Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

How to Properly Select and Outfit a Home Defense Weapon (Guest Post)

Selecting the right home defense weapon can be confusing. People consider every solid item ranging from kitchen knives to sophisticated rifles. Blatantly, every type of home defense weapon has some pros and cons. Plus it also depends upon the user, how effective it will be in their hands. So here we are about to compare the most common and effective home defense weapons. We’ll elaborate on how they are effective as a home defense weapon, and what upgrades can be applied to them for improving their performance. So roll your sleeves, and keep scrolling!

Types of Home Defense Weapons

The most common and effective home defense weapons can be characterized into several major categories. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus our discussion on handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Some firearms are not as effective as others, pertaining to different situations. For example, a semi-auto rifle can be used for home defense, but a sniper rifle is not feasible for such a situation.


Handguns are probably the most widely used home defense weapon across the country. Handguns are small, easy to conceal, have a lesser recoil and cheap ammunition. Plus a lot of people use them for EDC and CCW, which makes them more familiar with their operation and recoil.

One of the most widely used home defense and EDC weapon is the Glock series of pistols. Especially the Glock 17, 26 and 34. Handguns allow for quick target acquisition and can be stored at almost every crevice and corner with quick access gun safes due to their small size.

Handguns are pretty easy to control for people with small hands and a lean body. Especially for women. However, on the contrary, handguns have limited stopping power and you might require more than one shot if the intruder is wearing some sort of armor. Additionally, handguns require precise placement of shots due to their limited penetration abilities.

Top 3 Accessories to Outfit a Handgun

You may consider adding certain accessories to upgrade your handguns for optimum performance under home defense situations. These accessories help you with aiming and attaining accuracy, even when you are under the influence of adrenaline and stress.


Most handguns come fitted with simple iron sights, but you can upgrade them to illuminated night sights featuring light fiber or tritium. These illuminated sights allow you quickly acquire your target under low lighting conditions without giving away your position. Additionally, night sights are a necessity if you have weak eyesight. Tritium based night sights have a lifespan of around 12 years, so it is obviously a worthwhile investment.


A laser acts as an aiming aid in the night or in places with a difference in brightness. Lasers are extremely helpful if you are not certain about your accuracy. Red colored lasers are easier to see in the dark, whereas green colored lasers are effective both in the dark and in daylight. However, you always have to consider the batteries and ensure they don’t dry out when you need them. Additionally, depending too much on lasers for accuracy is not recommended. So consider lasers as a backup.


Most handguns have a good textured grip to ensure they can be held steady while shooting. However, if you are using a compact or sub-compact handgun for home defense. You must consider upgrading the grip of your weapon. If the grip of your handgun is small, you might add a grip extension. However, if it is a full-sized grip, you can add grip sleeves for better response under stressful situations, where your hands may get wet.


A shotgun is largely preferred by people for home defense because of its simple mechanism and stopping power. A shotgun can be a reliable weapon for someone who is not very accurate with weapons. Plus you don’t have to spend a lot of shots to bring the hostile down. Shotguns can either be used with buckshots or slugs.

However, on the contrary, shotguns are known to have a nasty recoil. If not used right, a shotgun may cause serious damage to the shooter or even a bystander. Shotguns do have a considerably short effective range, but they are quite deadly within their range.

When paired with the right sights, good ammunition, and a choke, a shotgun becomes the ultimate weapon for home defense. Shotguns can have a shot or long barrel, low or high ammo capacity and semi-auto or pump action.

Plus the caliber (12 gauge or 20 gauge) also makes a considerable difference in handling. A shotgun has the capability of handling all types of threats, ranging from ducks to big bears. But take note that using a shotgun requires strong shoulders and a good grip over the weapon.

Top 3 Accessories to Outfit a Shotgun

Here are the top 3 add-ons for a home defense shotgun:


Shotguns generally come with a single bead type of sight. Some tactical shotguns also offer a pair of rear and front sights like those in rifles. You can improve the accuracy with your shotgun by mounting a good reflex or red dot sights. Reflex sights are highly recommended for shotguns as you can scout the surroundings and shoot your target at the same time with both your eyes open.


Some shotguns have a buttstock and some don’t. Similarly, some shotguns come with a pistol grip and some don’t. Having a shotgun with a buttstock is generally a better choice. Since it helps with handling and aiming at your target. Shotguns without a buttstock are somewhat difficult to handle. But eventually, it depends upon your personal preference. Shotguns with buttstocks and pistol grips are the easiest to handle because of their ergonomics which is comparable to a rifle.

Barrel Length

The minimal permissible limit for a barrel length of a shotgun is 18 inches. Which is ample for home defense. Shotguns with longer barrels are generally used for shooting ducks, and flying targets. Having a longer barrel doesn’t affect the velocity of the shotgun. Additionally, a longer barrel also affects maneuverability which is quite important in a home defense situation. So it is a good choice to keep the barrel length between 18 to 26 inches maximum.


Rifles have their own place and importance when it comes to home defense situations. But keep in mind that we are not referring to long and bolt action rifles like the M1A, Mosin Nagant, or Remington 700. They are good rifles, but only beyond a range of 200 yards, since you cannot fire consecutive rounds quickly.

By rifles for home defense, we mean an AR-15, AK, or other similar rifles, more inclined towards the size and function of a semi-auto carbine. A rifle is tactically more advantageous than a handgun or a shotgun. Which is a proven fact because military and special forces use rifles for tactical operations.

A rifle has more ammo capacity so you have more round to spare, and a tough stand to resist intruders. A rifle has the most number of upgrades and aftermarket accessories necessary to fend off a dozen hostiles at a time. But on the other hand, rifles are not very concealable, and you’ll have to use a heavy caliber for more stopping power.

Top 3 Accessories to Outfit a Rifle

Rifles are not perfect right out of the box. There are a ton of aftermarket upgrades that can be added to a rifle. Especially if it is an AR. Simple modifications can convert your rifle into a deadly tactical masterpiece.


Rifles have the most number of options when it comes to mounting sights. You can choose from optics scopes, reflex sights, holographic sights, red dot sights and offset iron sights. However for home defense, having a red dot sight is the best bet because it is less cluttered, and offers quick target acquisition. Additionally, if you have an optic scope, consider having an illuminated reticle to tackle intrusion attempts made in the night.


A laser greatly improves the tactical advantage of a rifle. When coupled with a tac light and optic sights, a laser becomes more effective in both day and night. Lasers can either be green or red. Green lasers do not wash under the influence of daylight, whereas red lasers are more effective in low light conditions.


Rifles may or may not have a pistol grip. Such grips are also prohibited in several states so please check your local laws before adding one to your rifle. If it is banned in your state, you could also look into featureless grips. Having a grip on your rifle improves the grip and handling, which in turn improves the accuracy. Additionally, you must also install rails on the rifle, so you can add more accessories as and when needed.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a good self-defense tool. Given that you have good sneaking capabilities. Using a pepper spray against an intruder can save you against any legal conditions which might arise if you use a weapon. Pepper sprays have their own effective range. Plus like any other weapon, you will have to practice a lot with pepper sprays. The good part is that pepper spray is legal in all 50 states of the U.S. so you don’t have to face any legal implications.

But on the contrary, using pepper spray against an armed intruder can be very risky. A pepper spray gives you the chance to neutralize the attacker and run away. However, a pissed off hostile can still spray bullets all over the place, which is definitely a risk. Conclusively, pepper spray is good for tackling a single intruder, within a close range.

Baseball Bat

A baseball bat can be a deadly weapon if you connect it accurately with the intruders head. Baseball bats are completely legal to carry and possess, so you don’t have any legal implications. But a baseball bat is a melee weapon and not a ranged weapon. Which requires to fight in close quarters.

If your opponent is barehanded, or armed with a melee weapon, using a baseball bat makes sense. But if the enemy has a ranged weapon (gun, knife) you’ll have to sneak close to make your hit count. Plus if you want to tackle multiple hostiles with a baseball bat, you must have some sort of martial arts training.

Aspects to Consider Before Choosing a Home Defense Weapon

Before choosing a home defense weapon, you must consider several aspects. Such as the stopping power, range, ease of use, and most of all, your comfort and level of precision with the weapon. Let’s take a look at some important factors, which will let you choose the best home defense weapon among a handgun, shotgun, and a rifle.

Ammunition Capacity

In home defense situations, you have to make a stand against the hostiles. If you live in an urban location, help can arrive quickly. But the same is not true if you live in a rural or remote location. A weapon with more ammunition capacity lets you shoot more and tackle multiple hostiles at once. Plus if you don’t get a chance to pick up spare magazines, a weapon with high ammo capacity can help you fight longer. Rifles obviously have the highest ammunition capacity, followed by handguns and then shotguns. So in terms of ammunition capacity, a rifle is definitely the winner. A high ammo capacity gives you more rounds to spare. Plus if you are using high caliber bullets, you also have better stopping power.


We’ll count a couple of variables to calculate the precision of a home defense weapon. The first is ease of accuracy, and the second is recoil management. The easy of accuracy refers to the chances of hitting the target accurately with every consecutive shot. A rifle clearly is the winner in this situation since they are ergonomically designed for semi-auto and full auto firing. But, on the other side, a shotgun has better chances of hitting a target, since the shot spreads out while moving. The next thing is recoil management. Which defines the ease of handling the recoil of a weapon. The winner, in this case, is also the rifle, because of its design and quick realignment. So overall, a rifle is the most precise home defense weapon, followed by the handgun, and the shotgun.


Maneuverability refers to the capability of moving a weapon easily under every situation. Especially around the corners. In that case, a handgun is the most maneuverable weapon. Obviously because of its small size. You can twist your hands the way you like while shooting a handgun. It will not interfere with your surroundings, not matter if you are shooting around the corner or through a cranny. Plus, you can change your stance and position quickly. Handguns are also useful for single-handed operation, which is a prime concern in home defense situations. Whether you are reloading ammo, changing position, taking cover, or pulling an injured person out of the fire zone.

User Experience Level

This is something that varies from person to person. Some people are more comfortable with rifles than handguns and vice versa. However, when the ease of use and simplicity of a weapon is concerned, a shotgun wins the race. It is the most simple, least sophisticated weapon, with good stopping power, and considerably good accuracy even for an amateur. A novice shooting a target from 10 yards away is more likely to hit with a shotgun than with a handgun, but eventually, your level of practice and personal discretion decides which weapon will be effective for you.


A home defense weapon must have ample ammo capacity and should be easy to use. Such weapons can either be ranged or designed for hand-to-hand combat. However, it is a better choice to choose ranged weapons like handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Each of these weapons has its own pros and cons. But ultimately, it is your personal level of comfort and skill with these weapons which will decide what is best for you.

Prepper’s Home Defense, By Jim Cobb

About Josh L

"Hey there, I'm Josh. Gun lover and outdoor enthusiast since I was 8, I started Gunmann.com to share my knowledge accumulated over the years. My goal is to help others gather the tools and resources they need to build that perfect set up or just have fun out in the field."


  1. Josh, a well written article, but, you failed to point out the dangers of using a rifle for home defense… mainly that the bullet, if the intended target is missed, may continue on through barriers behind the intruder and actually injure a loved one or a neighbor. That’s a lot of responsibility for your readers who aren’t very knowledgeable in fire arms.

  2. Catherine says

    Saving this article, need to re-evaluate my weapon choices, having just had a total shoulder replacement on dominant side.

  3. Julio Vasquez says

    #1 home defense weaponis a shotgun, with light, and built in laser. No needto shoot from the shoulder, aim the laser, identify with the light, brace against thehip, shoot as necessary. Add a dotsight if you want to get fancy.

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