints (you can often store several different ones), which would help when your fine motor skills disappear, so just find an easily accessible hand safe if you have kids.
Smith & Wesson Governor
- Caliber: 410 2 ½”, 45 ACP, 45 Colt
- Barrel Length: 2.75 inches
- Height: 5.5 inches
- Length: 8.5 inches
- Weight: 29.6 ounces (unloaded)
- Magazine Capacity: 6
- Price: $869
Why It’s Cool: A revolver that shoots a .45 plus a shotgun shell? Can it get any cooler than that?
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of a revolver that shoots a powerful .45 cartridge as well as a .410 shotgun shell AND is extremely concealable and portable, Smith & Wesson’s Governor is the firearm for you. Its accuracy is amazing for a snubnose, it has excellent trigger grips, and it’s a Jack-of-all-trades that is extremely fun to shoot.
There have been some other versions of revolvers that fire bullets and shotgun shells like Taurus’s Judge, but none can compare to the Governor in accuracy and reliability.
The recoil is mild for .45 ACP and .45 “Cowboy” Colt loads and not too much worse with .410 loads. If you can tolerate the recoil of a compact 9mm, the Governor will be a breeze to shoot. But beware with full-power .45 Colts (230-grain, for example).
You’ll need a moon clip for the .45 ACP rounds, which can be a little bit of a hassle to use when you need fresh rounds. Fortunately, though, moon clips are pretty cheap.
The Governor obviously isn’t going to double as a concealed carry weapon, but many consider it to be an excellent home defense weapon. For those who are more skeptical about the Governor as a home defense weapon, they feel that a light or some night sight option is important. If that’s less of a concern to you, don’t turn down this dynamic three caliber gun.
This gun was personally recommended by a family member who still considers this her favorite firearm (it was her first firearm) even though she’s added to her collection.
Because the Governor has a sufficient capacity and great versatility, it’s worth looking into. It might be a little expensive for plinking due to the .45 caliber cartridges, but almost everyone who fires loves the uniqueness of this revolver that fires bullets and shotgun shells.
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel Length: 4.01 inches
- Height: 4.99 inches
- Length: 7.36 inches
- Weight: 30.18 ounces (loaded)
- Magazine Capacity: 15+1
- Price: $499-$726
Why It’s Cool: The Glock 19 is an extremely versatile gun that can function as a concealed carry weapon, a duty gun, and a home defense firearm. Its sufficient magazine capacity as well as comfortable size (it’s a little larger for concealed carry) make the Glock 19 a great choice for a variety of circumstances.
Considered by some to be the definitive concealed carry gun in the modern world, the Glock 19 was designed as a carry gun for undercover police officers and police officers with smaller hands, but it’s been widely used and loved as a concealed carry weapon and a home defense pistol.
If you’re a smaller individual, the G19 might be great for you because it’s not too big, it fires 9mm (so less of a recoil than .45), it’s a semi-automatic pistol with a 15+1 magazine capacity (perfectly sufficient for dealing with intruders), and it can be concealed and carried (even though it is larger than compact pistols).
With a 15+1 capacity, the G19 is a very functional gun. Called the “Goldilocks gun,” it’s the perfect in-between size: a sufficient capacity while it can still be concealed and carried. Easily placed on a nightstand, you can rest easily at night, knowing that you can quickly grab the G19 and take out the threat.
Because the G19 has reduced dimensions of the standard sized pistol, it’s especially ideal for smaller individuals. It will run +P 9mm ammunition and will also accept G17 magazines that have an additional two rounds of capacity (17+1).
Of course, the other sizes of Glocks (G17 and G34) are great for home defense as well; it’s just that they are larger and don’t have the flexibility of the G19. Some people opt to have two versions of the same firearm and just designate one for home defense (often with the larger magazine capacity) and another for concealed carry. The benefit of doing this is that you would be very familiar with that firearm and could operate it well in a challenging and stressful circumstance.
The fact that it can be used as a concealed carry pistol as well makes it especially appealing as a home defense weapon. It is easily to shoot and has the quality that comes with every Glock. While smaller individuals, especially females, might have some difficulties in concealing the G19 as it is larger than a compact pistol, it’s nice to have the option of using it as a concealed carry weapon.
If you live in the city and/or are afraid of having multiple intruders or dealing with riots, you may prefer a rifle to a pistol or a shotgun. The advantage of a rifle is that you have more firepower for a larger group of people. You may also desire a rifle if you live in the country and also want to use the firearm to take care of wild animals.
A disadvantage of a rifle is that it is challenging to use in close quarter situations and also have a longer range if you were to miss your target. One way to deal with the length of the rifle and the difficulty of mobility in tight situations is to select a carbine, which is a slightly shorter rifle.
A rifle may also cost much more than a shotgun or a pistol, making it cost-prohibitive for some people. But if you can afford it, a rifle carbine could be a great home defense weapon due to its accuracy and flexibility.
It may be hard for a rifle to completely replace the shotgun as a home defense weapon in the minds of the public, but some people are trying to change that. There are a variety of excellent articles on the internet discussing why people are trading in their shotguns for AR-15s, namely due to the fact that ARs are reliable semi-automatic weapons and the fact that shotguns are heavy, have a significant kick, and operate differently.
You don’t need to necessarily change your mind about getting a shotgun for home defense, but you should at least consider why a rifle might be a viable option for home defense.
Ruger SR-556 Takedown
- Action Type: Short-Stroke, Gas-Piston Operated Semi-Automatic Rifle
- Barrel Length: 16.12 inches
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO (.223 Rem); .300 Blackout (optional kit)
- Weight: 7.1 pounds
- Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
- Price: $2,199
Why It’s Cool: The Ruger SR-556 Takedown is an easily assembled or disassembled rifle that fires like an AR and is extremely accurate, portable, reliable, and versatile.
As noted in the name “Takedown,” the Ruger SR-556 Takedown can be easily taken apart for storage and transport and then quickly put back together if needed. It breaks down into three separate parts: barrel/piston system assembly, lower receiver assembly, and upper receiver/handguard assembly. For one individual, it took him 10 seconds to assemble or dissemble the rifle.
Although there may be downsides to keeping the parts separate in the event of an intruder—namely the loss of fine motor skills when frightened and needing time to stop the threat, you could dissemble the Takedown if you’re short on space and/or need to easily conceal the separate parts.
One concern you might have is the impact on the zero when you remove and replace the barrel. One person had this same apprehension and decided to test the rifle and discovered that there was “no significant shift in zero.”
As a heads up, because it is operated with a two-stage piston drive, the SR-556 (both the original and the later Takedown models) does feel different from the standard gas-operated AR, and you will notice the distinction. But it still functions very well even though it has a slight difference from a normal AR. If you’re aware and take into account that it’s just a bit different, the SR-556 Takedown is a great option.
Something unique about the Takedown is that it is an extremely versatile AR-style firearm while still maintaining accuracy, portability, and reliability. You can use it for home defense, hunting, and plinking, and it performs well with 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington ammo as well as .300 AAC Blackout if you buy the optional caliber conversion kit.
If you just want a rifle for home defense, the Takedown is a great option because it’s an AR-type rifle that is a carbine, it can be put together or taken apart extremely quickly (we’re talking ten seconds!), and it will give you the accuracy and firepower that you need, including if you desire the larger .300 AAC Blackout cartridge.
- Action Type: Garand-style action, Gas-Piston Operated Semi-Automatic Rifle
- Barrel Length: 16.12 inches
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO (.223 Rem) or 300 BLK
- Weight: 6.7 pounds
- Magazine Capacity: 5 rounds or 20 rounds
- Price: $1,089-$1,169
Why It’s Cool: The Ruger Mini-14 Tactical rifle is a great alternative to ARs because it is lighter, easy to use, and durable.
Due to its short barrel and short length, the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical rifle is a great home defense weapon because it’s easy to maneuver without compromising on capacity. Depending on your needs, you can get the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical rifle chambered for 5.56 NATO or 300 BLK with a capacity of 20 rounds as well as one chambered for 5.56 NATO with a capacity of 5.
If you’re not set on an AR, the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical could be an excellent option for you. Sometimes called a scaled-down M14, the Ruger Mini-14 is extremely affordable in comparison to an AR without compromising on quality (remember, it’s a Ruger!). You can walk and fire and get the job done, making the Mini-14 an excellent firearm for home defense, police officers, and pest control.
Although for some number of years the Ruger Minis struggled with accuracy, they do not anymore. Since 2005, the accuracy is on par with an AR. For home defense, you won’t need the extreme accuracy of an AR anyway. You want a reliable firearm, which is exactly what the Mini-14 is. Ruger also fixed the magazine capacity worries and now 30-round factory magazines are available to the general public previously only available to law enforcement.
A side perk that the Mini-14 has is that it is one of the few semi-automatic rifles available in stainless steel, which is great for coastal dwellers and boaters who have issues with corrosion.
One final reason you might prefer a Ruger Mini-14 Tactical over an AR is because it has an overall lighter weight, making it a great choice for a smaller individual. While a group of civilians did a study comparing the AR-15 (CMMG M4 LE) to the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical, most of the men preferred the Mini-14.
In sum, the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical is a great alternative to an AR because the Mini-14 is reliable, durable, and on-par in accuracy.
When you first think of a home defense weapon, you probably think of a 12-gauge pump action shotgun. And it’s true. There’s nothing quite like the sound of racking a 12-gauge pump action shotgun. Shotguns are great home defense weapons because they have a sufficient magazine capacity and just a pure intimidation factor.
You can specifically purchase short-barreled shotguns or combat shotguns that have special sights or larger magazine capacities, giving you ease of maneuverability without compromising in firepower. You might also want to consider choosing a home defense shotgun in the same family as your hunting shotgun just for continuity. For example, the Mossberg 500 has hunting and tactical versions.
Some people will prefer a pump-action shotgun for the amazing sound that it makes when racked, its inexpensive cost, and its reliability. You can’t go wrong with a pump-action. Others may like a semi-automatic shotgun because it’s more accurate and you can fire more rounds more quickly. However, it will be a bit more expensive.
For the most effective stopping power, get a 12-gauge shotgun. It goes without saying that it is extremely devastating at a close range, and many firearm experts consider the 12-gauge to be “the best anti-personnel weapon ever invented.” If you’re a smaller individual and worried about the recoil, a 16-gauge or 20-gauge shotgun is still a great option.
Finally, you should consider the disadvantages of shotguns. They can be a little heavy and bulky and might be difficult to maneuver in close corners. Also, remember that the capacity for a shotgun can be low, especially if you don’t purchase a semi-automatic shotgun. Factor in the time it takes to reload and be sure that you are comfortable enough and dexterous enough to reload in a stressful situation.
Mossberg 500 Tactical Pump Action Shotgun
- Gauge: 12
- Barrel length: 20 inches
- Length: 41 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Magazine Capacity: 8
- Price: $400-$500
Why It’s Cool: The Mossberg 500 is a definitive shotgun for home defense that fires 8 shots and has that great pump action sound.
The Mossberg 500 Tactical is one of the definitive shotguns for home defense and is a great all-purpose gun. In addition to protecting your family, you also can use it for hunting (bird, deer, and hog) and just-for-fun shooting. If you travel for work often and want to leave your wife with a firearm, you can’t go wrong with 8 shots and the pump action sound.
It comes apart to clean although it can be a bit tricky to put back together the first couple times (that’s what YouTube is for, right?), it’s very similar to the hunting model, and it’s easy to shoot and very accurate.
Beware of the recoil, though. Especially if you’re a small female, make sure that you’re ready for it! You definitely want to ensure that the first time you use the gun isn’t when you’re trying to take care of an intruder.
Many people have found the ghost rings sights superb; they are dead on and come right up to your eye every time you shoulder it.
In sum, the Mossberg 500 Tactical is a dependable shotgun. The Remington 870 is also an extremely popular option, but you can’t beat a 500 for the money. If you opt for a more basic 500 (i.e., not the Tactical version), the Mossberg 500 is extremely reasonable priced. Finally, most people report that the 500 is an incredibly reliable shotgun that never jams while others in the industry do, and the 500 is a little bit lighter than the 870 if you’re a smaller individual.
Before purchasing a firearm for home defense, be sure that you know what the Castle Doctrine laws are for your state. These can vary widely state to state and tell you what is legal regarding the requirements to use deadly force and the places where this law applies.
Whether you’re looking for a pistol you can place on your nightstand or something that is more powerful and able to take down a couple intruders, we hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 5 best home defense guns for your protection. In the end, you need to pick something you’re comfortable with. For some people, that’s a Glock 19; for others, it’s an AR-15. Figure out what that is for you—small size, extreme accuracy, or intimidating sound, and get the home defense gun that’s going to be best for you.
Hopefully you’ve figured out which gun is going to be the next one (or maybe first one!) on your list to buy! If you enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend.
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