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Old January 5, 2010, 11:41 PM   #1
Webleymkv
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Handgun vs. Longarm for Home Defense

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...=1#post3870121

The issue of a handgun vs. a long gun for home defense came up in the above-linked thread. As I didn't want to hijack it, I'm opening this one. I find it perplexing that which firearm to use seems to be mutually exclusive to some people. It seems to me that both types have advantages and disadvantages and that it would be prudent to have both (or all three if you have a handgun, shotgun, and rifle) on hand to deal with whatever scenario may come up. As I see it, the handgun's main advantage is compactness (can be stored in more varied locations and containers) and manuverability while the long gun has advantages of power and shootability. Would it not make sense to have a handgun within immediate reach for uses like an intruder already within close proximity or investegation of possible intrusion and a longarm for a "barricade yourself into the room" situation? While if I had to choose just one I'd pick the handgun as I think it can be used for the "barricade" scenario more easily than the longarm can be used for the "need it right now" or "investigation" scenarios, I get the feeling that most of us here have both available so it seems strange that one must be chosen over the other. Thoughts?
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:09 AM   #2
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Both for me, definitely.

I'm not much for the whole "going and investigating" thing, personally; if someone wants to whup up on me, they can darn well come find me to do it. Still, the first thing to hand in the bedroom is a DAO K-frame; given enough advance notice, I will retrieve the carbine, just to have a better security blanket to hold til the cavalry arrives.
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:18 AM   #3
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I, too, strongly disapprove of the notion of investigating (aka, "Looking for someone to kill you").

However, I don't live alone. My children do not sleep in my room at night, but in their own rooms. Therefore, if we ever did have a home invasion, the odds are pretty strong that I will be compelled to move from Point A to Point B with gun in hand. In such a situation, a handgun makes more sense than a long gun, being considerably more flexible and more easily brought to bear in close quarters.

For me, another consideration is that I am much more proficient with, comfortable with, and trained with a handgun compared to long guns. With limited funds, I needed to concentrate my training and equipment selection somewhere, so I chose to concentrate on the weapon that could be used 'most everywhere, as opposed to the one with a more limited sphere of usefulness.

I'll also agree with Webley that it makes sense to have more than one tool for the different tasks, but I'll add that the chances of having time to transition from one to the other are vanishingly rare. Chances are that whatever you start with, that's the one that will be in your hand when the fighting's done. For most people who own both, that's probably going to be the handgun, regardless of any advance plans to the contrary.

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Old January 6, 2010, 01:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
the first thing to hand in the bedroom is a DAO K-frame; given enough advance notice, I will retrieve the carbine, just to have a better security blanket to hold til the cavalry arrives.
...or the paramedics....

Yep...
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:47 AM   #5
JCP281
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There is a Remington 870 with a side saddle full of goodies for an intruder within an arms length of me right now. The HD Pistol is in the safe with the other pistols/rifles. If the SHTF id rather have my 870 in my arms.

Reason being: None of my pistols have rails for a light. I would like to identify the threat FIRST and give the individual a chance to surrender and lay down on the ground(depending on the situation) before I fill them full of 00 buck.

If I had a light rail on my Glock I wouldnt hesitate to use that instead of the 870.
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Old January 6, 2010, 12:39 PM   #6
vox rationis
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Immediately handy is a handgun.

A few steps away in the closet is a carbine.

I don't have any kids and luckily I don't have to go investigating but rather I can use the bedroom as a locus of defense.

If I have the chance, which I should, I plan to take a position of defense in my bedroom with my carbine as my primary as I wait for the police to arrive...

One possible advantage I do see with a handgun beyond the portability issue is that it can be easier to be surgical with it in close quarters than it is with one's typical sporting semi auto rifle due to the aiming hold over issues that you will probably have to deal with when using a carbine (due to mechanical offset, with a POI up to 2.5" low when using an M4 style gun). This might, or might not be an issue depending on your situation (other family members, kids, etc.) But I think it is safe to say that if you do use a carbine for defense you really need to know your zero and hold overs, especially at close range.

Both my last pistol, and carbine, courses were done at CSAT (Paul Howe's company), and he has a great drill where he has a target that consists of a hostage being used as a human shield by the bad guy, with various amounts of his head showing, both from the front and from the side. The shots are taken at 7 yards. Suffice it to say, it is pretty easy to hit the hostage, and this was a stationary target.

The same drill with the carbine was in a sense easier due to the superior stability of the platform and longer sight radius, but I have to say that using a hold-over aiming point was a bit unnerving, especially when the available target was very small. Once you knew the POA-POI difference it wasn't so bad, but remember that this drill was shot with a non moving target at a set distance.

With a pistol and modern sights however (I was shooting a G19) most of the time the POI is right on the very tip top of the front sight out to 10 yards or so, and at 25 yards it ought to hit in the bullseye region if you lollypop the target on top of the front sight (this may vary depending on one's sight set up/ammo, etc. of course). Anyway, shooting the hostage drill with a pistol was easier in the sense that you didn't have to worry about hold over, but to be consistently good at this drill with a pistol it seems to me that the accuracy/precision standard one should strive for is to be able to shoot 5 shots into a group of 1" or better, at 7 yards.

Anyway hopefully none of us will ever be forced to have to shoot at a bad guy in a hostage situation, but these are just some thoughts I had.
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:03 PM   #7
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Random thoughts --

1. There are vast numbers of variables that might influence a person's choice of one or another. Among the most important is whether one has reason to believe that one faces a very specific and identifiable threat - like an irrational and enraged ex; rather than the random risk inherent to 21st century society.


2. Nothing hand-held is 100% effective.

3. All else being equal, a shotgun or rifle inside a room makes a bigger mess.

4. Why would anyone throw crap at a fan?

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Old January 6, 2010, 01:30 PM   #8
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all I got is one of each:

G22 and Rem. 870

the only other gun I own is a Winchester 290 .22LR so that's out of the question.

the Glock sleeps on the nightstand next to me and the 870 sleeps just a few feet from that with 10 disposable shells (5-shell side saddle)

I would rather the Glock be most readily available in the middle of the night because I can keep it elevated on my nightstand right around the level that I'm lying at so I can just swing my arm over and grab it without even getting up.
can't really keep a 12-gauge on a night stand.

but if someone were already inside a different part of the house, and I had a few seconds, I'd probably take a position in the bedroom with the 870 aimed at the door.

would you proceed into a room behind a closed door after hearing a round being chambered in a 12 gauge?
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:37 PM   #9
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Intrepid
4. Why would anyone throw crap at a fan?

It's not so much thrown there, Doc, but I can assure you that if I'm shooting at another human being who is likely shooting back at me then there will be crap in places that none of us wants to see it.



Shotgun, BTW, for the OP. I prefer a shotgun. Loads of power and I'm not likely to have over-penetration issues in my house. Anyone who's seen what a 12ga does to a deer will not argue with its ability to stop a human. I also agree that it's not either/or but more appropriately both/and.
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:56 PM   #10
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being single i have guns placed strategically about my home. but if im bed theres either a Dan Wesson rz10/surefire m3t, or beretta cx4 storm/streamlight m3 within hand reach.

i guess its which ever side of the bed i wake up on what i go for.
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Old January 6, 2010, 01:56 PM   #11
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I'm with those who think that, all other things being equal, having both types of gun available is better than having only one. My husband and I live in a condominium. We each have our CCW handguns, which are usually loaded and on us or within reach. We also have a 12-gauge shotgun stored in a safe place, loaded but with an empty chamber, which would need to be retrieved and racked to be ready for use. Depending on the situation, we might use any of them for home defense.

If we lived in a house in a rural area, we might also have a carbine at the ready. In a densely-populated urban area, a rifle of any type is just too likely to penetrate walls and hit something we did not want to hit. So for us, having a shotgun just made more sense. (Doesn't mean my husband won't acquire a rifle when we have the cash, but for target shooting and fun, not for home defense.)
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Old January 6, 2010, 02:30 PM   #12
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Dan Wesson at hand from my bed for SD in my bedroom, long gun not practical while in bed. Once on my feet Mr. Mossberg becomes the duty weapon and I will clear the house because I have family that needs to be protected and I'm the only one in the family who has been to that picnic before. No right answer, any gun has its place and any gun can be used in any situation but some are just more practical in certain scenarios.
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Old January 6, 2010, 02:36 PM   #13
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I agree with having access to a number of different tools and if possible using the best tool for the job. I'm not going to answer a knock on my door at an odd hour with my AR15, but I will most likely have my 1911 at hand. On the other hand, in a Katrina type situation I will most likely be holding my AR15 when a scraggly bunch suddenly appears on my property or if there are obvious noises of breaking and entering while I'm in bed at night.

That said, I think most folks will gravitate towards using what they know best and feel most comfortable with. Someone who skeet shoots regularly probably feels safer and more confident with a Remington 870 than a Glock. Someone who competes in USPSA may feel the opposite.

I know I would not want to go up against Jerry Miculek or Bob Munden armed with a snubnose revolver, even if I had an M16 in my hands.
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Old January 6, 2010, 02:49 PM   #14
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I don't live alone. My children do not sleep in my room at night, but in their own rooms.
Same situation here.

I have three small children, and our house is a split floor plan. Their bedrooms are on the other side of the house. I absolutely would not be able to "Barricade" myself in one room, and wait for help to arrive. At least not until I went and rounded everyone up.

Because I would have to try to get everyone, and get to a safer place in the house to hold up, I think a long gun for me is out of the question, as it would be too hard to wrangle three kids and a rifle or a shotgun.

Quote:
Chances are that whatever you start with, that's the one that will be in your hand when the fighting's done.
Agreed.

I carry a Glock 27 inside the house, and it goes with me where ever I go. I even have it when I'm sleeping. Other than that, I have a hand held light. I honestly don't think I would have time to access another weapon.

Once we were all in one location, ( time and situation permitting ), then I could see bringing a shotgun or rifle into play.
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Old January 6, 2010, 03:19 PM   #15
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Handgun for me.

A long gun, even a sawed-off shotgun, may be hard to wield in the sometimes cramped rooms of a house. It's the first thing around a corner and lends itself to being grabbed. It usually takes two hands to operate, and you may not have that freedom.

A handgun has the tactical advantage inside a house, and it usually holds more rounds. It can easily be a one-handed weapon if need be.

Granted, a 12 ga. shotgun is nothing to mess with, but I still go to the handgun.
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Old January 6, 2010, 04:31 PM   #16
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Like others who have posted, I'd go with a combination of both. I also have children that would need to be rounded up, so when I'm moving I'd carry a handgun. Once the whole family is in the bedroom and we're waiting for the police, the shotgun is in my hands.
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Old January 6, 2010, 04:40 PM   #17
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I'd like to hear from people that have had an actual home invasion experience on this subject.

I usually keep a Sig 220 on the nightstand but wonder if my Saiga should be kept out of the safe at night too. I have an 18" Mossberg but don't trust it for HD use.
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Old January 6, 2010, 04:55 PM   #18
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There us an 870 by the bed. Loaded with low brass fine shot. If you are upstairs in my home you will likely be less than 10 feet from the muzzle. You may not be DRT, but I have doubts you will remain an aggressor. If youstill have aggression, then there is another round or so to help speed the pacification process.
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Old January 6, 2010, 06:29 PM   #19
Webleymkv
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Quote:
Shotgun, BTW, for the OP. I prefer a shotgun. Loads of power and I'm not likely to have over-penetration issues in my house. Anyone who's seen what a 12ga does to a deer will not argue with its ability to stop a human. I also agree that it's not either/or but more appropriately both/and.
I wouldn't be so sure about the over-penetration thing. A shotgun, even loaded with birdshot, will easily penetrate the interior walls of most homes. Many years ago, a relative of mine had an accidental discharge (truly accidental as it was caused by a malfunctioning firearm) with a 16ga shotgun loaded with either #6 or #7 birdshot. The pattern penetrated two interior walls before coming to rest in a third. You see, a shotgun pattern dissepates very little at the short ranges typically encountered inside one's home and the pellets typically act like one big heavy projectile. For those worried about overpenetration, a .223/5.56 rifle loaded with light JHP's is actually better as the light, high velocity bullets have more of a tendency to tumble and/or fragment when they hit a hard barrier like a wall. One of the reasons that the military is moving towards carbines like the M4 is that they've found that a 5.56 from a short barrel actually penetrates interior walls less than a 9mm from a submachinegun.

My personal HD setup is as follows: a handgun (typically a .44 or .357 Magnum revolver) loaded with my JHP of choice within immediate reach and a Remington 870 fully loaded with five rounds of #4 Buck also within reach though not as easily accessible as the handgun. Finally, my converted Saiga .223 with 20 rounds of 45grn JHP is a few steps away. None of these firearms are locked up as while there are other people in the house, none are small children and they can all be trusted with a firearm. All of these guns are also sufficiently out of sight or in the case of the handgun on me when I'm not at home that I don't have to worry about a visitor coming across them.
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Old January 6, 2010, 06:42 PM   #20
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I wouldn't be so sure about the over-penetration thing.
That's not the kind of problem that I'm talking about. What I am referencing is causing potential danger for my neighbors. The directions that I am most likely to ever have to shoot toward would require the round to penetrate not just several layers of typical indoor walls but also at least 2 layers of 3/4 inch boards and likely at least one layer of steel roof, which would then find it indoors again only to be met by more walls and/or flooring. Even if it "only" had to penetrate 2 or 3 walls and then the two layers of 3/4 boards then it would still be 100 yards to the neighbors house and their bedrooms are on the opposite side of the house.

If I ever had to shoot in those less likely directions then the angle would be such that I would be firing toward the lower levels of the closest neighbors house and/or garage. Their bedrooms are all on the upper floor and near the front of the house so there is not likely to be a problem there either.
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Old January 6, 2010, 07:06 PM   #21
Formula233
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While reading this I was not going to reply but to Chris in va 45acp is the only way to go ..I had a short 870 12g for years until a buddy of mine ex Green Beret had a break in the man almost stepped on him while he was a sleep in a downstair bedroom he grabbed his Colt 1911a1 and put 2 in him and the rounds didn't come out 45acp for me.. True story
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Old January 6, 2010, 07:10 PM   #22
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Good points by all

I have thought about this many times and have come up with the following conclusion - if the threat is downstaires and I am awake then its the Mossberg Persuader that is in a closet 3 feet from my bed. My handgun, usually a XD 45 service or a SW model 10 snub is in the nightstand. If the threat is upstairs and moving toward my room then it will have to be the handgun because its right there in the nightstand. I will always prefer the shotgun in a HD situation. Also I am VERY confident that the dogs will give me that extra few seconds to retrieve the shotgun.
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Old January 6, 2010, 07:26 PM   #23
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Dogs you got 'a love em for that extra edge , where I live crime has increased so much in the last few years you have to have a dog .
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Old January 6, 2010, 10:16 PM   #24
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Quote:
I'd like to hear from people that have had an actual home invasion experience on this subject.
3 times:

First one my grandmother ruined the guys day with grandpas 30-30 stuck under his nose. I watched her take a deer with it at 70 yards shooting off hand from her porch because it was in her garden, (don't mess with grandma's garden), so she was no novice to the old gun.

Second one my wife met cops with my 38 super. A girl had been raped and killed half a block from our house and our neighbors told the police the description matched my wife so they came in to check. They were impressed with her response and mentioned that it was to bad the girl that had been killed hadn't been as ready.

Third one, next door neighbor boys had some drunk friends come over and they tried to get in the back way through our patio door around 0130 AM. They had the wrong house. Sobered up right nicely facing an angry dog and the muzzle of a 45 pistol.

Only the last one happened late at night, if they had gotten the door open it would have been bad news for them.

I live in the sticks, when I am home my door is usually unlocked, friends and neighbors know to come in and announce themselves at the door. Anybody coming in on the QT is in trouble. It's a country thing.
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Old January 7, 2010, 12:14 AM   #25
chris in va
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I guess the bottom line is, have a gun...and be reasonably proficient with it. Other stories I've read confirm this as well, the victim used whatever they had on hand.
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