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Old April 26, 2017, 05:34 PM   #1
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Home Defense: Rifle vs Shotgun vs Handgun

This has been a dilemma for quite some time and I just wanted another point of view on this. Supposedly, handguns are more maneuverable, shotguns spread and are easier to hit with, but rifles seem to hit harder and are accurate. What are you're preferences?


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Old April 26, 2017, 06:00 PM   #2
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Handgun inside is my #1 pick, nothing crazy just the same 9mm I carry.
They're easy to maneuver inside tight spaces, can tuck it up tight for retention, and it leaves a hand free if need be (ok technically I suppose you could fire some rifles 1 handed but you know what I mean)

If I needed to go outside and check for some reason I'd pick up a shotgun with #4 buckshot.. I live in the suburbs so no shot would be longer than 15yards, really more like 10yards.

Lot of people will scoff at anything but 00' buck but #4 is still plenty nasty at that range and would loose it's energy faster due to smaller mass of each pellet.

You'll need to pattern your gun to see what kinda spread you get.
Typically shotguns don't spread all that much at inside the home distances
Just don't shoot shot out of a rifled shotgun barrel that tends to leave a ring type pattern that's not all that useful.

I think shotgun would be my 2nd choice inside the home.
If you're ok with the handling it's fine.

As for rifles, again with me living in the suburbs pretty much ON TOP of my neighbors rifles are a no go for usual HD.

If I had some land or lived out in the country with fewer neighbors I think it would make a good choice outside, inside again you have handling problems like the shotgun to contend with.

YMMV, But in most cases handgun gets the nod for me.
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Old April 26, 2017, 06:06 PM   #3
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If there is a bump in the middle of the night that needs to be investigated my shotgun is what I am grabbing every time. If I were to be surprised by an intruder, I imagine my handgun would be the one I could get to the quickest.
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Old April 26, 2017, 06:35 PM   #4
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I have rifles, shot guns, and handguns. It is all handguns in the house for home defense. I have thought of using a shotgun but haven't figured storage with grand kids running around.
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Old April 26, 2017, 06:53 PM   #5
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Shotguns spread very little inside a house....
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Old April 26, 2017, 07:42 PM   #6
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And 00 buck tends to blow through walls...........
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Old April 26, 2017, 08:16 PM   #7
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This is a subject I earn some of my living with. I used to earn all my living teaching it, to US Military personal for a number of years.

I have to point out something here that seems to bypass a lot of folks looking at fighting firearms.

There are currently about 218 Nations States within the UN. ALL of them have armies.
Guess how many of them issue handguns as standard issue arms to their infantry.

That would be ----------- NONE!
Zip .
10 less then 10.
Because rifles are better at 99.9% of all fighting. The 1-10th of 1% that a handgun beats a rifle is inside a tunnel that you must crawl through.

A handgun is vastly superior when you get 'jumped" and are in a situation at close range where you can't get to a rifle or shotgun. it's for the emergency that you can't see coming.
If you can choose the fighting ground a long arm is always better at EVERYTHING.

Ammo is a consideration for sure, if you live when bullets will endanger others as most people do. But it is just as important in handgun and shotgun ammo. Another thing that many people don't know and won't believe is that a hollow point 223 round is far less dangerous after hitting an enemy or a wall then most handgun ammo because high speed hollow points with impact velocities over 2700 FPS break up and fail to penetrate even as well as a standard soft point 9MM pistol bullet.

Even Marnie Corp gate guards and sea service troops carry handguns only to react immediately. If the alarm goes off inside a ship or an embassy the SOP is to run and get rifles.
The old rule was "handguns are for situations that you have to fire a shot in 10 seconds or less from the threat becoming recognized.

Rifles are for anything that gives you 11 seconds or more to prepare.

For home invasions and property protections you will know the battle ground. If you carry a handgun and the door gets kicked in you should go for that handgun. But if you have 15 seconds to grab a shotgun or rifle you can know that rifles are more accurate, often more powerful, and easier to shoot. If you have a military style semi-auto (AK,AR FAL G3 Mini 14 M1A of anything similar) you have more power, more accuracy, more range, more ammo, faster shots, faster reloads, better sights and the ability to command lanes of fire that are not as well covered by any handgun. If you use frangible ammo even a 308 is not going to be much more of a problem then a 45 bullet.

The argument of the being too loud is mostly BS.
#1 you won't care if you are fighting for your life (I know this 1st hand)
#2 If you have 15 seconds to grab a long arm you have probably got time to put on the ear muffs you should store over it's barrel.

The argument that you may have an enemy get close enough to disarm you is also mostly BS. Yes that can happen, but it's highly unlikely in that you "own the battle field" and the enemy doesn't! This is a matter of mindset and training, NOT of the firearms used.

Any gun will do if you can do the job well with that gun. But if you are going to go buy one for home defense, and you are not planning of carrying it at all times you are WAY better off with a long gun.

You should have the lanes of fire understood before hand and that is the same as lanes of vision.

Don't hunt people in your home. Ambush them.

Facing a rifle or shotgun when you have to move into it and don't know where it is would be a VERY poor choice of ways to spend your time. Make the invader aware of that, but only very briefly!

Last edited by Wyosmith; April 26, 2017 at 08:39 PM.
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Old April 26, 2017, 08:20 PM   #8
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Handgun, with remote control of lights in other rooms.
More rounds than my rifle, easier to pull out of the nightstand safe, and no tunnels in my home. I have remotely viewable cameras and know the house better than a bad guy. And if I want to blow the bad guys and my ear drums out (and break all the windows in a room) or disable his car at the end of the street proactively, I would pull the .50 cal out. Or I could just let 100+lbs of dogs inside to eat the guy first.
Naw, I'll stick to the 9mm w / mucho rounds.
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Old April 26, 2017, 08:53 PM   #9
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INSIDE the home I'd always reach for a handgun 1st. The ability to use it one handed up close is a big plus. A short, light carbine would be my 2nd gun I'd reach for.

Shotguns are over rated, but I do have one at the ready, they do have their place. Up close they offer no pattern and are no more useful than a rifle. Low capacity coupled with 300 WM recoil levels don't help anything. Their only advantages are low price and the fact that many hunters make them do double duty. Where they could be useful is outdoors against multiple attackers where the large pattern could help hit moving targets. The intimidation factor is there for those who don't understand they are over rated.

A short barreled carbine in either 223 or similar rounds, or even a pistol caliber are actually more useful indoors than a shotgun. They are shorter, lighter, more maneuverable, have much larger ammo capacity and have recoil in the 5 ft lb range vs 30 ft lbs for most shotguns.

Despite unfounded concerns a 223 caliber carbine is far less likely to over penetrate inside a home than either a shotgun or pistol round, especially with softpoint ammo. They would be safer in an urban environment.
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Old April 26, 2017, 08:59 PM   #10
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After rereading Wyo's post, I'm thinking an optimum solution is to mount a 9mm semi handgun to an old heavy duty PTZ mount camera I have and just blast the guy from 2 rooms away using my camera app and rewire the zoom function as the trigger. Put a IR laser on the gun so the camera can see where it is aiming but the invader can't.

Fire from a remote position. Why get in the line of fire? Why be a target? Call the cops while safely engaging the bad guy with a very small weapon system he probably can't identify or get a shot at first.
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Old April 26, 2017, 09:06 PM   #11
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Guess how many of them issue handguns as standard issue arms to their infantry.
And that has what to do with HD?
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Old April 26, 2017, 09:22 PM   #12
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Supposedly, handguns are more maneuverable, shotguns spread and are easier to hit with, but rifles seem to hit harder and are accurate.
Yes and no. Handguns usually are more maneuverable, shotguns are ABSOLUTE stoppers. And rifles are more accurate.

As for preferences, any of 'em. If I grab a long gun, I'll stick my roscoe on me to.

Usually I use a M1 Carbine and my carry Glock 26 but I have no qualms about using my Mossburg 500 18 inch Mariner 12 gauge.

“To you who call yourselves ‘men of peace,’ I say, you are not safe without men of action by your side” Thucydides
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Old April 26, 2017, 09:48 PM   #13
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I am not going to say what is better or worse as I am as high drag low speed as they come.

That being said 2 things come to mind.
1-ballistically any centerfire rifle or shotgun is orders of magnitude more powerful then a handgun. Now whether that matters in terms of stopping/running off an intruder I don't know.

2-What tiny little bit of experience I have as far as shootings/law enforcement goes 12 gauge tends to be a very quick fight stopper barring body armor. Except birdshot. We had somebody shot through a car side window with birdshot and was really just largely superficially injured. The car window took most all the energy is my guess.

Honestly what I have learned in that tiny bit of experience I have is the most important variable seems to be simply to have a gun, pretty much any gun. it seems most folks when confronted by the barrel of a gun tend to want to quickly find a new zip code. Not saying this is 100% but happens more than not.

Funny story. Had a call years back by a very calm guy who was saying in an almost monatone bored voice that some big ass biker dude was trying to kick his door in because he wouldn't rent him a room or some such. You could here the guy kicking the hell out of the door in the background. Yet the guy was calm as anything. I said...."you have a shotgun on that door don't you. His reply was "yup". Then all of a sudden there was a bunch of racket some four letter words and then a simple "nevermind, he's gone. He kicked my door in and fell all over himself trying to leave as soon as he saw my shotgun." I always chuckle at the people who suddenly think DAMN.....I picked the wrong guy on the wrong day.

I think folks put too much time and effort in the hardware when it's really the software that will bring you through, and hopefully in a way that NOBODY gets hurt.
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Last edited by cslinger; April 26, 2017 at 10:02 PM.
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Old April 26, 2017, 10:01 PM   #14
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Investigating that "bump" at night inside the home my go-to choice is a handgun. Of course my "alarm system" consists of two 70# dogs that take offense when someone across the street shuts a car door.

Of course in the days of power outage following hurricanes or tropical storms there is both a loaded AR and a loaded shotgun close by as well.

I am not trained in CQB. I dont have weeks or months of urban combat training/experience with a M4 carbine like a lot of returning service members, maybe if I was the AR would be my go to choice.
America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards. Claire Wolfe
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Old April 26, 2017, 11:14 PM   #15
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Handguns are always with me.

I prefer shotgun for home defense with 00. They'll hit with a high percentage within 25 yards. It's one of the most effective for close quarters.

I also have AR 15s with red dots. They're loud but they have a great deal of velocity. They're at greatest risk of overpenetration.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily go commando and clear. I'd retreat and wait with my weapons, unless the threat(s) was(were). immediately right in front of me.

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Old April 27, 2017, 06:28 AM   #16
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1. First line of defense. A fat wiener dog that is angry that you woke him up and will now shred your ankles. Also a mountain dog that will be interested in saying hello and escorting you to the kitchen.

2. Second line of defense. Pistols.

3. Natural disaster situation (hurricane country). Shotguns and Dad's M1.
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Old April 27, 2017, 07:12 AM   #17
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From a defensive stand point the biggest flaw in my defense is not what firearm I might use but my own mindset.

I DESPERATELY do not want to shoot someone. I'm sure no one does but I feel that my own desire to avoid doing so goes beyond normal. Absent being under actual fire I am not engaging a target at 50 yards - or for that matter 25 or 10. While I do practice at 20 yards with a handgun on occasion and am comfortable that I could hit my target the only reason I would even consider that engagement was if someone was attacking one of my children and I could not close the distance for a better shot or someone was engaging with a firearm.

I know a lot of the arguments about 7 yards being the red line. I get that. Chances are I am desperate enough to let an attacker closer then that before pulling the trigger (though I will have a gun drawn by then).

Because of this tactical flaw retention becomes of paramount importance to me and favors a handgun.
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Old April 27, 2017, 08:13 AM   #18
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Good news Lohman446,
I for one don't find not wanting to shoot somebody a character flaw. . Hell I myself prefer to surround myself with quirky folks like myself who don't want to shoot anybody. I'm crazy like that too.

I don't remember who posted this or which forum, so if it's yours apologies for not giving credit, but they said something to the effect of the following that always cracked me up and stuck with me personally.

"If I ever have to fire my weapon it's just gonna be the starter pistol for the fat mans 100 yard dash retreat". Not the exact quote but the basic gist.

Take care, shoot safe.
Cslinger - not wanting to shoot people since 1973
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Old April 27, 2017, 08:48 AM   #19
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I think most / virtually all people "Don't want to shoot someone". But self and familial safety and security comes above empathy for an armed attacker, and not everyone in the world is as nice as lohman and cslinger
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Old April 27, 2017, 09:19 AM   #20
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My preference is that based on professional opinions that folks that talk hardware first have neglected the training and software part of the equation.

Any of the firearms will work, if you have appropriate training. Beginners like to talk about the guns as magic wands that will implement a spell of stopping power.

The best bet is to take appropriate courses with a handgun, carbine and/or shotgun and see the advantages/disadvantages of each and how to actually use them in home defense scenarios.

Starting with what has the most magical ability to hit harder is a naive point of view. Sorry to be that blunt, but we see this question all the time.
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Old April 27, 2017, 09:25 AM   #21
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There are lots of good responses above. Generally speaking, a handgun is what you use to fight your way to a rifle or shotgun.

While the pistol is clearly inferior to a long gun in the vast majority of situations, it still has its place in your home defense plan.

When speed is important, I can ready a handgun very quickly. If I have more time, I'm definitely going for a shotgun or rifle.
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Old April 27, 2017, 09:30 AM   #22
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handguns are for situations that you have to fire a shot in 10 seconds or less from the threat becoming recognized.
It seems to me that is the situation for most home and personal defensive situations. My home is modest enough in size that every threat is pretty immediate. I at least want the option of shooting within a few seconds, even if I opt to hold fire after arming myself.

I thus choose a handgun for HD purposes. It will almost always be my primary carry gun, which is either on me or in the drawer of my bedside table.
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Old April 27, 2017, 09:53 AM   #23
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I have over the years enjoyed your post, and agreed with most of them..

Yes no army issues pistols to infantry soldiers as primary weapons. But we are talking apples and oranges here.

I was a grunt (Infantry) in SE Asia, I agree as a personal weapon nothing beats a rifle. There we're times where a handgun came in handy. We had to be armed everywhere we went. It's a heck of a lot easier to drag a M1911a1 through a chow line then it was a M-60.

I also made a career in LE. I had a shotgun in the car, and a rifle (bolt gun, counter sniper duties).

In them days, before we got dogs, we did our own building searches and clearing, often alone. It didn't take me long at all to learn that the shotgun was in the way. Anything in range of my shotgun, was in range of my service revolver. You always have something in the other hand, flashlight, mirror, door knob.............something. Long guns were in the way.

I'm old now, too old for the infantry and LE. I do believe in being armed always but I just cant see me setting on my couch watching TV or reading with a rifle or shotgun in my lap. But I always have my revolver in my pocket. I'm not a rich man, I don't have a huge house, the longest unobstructed distance in my house if about 25 ft.

The day I need a rifle or shotgun to shoot 25 ft, is the day I give up shooting altogether.

It takes me about 1/2 sec to draw and shoot my revolver because if I hear a "bump in the night" my hand goes in my pocket.

Pushing 70, it takes me longer then that to get off my butt, much longer to hunt up a long gun.

To each his own, as much as I like rifle shooting, I'll stick to my revolver for self defense. I'll not be slugging through the jungles or mountains any more. I'll leave my rifles to hunting and target shooting. Same with the shotguns.
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Old April 27, 2017, 10:04 AM   #24
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As stated from post #1 of this thread, there are numerous factors in this decision. It should go without saying that you need to know how to use any firearm but some are arguably more appropriate than others.

Due to the maneuverability factor, a pump shotgun is no longer my first choice. A very short AR (or similar) has it beat in capacity, range, precision and probably even practical reliability as well. An AR this short is technically a "pistol" or more realistically an SBR. Downside? Usually more expensive.

My second choice would be a simple to operate high capacity pistol. I believe retention would be somewhat better with a short barreled pistol (over rifle) when properly handled. Rifle or pistol need proven expanding ammo which take into account the particulars of the setting.

Shotgun wins on purchase price mostly, and intrinsically limited range IF that is a plus. Oh, and that mythical "sound which makes an intruder's bowels turn to water".
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Old April 27, 2017, 10:07 AM   #25
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a handgun is far more wieldy, less likely to be taken from me and easier to manage with one hand. I have a shotgun as a secondary weapon but a rife would be very last in my book for defending the interior of my home.
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