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Old April 9, 2011, 02:25 AM   #1
microman
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HD in a small apartment..

If I lived out in the country and had a large home I could see having
a pump shotgun as my go to gun for defense. However, due to my
job I live in a fairly small apartment in a large city.

Been thinking about since its such a small area and due to thin walls
etc, wouldn't a .38 special revolver be the ideal HD gun? Less penetration
than a 9mm less recoil and flash than a .357

Is the .38 special outdated?
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Old April 9, 2011, 02:56 AM   #2
Lokpyrite
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The .38 is far from outdated, BUT it(no handgun) doesn't come close to the devastation that a 12 gauge causes. My situation is similar to your, I live in a very small apartment, I keep a S&W model 64 at the head of my bed but 4 feet away is a Mossberg 500 with a total of 20 rounds on board. If I have time I KNOW wich one I'd grab and it wouldn't be the revolver.
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Old April 9, 2011, 05:15 AM   #3
45Gunner
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Living in close quarters with thin walls, surrounded by residents in similar situations would present a unique situation, I would think. I am trying to understand your points of view. If your go to gun is a shotgun, are we assuming a band of rogue BG's or a single intruder?

If you are dealing with a single intruder, would you not be worried about "collateral damage" or accidently killing the neighbor in the adjoining apartment? However, if you had a full frontal attack by a mob of intruders, then I would agree that the shotgun would be the way to go and that their bodies would most likely prevent anything else from penetrating thin walls.

Without knowing the statistics, I would guess that most break-in's are committed by one or two individuals. It tight quarters, as described, I would be inclined to go with something that offers ease of handling, has take down power, and yet will not kill a resident in an adjoining apartment. I think a pistol loaded with hollow point may be my first choice as I think it would give me the ability to seek cover behind a piece of furniture and offer more opportunities in the way I could discharge the gun, if it came to that. And, if it misses the target, it will cause damage to the wall, reducing the risk of accidently taking out a neighbor.
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Old April 9, 2011, 06:50 AM   #4
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If a shotgun is your ideal choice in that particular environment, you could go with the old recipe of loading smaller shot for the first round or two. Within short distance, I would think #8 shot could be devastating, especially to the facial area, with little or no penetration to the walls. If you miss a vital area shot, the BG/BG's will know you mean business, and short of a contract killing, will likely beat feet. Adding security measures, such as perimeter alarms on door's and windows that can be armed while inside could also keep an intrusion from turning into a gunfight.
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Old April 9, 2011, 07:04 AM   #5
ClayInTx
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Before making a decision I believe it would be well to get more (valid) information on the penetration of bullets and shot.

I recently had the chance to compare 9mm, .38 Special, and .357 against pine coupons (slices from the end of a log). The penetration was in the same order as listed.

All three were such that I would, in no way, count on a (typical) apartment wall stopping them or slowing them up enough to have no “punch” left.

A short time before the above test I saw the same kind of test with a 12 gauge shotgun using #7. Didn’t come even close to the pistol penetration, but still enough that if the wall is made of drywall, 2 layers with some insulation, it probably would make it all the way through and still have some “punch” left but not much.

You might look at some shotguns of less than 12 gauge.

I’ll admit these were not scientifically executed tests. These were in my backyard, wooded area with plenty of pine logs, and more like, “Hey! Hold my beer and watch this.” No, we weren’t really drinking beer. I don’t allow alcohol and guns to mix on my place, but I believe you get the idea of the scientific-ness.

Apartments are always a problem for gunshots of any kind and I know from experience that house walls are little better unless brick veneer.

Guns are made to shoot through things and most of them will do it.
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Old April 9, 2011, 07:41 AM   #6
JohnKSa
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The best ways to avoid stray bullets from being a danger to your neighbors:

1. End the confrontation as quickly as possible. You may be concerned about where your bullets go and overpenetration, but your attacker doesn't care at all. The faster you can shut him down the fewer bullets he will fire to endanger you and your neighbors/household members and the fewer bullets you will fire.

2. Hit your target. Bullets that travel through a person (particularly handgun bullets from premium self-defense ammunition) will be mostly spent by the time they exit--if they exit at all.

It's also important to keep in mind that if either his bullets or your bullets injure a neighbor/household member, their best chance for survival is for you to prevail so you can rapidly summon the authorities & medical attention.

Finally, remember what/who the threat is. You and your self-defense gun are not the threat. The attacker is the threat. Your first priority is to neutralize the threat as rapidly and as quickly as possible. You don't want to get too concerned with secondary issues until you have come up with a reasonable solution to dealing with the primary issue.

I guess what I'm saying is that as long as you are making reasonable choices in self-defense firearms you shouldn't get too wrapped up in worrying about overpenetration.

If you were trying to choose between a BAR (fully automatic .30-06 rifle) using FMJ and a .38 special handgun using premium expanding self-defense ammunition then I'd say that the BAR/FMJ combo poses too much of a threat of overpenetration to be a reasonable self-defense weapon in an urban environment. Choosing between between various handgun calibers is a different story. Make your choices based on shootability and on effectiveness and don't get overly bogged down in overpenetration concerns.
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Old April 9, 2011, 09:19 AM   #7
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As has been said, the skill of the defender is more important than the equipment.
Practice, practice, don't miss, don't miss.
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Old April 9, 2011, 10:36 AM   #8
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You can also strategically place furniture (that will slow or stop a round) in the places behind the spots where you're most likely to encounter a BG.

Edit: You should not used bonded ammo because that will keep the bullet together, which could lead to over penetration.

Last edited by catnphx; April 9, 2011 at 10:44 AM.
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Old April 9, 2011, 10:39 AM   #9
roaddog28
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Best answer I can give is yes a 38 special 4 inch revolver will work in most HD situations. Again shoot placement is key. Also a good SD round is important. I use a 38 special 4 inch revolver. I load it with Buffalo Bore 158 gr LSWCHP +P. The reason. Simple I shoot the revolver the best. Of course a 12 guage will work. I am of the opinion that a 14 guage would work just as well and might not over pentrate. There is not way anyone can know what will work in a life or death situation. For me I want the weapon I can use the best and has enough stopping power to do the job. You have to make the decision. No one from here can.
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Old April 9, 2011, 10:53 AM   #10
beex215
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dont they still make the older tech hollow points that break into pieces? seems like that would fit here. frangible?
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Old April 9, 2011, 10:58 AM   #11
rodwhaincamo
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I, too, live in an apartment with the same concerns. Despite living on the "good" side of town there are crummy neighborhoods nearby and the "rift raft" can be seen roaming the streets.
Come to find out, once I got to know a few of my neighbors, that the master bedroom windows are easy to get into, and that several apartments in our little vicinity had been broken into that way along with a few kick-doors. Oh great... Eventually we came home to find our window broken. The car has been broken into 3 times in less than 2 yrs
I have installed screw on window locks, cheapo alarms on the window and door, placed my reloading table in front of the bedroom window, and furniture in front of the sliding glass door [In the 2nd bedroom???] of my daughters room, as well as night lights.
This ought to buy us a little more time and ensure that an intruder[s] cannot get the drop on us in the middle of the night. And the dim lights are enough to identify the intruder[s].
There are the frangible types of bullets intended for such applications, though I have some in my 44 Mag, they don't seem to perform as advertised. Some merely causing flesh wounds, some not fragmenting but acting more like a fmj. I intend on doing some testing with the mock walls I have made [waiting on siding and insulation to simulate exterior walls].
I rather like my downwind neighbors and would feel better about using something less dangerous. But if it doesn't perform well it's 44 Spls with hollow points.
Another thing I have been considering trying are shotshells loaded with larger shot [4 to buck].
The 38 Spl would do well. I would suggest, if you are leaning towards such, to get a 357 Mag and use 38 +Ps. It would give you a larger range of uses. But I am of a mind to use larger calibers.

Last edited by rodwhaincamo; April 9, 2011 at 11:09 AM.
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Old April 9, 2011, 11:09 AM   #12
rodwhaincamo
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I, too, live in an apartment with the same concerns. Despite living on the "good" side of town there are crummy neighborhoods nearby and the "rift raft" can be seen roaming the streets.
Come to find out, once I got to know a few of my neighbors, that the master bedroom windows are easy to get into, and that several apartments in our little vicinity had been broken into that way along with a few kick-doors. Oh great... Eventually we came home to find our window broken. The car has been broken into 3 times in less than 2 yrs
I have installed screw on window locks, cheapo alarms on the window and door, placed my reloading table in front of the bedroom window, and furniture in front of the sliding glass door [In the 2nd bedroom???] of my daughters room, as well as night lights.
This ought to buy us a little more time and ensure that an intruder[s] cannot get the drop on us in the middle of the night. And the dim lights are enough to identify the intruder[s].
There are the frangible types of bullets intended for such applications, though I have some in my 44 Mag, they don't seem to perform as advertised. Some merely causing flesh wounds, some not fragmenting but acting more like a fmj. I intend on doing some testing with the mock walls I have made [waiting on siding and insulation to simulate exterior walls].
I rather like my downwind neighbors and would feel better about using something less dangerous. But if it doesn't perform well it's 44 Spls with hollow points.
Another thing I have been considering trying are shotshells loaded with larger shot [4 to buck].
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Old April 9, 2011, 12:10 PM   #13
Glenn Dee
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I'm also an apartment dweller. By choice.

My community is considered good, and safe by any standard. But as we all know... Doo Doo happens. I dont live a lifestyle that would involve my home in cash rich transactions. As most home invasions, push in's, and occupied burglaries are to some degree an inside job. But as we see the police make mistakes, and hit a wrong location, criminals i believe make a lot more mistakes than the police. So the possibility of a home invasion in any neighborhood is real. In my humble opinion.

All that having been said... For my home defense selections I do consider the safety of my neighbors, and friends. I keep a detective special at bedside loaded as follows. 1st round is .38spl shot, second and third rounds are frangible's, fourth round is 158gr swc standard velocity, fifth and sixth rounds are .38 JHP +p.

I also keep handy a Colt Trooper loaded with 6 .38spl standard velocity JHP's, and a 12ga Stevens 311 empty but with 12ga 00 buck, and 12ga slugs within reach of the gun, but hidden.

Some of my friends think I'm over gunned, and my non firearm enthusiast friends think I'm nuts.

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Old April 9, 2011, 01:05 PM   #14
microman
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Quote:
I am trying to understand your points of view. If your go to gun is a shotgun, are we assuming a band of rogue BG's or a single intruder?
Sorry 45Gunner,

I should have wrote my paragraph better. I used to live in a location
that was out of the city limits and neighbors were far away. My go
to gun then was a 12 gauge pump.

Now that my current living situation has changed I was thinking that
maybe a .38 special would do better in such close quarters as an
apartment. I am worried about all the people living around me as
well, if a defense situation were to happen. Thought maybe a heavy
.38 special JHP might offer good stopping power and not so much
penetration through walls and other things.

I really had not thought out if there were a multitude of bg's. In that
case scenario the revolver would not give me very many shoots without
a speed loader.
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Old April 9, 2011, 01:10 PM   #15
Crazy88Fingers
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What about a 20ga shotgun? It should cut down on potential over-penetration, and it still has power to spare when it comes to taking down an intruder.
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Old April 10, 2011, 12:18 AM   #16
TCL
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Think about the direction in which you might be shooting in the event of a home invasion. I live in an apartment too, but I'm right next to a golf course, and the layout of my apartment is such that the most tactically advantageous position for me to take up means that I would be shooting toward the golf course. That being the case, I don't worry too much about overpenetration (assuming it's at night - not too many people on the sixth hole at oh-dark-thirty.)
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Old April 10, 2011, 01:55 AM   #17
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
Thought maybe a heavy .38 special JHP might offer good stopping power and not so much penetration through walls and other things.
I think JohnKSa has a good analysis of what the main threat/problem is - and as Clay pointed out .38 Special will sail through several typical interior walls - as will pretty much any load from any firearm that meets the FBI minimum criteria.

The problem is an inch of powdered gypsum backed by paper is not much of a barrier. You can punch your fist through drywall but I don't know many who can punch their fist througha sternum. Something that can do that is going to go through drywall.
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Old April 10, 2011, 03:39 AM   #18
45Gunner
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I think this thread has provoked some decent thinking as has proven that we must all have a tactical game plan, regardless of our living quarters. This becomes especially evident and the game plan changes if we have a significant other and kids living with us. Tactics must be practiced as a group so everyone knows what is going to happen. Plans A & B must be rehearsed and Plan C has to be put into play when A & B may not fit the situation. Be prepared.

My wife and I used to go over our game plans on a semi-regular basis but have not in a long time. I am motivated to go back to the drawing board and rejuvenate our tactics.
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Old April 10, 2011, 04:29 AM   #19
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"...Apartments are always a problem for gunshots..." Depends on the age of the building. Modern buildings, 20 plus years old, are a bunch of hollow, reinforced concrete, blocks. Designed to stop fires from spreading. Only the internal walls are dry wall.
The windows and the door present the only excessive penetration issue. A .30 M2 ball round won't penetrate the walls between units of a modern apartment.
The floor you live on matters too. Off the ground floor, in a typical modern building, you don't have much to worry about.
A ground floor of a modern building or a very old, fire trap, tenement, building or in the basement of a house, isn't the same, of course. Then, you need to consider penetration of any cartridge. A .38 will do.
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Old April 10, 2011, 05:00 AM   #20
ClayInTx
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Quote:
By Crazy88Fingers:

What about a 20ga shotgun? It should cut down on potential over-penetration, and it still has power to spare when it comes to taking down an intruder.
Seems to me to be the best suggestion yet.
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Old April 10, 2011, 05:58 AM   #21
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Also agree with Crazy88Fingers.

Also as well with furnishing the apartment(the best you can) as to strategically(spl?) keep rds inside your apartment. i.e. bookshelves, furniture,decorative rugs etc.
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Old April 10, 2011, 08:25 AM   #22
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Lots of good points already.

Sure don't want to hurt any innocent neighbors, but if the home invasion gang come crashing thru the door at 2 AM, (because there are lots of houses surrounding) my nightstand gun is either a 32 ACP, .380, 38 spl, 9x18 Mak, or 45 ACP (standard loads no +p) coming out of 3 inch or shorter barreled handgun. A 44 spl snubbie should be alright too, shorter barrel = less velocity = less peneration. Hollowpoint ammo would further lower the risk of overpenetration.

The 9mm para and 40 S&W are penetrators, and best avoided here, we had a recent tragedy when a cop had an AD shot go thru a house and killed a young girl lying on a sofa inside.

Teddy Roosevelt's bedside gun was a 32 ACP Browning M1900, which was the first Browning semi-auto pistol. His predecessor, McKinley, was assasinated with a 32 cal Iver Johnson revolver.

PS --- not to forget mags or speedloaders on hand.

Best of luck to you.

Last edited by Seaman; April 10, 2011 at 08:33 AM.
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Old April 10, 2011, 09:40 AM   #23
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Let me tell you all a little something. I am an old sailor, a corpsman, so I have served with alot of Marines. We plan for, train for and think about combat situations all the time. That said, when the shooting starts and it is your cherry experience, you are in full panic mode(almost everyone) So how can any of us, who have never been in a combat like situation, expect to keep such a cool head that we shoot like we were at the range or hunting? You Won't! No insult, I didn't few do the first time. So if you are really so concerned about a potential 'home invasion' then get a decent reliable shot gun and load it with bird shot! You will hit your target at close range(no matter your state of mind) and probably kill him, certainly he WILL BE INCAPACITATED! Anyone who trys to tell you different is 'talking without experience' CLOSE RANGE BIRD SHOT KILLS BUT ONLY YOUR TARGET it won't penetrate the walls unless you are right on them. By the way this is a one in a thousand shot Home invasions are very rare even unarmed burglars are rare enough. We would all be much better served giving this subject less attention and paying greater attention to range saftey and safe hunting techniques.
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Old April 10, 2011, 12:47 PM   #24
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Indoor self defense shotgun ammo = High Brass #4 shot. , best, Rob
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Old April 10, 2011, 01:21 PM   #25
Bartholomew Roberts
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The problem with using a birdshot that is light enough it stops in drywall is that it will have extremely limited range and basically requires an unobstructed frontal shot like a B-27 silhouette within that range.

Contrary to mnero's assertion, people can and do survive being shot with loads like #6 12ga birdshot and then continue to function. In fact, John Farnam has mentioned at least one case where a man shot his attacker in the face with a high brass #6 load at less than 6 feet, blinding him in one eye. That attacker then killed him with a load of buckshot and drove 2 hours home before seeking medical attention.

At the end of the day, you've got some hard choices to make on how much you want to trade effectiveness in order to limit potential liability from a miss.
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