Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rifles in Home Defense

I read a lot of Gabe Suarez and I am also an Infantryman. The conventional wisdom that shotguns are the greatest thing for close quarters/ home defense has been a topic I have questioned a lot.

Shotguns are great. First of all they are relatively speaking quite cheap. Never paid $200 for a pump shotgun and I like name brands in decent condition or new. They are also versatile and can hunt ducks or small game, deer or do a good job against bigger meaner game.

However if it is 2am and I hear the front door explode is a shotgun what I really want to grab? I am becoming less and less sure that a good rifle like an AR or an AK (or a Mini 14 or a .308 or whatever butters your bread) isn't a better choice.

Shotguns have 2 weird myths associated with them. They kind of flow together. First is that because they shoot multiple projectiles they are automatically going to be way more accurate and useful in close quarters like a house. The thing is that for a shotgun to actually stop someone it needs to connect with a good amount of shot. Along with this at close range patterns tend to be pretty tight as in inches or fist sized or maybe even dinner plate. Certainly pointing it in the general direction of a person isn't enough to guarantee their destruction.

Second is that shotguns are safer because they do not ever penetrate. This all depends on the load used. Small minimally powered shot designed to kill little birdies penetrates a lot less than buckshot designed for hunting or self defense. The issue is that you need penetration to stop a goblin. I wish I could say there were readily available, proven and reasonably priced loads that would do the job on a goblin but not go through a single stick framed residential wall but that just isn't the case.

So yes bird shot doesn't penetrate much but the issue is that at all but point blank range it doesn't penetrate enough to be an effective defense load. To me the whole point of a gun is that you can defend yourself beyond point blank range. To put it in perspective a hatchet is a darn effective pointblank weapon but at 5 yards it isn't at all effective, ditto for bird shot.

The thing is that shotguns do not hold very many rounds and are slower to reload (both between shots and if the weapon runs dry) than modern magazine fed rifles.

Also we live in an increasingly dangerous world. Home invasions are reality. That shotgun which holds 5-8 shots was plenty when the norm was one or maybe two guys who probably just had knives anyway. Nowadays 3-4 goblins with guns is not at all uncommon. That makes a rifle which holds 20-30 shots seem a lot better than a shotgun holding maybe 8.

Honestly in that ugly worst case situation me thinks I want an AR or an AK with a 30 rd mag and maybe a surefire light with a pressure switch. Also a bullet proof vest would be good. 



sethmcdonald said...

I concur.

Shy Wolf said...

tomTo my thinking, both rifle and shotgun are not the weapon I'd prefer inside a building- unless it was an short barreled action such as an Uzi. Even the semi-short 18 inch barrel is difficult to operate in hallways and slicing pie.
I agree, if they're what you have, are ready and familiar with, confident in, by all means, use them. But how many will slep with a rifle- or especially a shotgun- on the night stand or such close to hand place?
The pistol is much easier to handle in tight quarters, has a lot more capacity than a shotgun and some rifles, is easier to maintain control of by oneself, more difficult for a perp to grab onto... gee, the list seems to go on forever with why I prefer a handgun to a long arm.
I'd never tell someone to buy a shotgun for home defense, but if it's all they have... but I repeat myself.

Tattoo Jim said...

Me personally, I sleep with an AR SBR next to my bed... 11.5 in Barrel, with Surefire fore end... I have rather large very aggressive dogs and NO neighbors at all, and a driveway almost a mile long. So no one will be at my house by accident at 0 dark 30...

Anonymous said...

In capable hands, a shotgun with buckshot (not bird, though that MAY work but it's not what I'd use) will probably be as effective as any carbine in a home defense situation. I am sure that four-man break-ins occur, but I would like to see some statistical evidence before concluding that they are the norm. One thing to consider is: are you staying right where you are or will you have to move around to get to other rooms? Homeowners with children will have to consider this. In that cae the pistol may be a better choice. Also, firing a
.223 or .30-ish round inside without hearing protection is going to be LOUD. If I was going to use one of those for home protection I'd get a suppressor for it. Probably for a pistol too.

Step[hen King said...

Ryan...You know I love you and Wifey...But I will take my Winchester 1300 Defender W/#4 Buck and do any close quarters job I need to do!

I waiting to see Walker!

Love You GUYS!

Double Tapper said...

Just looking at statistics, at least for now, most shotgun discharges are one shot stops. You may be dealing with three assailants, your 8 rounds should be sufficient. I highly recommend the vest.

Anonymous said...

Also, if you're worried about ammo capacity arm Wifey too!

I'd prefer 2 defenders to 4 atackers vs. only one defender any day.

Bitmap said...

Clint Smith said long ago "If you bring a shotgun or a handgun to a rifle fight you will get your butt handed to you. They are not compatible."

I agree 100%.

Now the hearing damage issue is a serious concern but discharging any firearm without hearing protection, especially indoors, will damage your hearing. Electronic ear muffs next tot he carbine? Now you have another piece of gear.

Everything is a compromise.

3rdman said...

Give me my Bushmaster carbine with tac light and eotech any day of the week over a shotgun. While a shotgun with #4 shot maybe nice for small game good luck on goblins with soft body armor. Like it or not the 5.56 will slice right through soft body armor. If you do decide to get some soft bady armor make sure and pick up a level III or IV plate also. These will stop most rifle rounds short of a .50

3rdman said...

One last thing if you can not afford a suppressor then you may want to have a set of hearing protection along with rifle. These are great. They will allow for normal conversaton level hearing but will protect your hear as well.

magwa said...

I like the idea of the vest. And the hearing protection. Add a Kevlar helmet to it also.

Might make it tough to sleep at night with all the gear on but at least you'd be ready when the "goblins" busted the door down.

Got vests for all the kids too? Hearing protection? They'll need it if you start running high powered ammo indoors. Your freaking neighbors too.

Come on people!!!!!

12 gauge and 00, #1 or #4 buckshot, depending on your population density, backed up with slugs is all you'll reasonbly need.

Don't fight Armageddon indoors. You'll see it coming. Meet it outside.

3rdman said...

"Don't fight Armageddon indoors. You'll see it coming. Meet it outside."

If they are in your house it is Armageddon for you and your family. The purpose is to dominate the battle not to meet them on a level battle field.

Rick in CO said...

I would agree if i live in the boondocks where my closest neighbor was a mile a way, but since I am in an urban environment, I am very concerned a stray shot exiting my home and injuring or killing a neighbor. I have both my 45 handgun loaded with hollowpoints and my shotgun loaded with buckshot in my bedroom. My wife also has her 9mm loaded with hollowpoint nearby as well. My rifle is nearby but I would not grab it first for the previous mentioned safety reasons! Please check out my wife's new blog on saving money at Now that our son has been born (on July 1st) She will be updating and adding articles at least once a week! said...

I go back and fourth on this one.

A couple years ago I was up late watching TV and I could have sworn I heard someone walking up the stairs.

I quickly opened my gun safe that is next to my bed - grabbed my S&W M&P9 - placed a loaded magazine in it - and quietly racked the slide. I then nudged my wife and told her that I thought I heard someone - and was going downstairs.

I turned on my tactical light that is mounted to my pistol - and searched the house. Of coure......nothing.

Now - also a couple years ago there was some trouble down the street - lots of cops. I could see them thru my upstairs bedroom window searching the woods behind my house. I loaded up my 12 gauge and had wife and the kids stay upstairs. I was concerned that whomever they were looking for may show up at my back door.

Point beign that when I needed to search the house - I felt comfortable using my pistol and being able to have that mobility. For a situation where there was a larger space - more visable targeting area - I choose the shotgun.

Well - there's my thoughts.

Take care all -


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts