Home Defense Guns

This is one of those articles I’m really happy to write because it has direct application and benefits to your life right now. In other words, you don’t have to wait for the end of the world to reap its rewards.

Reason? Home invasions happen all the time. If you or one of your neighbors haven’t had your house broken into over the past 10 years, consider yourself lucky.

Around 1 in 35 to 40 homes in the U.S. are burglarized each year. Yes, that depends on the neighborhood you live in, but keep in mind that there’s no 100% secure location. Thieves never sleep. They’re always looking for their next victim and that could be you.

That being said, let’s talk about on the best home defense guns to protect your castle…

As you probably know, we buy guns for a multitude of reasons, post-SHTF protection, hunting, and so on. But if your primary objective is to protect yourself from burglars and angry mobs that could invade your home in a Martial Law scenario (for example), you need to narrow your focus to finding the best gun to do THAT.

The bad news is that there is no right answer to this question. Some people prefer a shotgun, others an AR, others think handguns are the best choice, while still others think it’s best to have both a handgun AND a rifle.

So how do you determine which gun(s) to get?

Let’s focus on the factors that can influence this decision. First off:

Do you live in an apartment?

If you live in a city and have very little space to defend, getting a shotgun is the worst idea you could think of. More than likely you won’t be shooting at a distance and you will need quick access to your gun, a shotgun is not the best for either of these conditions.

So in an apartment or flat, a handgun is probably your best option. It’s easier to hide and it’s harder for an attacker to disarm you. And if you haven’t yet moved out of the city or suburbs, you’re probably not prepared to hunt your own food and such, anyway. Bushcraft is probably not your thing so having a rifle doesn’t really make sense.

Do you have a homestead (a perimeter) to defend?

If you have any kind of yard or perimeter to defend, then a rifle or a shotgun are both excellent choices. You need power, you need accuracy, and a rifle or shotgun can deliver both.

What is your SHTF plan?

The way you plan to protect during a home invasion will dictate what self-defense gun to get. Some people prefer having a handgun even if they have a large perimeter to defend because if the perpetrators are already inside the house, they want to better clear the rooms and be able to move faster.

Other people think differently. They would much rather defend the first floor (where the bedrooms are). They won’t go after the looters, but instead will shoot them with deadly accuracy should they decide the ground floor is not enough.

Do wild animals pose a threat to you?

If you live in a somewhat remote area, yet prefer handguns, consider the fact that you might have to face wild animals. In this case, a rifle such as the Marlin 30/30 is going to be of great help.

How experienced are you?

Your level of skill when it comes to firearms dictates whether you get something that’s easier to shoot, easier to clean and maintain, OR whether you opt for something more advanced, powerful, and more precise but more high-maintenance.

This is similar to buying a car. You can get one with an automatic gear box that’s perfect for newbies, OR you can get a Ferrari that has a manual gear, reaches amazing top speeds, but is harder to drive around town and will cost you a lot of money.

Let’s not forget that the purpose of your next gun is to defend your home. You’re not necessarily looking a weapon to hunt with or to shoot someone a mile away, you just want something for protection of your home and family.

Are you mobile?

What I mean to ask is, do you spend time in the town or city that’s closest to you? If you do, a handgun is going to make much more sense to carry with you at all times.

Do you have kids?

Ok, I’m not trying to say that if you do, then you need to stay away completely from shotguns. But, if this will be your first home defense weapon, maybe you should. Shotguns have formidable power and if an accident occurs, they are more often deadly. A handgun is still dangerous but is more likely to wound and not kill if it accidentally goes off.

So if you think that your wife will go nuts if you show up with a shotgun, if your children are going to be terrified, or they might try and do anything to get their hands on it then, by all means, get a handgun. And if guns are illegal where you live, you may dig deeper into alternative weapons such as crossbows, machetes and so on.

Do you need a tactical light or a flashlight?

The answer is, you guessed it, it depends. It depends on how well you know your house and how good a shot you are.

A flashlight is great in the dark during a home invasion because, obviously, it helps you aim a lot better. However, it also makes you a target for the other guy.

Now, if you have vision problems or if your aim is not too good, then you’re better off with a shotgun than a flashlight. But if you think you don’t need one, you’re probably right. Even so, it’s best to have a flashlight just in case and only turn it on if you need it.

One other thing to keep in mind when shooting someone in the dark is that killing him might not be the best idea. You could be prosecuted and end up in jail. Sure, you can use bad line of sight as a defense to the judge, but also consider whether you really want to have taking a man’s life on your conscience.

So, for instance, if your vision is not what it used to be, you definitely need a tactical light or at least a flashlight. Carry the flashlight but train as if you’re not going to have it when someone decides to pay you a visit at 3 o’click in the morning.

These Are Your Options…

Keeping all of the above in mind, let’s see what your options really are when it comes to home defense…


There’s no doubt about it, rifles are prepper’s best friend. The beauty of a rifle is their dual function. They are excellent not only for protection, but also for hunting. In the event SHTF and you’re caught out in the wilderness with no food or if your stockpile is almost depleted and you need some fresh game, a rifle will come in handy.

I’m going to give you my suggestions in a minute but first, let me tell you what to look for when selecting a rifle:

  • semi-automatic (magazine-fed);
  • it should have a minimum 300 meters accuracy;
  • a detachable magazine;
  • it should have a centered-fired cartridge;
  • the capacity for at least 20 rounds (check your state laws first);
  • … and dependable iron sights.

Anyway, it is my personal opinion, I strongly hold to it, that one of the rifles below should be your first survival gun, no doubt about it. Here are my top recommendations…

ar 15

The AR-15

The original AR-15 was designed by Armalite (a small arms engineering company from the 50s) but, in the 1960s, they sold their design to Colt. The AR-15 is widely used by the military and civilians alike and for good reason. Here’s a quick list that proves that, if you’re gonna try out a gun, the first one you should hold in your hands should be this one:

  • it’s lightweight;
  • good accuracy (due to the high velocity of the projectile);
  • easy to use;
  • uses small ammo (making it easy for you to  carry with you and stockpile in small spaces);
  • you can remove the upper receiver
  • it allows a wide range of optics, bi-pods and other accessories to be mounted on it, because of its Picatinny rail system (the standard mounting platform for these accessories).

Last but not least, this weapon proved its efficacy in real combat so you should definitely try it…

Let’s talk a little about the cons of this rifle, namely:

  • it doesn’t do well if you get it dirty (I’m talking about mud, sand, water, and even snow);
  • its accessories are a little pricey;
  • it needs regular maintenance;
  • it’s high maintenance (compared to other options I’m about to show you);
  • the gas system could malfunction (because the breech of the fire mechanism is exposed to the propellants of the cartridge).

…and it’s less lethal (meaning the bullet delivers less kinetic energy to the target). Of course, using it for your own protection, you could be shooting from close range and you’re not necessarily shooting to kill. So this last con is not something I’d be too worried about.

Price: about $700.

Ammo used: 5.56 or .223 rounds.

Weight: 5.5lbs to 8.5lbs (that’s between 2kgs and 4kgs)

One last thing about the AR-15. Although tis name is “branded” by Colt, you can find this gun under different names produced by other companies such as Bushmaster, Rock River Arms, Ruger, and so on.

ak 47

The AK-47

It’s a little uncomfortable for me to write about this weapon three weeks after a group of terrorists used this weapon to bring terror to people in Paris. They don’t call it “the bad guy gun” for no reason, right? Nevertheless, the AK-47 is an amazing choice for a survival weapon and here’s why you should get one:

  • it has loosely fitting parts (making it more shock resistant and requiring less time to assemble);
  • it works even when it contains traces of dirt, sand, mud, snow, UNLIKE the AR-15 we previously talked about;
  • requires little maintenance (again, unlike the AR-15);
  • required ammo is cheap and easy to find;
  • cheap to acquire (perfect for a prepper on a budget);

Here are the trade-offs:

  • mediocre accuracy (so less ideal for hunting);
  • it’s heavy (7 pounds or more or 3kgs or more);
  • mediocre range (very hard to hit a target more than 100 feet or 300 meters away);
  • more recoil (one of the reasons the accuracy is bad);

Price: a good one will set you back about $1,000.

Ammo: 7.62×39

m1 carbine

The M1 Carbine

This is a great all-purpose rifle that is lightweight and has very good accuracy. It’s not that good to shoot targets from a distance but it’s still good for hunting purposes, should you ever need it.


  • lightweight;
  • low recoil;
  • has a detachable magazine;
  • semi-automatic (of course);
  • small;
  • good close and mid-range accuracy;


  • not good at long range;
  • it’s getting more and more expensive to purchase;
  • the ammo is expensive (around $500 for 1000 rounds) and has a low stopping power.

Ammo: .30-caliber rounds

Although the original M1 Carbine is harder to get these days, the AOM130, a modern take of the M1 if you will, can be found at Auto Ordnance for less than 1K.


Rifles and handguns (we’re gonna talk about these a little later) have a unique difference from shotguns. They have rifled barrels, causing the bullets to also spin as they come out of the barrel which means the bullets travel faster.

Rifles have better accuracy, but shotguns are better in close combat. This is because the shotgun bullet can cause damage to the entire area that it hits, possibly injuring several opponents.

The other big benefit of shotguns is they are cheaper than most rifles. They are very easy to maintain and if you live in an urban or suburban area you should definitely check them out. They will be able to inflict more damage should you ever face an angry mob. The last thing I want you to look for when selecting a shotgun is the gauge. A 20 gauge is good if this is your first weapon but a 12 gauge is better.

mossberg 590 a1 public domain

The Mossberg 590 Mariner

I put this one first because it’s great for both protection and wilderness hunting. It’s a tactical shotgun, meaning it holds 9 shells instead of 6 or 8. You can even change the original grip to a pistol grip to be used in smaller spaces. In fact, you can use lots of accessories on it.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Mossberg 590 Mariner passes all military requirements (MilSpec 3443) for chemical resistance, drop tests, endurance, and so on. In addition:

  • it’s easy to maintain;
  • it’s easy to use;
  • it supports a lot of accessories (shotgun shells, flashlight mounts with sling attachments, carriers etc.)
  • it has good recoil;

…and the cons:

  • it’s expensive
  • it’s heavy (at 7 pounds)
  • it’s long (which makes it harder to just pack and take with you);
remington 870

Remington 870 

If you choose a Remington 870, one thing is clear, you will find plenty of parts to replace or upgrade this shotgun. Heck, you can even mount an extension tube so it can hold up to 7 shells if you want to.

Among the pros:

  • Extremely accurate;
  • Very reliable;
  • Durable (rust-resistant);
  • Wider range of parts for upgrade.

The cons:

  • Pricey;
  • It’s only a 5-shell shotgun;
  • The slide release is forward of the trigger, making it a little uncomfortable to reach it.

Price: starting from $400.


Handguns are great in two scenarios, (1) when you live in the city and a shotgun is simply to big to conceal or (2) as a back-up gun. When you purchase one, you should look for it to have center-fire cartridge, to be at least 9mm, and to have a .45 ACP or a .357 magnum for revolvers. You won’t have any problems finding ammo. 9mm is really popular, though it wouldn’t hurt to stockpile on it for times of need.

Top handgun recommendations…

sig sauer 220

Sig Sauer P226

The handgun I recommend most is rather pricey (it’s going to set you back at least 800 bucks) but is well worth it. This 9mm handgun shoots smooth, has no safety (meaning you can draw it real quick), and overall is very reliable. Plus, it’s really comfortable to hold in your hand and the balance is really good.

The con of this weapon is that it’s a little heavy and not suitable for those with small hands. All in all, this is a great handgun, don’t let the price scare you. Over time, the ammo is going to cost you less.

The Glock 36

If you do have small hands and the previous gun just isn’t for you, you should definitely try the Glock 36. Although it has a full 6-runds magazine, it only weighs 27 ounces! It’s cheaper than the Sig Sauer, too, at around $500.

Pros: accurate, lightweight, reliable, and the magazine is interchangeable. It also has less muzzle rise than the Sig.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to follow my advice to the letter, of course, but my opinion is that a handgun should be the home defense weapon of choice whether you live in a flat in the city, in a house in the suburbs, or in a house with a big yard in a remote location.

The last two cases call for a second weapon, which should be a rifle or a handgun.

Keep your handgun either with you at all times or by your nightstand (preferably in a fingerprint safe). Keep your rifle or shotgun securely locked away and out of reach of children, but easy to grab in a moment’s notice.

About Dan F. Sullivan

My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don't like taking orders. I'm taking matters into my own hands so I'm not just preparing, I'm going to a friggin' war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.


  1. Avatar

    At my home, I have rifles, pistols and shotguns. I always have a pistol within easy reach and usually am carrying one on my belt when I’m in and around the house. Part of the reason is that I have some “former” drug dealers living close to me. I also have had a problem with rabid wild animals (latest visit was with a rabid skunk who came to visit during the mid-afternoon, as I walked toward my shop. Perhaps I should say, “late” rabid skunk) I do have a concealed carry permit, as well as an “open carry” relating to my part-time job. Usually, I carry a 9mm loaded with hollow points.

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    Great article! Lots of practical info, especially for folks that are new to firearms.

    I will differ in opinion with the author on one issue however…. The AK-47. The early models of the AK-47 were on the whole, not overly accurate. That is 20 year old thinking I’m afraid. With newer and better barrels and compensators, this rifle is PLENTY accurate, even at 300 meters. Fact… most Americans do NOT know how to zero the rifle in! That’s a big part of the problem right there. I’ve got an M-64 RPK that I would put up against an AR-15 any day…. In fact, I also have an M-10 AK-47 that I would ALSO put up against an AR.

    With that said, the AK bullet has a lot more punch than the .223/5.56 NATO round that the AR-15 shoots. If i’m ever forced to fire upon another human being God forbid, I want ONE bullet to take the perp down! I don’t want to have to pump 4 or 5 rounds into them to get them to stay down. Inside 100 meters, which would be the range MOST of these intermediate rifles would be used, the AK bullet, (7.62×39) is INFINITELY more lethal and causes much more damage. That fact isn’t even in dispute. On the downside, the round is a little heavier, so you’ll likely be toting less of it.
    As far as longer range accuracy, i’m not impressed with the AR-15’s ability to hit targets even 500-600 yards out. Reason…. The .223 round is a FAST bullet, and an ACCURATE bullet. What it AIN’T? Is an EFFICIENT bullet. Hitting a target 500 yards out with an AR-15 would be akin to throwing a tic-tac at a freight train. lol
    Fact is, I wouldn’t use ANY intermediate rifle for anything over 200 meters at most unless I HAD to. For reliable accuracy and firepower punch, you need a different rifle. Different jobs require different tools.

    Another note on AK-47’s. They don’t JAM! You can stick ANY KIND OF 7.62×39 ammo into it, and it WILL fire it! From the expensive brass competition rounds, to the 1970’s Polish and Bulgarian garbage surplus, this rifle fires EVERYTHING it’s fed. Unlike an AR-15, which is not only finicky as hell with ammo, but you have to constantly clean it, or it’s reliability goes bye bye. Further, the AR-15 is built with lighter materials and parts, and more prone to breakage with protracted use.
    I have a gut feeling that if America ever descends into a bona-fide SHTF scenario for a protracted amount of time, those that have over-invested their faith in the AR-15 will be disappointed. Even if you do not LIKE the AK-47 for whatever reason, (Commie gun, whatever) smart money says HAVE ONE ON HAND as a backup to your AR-15.
    Just make sure you buy an eastern bloc-made one, ok? Do NOT buy American-made AK’s, at least not yet. Most of em made in the USA? The manufacturers have been going cheapo-metal on the parts, and the failure rates on American made AK’s is alarming. Buy imports! A good old fashioned WASR 10 from Romania is a great, solid Ak-47 and are easy to find. Priced roughly around $599 or so. You can buy specialty furniture for em too and get all the add-ons you want on it, from front pistol grips to lasers, specialty optics, etc. Worth the investment!!!

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    Like the M1A1. Reach out and touch soft targets up to 1,000 yards with a good scope. Good idea to have your AK or Ruger Mini 30 handy also. Any soft target beyond 300 yards let walk on by.

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    One of the best AK47’s made right now is the Century Arms RH-10. It has a cold hammered chrome lined barrel & is far more accurate than most AK’s. Very well made & dependable!

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