How to Choose the Best Caliber & Bullet Type for Home Defense – Foundry Outdoors
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How to Choose the Best Caliber & Bullet Type for Home Defense

Protecting your home and those in it is something every homeowner ponders. Are there plans in place to protect your family in the event of an intrusion? Being equipped with the right weapon can help prevent the unthinkable. When it comes to home defense there are a variety of opinions on what is best. Neighbor A might insist on a shotgun while neighbor B suggests a revolver is the way to go. Ranking which weapon is best for home defense would be nearly impossible due to the perceptions and beliefs of each individual; however we can look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular home defense guns. Before we dive into home defense weapons there are some considerations to make on your situation. What is the layout of your home, are multiple rooms occupied at the same time in close proximity of each other? Where are the weak points in your home where an intruder might enter? What about the outside of your home do you live in the suburbs or a rural area where the closest neighbor is a half-mile away? If you can answer some of these questions you may be able to narrow down which home defense gun is best for you and your family.

Home Layout

Lets continue with thinking about your home and layout of the rooms. If rooms are close to one another and are being occupied at the same time, for example bedrooms that share walls you need to think about the penetration a bullet might have. Many walls in America are made up of drywall and if family members are in a conjoined room you surely do not want a bullet that is going to pass through a wall with ease. As we get into best home defense guns we will also touch on the load or bullet type you should consider using based on these scenarios.


The Timeless Shotgun

One of the most popular home defense choices is the 12 gauge shotgun and rightfully so as it provides ease of use, reliability, and a variety of load options. A pump 12-gauge bedside is sure to get the attention of a home invader especially when they hear you rack one into the chamber. One of the biggest benefits to a shotgun is the ease of firing, it is important to keep in mind that this isn’t a day out on the range, but most likely a situation where you are being woken from a dead sleep to find someone in your home! Adrenaline and stress levels are going to be at an all time high, a shotgun helps offset some of the stress by being able to quickly pickup look down the barrel and fire. Shotguns are much easier to hit a target with then a handgun, especially if you do not shoot often. If you are a hunter you most likely use a form of long gun more then you do a handgun and for this reason again you will have a familiarity with your shotgun making it second nature when it comes to using it during a home invasion. The next advantage to using a shotgun is the variety of loads that are available. The most popular shotgun ammunition includes buckshot, birdshot, and slugs.


For close range encounters, which in most cases are home invasion situations birdshot is an ideal load for your shotgun. Birdshot is made up of very small pellets that pack a punch but do not necessarily penetrate walls. For this reason many choose to protect their homes with birdshot, as at close range it can be fatal or certainly make a criminal think twice after getting hit with a bunch of pellets, and yet at the same time greatly reduces the risk of harming someone else in the home. Birdshot loses momentum so fast when it hits an object there is very little penetration after the initial contact with the object. As mentioned above if your home shares walls with others in the home birdshot may be the best choice for you.


Buckshot is also a very popular load for home defense, the 00 buckshot load is primarily the most popular home defense load among buckshot. Unlike birdshot buckshot will travel through a home invader as well as walls. On one hand the stopping power of buckshot is much greater than birdshot, however the risk of injury to others can be greater depending on your home. For longer range distances buckshot would be an ideal load as it holds its shape down range longer than birdshot.


A slug is made up of one projectile unlike birdshot and buckshot; slugs will leave a large hole in your target and will certainly be fatal. Using slugs would be ideal for home defense if you needed extra range, however other then that slugs do not serve as great home defense options for two reasons. The first reason being that most home invasions take place within very close ranges between yourself and the target, with a slug you get one projectile which means one shot to hit your target, this can be difficult under a high pressure situation. The second reason slugs aren’t the most ideal home defense option is because they will penetrate their target and keep going. If you miss your intended target the bullet is likely to go through several walls making the situation that much more dangerous.

When it comes to choosing a weapon for home defense it is obvious as to why many prefer a shotgun. The variety of loads make the gun adaptable to a variety of situations, the ease of use, and dependability make it ideal for protecting your home. Another benefit to shotguns is the recoil, firing birdshot or even buckshot out of a 12-gauge will not produce that much recoil. A 20-gauge will produce even less recoil.


Handguns are also an option for home defense; if compact and maneuverability is important to your home defense situation then a handgun may be the perfect fit. One of the greatest benefits to a handgun is the ability to have a free hand available, this can be helpful if you need to clear rooms in your home or hold a flashlight. You may not even need a flashlight as there are so many different accessories for handguns you can equip your handgun with a laser or flashlight; another benefit to using a handgun. There are a variety of different handguns on the market, and many people believe in one over the other for different reasons. One of the top styles of home defense handguns is a revolver because of their reliability. Revolvers rarely jam and the last thing you want to deal with is a jammed handgun when face to face with an intruder. Similar to a shotgun the revolver can take a variety of calibers, of course it is always important to know what your revolver can and cannot shoot. Take for example the SP101 this revolver can shoot .357 magnums, .327 Mags, and .38 SP cartridges.


Rifles can also be considered for home defense. Assault rifles like the AR-15 may be considered excessive by some, but they do offer a lot of benefits for home defense. Be sure to comply with your local laws, and if all checks out here are the main benefits to choosing an assault rifle to protect your home:

    • Ergonomics - Adjustable stocks, lightweight, and customizable
    • Recoil is Manageable - Allows for unorthodox shooting positions if neede
    • Exceptional Accuracy


      When considering ammo for your assault rifle a 55 grain full metal jacket is an ideal option. This may come as a surprise to some but a FMJ being fired from an assault rifle actually loses it's integrity quite quickly when it comes in contact with an object  such as drywall helping to reduce pass through.

      In summary shotguns, handguns, and rifles can all serve as an acceptable form of home defense. It really comes down to your personal situation and how comfortable you are with your weapon of choice. It is important to keep in mind that an intrusion creates a high stress situation so familiarity with your gun will be a key deciding factor.

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