Having nothing more than a baseball bat isn’t going to give you much mental assurance or real physical protection in the event of a break-in while you’re at home.
Countless people have taken the responsibility to arm themselves appropriately for the protection of themselves, their property, and their families. There is little reason why you shouldn’t be prepared for the event of a home invasion for the same reasons.
Especially in the times we live in now, it is of the utmost importance to have the proper tools you need to defend yourself and your loved ones in your home. This last year, we have seen more social unrest alone than in most of our lifetimes. That’s on top of the economic recession, travel shutdowns, and the pandemic that has all resulted in the government introducing sweeping changes to how we live our daily lives.
People are simply more scared now than they have been in recent memory, and there’s no telling how worse things could get in the upcoming months. The massive economic uncertainty alone could very realistically lead to an increase in crime rates, which means that everyday people (such as yourself) could be at greater risk.
And if the massive social unrest we’ve seen continues to get worse, and if you live in a highly-populated area, then having suitable home defense firearms that are reliable and effective for defense (and knowing how to use them) is critically important.
With all that said, the following firearms are the best to keep your family alive in the event of a home invasion.
1. Mossberg 500/590
A long-standing consensus within the firearms community is that the venerable 12 gauge pump action shotgun is the best weapon for home defense. It’s reliable, devastating at close range when loaded with buckshot or slugs, and sometimes the sound of the pump racking alone will be enough to scare an intruder away.
Plus, shotguns and their ammunition are relatively inexpensive, allowing you to practice on the shooting range without breaking the bank.
For smaller statured people, a 20 gauge shotgun still offers devastating power with significantly less recoil (just make sure that the actual weight of the shotgun hasn’t been reduced, or the recoil between the two will be comparable).
When it comes to specific pump shotguns, the Mossberg 500/590 and the Remington 870 are easily the two most popular, and for good reason. Both are rugged, economical, have a proven track record, and can boast of a nearly limitless number of accessories to customize your weapon. Both will serve you equally well when it comes to home defense.
But between the two, an important factor tilts the balance in the Mossberg’s favor: the controls are more natural. Whereas the safety on the 870 is located on the rear of the trigger guard, the Mossberg’s naturally ambidextrous safety is located on the rear of the trigger guard.
The slide release (required to be pressed to rack the pump when a round is not in the chamber) on the Mossberg is located behind the trigger guard and is much easier to reach than the 870, where the slide release is found in front of the guard.
2. Glock 17/19
Any quality mid to full size 9mm duty pistol will work well for you for home defense: they carry a lot of rounds, have less than moderate recoil, and are cheap to train with due to the availability and low cost of 9mm ammo. Don’t think we’re limiting you to Glock. Beretta, HK, Kahr, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Taurus, and Walther all make quality pistols in this department that will serve you well.
There’s a reason why many people keep coming back to Glock. They may not be the most ergonomic or the most attractive guns on the market, but they have a lot of things going for them. They’re very simple when it comes to controls. You can learn how to field strip one in under two minutes. They go BANG practically every time.
They also have a proven track record that not too many other pistols can boast of. Spare magazines and accessories are very low cost and plentiful. Love it or hate it, the Glock has become the standard by which all other modern pistols are judged.
Even if you choose not to use a handgun as your primary home defense weapon, don’t discount it as a backup to a long gun. Hopefully, a fight with an intruder(s) won’t get that ugly where you need to fall back to your pistol, but it’s always comforting to have the option.
An increasing number of break-ins and home invasions are sharing one thing in common: there are multiple intruders. If you have two or three or more people with bad intentions breaking into your house or property, you’ll want more than a shotgun or a handgun : you’ll want a semi-automatic rifle.
Shotguns have too low of a capacity for these kinds of situations, and a pistol means you may be outgunned if the intruders are armed with handguns and/or knives themselves. A semi-automatic carbine, such as an AR-15 in 5.56x45mm NATO, gives you greater capacity, longer range, and more velocity than a handgun.
Other good semi-auto carbines are out there, like AK-47s, Ruger Mini-14s, and IWI Tavor’s to name a few, but the AR-15 has the advantage of more common parts and accessories. Plus, if you’re on a budget, several affordable yet quality ARs have hit the marketplace from companies like Ruger and Smith & Wesson.
2. Ruger GP100/Smith & Wesson 686
Revolvers lack the capacity of a semi-auto pistol, and reloading times are also longer. Those are disadvantages you need to take into account. But a certain number of advantages still make the classic .357 double-action revolver with a 4-inch barrel a more than relevant home defense choice today.
Revolvers are inherently simpler, and some would say more reliable, than semi-auto pistols. This means that if you have any family members who are relatively inexperienced with firearms or who don’t like the slightly increased complexity of a semi-automatic, the revolver is a better choice when it comes to handguns.
The .357 Magnum round itself is a very powerful round that has gained a reputation for being a one-shot man stopper, and is sure to stop an invader. We recommend a full-size duty revolver, such as the Ruger GP100 or the Smith & Wesson 686, since they absorb the recoil better than a snubnosed revolver will and hold six rather than five rounds.
Another benefit to .357 Magnum revolvers is the fact that they can also chamber .38 Specials, which are cheaper to shoot for training purposes and offer less recoil for smaller statured people.
The GP100 is less expensive and more durable than the 686, being designed to shoot an unlimited number of .357 Magnum rounds thanks to its beefier frame and cylinder. The 686, while more expensive, has a nicer finish, an undeniably smoother trigger/hammer pull, and some models hold seven rather than six rounds. It’s up to you to decide what fits your preferences more, but when it comes to overall quality you’re not going to get any better than Ruger or Smith & Wesson.
5. Taurus Judge/Smith & Wesson Governor
The idea of a “shotgun pistol” has intrigued the imaginations of people for many years, but Taurus was the first company to convert that idea into a realistic home defense option with the introduction of their popular and economical Judge revolver, chambered in .410 Bore and .45 Long Colt. Smith & Wesson followed suit with the later release of their Governor model (take note, this is the only time Smith & Wesson has followed Taurus’ tracks, not the other way around).
.410 buckshot certainly doesn’t have the power of 12 or even 20 gauge, but one thing is for certain: an intruder is going to know they’ve been hit if they’re shot by one. .45 LC hollow points, while undeniably expensive, would arguably deliver even more knockdown power than the .410s.
The advantage to the Governor is that it holds one more round than the Judge and can also chamber .45 ACP with moon clips, boosting its versatility. On the other hand, the Judge arguably has a more ergonomic grip and can be had for a significantly lower price. For home defense, both will get the job done.
Bonus Gun: HK USP 45
We decided to add another great gun to the list. The HK USP 45 is a double-stacked .45 ACP pistol with a 12+1 round capacity. If you’re looking for a larger capacity .45 pistol, the USP is easily one of the best (if not the best) options available.
The USP is a double-action single-action hammer-fired pistol. The V1 version can be carried cocked and locked like a 1911; the V3 version lacks a safety but maintains the decocker.
The USP 45, along with its 9mm and .40 counterparts and its larger MK23 .45 cousin, holds the distinction of being one of the most torture tested pistols in existence. The USPs and MK23s went through extensive torture testing from Heckler & Koch, the United States SOCOM, and the German military.
USP pistols were subjected to extreme cold and hot temperatures, sand and mud, water, and being forced to fire through literally hundreds of thousands of rounds without a single stoppage. Perhaps most notably, a round was even lodged into a USP pistol and then fired out of it without any noticeable wear to the gun.
Overall, if you want a large capacity .45 ACP pistol that is of the utmost quality and has been tested to extremes few other pistols have, the USP 45 is arguably the best option that the market has to offer.