View Full Version : Best type of gun for home defense in the suburbs with children in the home?

Deja vu
May 12, 2012, 06:58 PM
My sister knows I like guns and today asked me what kind of gun she should get for home defense. While I do like guns I live in a home where the nearest neighbor is about 3 miles away and the only other person in the home is my wife 95% of the time. I told her I would think about it an call her back tomorrow (being mothers day and all)

My knee jerk response was a 12ga pump but after thinking about there being kids in the home I was leaning more toward a rifle or a handgun.

What do you guys think?

May 12, 2012, 07:10 PM
I think your first thought was a good one. However, for your sister, I'd say 20ga as apposed to 12ga. More controllable and still packs plenty of punch. I'm 6', 240lbs, and I prefer 20ga. to 12.
With kids in the house and neighbors close, a rifle is way more likely to punch through walls, and a handgun is more likely to look like a toy if the kids ever find it.

May 12, 2012, 07:19 PM
I think a handgun is ideal for her. She can get a small bio-metric type safe that can sit under her night stand and will only open with a key or her fingerprints. Keeping the gun handy, loaded and ready to go while safe from the kids.

What kind of handgun is anyone's guess.
If she is the type who is willing to train, I would suggest going with the largest caliber mid to full size pistol that feels good in her hand. If she doesn't like the recoil of anything bigger than a 380, then 380 for her. If she can take a 45, then 45 it up!

If she is NOT going to train , I would suggest a double action only handgun with no safety. Something like a Glock, M&P or XDM. You aim, pull the trigger and it goes bang. Wham bam simple.

Picking a gun is like picking a car color, most everyone is going to have a personal preference and you really can't pick it out for them. If she feels intimidated maybe go to a local gun shop that rents gun with her and let her try out a few.

The reasons I shy away from a 12 gauge is because she will need to keep it locked up in a gunsafe or with a trigger lock on it to keep it totally safe from the kids. Making the gun difficult to access.

Good luck!

Deja vu
May 12, 2012, 07:26 PM
My second thought was a small pistol caliber rifle. May be a 38specials in a lever or pump action rifle. 110 grain JHP should not penetrate that much and 1 projectile has less chance of hitting kits than 9-12.
a bio-metric handgun safe may be a good option.

May 12, 2012, 07:29 PM
There are perhaps 50 correct answers to your question, and you just might get all of them. Only one of those answers will be correct for you.

My .02 …Depending on the female, a 20 ga might be better. Full stock, 18" or a little longer barrel.
Pistols are handier, but require more discipline. : The strongest revolver she can comfortably handle .. usually a .38 or .44 spl
Educate the kids as appropriate for them. For the immature, the Eddie Eagle approach is good. Remove the mystery for them. Kids are curious, so satisfy their curiosity in a safe, controlled manner... much better than them finding out on their own.

May 12, 2012, 07:34 PM
Depends also on the size of her home. My new home is rather sprawling and a shotgun or AR is my choice there. However my existing residence is quite small and long guns are far too unwieldy here. My EDC is my best HD option and has been for many years. I would agree with the bio-metric safe as a need for a house with kids, something I've never had to worry about.

May 12, 2012, 08:41 PM
Personally, if you can, I'd suggest buying her a class or two at a range that has instructors and rental weapons. Let her get a feel for what might suit her.

Deja vu
May 12, 2012, 08:45 PM
Personally, if you can, I'd suggest buying her a class or two at a range that has instructors and rental weapons. Let her get a feel for what might suit her.

I will do that, best advise so far ;)

May 13, 2012, 12:11 PM
The choice of gun is the least of it.
Without training for home defense, anything she does will probably be wrong.

May 13, 2012, 12:47 PM
My first thought would be making sure whatever you get that the children can't get their hands on it. No point getting a firearm to protect the children and one being injured or worse by getting access to the firearm.

And then some provisional training and advice on what firearm would suit.

May 13, 2012, 01:07 PM
It was already mentioned to get her into a class. Best idea.

On an article I read about SD guns, a couple of things were pointed out. I will attempt to summarize it.

- a long gun has to be handled by both hands and can be unwieldy coming around corners and doors unless you have the training.
- a semi auto requires more training because you have to know what to do if there is a malfunction. And again, it may require both hands to operate the weapon to rack the slide.
- a wheel gun is the simplest form of SD gun. It still requires training. A double action only requires a a trigger pull. If it does not fire, pull the trigger again for the next round.

The use of both hands was pointed out because if your house is broken into, if you can get to a phone, you can call the police while still having control of the gun in the other hand.

Grant D
May 13, 2012, 02:36 PM
First how old are the kids? If they're young, I would say a semi auto shotgun with rounds in the magazine and none in the chamber should work.
Kids have seen enough pump shotguns,rifles,and handguns on tv.to figure out how they work.

Lee Lapin
May 13, 2012, 11:05 PM
Good for your sister.

FIRST she needs to harden the house, and then set up a good home defense plan that will put her between the threat and her kids, and her kids in a safe place.

THEN she can figure out what gun she wants to do it with. She needs to get what suits HER best, not what a bunch of strangers on the Internet think she should get. Point her to http://www.corneredcat.com/ for a good starting place.

http://www.ou.edu/oupd/hardhome.htm - one pamphlet on home hardening

http://www.woodarddefensivesolutions.com/node/14 (the PPITH class is taught by many NRA instructors, this is just an online course outline)

May 14, 2012, 12:00 AM
i'd say a .380 hand gun with fragmenting bullets if the kids are in the next room separated by a thin wall and maybe a little insulation.

i think some people will disagree with this.

the reason i say this is because a .380 is strong enough to get the job done without serious over penetration, and fragmenting bullets are basically a ball of led shot compressed. when it hits a wall (or a bone) it fragments. you may have to unload more of them into your target to stop them, but even if you miss, hopefully they will reconsider and evacuate your home after they realize you're shooting at them.

just my opinion, but it really depends where the children are. if they are upstairs and you are downstairs, that's different. just don't shoot UP. and shoot whatever you see fit.

and if you're going to be gung ho about shooting on sight / sound, you probably need to train your children in what to do in case of a home invasion. also you need to tell them that once they are in their room, they should probably stay there through the night or risk getting shot......

or something to that affect. kidding about the last part.. but there IS SOME truth to it.

teach them NOT to come busting through your door at 4am, etc.

i'm incredibly jumpy when i'm asleep. any kind of disturbance wakes me up and sends me about 3 feet in the air... these days having lived with my girlfriend for 4 years, i don't immediately reach for a weapon or wake up throwing punches. i've trained myself not to do so when i hear her voice. but needless to say, she doesn't get anywhere near me when she has to wake me up for something.

the FIRST time she woke me up, she leaned over me and said "WAKE UP!" and literally got elbowed in the side of the head. of course i felt horrible, but at the same time, i was asleep, and that was strictly a reaction. but ever since then, she stands in the doorway to wake me up lol. i still jump though. anyway, yeah... if you're anything like that, be careful.

fortunately we don't have kids.

Roland Thunder
May 15, 2012, 02:51 PM
I have several semi-automatics but I ended buying a used Ruger Security Six revolver with a 6" barrel for my wife to use for home defense (I use it too at the range, heh, heh). She feels more comfortable with that knowing that there is no slide to deal with, no worries about whether there is a round in the chamber, no worries about feeding, no worries about what to do if it doesn't fire, just pull the trigger again. Using .38spl +P ammo makes it more than enough for home defense, I feel.

May 15, 2012, 03:00 PM
WASR-3 loaded with polymer tipped rounds.

Very light and very fast...they're break up quickly and dump energy in drywall or other barrier materials.

They're ugly but stone dead reliable.

Short LOP with Warsaw legnth stock make sit easy for smaller people to handle.

High cap mags are no problem to come by. More chances for her if shes a bad shot or there are multiable advisarys.

Recoil is almost non-existant..making follow up shots a breeze.

ammo is cheap to practice with and she'll really never need to clean it.

If the kids ever did find it they're never figure out the safey :cool:

May 15, 2012, 03:32 PM
What HD gun for the home with children?

20 guage pump gun, so that the children will be able to manage it sooner.

They also can use it for trap shooting for 4-H!

Glenn E. Meyer
May 15, 2012, 03:49 PM
What the sister should do is read www.corneredcat.com and ignore the shotgun, 380 and AK advice until she reads that.

Then she needs to get some realistic training in defending the home.

To be blunt - recommending long arms, fragmenting 380s and AKs is not the best first step.

May 15, 2012, 04:30 PM
The choice of gun is the least of it.
Without training for home defense, anything she does will probably be wrong. Exactly!

May 15, 2012, 06:27 PM
Me to as far as Corneredcat.com, hardening the house, getting training, and all that stuff.
If the OP is handy with tools I would strongly suggest he visit his sisters home asap to see about making it harder to break into.

What firearm a person chooses depends on a lot of different circumstances. What the person is comfortable with, or what they are physically capable of using, how much training they have and how much more training they plan to get.
One thing that is often over looked is what strategy their home is best suited for and that they are comfortable with.

The way my home is laid out, I intend to hole up in my bedroom and wait for the police to show up. imho my shotgun is the best option for that strategy.

Other homes are laid out in such a way that the home owner may need to secure other areas in the home instead of staying in one place. For some people that would mean a different choice of firearm.

June 3, 2012, 07:18 PM
A shotgun is not going to be with you when you need it most and yes time is important. Handgun on your person is what is needed.

June 4, 2012, 07:25 AM
Smith & Wesson 5906.

1. DA/SA - first trigger pull is heavy.
2. Decocker
3. Safety
4. All stainless - heavy. Looks like a gun, not a toy that kids are more likely to play with.
5. Reliable, durable and controlable
6. Can find reasonably priced used ones - not made anymore.
7. They won't lose value over time.

June 4, 2012, 07:30 AM
single.. a shotgun, pump action.

family... handgun with a lazer.

Uncle Billy
June 4, 2012, 08:18 AM
I'd choose a 20 gauge skeet gun - open chokes, shorter barrel - and load it with target loads.

A "long" gun is held with both hands which might make it harder to lose to an assailant, a shotgun is more intimidating than smaller guns like pistols when pointed at an intruder, light-loaded shot shells are much less apt to penetrate walls than a single projectile weapon, a target or hunting gun pressed into use as a defense weapon has more credibility than one that's obviously intended to be anti-personnel as its first purpose, at least in some jurisdictions.

All that's been said here about getting training and practice is on the mark, IMHO.

June 5, 2012, 05:43 AM
Lots of god advice, some not so good, IMHO. The firearm is but a small part of an effective home defense plan. As I do this for a living, here are some things to consider......

1. Have a discussion with the Sister and make sure she understands the impact of taking another human life. I have taught over a hundred women to shoot and just about 15% stated they wanted a gun to "scare" the bad guy and could never kill anyone. They get a junkyard dog and a different plan.

2. Assess what you have to protect. There are three major types of things in your house that are worth protecting. Those that can be replaced, those that cannot be replaced and those that you are willing to kill for to protect. TV's computers (Non-business?) and the like can be replaced with insurance. Things like grand ma's wedding ring, you decide. Kids, wife etc. That goes without saying.

3. The Tactical Plan. The shooter(s) must identify a "safe place" in the house that offers cover and concealment, is easy to get to, especially at night and behind which go all of your non-replaceables. (Kids, Mom, Grand Ma's ring if you so decide). Your field of fire is towards the entrances of the house. This is normally a hallway or a bedroom. This way, you are never shooting towards loved ones (Neighbors, maybe). While not a failsafe, we also consider the angle of the shot, Low to high, vice versa etc)

4. Always take / have your firearm, flashlight and telephone available at the safe place. If an intruder comes into your house, the unreplaceables go to a covered area behind you. You afford the thief the chance to take your replaceables and leave with no one being hurt. Its just stuff.

This is an over simplification of the doctrine, YMMV. Every scenario is different.

As far as firearm selection goes, a shotgun with target loads is not a good choice. Unless it is a contact shot (Muzzle very near the target) you will likely not be able to definitively stop the attack. Google the box of truth for testing of shotgun ammo on sheetrock. Simple is better as your fine motor skills will diminish if not disappear. For most women, we recommend a revolver in .357. Practice with 38 spc or +p and shoot the magnums in self defense. Shoot a bonded bullet. Some of my colleagues like corbon bullets, I am not so much a fan.

Someone recommended hardening the house to aid in delaying / deterring a would be intruder. This is also a good practice. Sun Tzu says the best battle is the battle never fought.

These are just a sprinkling of tactics we use for our home invasion clients.

The point is to have a plan and not just a gun.

Bartholomew Roberts
June 5, 2012, 08:21 AM
What you have is a skills problem that cannot be completely solved by equipment no matter what equipment you choose.

Since the problem is primarily a skill problem, I would tend towards whatever firearm she is going to actually train with and use.

June 5, 2012, 11:56 PM
I agree with those posts which recommend training for her, so she can make an informed decision.
Depending on the age of the children appropriate firearms education for them as well.

June 12, 2012, 09:29 AM
I am a little late but I was reading this and I am in a similar situation. In my home in the city I could have 3 children the oldest being 10 and the youngest being almost 2 years old. This home is a 3 story apartment. I live on the second floor so I have people on both sides and above and below me.

I have practiced a lot with my 12ga pump gun but I am worried about penetration. I own lots of rifles but most are big bore (I like to hunt DG)

Any advise for me?

June 13, 2012, 11:10 PM
Mleake beat me to the comment. Get her to a good instructor, get good training with several different weapons and let her select her own.

For 25 years I tried to get my wife interested and trained in shooting.

She asked to learn, finally, and I took her to Caswell's in Mesa. I met with the receptionist, clerk. I left to browse the inventory.

She met an instructor who started her off with a basic course. This is a gun, the bullets come out her. Eventually, she completed two other courses and obtained her CCW.

I now have a shooting partner.

June 14, 2012, 10:40 AM
The .20 gauge shottie sounds like a perfect SD weapon for her ... make sure that whatever she gets, she gets a lot of practice ... buying a gun and sticking it in a corner until she needs it is a recipe for disaster ...

June 14, 2012, 10:11 PM
CCCLVII, Penetration is going to be a problem with any firearm. You can use reduced recoil rounds and lead shot. Lead deforms more after it hits the first near side dry wall and is somewhat less likely to penetrate the far side.

You could try frangible ammo in a handgun or one of your rifles. Not sure how frangible ammo preforms on intruders.
To the best of my knowledge there isn't frangible ammo for shotguns.

June 14, 2012, 10:24 PM
I'm not an expert but I'm not sure why people prefer a 20 ga over a 12 ga for HD. Isn't there toned down 12 ga shells that perform the same as 20 ga? One firearm, multiple functions. My 870 express has a mossberg (made for my 870) 18" barrel ready for HD on it right now and in minutes I can install mag plug and the long barrel for outside the home including turkey and goose.

June 15, 2012, 12:50 AM
The 20 offers lower recoil (unless the 12 uses reduced recoil loads). Or, the 20 can offer a lower overall weight.

Either factor could be a plus, depending on the shooter.

However, I stick by my recommendation that training is more important than any particular choice of equipment, and that training will help the shooter make an informed choice when ultimately selecting equipment.

Recommending a specific weapon at this point is premature.

Glenn E. Meyer
June 15, 2012, 10:57 AM
Excellent post, ML.

But what about a pistol grip only 12 gauge shotgun firing magnum 000 for the little lady?

Don't have to aim, just rack!

BTW, I actually know a guy who bought that rig for his 65 year old arthritic wife and was mad that she wouldn't practice with it.


Onward Allusion
June 26, 2012, 12:51 PM
Late to the thread, but a few things come to mind.

- train/practice
- always have a gun on you (a small LCP or P-32 is fine)
- always have access to a 2nd gun - in a quick open type of lock-box
- load with some type of compressed pre-frag'd round

June 26, 2012, 08:08 PM
I think a couple of handguns, say 38 Spl Revolvers, easy to use, holds five rounds. A shotgun has a pretty good kick to it, and the revolvers I think would be easier for her to learn. JMO.:)

June 26, 2012, 09:19 PM
The corneredcat.com has already been mentioned enough times; as has training. After that, I would start with a good DOG, something the kids can have fun with and a breed that is normally protective. The dog will be her first lone of defense against an intruder sneaking around.

Then she will have the time necessary to retrieve whatever firearm, if any, she decided on, as well as get the kids together, call 911, etc.

German Shepherds make a great family and protection asset

June 27, 2012, 06:06 AM
whatever you shoot best.... shotguns with 00 buck have a lot of good going for them. I prefer a Glock 23 and a plan.

More important is a plan to keep the family BEHIND the gun if an event occurs IMO

Gary L. Griffiths
June 27, 2012, 11:54 AM
12-ga pump or semi-auto with #4 Buck.
M-1 Carbine with soft points.

June 27, 2012, 03:45 PM
Just a word of caution about the pistol grip-only shotgun (thought I know it was mentioned in a tongue-in-cheek manner) ;)...

While they might be lighter and easier to maneuver in tight spaces, they are also much harder to control. Furthermore, at self defense ranges, even shotguns require more aiming than you might think. It's really a misconception that they don't. As any other weapon she might choose, it would require a good bit of practice to be sure she could handle the recoil, control the weapon, and hit whatever she's pointing it toward.

June 27, 2012, 04:05 PM
For past 30+ years we kept a pair of S&W model 12-2 with 4" skinny barrel in the house for my wife. One is in the bedroom and the second one is in another easily accessable place in the house. Both revolvers are stored in a safe with electronic lock that requires pushing couple buttons in a sequence.

Both are loaded with 148gr button nose wadcutters doing 750 fps out of them. It's a very mild load and my wife shoots it well. Before you laugh at the load, let me tell you that that combo put down a very aggressive 80lb. GSD/mutt with one shot to the back of the shoulder. Second shot to the head ended his suffering.

She also has a Stevens SxS 20 gauge with the barrel cut back to 20". It's kept in the bedroom closet and hung where small children can not get to it.

BTW all my kids are older now but we taught them to shoot when they were about 5 y/o and were out hunting with dad or grandpa when they reach around 9 y/o.

June 27, 2012, 06:24 PM
I am not arguing with anyone here. Lots of good advice.

But refer her to Cornered Cat for lots of good stuff.

June 29, 2012, 06:45 AM
It's really a misconception that they (shotguns) don't
+1. At social distances the pattern of a cylinder bore shotgun is only a few inches in diameter. Only when you've got a decent round count over a lot of different training sessions will you be able to "point" and get good accuracy cold. Even then, you're really actually aiming, except your aiming device is muscle memory and your training instead of the rib on the barrel.

Avoid slow and heavy projectiles - or fast heavy ones. You'd be surprised how much wall a pistol round will punch without destabilizing. Either will go through tons of dry wall readily. Go with a .223 in 40gr - part of the reason M4 style ARs experienced massive adoption rates in the last decade with SWAT teams is that the projectiles tend to break up when hitting a barrier. In a good, mid length gas system M4 clone.

A 12 gauge loaded with some high brass turkey shot would do the trick. As for people recommending the 20 gauge, only if you're planning on the women or kids using it. Any grown man should be able to manhandle a 12 gauge unless you're shooting 3.5inch shells.

In general, long guns in a carbine length would also be best. It is not just longer sight radius that makes them more accurate than a handgun, they point a lot more naturally and rapidly due to multiple points of contact (chest/shoulder, strong hand, weak hand). In other words, even without using the sights you'll be more accurate. Your first shot will be more accurate and your follow up shots will be more accurate with less split time.

I hope there's someone else in the thread who has done training in dynamic entry, battle drill 6 or reflexive fire who will back me up on long weapons. I can't emphasize enough how much better a long weapon is in every way whenever you can have one.

June 29, 2012, 01:29 PM
The common counterargument to long arms for home defense is you can't use it with one hand, which may be needed if your other hand is busy calling 911, using a flashlight (could be mounted on the gun, that's another debate), carrying a child, dragging an injured family member, grappling with an intruder, etc etc. They are also easier to maneuver around corner and through a house.

The long arm is great if you can dig in with it until the police arrive. But if you need to move about the home for any reason, I think the handgun is probably better for MOST people. Otherwise I am hiding behind the bed with the 870 until I hear sirens.

June 29, 2012, 03:34 PM
In addition to all the good advice mentioned, I'd also recommend the .410 shotgun. You can get effective SD loads that kick less in a handy package. It even makes a fun plinker for the family.

June 29, 2012, 05:52 PM
My knee jerk response was a 12ga pump but after thinking about there being kids in the home I was leaning more toward a rifle or a handgun.

With kids in the house, why are you more concerned about the shot gun than the rifle?

It's a matter of preference.

You can't answer the door with a shotgun, but a handgun can be out of sight and quickly brought to bear.

Sometimes we address the subject as though we can only have one or the other. I have both, as do many.

A pistol may be all that's handy in some emergencies (but only if you see that it is). When we retreat to our bedroom, it may be shotgun or .223 time.

June 29, 2012, 06:07 PM
Just me of course.

My suggestion is to find a quality instructor, with a variety of handguns, both semi-auto and revolver, in various calibers.
Get the safety down pat, then find what SHE likes and shoots best.

i.e 5 shots at five yards on 1/4 sheet of typing paper.
The paper will not lie at to what platform she shoots best with what loads.

-One should have a gun they can carry 24/7/52
-Handguns work effectively for answering the door and getting to and fro structures ( be this home, work, stores...)
-Handguns are better able to keep "safe" from kids than long guns, when not carried on person.

Just how raised, what you do.

Sending best,

June 30, 2012, 11:17 PM
I feel like the best type of gun around kids in general is any thing that you keep safely out of their grasp. That being said I would keep a 20ga shotgun loaded with bird shot. It wont go threw a will with much force yet it will stop an intruder.

Glenn E. Meyer
July 2, 2012, 11:03 AM
Interesting observation. At our last Carbine/IPDA match - I noticed that the long time practitioneers of the handgun art were as accurate on targets as the AR shooters. The ranges were short - probably within most home self defence distances.

Note this was for folks who shoot lots of handgun. Not handgun newbies as in the video test that Bart Roberts posted awhile ago.

Jack O'Conner
July 3, 2012, 06:46 AM
I'd buy a 20 gauge single shot and have the barrel professionally cut back to 18.5 inches. Plan to offer training and practise to learn how to shoot accurately and reload quickly.



Running Dog
July 15, 2012, 01:27 AM
I agree 100% with advise about firearm education(adult and children of adequate learning age), safely securing weapon, hardening home ,actual plan, practice drill, etc. When it comes to weapon choice though a serious consideration is the effect of the weapon's discharge. Have any of you shotgun proponents ever fired a 12ga indoors? When I was In V.N. the tunnel rats used .38's sent from home because .45's deafened them and the flash blinded them. I personally have a Ruger LCR .38 spl. with CT laser grips loaded w/ Glaser Security slugs, which are a h.p. filled with compressed #12 shot; does serious terminal damage, but does not ricochet or penetrate multiple walls and uses low flash powder. Light weight, easy to point in low light, manageable recoil, cheap to shoot at the range. A well known writer of a weapon review website wrote recently of this exact problem and suggested an 8 shot .22 lr. revolver for his daughter in law, because it was the only weapon she was comfortable and confident shooting. He reasoned that 8, 40gr slugs delivered accurately to the chest in several seconds was better than a weapon that was intimidating to the user ,so less less likely to be used and if so less likely to hit the target.