Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

What weapons should you use to defend your home?

What's the best home defense weapon? - https://graywolfsurvival.com/?p=3295The question about what the best home defense weapon is is a pretty hotly-debated one. Some people thing it’s a .45, some people think it’s an M-16 or AK-47, and some people think it’s a shotgun. The answer’s not all that simple.

This post will explain what I think, but if you really want to go into some detail on how to protect your home, get this.

There are several considerations that you need to think of when deciding what weapon would be best to protect your home, such as:

  • Your experience and training
  • The risk of collateral damage
  • The effectiveness of the round used

Your experience and training

Honestly, this one is probably the most important. A properly-trained individual can protect his family with a .22 better than an untrained one can with a machine gun. A weapon is just a tool, and some tools are better than others. The biggest difference though is how well the shooter puts rounds on target and manages to not shoot anyone he isn’t trying to shoot and also not get shot himself. In addition to training with the exact weapon you choose, you should take lessons in tactics from a qualified instructor. There are also many books on home defense that you can read to give you ideas.

No matter what gun you choose, you need to train with it and practice.

The risk of collateral damage

If you live in a neighborhood, this is a big one. Even if you live out in the boonies, unless you live by yourself, you could end up shooting one of your own if the round goes through the wall. You need to be able to hit the guy to stop him but you have to realize that even if you practice a lot, a target that’s shooting at you is MUCH harder to hit than a paper one or even a moving target. You’re going to miss.

You need to consider that those rounds that miss don’t just stop 6 inches behind the idiot who came into your home. They’re going to keep going until something stops them.

A round that will go through armor will also go through a wall. Also, a round that’s designed to stop at a wall won’t penetrate armor. You may not have the choice about which round you use right off the bat but if you’re smart, you can have rounds ready to go for whatever situation you’re facing.

The effectiveness of the round used

So just what is effectiveness? Here’s where I differ from most people. Most people want the most fastest and heaviest round that will penetrate hard body armor or blow the guy’s head off. When you’re faced with a life and death situation in your home, the plain and simple truth is that what you really need to do is stop the guy. If he’s out of the fight, your family’s safe. If he gives up and runs away, your family’s safe. If he’s dead, your family’s safe. The point of having your weapon isn’t truly to exact revenge on the guy for coming into your home, although I’m not really against that. The point of having a weapon is TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY.

So what do I think the best weapon is for home defense overall? Personally, I use two. Which one would be the best depends on the exact circumstances.

I have a Vertec 92FS next to my bed that has an M6 Tactical light with laser and Trijicon night sites. With it, I can quickly respond right from where I’m lying, without having to get out of bed or even sit up. I use Hydra-Shok hollow points with one backup magazine of the same thing and one with full metal jacket rounds. Why did I choose this one? Because my standard-issue weapon in the Army has been the Beretta 92FS for many years. I’ve shot a LOT of rounds with these and don’t have to think. I do carry a .45 when I’m out but if I’m woken up from a deep slumber, I’m more comfortable with the 92FS.

Beretta Vertec 92FS home defense pistol

Here’s a video that shows the M6:

Here’s the night sites I have on my pistol:

Here’s a test with the Hydra-Shok rounds I use:

In case you’re curious about the difference between my Vertec and a standard-issue M9, here’s another video:

Now, if I grab the gun and it looks like I’m going to be in a battle, I roll over to my bathroom a few feet away and grab my main home defense weapon, which is a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun with Winchester PDX-1 shotgun shells.


This gets me out of their site, gives me a nice fatal funnel to focus on, and gives me a new primary weapon, with the pistol as my secondary. I have extra ammo available in there too. I don’t just keep the shotgun next to the bed because it’s actually quite difficult to roll over, grab a shotgun, swing it back toward the door, and fire. The pistol is exactly where my hand lands when I swing my arm over to the side of the bed.

As you can see, it has the same M6 light/laser on it, a clip-on fiberoptic sight, a Hogue pistol grip, a tactical foregrip, and a sidesaddle shell holder that holds an extra 6 shells.

I’m not 100% happy with the PDX-1 shells because they blast right through pretty much everything I’d shoot but they’ll stop the guy. I’m still searching for a better solution but these are still very effective.

Here’s a video on the shells I use.

So as you can see, I kind of use a system of weapons to defend my home. I’m very familiar with these weapons and I’ve had a lot of extra training, so these may not be the best choice to use to protect your home.

References used in this article: Mossberg, dailycallerElderly, Disabled Woman Uses 9mm Glock to Fight Off Intruder High on DrugsYoung Man in Jacksonville Shoots and Kills 2 Armed Home Invaders, Saves His Roommates87 Year Old NC Woman Uses 9mm Handgun to Scare Off 2 Home InvadersTX Armed Neighbor Captures Burglar at GunpointArizona Homeowner Shoots One of Three Armed Home Invaders With a ShotgunCalifornia Woman Stops Home Invasion With Her Shotgun – “I’m Not a Sitting Duck!” She SaysSC Homeowner Tries to Take Joe Biden’s Advice Against Thief, It Didn’t Work, and He Was Forced to Shoot HimTeenager Uses Shotgun to Shoot 2 Burglars, 1 Killed

Check this book out if you want more info on how to defend your home


About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Hi Scott, I keep an aluminum baseball bat next to my desk, which is next to the front door.

    We have two handguns in the bedroom: my wife has a S&W Model 60 with Crimson Trace Laser Grips as she is right handed but left eye dominant. The laser helps her a lot. I have a 1911 .45, also with Laser Grips and a flat mainspring housing. It points superbly for me: when it come up, the sights are pointing at whatever I am looking at. An arched grip throws the point way off to the right, flat is perfect. That kind of fit is critical for fast shooting, at least it is for me.

    It looks like we will buy back my old Belgian Browning A-5 Light 20 gauge from the family member to whom I sold it years ago. It seems like a close to ideal home defense weapon in our situation. While there seem to be no defense upgrade accessories for it (no surprise), I put quite a few cases of skeet rounds through it and am thoroughly familiar with it. It is light enough for my wife to use, and as a semi-auto 20 gauge, soft enough in recoil to be shot by either of us, even in the unlikely scenario of holding it with one hand.

    Our neighborhood is mostly 1/4 acre lots with single-wall houses (3/4″ redwood exterior and interior walls), so I am debating what to load it with. Slugs are available, but over-penetration worries me given the flimsy construction of the houses. #3 Buckshot is also available for 2 3/4″ 20s, and I am inclined to go with that, though of course at in-house distances large birdshot would probably work OK.

    Any thoughts on that?

    Thinking of your over penetration issue, many years ago I visited an acquaintance’s suburban home, and he showed me his defense set up. Master bedroom door at the end of a long hall, directly across from child’s door. Fine: nobody could get at the bedrooms without going down a maybe 20 foot hall with no other doors. The thing was, the other end of the hall opened onto the living room, across the room was a window in line with the hall, and the neighbor’s house had a kitchen window in line with that. Interior walls: plasterboard.

    Choice of home defense weapon: 12 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs.


    • I chose an accessorized semi-auto Izhmash EAA Saiga 20ga , 10 rd mag, appropriate ammo, strategically placed in several locations, ( the older I get, the more I hate surprises) with Glock 27’s, 9mm conversion, and extended clip, as backup. Easy to train with, lightweight, with negligible recoil, the wife and teen daughter can comfortably handle both.

  2. Snake Plisken says

    Hello Scott, and thank you for your service to our country!

    I have a .45 Springfield XD on my nightstand in my bedroom, a ,38 Special in my home office and a 9mm KelTec stuffed under a cushion in my sofa in the living room.

    I do have a Mossberg tactical shotgun ( along with much heavier weaponry ) placed in several gun safes and if SHTF then I’ll break them out. I’m hoping that I’ll have enough time to open the safes and access what I need for the situation while using my hand guns. And of course my two dogs can and will provide an early warning system or delaying tactics during a home invasion.

    I also collect antique edge weapons which are on display on the walls throughout the home. I reckon those could be used as a backup.
    It’s all about planning when it comes to protecting your home and loved ones. I’m not a military guy but I do understand that you have to have a plan A, a plan B and a back up to both. My worst fear is actually having to plug somebody who is trying to harm me or mine. I know I can pull the trigger if I HAVE to but living with killing another human being worries me.

    However, I do love my guns. I like how they function, I love the smell of cordite and like to teach my friends gun safety and proper use of different fire arms. As far as I’m concerned the fire arm is a tool and each one has it’s idiosyncracies which a person needs to be aware of and utilize.

    Thanks again for posting this article Scott!

    Snake Plisken

  3. Allan Leigh says

    Another excellent article; but as you mentioned briefly at the beginning; regardless of choice of weapon. All ballistic projectile firing weapons. It is all about placing the shot in the right place, first time, every time. Myself although I do have several firearms; I actually prefer my slingshot, as completely silent, so not giving away m,y own position. Also 20 to 35 grams of lead, travelling at over, or close to, 300 feet per second, to a skull/throat, or gun hand to 35 meters plus. I s absolutely guaranteed to completely ruin any and all intruders day. So speaking for myself alone, where to over 35 meters a 10 mm from my intended point of impact, is not acceptable. The only benefit of firearms is a much more rapid second or subsequent shots. But when 1 shot equals 1 kill, like i care nor need second shots very often. Given no one knows where the heck the shot came from……Cheers Allan Leigh

    • In my **opinion** I feel like in a very high risk stressful environment like a home invasion where your heart is pounding and you are pumping adrenaline, it might be easy to fumble with a slingshot. I mean, if you are absolutely positive you can get a lead ball into the sling and pull it back and hit a guy, then by all means go ahead. Even though most people are terrible with guns under stress unless they have trained a lot, I like to be able to well, have multiple rounds that only require a trigger pull. Besides most intruders don’t want to get in a gun fight unless they are crazy or tweaked out. Best of luck, Layton

  4. irish7_1sg says

    Next to my bed, I keep a Smith & Wesson Governor loaded with 3 Winchester PDX .410 GA shotshells and 3 .45 LC 300 grain jacketed hollow points. I also have 2 moon clips, each holding 6 .45 ACP rounds. They are quicker to reload than the .45 Long Colt rounds in a speed loader. I have a Cree Mini-flashlight near the revolver. The gun holster holds another 6 Winchester PDX shells. I have a shotgun out of the gun safe, too. However, I feel this weapon, (Mossberg 930 SPX) is better served for targets outside my home.

  5. I’ll stick to my Glock 19 with a Glock 17 mag and a plus 2 baseplate. That gives me 19+1 of Federal HST 124gr JHP to checkout that bump in the night.

  6. graywolfsurvival says

    lol. holy crap. I need to stop writing when I’ve had more than 6 vodkas. I meant pump-action. My brain was thinking about the proper use of the hyphen in the word and switched midstream.

    I’ll fix it now.

  7. graywolfsurvival says

    Yeah, that was a typo that may or may not have been caused by too many vodkas when I was writing. It’s fixed now.

  8. Jeff Steele says

    Just want to put my 2 cents in.I have read where folks have their guns at their bedside or around their home.Some like a .45 while others prefer a 9mm.Shotguns are always a good choice for the most part.What I want to bring up is if the bad guy has already breached your home you have seriously screwed up.I’m a builder/re-modeler.I am constantly amazed by folks whose houses I work on.They have guns for self defense but they couldn’t keep a 6 year old from breaking in much less a bad guy.Flimsy doors/locks,broken window locks. sliding doors that won’t latch/lock. I live in the country so my setup may not be practical for folks who are in an urban setting or in a city.I would recommend that you spend some time beefing up and repairing inadequate doors and windows.make it as tough as you can for them. if they still insist on coming in, your upgrades should give you the time to “welcome” them or arrange their personal meeting with Jesus.I have dogs.I prefer working breeds.(little dogs bark too much and for no reason.)My dogs have distinctive barks.One for when I come home,another for other animals and most important one for people.If you pay attention you can tell the difference.They can smell and hear a long ways off.I get woke up a couple times a night by them.It’s never an aggravation but my early warning system.My house is 900 feet from my front gate.plenty of time for me to assess the situation.I have beefed up doors,door jambs,locks.Depending on the situation,it’s either engage them outside with my 308 or hunker down with a.45 and mossberg pump inside. Not talking SHTF here just everyday protection.Different preps for that.Just something to think about…

  9. Have you given any thought to wax slugs?
    I use them for home defense shotguns, they hit with the force of a slug and, possibly even more important, since they (at least the ones I make) are #7 bird shot held together with melted wax they break up fast if they hit either the target or a wall. Pellets will still penetrate a wall, but the chances of accidentally killing someone on the other side of that wall go down real fast.

  10. Strange there was no discussion as what point you can use a weapon, esp. a firearm, in self-defence and expect it to be legal. A mark of a real self-defence site or course is discussing what legal self-defence actually is as opposed most people think it means. (Hint: they tend to be totally different.) Rather than playing a “what if” scenario where a bad guy has done everything wrong where he’s dead and you don’t even face charges consider real-life scenarios where he isn’t posing a direct threat to your life and you risk being arrested and going to jail for shooting him. Even worse is when people jump to conclusions and brandish a weapon too early and allow the other guy to kill or seriously harm you and he’ll have the law on his side.

    • That’s probably because the title of the article wasn’t “When should you use a weapon to defend your home”, it was “What weapons should you use to defend your home.”

      If someone breaks into my house, there won’t be any negotiation. I won’t be trying to ascertain whether he’s just misunderstood or had a bad life and made bad decisions. I’m going to shoot him.

      • And if he’s posing no dangerous threat to you then you’ll be under arrest and hopes he doesn’t die from his wounds. You’re not posing a defence scenario you’re positing a borderline right to murder someone and expect the law to be on your side and then wonder why the police and courts don’t automatically see thing your way.

        • If he’s broken into my house, he’s posing a dangerous threat to me. He certainly didn’t come in to sell me cookies.

          • So you’ll be happy to wind up jail on manslaughter, heck maybe even murder, charges because you’ll shoot dead someone in your house who you feel shouldn’t there? You assume he’s going to come barging in with guns blazing so you’ll have no choice but to blow him away like some movie goon? If you shoot dead some smartass snooping teenager who wasn’t posing any danger you’ll definitely be spending years behind bars.

        • Again, I encourage you to study up on the laws regarding this in your state.

          In my state, breaking into someone’s home/business, etc while it is occupied is 1st degree burglary and is considered a violent felony. Here, you don’t have to prove whether or not the burgler is armed, but rather whether or not you felt in fear of your life/safety. The courts give a lot of leeway towards the home owner in these cases.

    • If you wanted an article on when it is legal and what all is allowed by law, you would need many different articles because the laws varies from state to state and country to country. I am very familiar with the laws on this subject in my state, and would encourage everyone to study up on the self defense laws in their own state/country.

    • The law is different from state to state. If you are a responsible gun owner you should know the law of justification for your state. Many States allow you to use deadly Physical force if someone is in your dwelling illegally. Someone who breaks into your home may be legally shot just for being there in some states other states have different requirement. Know the law and be able to articulate why you used deadly physical force. You were in fear for your life and the criminal was in your home at 2 am and threatened you or made threatening gestures. In that case most states allow the use of deadly physical force. KNOW THE LAW/s FOR YOUR STATE AND WHEN DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE CAN BE USED.

  11. I’m not discounting anything that you say, but this just reeks of digital bravado.

  12. Jesse ventura says

    What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You’re fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You’re fucking dead, kiddo.

    • Oh, you like to think you’re a god. But you’re not a god. You’re just a parasite eaten out with jealousy and envy and longing for the lives of others. I’ve lived a long life and I’ve seen a few things. … I walked away from the Last Great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time, no space — just me. I’ve walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman. I’ve watched universes freeze and creations burn. I have seen things you wouldn’t believe. I have lost things you will never understand. And I know things. Secrets that must never be told. Knowledge that must never be spoken. Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze!

  13. For those wondering about when it’s legal to shoot a home invader or one who invades your personal property…look up your state’s “Castle Doctrine Laws.” In Indiana, as well as many other states, this law not only covers burglary but also covers illegal search and seizure by government agencies. No warrant no entry…or you’re just your average crook-sorry about your luck. Chances are I wont even have to shoot, either my rotts will take care of you or my limbs will be wrapped around your throat.

    • If you carry a firearm then you need to know the circumstances in which you are legally allowed to use it/ them. In most states it is the Law of Justification, which tells you when you may use Deadly Physical Force. It tells you when you cannot use DPF and must “retreat” if possible. The “Castle Doctrine Laws” don’t exist in every State but the basically state the you do not have a duty to retreat in your own home or in some cases on your own property but the won’t cover other situations. Justification covers all of them because it tells you under what circumstances you can use Deadly Physical Force (Some states just call it Deadly Force, mine calls it Deadly Physical Force, that is why I use that Legal Term)

  14. First, I appreciate your self-description (“how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap”). Thanks for being a practical and helpful person.

    Second, I’m debating between the Mossberg 500 and the Kel Tec KSG as the shotgun component. Any insight would be appreciated.

    • I do really like that KSG. I don’t have one though but If I didn’t already have a Mossberg, I’d probably get one of those instead. I don’t know if it’s actually better but it sure seems to be, based on the reviews.

      • Sandy Patterson says

        I’d say go with the Mossy if you want it for more than just defense. I’ve had one for upwards of 20 years and they’re stone reliable. Any number of mods you can add on for various roles, and if it breaks and you have to scavenge parts the only thing that might touch it for availability is the 870. The KSG is nifty no doubt, and more can be better, but a used 500 and the rest of the money on ammo means a lot of practice shells. Also, only hearsay but there may be an issue with VFG on the KSG. Google “KSG problems VFG”.

        • Hello I’m a single mother of children I’ve had to file several claims in the last 4 monthes first my truck than my car and now my house I’m not sure what kind of weapon to get I don’t want to kill nobody but I do want them to know I was there .

    • For the love of Pete, don’t rely on anything made by Kel Tec to save your life.

  15. Hey Grey, found your site while researching whether or not my Ruger 10/22 was a viable apartment defense firearm. There are many folk living quite close together here and I am sensitive to the issue of overpenetration / collateral damage and deaths. Your writings were both educational, and, have a realistic & rational feel. But then I started clicking my way deeper into your site, and I saw that exchange where you started talking about the “time lords” … etc! I had to say something! Obviously, I’m a “Doctor Who” T.V. show fan. What a pleasant surprise to see you toss that back at the angry who was trying to intimidate you! Anyhow, I’m also a veteran, nowhere near what you did, but still a vet. I think after reading your pages that the Ruger will serve, for now, in my situation. I wish you well. It was a pleasure to come across your pages.

    • I’d definitely move from a .22 in the long term but it’s better than nothing. Don’t care how big the guy is, if you pump 3 holes in him, he’s gonna stop doing what he’s doing. You just gotta work harder to not get stopped by heavy clothing.

      • ” Don’t care how big the guy is, if you pump 3 holes in him, he’s gonna stop doing what he’s doing.” Not necessarily. In may shooting the bad guy has been shot a good bit more than that and didn’t stop until after he had killed the other person or finally bled out. Obviously it depends on where the person is hit and how much damage is done by the rounds the bed guy is hit with. The 1986 Miami FBI shootout is proof of that, not only that but there was an incident in NYC in the 1960s or 70s in which an NYPD Sargent shot a bad guy with a knife, who was charging at him, 6 times in the chest, using his .38 caliber revolver with 158gr semi-wadcutters, the bad guy was 21 feet from the Police Sargent he bisected the Sargent’s heart with his knife, killing the Sargent before he himself expired from the wounds received from the Cops gunshots. Shot placement matters as does the type and caliber/ millimeter/ gauge of ammunition.

  16. John Jakoted says

    I’m using a suppressed 5.56mm AR15 with IR laser/illuminator and PVS-14 night vision/ 1 Surefire 60-rd mag with 3 x 30 rd spare mags. Backup is a Glock 17 with 2 spare mags. All on Level IV vest…takes 20 seconds to don vest and helmet.

    Have much experience using this exact setup.

    That said it is still (and will always remain) TRUE that the best way to win a gunfight is to not be in one.

    Good luck to all

  17. I know it;s been a while but in all arguments about justification being different across states, why has no one mentioned the best policy is to STFU, even if you are absolutely certain you were justified, until you have consulted a lawyer. I would politely respond to all questions about the death with “I wish to speak to a lawyer about that question”, not even admitting that I did anything.
    I am not a lawyer but I DO know that it is not against the law to invoke your 5th amendment right to remain silent (not privilege as I have heard some idiots including some US senators call it.; yeah like there ever was a Bill of Privileges in the US). As far as answering questions about in what direction other perps, if any, might have gone I would answer “I think blah blah” since it does not involve any action I took. Correct me if I am wrong, please.

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