Monster Hunter Nation

Carbine vs. Shotgun vs. Pistol for home defense

This post is in response to a request from pax of www,corneredcat.com  She is an excellent firearms instructor out of Washington state.  She knew that I was a big proponent of shoulder fired long guns, either carbines or shotguns for home defense, whereas she primarily favors the pistol.  She asked me to write up a little bit about my opinions for her.  So here goes.

All three types of weapon have their pros and cons. 

Now when I teach CCW (actually it is a CFP, Concealed Firearms Permit, in Utah) when I get to the portion of the class about wound ballistics I always tell the class that I’m about to tell them a profound truth, and the sooner they realize it, the better off they’re going to be.  Then I write the following:

ALL HANDGUNS SUCK!

General nervous laughter from the class…

Now let me explain.  I love handguns.  I teach people to shoot handguns.  I carry a handgun on my person constantly.  I just spent a fat chunk of money on a fancy new STI 9mm so I could have a better hoser gun for 3gun.   Even with that information, every time I say handguns suck, it manages to offend the heck out of somebody on the internet, because the internet exists primarily to let random strangers get offended.  So let me rephrase, handguns suck relative to long guns.

Let me break it down for you.  There is only one reason we use handguns, and that is because they are convenient.  They’re small, light, and you can conceal them on a person.  I would look a little goofy with an AK47 under my shirt. 

But in comparison to a long gun, they lack power, and they are much more difficult to learn to shoot well.  Anything you can mount on your shoulder is going to be a far easier platform to get fast, accurate hits with. 

To put this in perspective, when you shoot somebody in self defense, the goal isn’t necessarily to kill them, it is to stop them.  You want the bad guy to stop doing whatever it is they are doing that caused you go pull a gun in the first place.  Live or die is really irrelevant.  You want them to leave you alone.  Sadly, the best way to make somebody leave you alone is to shoot them in their vital organs, and that often results in the bad guy’s death.  But that’s his problem, not yours.

So to stop somebody, there are two main ways to do it, psychologically or physiologically.  Now when I say psychologically, that means the bad guy quits because he decides to, as in “OH CRAP!  He’s got a gun!  Run!”  Or if you shoot them with a non-fatal wound, and they say “Damn, that hurt.  I’m done.” 

But you don’t control the brain waves of the critter attacking you.  You might get lucky and get a bad guy that will just quit, the kind of guy that if he wanted to work hard for a living, would get a job.  Victim with gun = work.  On the other hand, you might get some really crazy, evil, whackadoo, who ain’t gonna stop, no matter what.  And that guy, you’re going to have to shoot.  A lot. 

So that brings us to the physical stoppage of another person.  Now when you are legally justified in shooting somebody, it is normally in a situation where you want them to stop RIGHT NOW.  So you want to hit them with something that will do as much damage to them as possible.  If the guy bleeds to death in 30 minutes, that doesn’t do you much good, because in that time he killed you and raped your family to death.  You want to inflict enough trauma on their body that they have no choice but to quit immediately. 

The problem with this is that most of America’s knowledge about guns comes from watching movies.  Where if I shoot somebody with a .45, they fly backwards out the window, do a flip, roll fifty feet, and burst into flames.  Now as much as I like Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing, that doesn’t actually happen in real life. 

So what do bullets do to you?  Now Internet Wound Ballisticians, whether you’re a morgue monster or a jello junkie, don’t jump my case.  I’m no scientist.  I’m a guy that has to take a very complex topic and break it down into a manner that a person whose entire firearms experience is based on shooting a .22 at scout camp once, can understand in about a 15 minute block of instruction in a 5 hour CFP class.

Handguns poke a hole in you.  That is basically what they do.  If you’re using good hollow point ammo, the bullet may expand, and you will make a bigger hole.  That hole is going to go through stuff that pumps blood.  The bigger and deeper hole you make, through the more important stuff, the more blood is going to go outside, and not to its destination, which tends to be very bad for the guy getting shot.

The body is an amazing creation.  Your body will automatically adjust for trauma as much as possible.  The more holes you put, the more trauma you inflict, the more the body has to adjust for, the greater the chance that the body is going to say “Screw this.  I’m done.” And shut down.

Now you can shoot somebody once with a feeble handgun round, and instantly incapacitate them.  Great.  You won.  But on the same token, we’ve got people that have been shot a dozen times with duty ammo who walk under their own power into the ambulance.   Humans are amazing.

So if people can be so amazing, and I want to stop them right now, then I want to maximize the amount of trauma I inflict on them.  This is where rifle caliber carbines and shotguns rule. 

Not only can I hit the guy more accurately and faster, I can do a lot more trauma.  Plus we’re talking about home defense in this post, not carrying in public, so I’m not worried about concealment. 

On shotguns, if poking one hole is good, poking a dozen at one time, is a whole lot better.  And at the range that shotguns are used defensively, there really isn’t that much spread.  At across room distance, your pattern is usually about the size of a soft ball, and if you’ve got a big house, a basketball.  So you still have to aim.  (Man, I hate that myth that shotguns throw this boulder of death that can’t miss, usually perpetuated by some dude on the internet that doesn’t ever actually shoot anything).  You can still miss, but man when you hit, it does make a mess on the carpet.

Rifle bullets are going a whole lot faster and do a lot more damage than a pistol, (and keep in mind I’m keeping this simple, and not going into ten pages of argument about AP and SS109 and other esoteric information that will make a newbie’s head explode).  When you shoot something with most rifles, you aren’t just poking a hole, but you are actually causing trauma in the tissue surrounding the hole, and most defensive bullets are designed to fragment or tumble and make even bigger, nastier holes in people.   

Here in Utah, where a very large portion of our population has been deer hunting, everybody is at least familiar with the following kind of story.  Most of my students have either shot a deer, or know somebody who has shot a deer. 

So you shoot a deer with a 30-06 (or some other decently powerful rifle bullet).  The wound is fatal, damaging the heart or lungs, and the 150-200 pound deer still manages to take off in a full sprint for 100 meters before it falls over dead.  Pretty common right?  Sometimes the shot isn’t as perfect, and the deer will make it even further.

So why then do I expect to take a human that is bigger than that deer, and possibly high on goofballs and horse tranquilizer, and shoot them with a handgun that has a fraction of the power of that deer rifle, and expect them to stop immediately?

Ahh… The light bulb clicks on.

So if you’re going to get into a gunfight, bring a rifle.  Heck, bring friends with rifles. 

Now another concern that always pops up is over penetration.  People are worried that the more powerful guns are going to poke through more walls of their house, and potentially endanger their neighborhoods. 

Here’s the thing.  Remember good old Safety Rule #4.  Be aware of your target and its environment?  It still applies.  You are responsible for where your bullets go, even in a gunfight. 

And since you’re trying to stop somebody, any round powerful enough to poke a deep enough hole to reliably damage a person, is powerful enough to penetrate a bunch of building materials.  TANSTAAFL.  There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

But this is one benefit of using a rifle for home defense.  Loaded with PROPER ammunition, the more powerful rifle bullet will often penetrate less than a pistol bullet.  A proper defensive rifle bullet is going really fast, and is designed to fragment, which causes more damage to people, but also tends to cause the bullet to break in drywall and 2x4s faster than a slow moving, solidly-constructed pistol bullet.  Either one will still penetrate, but with the correct ammo, the rifle bullet can give you the best of both worlds.

The other concern about long guns usually some how deals with maneuverability, and how if they have to clear their house, the long gun will be awkward. 

First off, clearing your house by yourself is usually a bad idea.  Don’t do it unless you have to.  To illustrate, play this game with your kids or your spouse.  Have them be the bad guy somewhere in your house.  Now, you go find them.  Who sees who first?  Right, usually they see you coming. 

So if possible, take up a defensive position that covers the entrance to your room and your kid’s rooms and call 911.  In this scenario long gun totally wins. 

But if you have to move through your house (kids on a different floor, something of that nature) you can still move with the more effective weapon, it just takes practice and training.  And if you don’t have the patience to get effective moving with a long gun, I doubt you’ve got the patience to become an effective pistol shot under stress. 

As for maneuverability, look at somebody pointing a carbine or an 18” barreled home defense shotgun, side by side with somebody pointing a pistol in a Weaver or Isosceles shooting stance.  Interestingly enough, the long guns don’t poke out that much further in real life.   

So my personal opinion?  Rule number one of a gunfight is to have a gun.  A .25 Lorcin beats a pointy stick.  If your personal situation only allows you to have a handgun at home, great.  Learn to use it.  Learn its limitations (in the case of the Lorcin, that is when it inevitably breaks into three pieces when you look at it funny), and go practice under stress.

If possible, get yourself a long gun.

Now on shotgun vs. carbine, that is all personal preference.  Which one do you shoot better? 

If you’ve got a billion rounds through a 30” 870 Wingmaster dusting clays and are a veritable pheasant holocaust, then if you want to keep an 18” barreled shotgun stoked with buckshot next to the bed, I’m not going to fault you one bit, and I’m not going to try to invade your home at 3:00 in the morning either. 

If you shoot your AK or AR better, do a little reading about what ammo is available, pick a good load, and you’re good to go.

If you are new to both types, the carbine is a little bit easier to learn to shoot and has less recoil.  Plus when the zombies come, (oh mark my words, it is just a matter of time)  it does have more ammunition capacity, and far greater effective range. 

Really, they’ve all got their pros and cons.  I don’t care what you learn to use, just learn to use something, and then go practice.  A lot.

   

Diary of a Gear Whore
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128 Comments on "Carbine vs. Shotgun vs. Pistol for home defense"

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BobG
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9 years 10 days ago

Excellent summary of the pros and cons of the different firearms.

Hooz
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9 years 10 days ago

Good stuff. Especially this bit-

“Plus when the zombies come, (oh mark my words, it is just a matter of time) ”

Truer words…

Hooz.

Steve S
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Steve S
9 years 10 days ago

Great article. I am a part-time instructor in MI and teach the NRA PPitH for people that want their CPL. I agree with you 100% on the carbine or shotgun vs. pistol and it makes sense to present it in the way you do, but what do you tell them beyond “All handguns suck?” Is their instruction on carbine use in that class, or do you refer them on to another class?

Larrry Maloney
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Larrry Maloney
9 years 10 days ago
First, Welcome to Blogging-at-large. Good to hear from another believer in personal defense arms who knows his stuff. I agree with most of what you said here but would add that the principle of KISS applies here too…”keep it simple stupid”. I favor a Mossberg 500 in home defense set up myself using 00 Buck. I also note the number of aftermarket products available for this weapon and think perhaps you may want to comment on “over-accessorizing” your piece, after all you have to be able to use it as a weapon not to dazzle the intruder with all the… Read more »
Bill in Lexington,NC
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Bill in Lexington,NC
1 year 11 months ago

Shotgun at short (inside the home) range? IMHO, add a light and you are fully accessorized for in-the-home mayhem. The light does not have to be weapon mounted … you don’t even have to carry it if you can reach the wall switch okay. Just don’t shoot your wife because she’s a little clumsy when she sleep-walks.

Howard
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Howard
9 years 10 days ago

I just wandered over from Mad Ogre. Great post, thanks & keep em coming please.

Todd
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Todd
9 years 10 days ago

Long time listener, first time caller… Oh, wait, long script. Anyway, came over from THR by way of Law Dogs blog. Huge fan of the work you did with Nightcrawler and am really looking forward to MHI.

I have to disagree on your assertion that a carbine will be better when the zombies come. While there are benefits to having a larger capacity and lighter ammunition, do they really outweigh the versatility of a shotgun? Your AK will be great for removing the melons of the undead, but what about bagging squirrels so you have some dinner, too?

Mark
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Mark
9 years 10 days ago

You’re gonna laugh, maybe, but I had the same thoughts in regards to a carbine for home defense.
Got myself a CMP Inland…

Strings
Guest
9 years 10 days ago

I once heard it explained this way, and have used it ever sonce:

“The handgun’s role is to allow you to shoot back while you retrieve the rifle or shotgun you never should have left behind in the first place. Since the average civilian’s long gun is at home, he should (theoretically) be done long before retrieving said rifle or shotgun. That said: should a badguy still be coming at you when you get home, he deserves whatever Hell he recieves…”

Works for me!

Bill
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Bill
9 years 9 days ago

Larry, good post. How do you feel about pistol caliber carbines?

Larrry Maloney
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Larrry Maloney
9 years 9 days ago
Pistol Calibre carbines have their place, I’m sure, just don’t happen to have a niche in my arsenal for such at this time. Conversely speaking though, I am…intrigued by rifle calibre handguns. Thompson Centerfire makes a very nice (and huntable) single shot long barrel in russian 7.62x39mm, fired a buddy’s piece and feel sure it would do the deed in a short range hunting set up. Same guy has a Ruger, Vaquero methinks, in .30 cal carbine…nice little revolver. I do have a .44 mag pistol and lever action carbine (shared ammo ya know..) I’d pack that piece if I… Read more »
TMI
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TMI
3 years 7 months ago

I always thought of the .30 Carbine as one of the first attempts to bridge the gap between what was, at the time the military rifle cartridge (30-06) and the military pistol cartridge (.45ACP), to make an easy handling, light, compact rifle. I’ve heard things about .30 carbine in revolvers, and someone’s idea to make a remarkably similar pistol cartridge, the .327 magnum. It’s interesting, to be sure, but I’ve got no experience with them, re: stopping power, penetration, and comparison to .45ACP, .44 Mag, and so on. Any worthwhile thoughts, in case I see something on sale or trade?

gr8scott
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gr8scott
9 years 9 days ago
Alex
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Alex
8 years 11 months ago
“But this is one benefit of using a rifle for home defense. Loaded with PROPER ammunition, the more powerful rifle bullet will often penetrate less than a pistol bullet. A proper defensive rifle bullet is going really fast, and is designed to fragment, which causes more damage to people, but also tends to cause the bullet to break in drywall and 2×4s faster than a slow moving, solidly-constructed pistol bullet. Either one will still penetrate, but with the correct ammo, the rifle bullet can give you the best of both worlds.” Are you talking about frangible ammo? Would using a… Read more »
Redstone
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Redstone
8 years 11 months ago
GREAT ARTICLE !!! I purchased, after much research, an AR-15 as well as an XD .45 for home defense. At first I was a little self conscious about owning an “Assault Rifle” or a “Battle Weapon” and my family was a little weird about it. But once I got past the ‘Taboo’ part and really just examined it for what it is, a SA carbine, I realized that I had made a good decision. I am learning as fast as I can but I do have one gripe, all the good training seems to be for Law Enforcement only. Why… Read more »
Perpster
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Perpster
8 years 11 months ago
In keeping with KISS, I like the pistol caliber carbines, especially .38 Spcl/.357 magnum. Ammo is widely available, reasonably priced and there is plenty of variety available to fill most any role. The manual of arms for revolver and lever actions is pretty simple, and you don’t look as “evil” or “gun-nutty” to the gendarmarie, prosecutor and jury as you would with non-wood. I certainly like a Mossberg 500 or 590 nearby, too. Among the criminal element there is no gun as feared as “The Gauge”. Rightly or wrongly, it has the streep reputation of cutting people in two. Nothing… Read more »
Mike
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Mike
8 years 11 months ago

Great article, i really enjoyed it. Do you think a .223 Saiga with an 18 ” barrel be up to the task? As much as i’d like to get something like an AR or another rifle in the same category, realistically i don’t think i’d have the money to afford one any time in the near future. Would the .223 be preferable to a shotgun, or are they roughly on the same level as far as your concerned?

Bill
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1 year 5 months ago
Give Classicfirearms.com a look-see. I bought my AR-15 for $539 (iron sights) from them a few months ago. I think they are $569 now but, after 500 rounds, I’m satisfied that it was money well spent. It is not a perfect AR (does such a beast exist?) but the bullets come out the right end. I was out with my wife yesterday and, while she was having a tough time, I was zinging a 2″ diameter reactive target at 50 yards with the iron sights. Accidentally shooting slightly high, I shot the knot holding another target (4″ ball) up …… Read more »
Rivrdog
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8 years 11 months ago
Some notes on this excellent post, but first, congrats on a great site. 1. I’m a retired street cop. We ALL are told to “shoot to stop”. Did you ever consider the origin of that advice? It comes from folks who run governments, and have unlimited money to pay tort claims, should they arise, and they usually don’t because they are the gummint. 2. For John Q, legal history and precedent has to come into play. Have your favorite attorney (you do have one, don’t you?) give you the stats on justified woundings vs justified deaths, regarding how much the… Read more »
trackback

[…] Handguns for home defense Posted on November 8, 2007 by correia45 A while back, I wrote a piece about using long guns for home defense.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/carbine-vs-shotgun-vs-pistol-for-home-defense/ […]

Kansan
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Kansan
8 years 8 months ago
I’m currently redoing my “arsenal”. Pistol:personal defense . My Pistol will be Glock in 9mm. Reason: My off duty gun has to be a Glock per policy and if I use 9mm the “company” will pay for the ammo. (250 rounds per quarterly qualification). Carbine:Fun and Home defense. I’m going to get a Kel-Tec Carbine that will use Glock Mags. Why Carbine? It will use the the Glock mags which are plentyful in various capacities and I can shoot it at the local indoor range. The only thing I need to decide is 9mm or .40cal for the Carbine. Shot… Read more »
billindetroit
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2 years 8 months ago
I have the Saiga. Great little gun, no appreciable kick and puts lead where I want it to without a lot of practice. With the safety on, pulling the bolt handle will show you if you are already loaded or not … but will not eject a loaded shell or strip a fresh one from the magazine. It’s great for a quick “did I already do that?” check. Until I hear otherwise, though, I’m putting 000 buck towards the bottom of the magazine … a couple days ago I was at the range testing how various shells fed through the… Read more »
Brian
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Brian
7 years 10 months ago

“A .25 Lorcin beats a pointy stick.”

The pointy stick:

1. Is more damaging.
2. Is more reliable.
3. Has a greater effective range.
4. Never runs out of ammo.

=)

Daniel C. Midkiff
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Daniel C. Midkiff
5 years 10 months ago

And, if you’re within 20 feet, you have a 50-50 chance of winning. If the handgun is holstered. I know, I’ve tested it myself.

Artorious
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Artorious
7 years 8 months ago

I would like to read commentaries of the use of hight power rifle like a .270 or .308 with solid bulets for home defense.
Because the solids could be very effective against the hip, the shoulders or the head

Bartholemue
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Bartholemue
7 years 7 months ago
Home defense. -ALWAYS use a shotgun. -NEVER use birdshot -birdshot is meant to make a bird fall out of the sky. -birdshot will not kill or stop a human that is determined unless you are very very close and hit them in the side of the head or front or back of the cranium. -AIM your shotgun. Or you might die. – at 15 feet, a 20 guage shotgun loaded with buckshot and maximum dram (your standard deer buckshot load in a 20 guage) will have THREE TIMES the knockdown power of a single .44 MAGNUM. Hit them upper/center mass,… Read more »
Bill in Lexington,NC
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Bill in Lexington,NC
1 year 11 months ago

3″ .410 with 000 buck brought a fairly large raccoon down in an unidentified urban backyard recently. Word is the ‘coon laid down, took one more breath,shuddered and called it a day. At ~20 feet, the pellets did not exit and did not appreciably spread prior to entry.

But they sure raised hell inside.

Herbert
Guest
7 years 5 months ago

A pistol shooting competitor told me the same thing: “The best home-defense weapon is a shotgun, hands down.”

Craig
Guest
Craig
7 years 4 months ago
I read this article with great interest. I live in England and we are not allowed to defend ourselves or our homes. Indeed, if you punch an intruder you’ll wind up being arrested for it. I own a shotgun here, but I must keep it in a locked gun safe, unloaded with the ammo in a different locked compartment. Good luck to me and my family if a criminal (who doesn’t follow the law) breaks in with their own shotgun, or even a knife. I guess I’ll have to tell my daughter she must be raped and killed for the… Read more »
The Northwestern Diamondback of THR
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The Northwestern Diamondback of THR
6 years 5 months ago

Or, take it up with your neighbors and your local “conservative”/”libertarian” political-parties’s candidates. Work hard to find candidates who’ll try to reverse the Orwellian regime in Parliament (whether Labour or “Conservative”, it tends to end up pretty much the same it seems to this EastPac’er, just “full-strength vs. watered-down”) you poor Brits have to live under.

God Save the Queen! And the rest of y’all, as well.

Bill in Lexington,NC
Guest
Bill in Lexington,NC
1 year 11 months ago

The Queen has heavily armed body guards; she can take care of herself. Craig, OTOH, has been left flapping in the breeze.

Goes to show that it’s a lot easier to give up a right than it is to get it back again.

Magnum6
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
It always amazed me that any Government” … I don`t care WHERE” You live in this ole world , Would have the assinine balls to tell ME” as a humand being … I don`t have the Right “to protect myself OR ESP: My daugher from being raped by a thug / or thugs , And Esp: in my home of all places . Well my friend , I happen to fell QUITE” diff. than you I guess and the subject is Not” up for debate here . I happen to feel I do have the God givin right and Duty”… Read more »
billindetroit
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

In that event, I’m afraid that I’d be down for a long stretch in prison.

Really, there ARE some things worth killing for that have nothing to do with who the government thinks should be killed 3,000 miles from home & hearth.

But, even if given a life sentence, I’m reasonably certain I’d leave prison before the bloke who attacked my daughter left his 6 handle apartment with the velvet ceiling. Some things just aren’t negotiable.

Dom
Guest
Dom
7 years 2 months ago

“I have NEVER seen a game animal run after being hit center mass with a sabot slug. from any guage except .410 because ive never seen one used for hunting with sabots”

Then you havent hunted long enough with a shotgun.

Fred
Guest
Fred
3 years 5 months ago

Course you don’t actually aim “center mass” on a deer. 😉

billindetroit
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

Not unless it is early in the day and you are aching for a LONG tracking session.

lewlfacepenic
Guest
lewlfacepenic
6 years 9 months ago

mini14 for home defense. perfection. very very loud dont be suprised if u go deaf. cant think of anything better tho.

Cynthia Diaz
Guest
Cynthia Diaz
6 years 5 months ago

I had recently decided that I might be interested in taking some shooting lessons and came accross your site from a light google search. I found your opinions very enlightening, being that I don’t know anything about guns save what I have seen in movies. You really did a great job of breaking down everything in a way I could understand. I think I’ve always favored shotguns for the aesthetic power they have. Now I’ll definitely start researching more in to them. Thanks!

Don't be a Sucker
Guest
Don't be a Sucker
6 years 4 months ago
I’ll chime in on this ancient article While we could go on for days about countless scenarios…I’ll try to touch on basic facts and my opinions of each 9mm Pistol: Medium round count (15-19 average)..fast..ultra manuverable..small wounds 12 gauge (Pump most likely): low round count (6-8 average)..front-heavy..slow-ish..HEAVY recoil (17 lb average)..serious “Thump”..very dificult to shoot and pump from the prone position .223 carbine 16 inch: High round count (20-30 average)…Superb handling..lighting fast..low recoil (3-4 lb average)..less “Thump” than the 12..just as messy at close range…Forget all the overblown “AR-15’s jam-all-the-time” crap…you can easily ‘Short-Shuck” a pump shotty under stress. Keep… Read more »
Greg
Guest
Greg
6 years 2 months ago
In any survival situation, simplicity is key. An EXTREMELY important piece of information to keep in mind when using a firearm is what could go wrong with it. Any magazine-fed weapon (pistol or rifle) relies on an independent part (the magazine) which can be easily damaged, with even the slightest amount causing misfeeds and jams. Now granted, this is probably going to be a much more serious issue in potential “long-term” survival situations, where care and maintenance are not easily achieved, but stil, it’s worth keeping in mind. Pump or break-action shotguns and revolvers aren’t going to generally ever malfunction… Read more »
Don't Be A Sucker
Guest
Don't Be A Sucker
6 years 2 months ago
Greg Any Low-Quality / Abused / poorly maintained weapon is going to fail you at some point–even the mighty AK-47 During my Shooting qualification, the Smith and Wesson revolver we were issued wasn’t cared for properly, was a bit dirty, and it jammed at least 15 times of my 100 rounds fired My AR-15 is an LMT with Magpul P-mags…so I basically have to put 5000 rounds through it and drop it from a building so it lands ‘Magazine first’ for it to ‘Not’ function…and even then it might 🙂 My HK P30 has had only 1 jam in 1000’s… Read more »
james
Guest
james
6 years 1 month ago

im my opion if your not scared to break the law saw the shit off a shotgun and light people up with that its got the size of a large hand gun and the power of a shotty the only down fall is prepare for the nasty ass recoil it has

billindetroit
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

If you live through the next couple of minutes after you pull that trigger (not a guarantee) no matter what else happens, in North Carolina you are going to jail for a very long time.

If you actually managed to kill someone in that room, you may NEVER get out of prison. At the earliest.

James R.
Guest
James R.
6 years 1 month ago

As others have said, thank you for a well thought out and well written article with a zombie reference. 🙂

Is there any specific .223/5.56 ammo you would recommend for home defense? I have a Colt Match Target HBAR; the only ammo I currently have for it is XM193 and M855.

At present, my home defense is a Winchester 1300 Defender with 00 Buckshot because both my wife and I shoot that comfortably. Sadly, she doesn’t like the Colt. 🙁

TJ
Guest
TJ
5 years 11 months ago

How about the FN Five-Seven? I think this would do pretty well for home defense.

Jedi Myk
Guest
Jedi Myk
5 years 7 months ago

Correia45, I’m currently looking for a home defense carbine. I read your article (among many others) and I want to say yours was, by a significant amount, the most informative. I’m probably going to get a Ruger Mini chambered in .223 and use Hornady TAP for it. Thanks for the info Correia45, and thanks as well to all the other people who posted with useful comments! 🙂

billindetroit
Guest
2 years 8 months ago
I’ve fired a Mini-14 and M1 Garand carbine (.30 cal.), both owned by a friend. Those are the two most instinctive shooters I’ve ever held. I can hit a paper pie plate @50 yards just as fast as I can squeeze the trigger with either one and all I have to do is look at a B27 @ 100 yds while shouldering either one to be center mass with it as soon as it comes level with my eye. The whole ‘find target, shoulder, aim, fire’ thing is over in roughly a second. Okay … so hitting the ‘X’ is… Read more »
Jimbow1965
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Jimbow1965
5 years 6 months ago
WOW. Thats a whole lotta stuff being said. I gotta chime in. I agree the 12 ga SHOTGUN (shottie…really?) is the be all and end all in CQB. 00 buck will penetrate to the spine thru the chest at HD range. No question. The 223, 308, 7.62x 51-54-ect. will also. My home, for example, is 10 feet from my neighbor on both sides. Buckshot maybe, HP rifle bullets of any make?…uhhh no. Handgun, no. But not the caliber, the gun. In WW2 the 9mm and 45 ACP killed and stopped an afful lot of men…in their tracks. Thompson, Schmisser, and… Read more »
AuricTech
Guest
AuricTech
11 months 5 days ago

Since you mentioned firing a weapon indoors, another feature of pistol caliber carbines is that they should produce less muzzle flash and muzzle blast, compared to other firearms.

Christof
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

This is a really old post, but came to my attention while looking through some other information on a keltec sub2000 (the wonders of google)

One of the things that I keep noting is never mentioned in regards to longarms indoors is pretty simple.

If they didn’t work, our military and law enforcement agencies would not train building clearing using them.

They work. Duh.

Granted, some amount of training is a good idea. But it’s not rocket science!

-Christof
over at Koyote Knives.

sixgun_symphony
Guest
sixgun_symphony
5 years 27 days ago

I have an 1873 Winchester short rifle chambered in .44-40 WCF. I like it alot.

Robert Pinkerton
Guest
Robert Pinkerton
5 years 11 days ago
What I have is a full-size .38″ Special six-shot revolver with a four-inch barrel. It and its predecessors, similar in kind but of varying makes, are most of what I carried throughout my working life. (When I graduated from college, Nixon had the economy in the toilet and his hand was on the flush-lever. Instead of moping, I did what other lawful gun-freaks did, and put my gun in lawful hire. Licensed security officers often get tremendous opportunity to read on the job.) When I worked for an outfit which had a Federal contract, I was allowed to buy Winchester… Read more »
Damien
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Damien
5 years 1 day ago

In the spec ops community the only time we use a handgun is if our main(M4 or SCAR) goes down….Handgun is a secondary weapon, treat it as such. Do not rely on a handgun as your primary unless it is all you have…Shotgun or Carbine if trained are much better choices.

Damien
Guest
Damien
5 years 1 day ago

I know we are not talking kicking in doors here, we are talking home defense. But still I rather have my AR with hollowpoints as my first choice as I am most familiar with that particular weapon system. I tell my wife Grab the Shotgun, sit in the corner with it aimed at the door, and dial 911 simple as that. No kids so we don’t have to worry about that.

Alexander Spencer Byrnes
Guest
Alexander Spencer Byrnes
4 years 9 months ago

I was talking to a man who I considered “overkill.” He believed in keeping at least three guns in every room of his house: a handgun, carbine, and shotgun. But when he started looking into katanas… that’s when I knew there was an issue.

kfg
Guest
kfg
4 years 7 months ago

“he started looking into katanas… that’s when I knew there was an issue.”

Indeed! Everyone knows the wakizashi is the home defense blade.

Spencer
Guest
4 years 5 months ago

So if I can only afford a $500 gun, should I buy a Glock in .40 cal or an AR15 in .22?

Westgunn
Guest
Westgunn
4 years 5 months ago
Check out the Zastava PAP. It’s a Serbian AK variant, has a high quality stamped receiver (1.5mm thick IIRC, unlike the 1mm WASR), and eats cheap Tula ammo like nobody’s business! 7.62 millimeter, full metal jacket. Of note, it’s single stack mag’s are 10 rounds, so it is usually G2G, even in some of the more restrictive states such as NJ and the like. Now if the Zombie Apocalypse ever occurs and Section 922(r) goes out the window, get a dremmel, open up the mag well to go double stacked and have some 30 round AK mag’s in your burial… Read more »
Paul Noble
Guest
4 years 1 month ago
Love the comments: Now here are mine. You get hit with anything and you are going to the hospital. My choice for home is a .38 Special. Perhaps not the biggest bang per shot but you will not stand up after five or six. Good revolver with good ammunition and the tide is turned. Most invaders don’t want to deal with this. For the family we have a 20ga. Now that’s pretty impressive with two barrels. Probably tells you things aren’t all that good. As far as over penetration is concerned, I live in the country. I could care less.… Read more »
Ty
Guest
Ty
3 years 8 months ago

I submit to you this situation.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/woman-hiding-kids-shoots-intruder/nTm7s/

Better hope that person is alone and you don’t miss at all.

Ed White
Guest
Ed White
4 years 13 days ago

How about being physically strong and fit, a football helmet and short sword for home defense?

The attacker couldn’t punch you and knock you out with a football helmet on and if you are above average in strength he couldn’t take the sword away.

billindetroit
Guest
billindetroit
3 years 8 months ago

But what if the bad guy couldn’t find his sword and was forced to bring his gun, instead? Suppose he brought a can of spray paint and set it on fire while aiming at you? Or maybe he had a big electro-magnet that he could throw on the floor and pull your sword out of your hands. Ya know … the one thing you fail to anticipate is the one that gets you … happens all the time.

av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 8 months ago

And then he comes in with a wooden bat and the magnet was for nought.

av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 8 months ago

Disregard, you have the bat. Fuck it YOU are the bat

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[…] […]

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Warner Raymond Hyde
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

I once read a statement from a Texas ranger, where a upstanding member of the town seeing him with his gun on his hip at a local charity event asked him ” if he was expecting trouble that night ??”
He said ” No mam If i was expecting trouble,i would have brought my shotgun…

RMFnLA
Guest
RMFnLA
3 years 8 months ago

“One riot, one Ranger…”

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[…] […]

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[…] you’ve learned about gun fights comes from TV. Just read the link where I expound on why. Carbine vs. Shotgun vs. Pistol for home defense Monster Hunter Nation I had one individual tell me that these types of guns are designed to slaughter the maximum number […]

dude
Guest
dude
3 years 9 months ago

The judge… shot blast, times 5 is the answer! Now recommend the best ammo for the Judge. thanks

billindetroit
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

Give Federal Premium 410 Handgun a try. 4 pellets – 000 buck 850 FPS … not really all that fast, but I don’t know too many folks who can run faster. Plus all 4 pellets arrive at about the same time so those who are reaching for their calculators might want to factor that in.

Grady
Guest
Grady
3 years 8 months ago

No, the best load for the Judge is the Winchester PDX1. It is a duplex load. Has 3 .36 caliber discs plus 12 BB pellets. The disc hit center mass and the pellets surround that..

Bill in Lexington,NC
Guest
Bill in Lexington,NC
1 year 11 months ago
Grady … have to answer you here because the comment queue can’t cascade any further. I’ve tried the PDX in my Saiga SA shotgun and they made some nice holes in a sheet of 1/2″ plywood … but so did the 000. Either one is a game changer … and potentially a threat ender … those who won’t consider anything other than a 12 gauge have not thought matters through. The only drawback I can find to .410 is a dearth of reloading options. However, at ~25 feet, the BBs didn’t all penetrate, whereas the 000 pellets did. “In” is… Read more »
Grady
Guest
Grady
1 year 11 months ago

I do not use the 410 PDX in a shotgun, I use it in a Taurus Judge. The first round of PDX will be to the face to take out the eyes, the follow up shot will be a Hornady Leverevolution .45 long Colt to the chest. I rotate them in the cylinder.

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[…] […]

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[…] Now, the reason that semi-automatic, magazine fed, intermediate caliber rifles are the single most popular type of gun in America is because they are excellent for many uses, but I’m not talking about fun, or hunting, or sports, today I’m talking business. And in this case they are excellent for shooting bad people who are trying to hurt you, in order to make them stop trying to hurt you. These types of guns are superb for defending your home. Now some of you may think that’s extreme. That’s because everything you’ve learned about gun fights comes from TV. Just… Read more »
Paul
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Paul
3 years 9 months ago

Thank you for the article, very good article. I would add one thought. For home defense the shotgun has the additional advantage of a limited range. In 2011, an Ohio man clearing his black powder rifle accidently killed an Amish girl 1.5 miles away. As many people would have neighbors close by, I consider it an advantage that the killing power will diminish rapidly after the shot has gone beyond your 4 walls.

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[…] Carbine vs. Shotgun vs. Pistol for home defense […]

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Sam
Guest
Sam
3 years 8 months ago

Properly secure your home and there is little chance that a criminal will get the jump on you. Get bump proof door locks, secured windows, dog, alarm etc.

Sam
Guest
Sam
3 years 8 months ago

If someone gets the drop on you then no weapon is going to save you. Prevent the criminal from getting the drop on you in the first place.

billindetroit
Guest
billindetroit
3 years 8 months ago

Well, no dog, but the rest (including the ‘etc’) is pretty well nailed down. The outdoor motion lights tell where the threat is coming from, too. They are too high to reach without a tall ladder.

Eric Brunsen
Guest
3 years 8 months ago

Don’t remember the exact quote, but Clint Smith had a quote similar to “the only use for a handgun is to allow you to retrieve your carbine”.

Eric

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[…] you want to get into it a little more, here’s one discussion of carbine (rifle) vs. shotgun vs. pistol, and includes a great explanation of the “stopping power” problem with […]

RMFnLA
Guest
RMFnLA
3 years 8 months ago

Love this thread!

Back when I was a Merchant of Death I remember how often someone came into the shop asking for “a .38” and ended up leaving with a 12 or 20 gauge pump. We also sold a ton of those sweet little Mossberg .410s.

My favorite home go-to is the Mossberg 500. Six in the tube, safety where it belongs, and if an intruder is still around after I’ve racked the action I know it time to rock & roll.

Just be sure to swap out that plastic safety button; they can break at the worst possible time!

Patrick Dolan
Guest
Patrick Dolan
3 years 8 months ago

I love this thread, too! It’s terrific to finally hear someone talking sense about long guns as defensive weapons for the home.

Larry, you absolutely Rock!

Ben
Guest
Ben
3 years 8 months ago

Larry. Great writing. I was just introduced to your stuff this week and love it! I recently bought a Colt 9mm Carbine. I am curious what your thoughts are on this for home defense.

Bill in Lexington,NC
Guest
Bill in Lexington,NC
1 year 11 months ago
Ben, I’m not Larry. I don’t even play him on tv, but the best of all possible advice is to grab a big box of ammunition and head out to the range with it for some serious practice. Shoot it every way you can except from a bench rest. Walking forward, sideways, backward, reloading while standing, crouching, with your weak hand and so on and on. I mean, really give it a good going-over. Then make up your own mind. Unless you have a lot of problems with it, I think that after firing a few hundred rounds you are… Read more »
Papa Carlo
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Papa Carlo
3 years 8 months ago
Hmm. I have lived in a country where guns were totally forbidden with exception of hunting rifles, But even these rifles were more of exception. Also the place where I lived was the worst in the city. If you show up on the street you would almost certainly get in trouble. However, you’d be beaten up in the street, home invaders were after your stuff and would usually lock you up in a closed or a bathroom. But at the end of the day nobody would ever be killed or seriously injured. What would you prefer ? How much of… Read more »
Grady
Guest
Grady
3 years 8 months ago

So if it was so much better living in a country where you cannot defend yourself, your family, or the stuff you have worked for why are you not still living there????

billindetroit
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

What kind of a life is it to be afraid to walk on the street and to cower in your own home? That’s not life … that’s death — except you still had to pay taxes.

Hethan25
Guest
Hethan25
3 years 8 months ago

Awesome article. Was shown this article by an army buddy of mine via your recent diatribe on “gun control” hysteria. Just bought a G23 Gen 3 .40 cal and I love it. still holding onto my over under 12 gauge browning too though. Keep being a voice of reason and just matter of factness…to often do I have to argue with friends who have no clue or wish to have no clue…which ironically is a game that includes only one gun as the murder weapon.

billindetroit
Guest
2 years 8 months ago
Larry, good article. I’ve chimed in here and there where I thought I had something positive to add. I know that the original post is now ancient history, but the topic itself is evergreen. I carry a 9mm doublestack and two spare magazines on my hip pretty much anytime I am awake, including in my home, but that is because a home invasion (Detroit style) is an instant event and I can get to my hip faster than I can anywhere else in the house. There are a lot of variables to consider, but a shotgun or rifle that is… Read more »
CombatMissionary
Guest
CombatMissionary
2 years 4 days ago

I’m almost done developing a round that will fire from bb guns, have a muzzle velocity of 50,000 FPS, disintegrate fully upon contact with drywall, glass or innocents, and upon contact with bad guys will dissolve them into rainbows, puppies, kittens and hugs. It’s all due to a new material I’ve discovered. I call it unobtanium. I just need a few investors, now…

Bill in Lexington,NC
Guest
Bill in Lexington,NC
1 year 11 months ago

I’m in. How many shares can I get for a 5 gallon pail of .22 hulls?

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[…] Carbine vs. Shotgun vs. Pistol for home defense | … – Since the Utah class is so short, we don’t really go into long guns for home defense much other than what I said in the post. On handguns, I teach for them to … […]

Art Nickel
Guest
Art Nickel
9 months 7 days ago
Call me nuts but I like having all three available in the house. I like my handgun for an enabler–if needed I can use it to cover a retreat. I like my shotgun (double barrel hammerless) because I load it with number 8 or smaller shot which is great for both penetration and expenditure of maximum power within the human body. And at up to 25 yards spews a 74 caliber “slug” until the shot cup stops against a body or clothing. I like my rifle for the ability to use in a prolonged gunfight, if needed. One thing you… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Mark
3 months 26 days ago
I agree shouldered weapons are a better option for self defense. However I disagree with using a rifle caliber in them. Chances are you will kill the intruder and anyone behind them, including (if you’re lucky) your next door neighbor. More likely, however, your children/wife/other family members will get injured of not killed. If you’re in a apartment your chances of hitting and possibly killing an innocent is greater. I think 45 hollow points or ACP from an AR platform is perfect. Most of the energy is spent on weight and aerodynamics of the projectile so it is less likely… Read more »
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