What type of gun do you keep for home defense purposes?
January 19, 2005 10:11 AM   Subscribe

What type of gun do you keep for home defense purposes?

Ok, this is a serious question, please answer it as such.
posted by knave to Society & Culture (49 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I looked into this just before I was married. As I have a child at home, I opted not to purchase the home defense weapon.

I spoke to a couple of range instructors and they gave me some good advice:

"You've really two choices: pistol or shotgun. Shotguns are inexpensive, relatively easy to use, make a very scary sound when chambering a round (which might be enough to scare off a burglar) and, in low-light conditions, offer a better chance of hitting your target with poor aim, although at the risk of damage to your home.

"Pistols are easy to store, harder to learn to shoot, but may not blow a big hole in your house if your taking a shot at someone.

You also have to consider whether or not you CAN pull the trigger on someone. Hesitation can get you killed, too.

They did say if you're inexperienced with a pistol, the best way to start is with a .22 or .38 revolver, and move up into automatics when you learn the basics.

Hope this helps. I opted for a monitored home security system instead since I have a kid at home and decided that a gun wasn't right for me.
posted by TeamBilly at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2005

When choosing a home defense firearm, make sure you think of safety first. I don't mean just ensuring that no one besides you has access to it or the ammo-- think also of the type of munitions and what will happen after firing it. You certainly don't want large-bore bullets that will continue through walls and get unintended targets, which is why many people recommend shotguns instead.

I don't feel the need to have guns for safety myself, but if I did, a 12 gauge Mossberg or Remington would be my choice. Not only can you be confident as to its stopping power and limited range, but the click-click of the pump action engaging has quite the universal deterrent effect.

(an aside, the previous commentators certainly have other outlets for their snarks/agendas, and I hope their posts get deleted and they get some sort of rebuke. If you don't want to answer the question, move along.)
posted by norm at 10:29 AM on January 19, 2005

I live in outstate Nebraska. Most people here don't even lock their car doors. (Lots of guns, but most people don't think of them as "protection".)

Seriously, if I had to ask such a question I would move - particularly if I was raising a family. The probability of problems coming from having a loaded gun in the house are probably much greater than the alleged "benefits" of having one.
posted by spock at 10:30 AM on January 19, 2005

I don't believe it is possible to effectively keep a gun for "home protection."

It would be utterly irresponsible to keep the weapon loaded and ready. I have doubts that a trigger lock provides adequate safety against mis-use. Correct storage would require separate lock-boxes for gun and ammo.

In the end, IMO, you'd be better off with a Louisville Slugger under the bed.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2005

My biggest fear is having the gun stolen when nobody is home. I think most break-ins happen when nobody is home. I don't have any numbers to back that up, just something I remember reading somewhere. Please correct me if I read wrong.
We have two mutts. One looks like a wolf a tad on the small side (still pretty big for a domesticated dog) and the other looks just like a pit bull. They both sound viscous as hell, so I'm not too worried about break-ins while we're at home.
For those suggestion shot guns, what type of ammo would you use? Buckshot or slugs? Also, what gauge? I would think that anything bigger than a .410 would be too big. You don't necassarily want to kill anybody, would you? Not that taking a slug from a .410 would be a picnic.
posted by NoMich at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2005

(an aside, the previous commentators certainly have other outlets for their snarks/agendas, and I hope their posts get deleted and they get some sort of rebuke. If you don't want to answer the question, move along.)

I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't have an agenda. Like most people who comment I have a viewpoint. The question is a bit of a troll, as worded. Those who wish to take issue with the fact that it is not a GIVEN that everybody has a gun for protection are as free to comment as those who wish to give a particular Brand/model/caliber of weapon. Such discussion is useful, if not what the original poster was asking for.

Those who can't tolerate any point of view other than their own are the ones that I would watch out for. I have nothing against guns or gun owners, hunters, etc. However, one is ignoring a lot of evidence of how guns in the house can lead to one using them when tempers run high, children discover their hiding places, etc. Others reading this thread should know that not everyone buys into the questions upspoken premise.
posted by spock at 10:39 AM on January 19, 2005

If you have kids the danger of them getting into the guns far outweighs any safety benefit. Home invasions are rare and if one occurs you may not be able to get to your weapon in time, especially if it is locked up to prevent the kids from getting it. Get a dog instead. They are much more effective than a gun at keeping you safe in your home. If you do opt for a gun, I vote for the pistol as it is easier to keep close at night and easy to wield in close quarters. I see the logic in a shotgun, but I still would prefer a pistol. That said, I own a shotgun, but I do not keep it at the house because we have kids.
posted by caddis at 10:41 AM on January 19, 2005

You don't necassarily want to kill anybody, would you? Not that taking a slug from a .410 would be a picnic.

Maybe I'm making the wrong assumptions, but if I determine that circumstances warrant shooting an intruder in my house, I have every intent on killing them. No one actually "shoots to wound." You want non-lethal home defense or a gun? A gun is designed to kill/destroy the object it is pointed at.

Although, I find the idea of hunting bears with a Taser a little amusing right now...

Your dogs sound adequate. Do you really feel you need more than that? Did you have a break-in? What's motivating you to consider this option as opposed dogs-with-security-system?

And yeah, theft is something to worry about, too.
posted by TeamBilly at 10:43 AM on January 19, 2005

Obligatory and probably useless Metatalk thread.
posted by norm at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2005

Response by poster: Ok, first I'd like to thank everyone for derailing my thread.

1. I do not have kids.
2. I have not had a violent encounter with an intruder and hope never to have one.
3. It is my right to own a gun and defend my life and property.
4. Police have no duty to protect you (regarding 911 comment)
5. If you really must complain further, start a MetaTalk thread and please let people answer my original question.

Thanks to norm, TeamBilly and others who actually answered me. :)
posted by knave at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

A little off topic, but depending on where you live, pointing a gun (even a fake one) at an unarmed robber will get you a good solid jail sentence and a criminal firearms misuse record for life (which may mean no more guns ever again). Even if the robber *is* armed, you may still incurr the wrath of the courts.

Also, again, depending on where you live, you may require a multiple lockup system for your weapons, including keyed trigger lock, lockable gun safe, and unloaded. The time you'll spend playing about with keys to grab a weapon and loading it may get you killed if the other person is armed. And if they see you trying to grab a weapon the likelyhood they will actually want to kill you is far increased, because the robber will feel danger for *his* life then.

In places where those requirements are necessary, stopping the robber will get you a jail sentence if he doesn't die and testifies you kept the gun loaded.

Consider that before using any firearm you may own in the home. A criminal record ain't worth your TV. Even if it is a $25,000 Barco projector.
posted by shepd at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2005

To answer your question knave, I keep a .40 glock pistol for home protection.

If you are seriously interested, I would recommend going to a range and renting different makes and calibers, and see what's a fit for you.
posted by jazzkat11 at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2005

I have a Ruger similar to this one

I'm not that into guns, but it's our second amendment right and it should be taken seriously. You never know who's going to be coming into your home. Paranoid? Maybe... but I'm also smart.

I have a gun safe which is easily accessible by me, but not by others.
posted by chaz at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2005

Sig Sauer SP2340 (.40 cal Sig Pro)
Remington 870 (12 Gauge shotgun)

I'm a multiple choice kind of guy.
posted by icey at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2005

Re-reading the thread, I think that it's pertinent to mention that almost every state has a handbook out there that will outline your rights as well as your responsibilities as a gun owner.

I would recommend that as vital reading for people on both sides of the fence of the gun control issue.

"I'd rather have a gun and not need it, than need one and not have it"
posted by icey at 10:58 AM on January 19, 2005

Not trying to be snarky or to derail, but my father was a believer in keeping handguns as "protection." And even though his home was burglarised 3 times--each time the thieves took a handgun--he still insisted on buying a new handgun each time after the previous was stolen. So please consider that even with your best plans and precautions, there is a possibility that the person who breaks into your home will do so when you aren't there, and this will put yet another handgun on the street.

As an aside, when my father passed away last year his gun was on the floor under a pile of clothes and the bullets were strewn all over the place. My wife and I took the gun to our local police station and turned it in.
posted by terrapin at 11:07 AM on January 19, 2005

I'll skip over the "home defense" thing as that is not why I keep a gun (but it is why I have a good alarm system.)
So lets see, are you a novice? Pump-action shotgun, for all the reasons mentioned above in that case.
The best way to go shopping for a handgun is to go shoot at a shooting range where you may borrow/try different guns, as it all depends on what type of handgun you can handle. Start with the smaller revolvers (.22 or .38) and find what you can handle (recoil and all that). I don't keep handguns.
posted by dabitch at 11:10 AM on January 19, 2005

I suppose if you're serious about self defense, you really can't beat a shotgun for stopping power. You might want to reconsider the pump action though. If you short shuck the slide, you can lock up the action converting your firearm into an expensive club. Slugs are a poor choice for self defense also. Double ought buck is probably a good choice.
posted by electroboy at 11:12 AM on January 19, 2005

I keep a Star Firestar .40 S&W in my home for protection but its certainly not my first line of defense. I've been thinking about a pump shotgun for the exact reasons noted above, ease of use, the deterrent sound of the action being cycled, low chance of unintentional damage, low penetration, etc.

First line is my dog, she's big and likes to bark and jump on people.

Second line is a 1.5 million candlepower spotlight. Anyone coming up my stairs will get that full on in the face.

Third line is a wooden katana that is non lethal but hurts like shit.

Fourth line is chambering a round in the pistol.

Fifth line is using the weapon to defend my family and myself.

Oh yeah, I also keep a cell phone in my bedroom so I can call 911 in an instant.
posted by fenriq at 11:12 AM on January 19, 2005

I don't have any, but for home defence I'd prefer a pistol grip shotgun. I took a couple of NRA courses this summer and a cheap shotgun could do impressive amounts of damage with a polaroid like interface. Pump actions do make a noise that will scare some people upon hearing it. On the other hand others will take the opportunity to shoot at the noise source.

The main instructor for the course was a retired Chicago cop. He only used revolvers for protection though he had some semi-automatics for fun. One of his partners made fun of his weapon choice and always bragged about the intimidation factor of cocking his semi-auto. He was usually correct except for the time that the criminal they were cornering figured out where he was concealed and opened fire.
posted by substrate at 11:25 AM on January 19, 2005

I'd go with the shotgun/buckshot combo, and while electroboy raises a good point about the pump action, I'd also like to venture that the "unmistakable sound" of a pump-action might very well mean you won't have to fire it at all. Plus, pistols take a lot more practice to gain proficiency. You pretty much can't miss with a scattergun.
posted by sciurus at 11:29 AM on January 19, 2005

I'll read into your question a bit and assume you are looking for more than just a make & model, but perhaps you don't really know what else to ask:

HK USP .40. It's an extremely reliable semi-auto pistol designed for military and law-enforcement use. I practice and compete regularly, so I'm very comfortable with it. But, having watched many semi-auto newbies fumble with safeties, slide and magazine operation, I usually recommend a revolver for a first defense purchase. Fewer operational details to remember under stress.

For household defense you may want to consider Mag-Safe or Glaser frangible ammunition, to lessen the possibility of rounds penetrating walls.

There are at least a couple of models of fast-access handgun safes around, some of which can even be bolted to a bedframe.

It's not something to be undertaken lightly. The more homework you do on gun types, ammo, criminal behavior, laws, fighting psychology, etc. the better prepared you'll be, mentally and emotionally, to defend yourself. [Here's hoping none of us ever do.] Books by Jeff Cooper and Massad Ayoob are a great place to start.

And practice. At least visit a range monthly. Consider attending your local USPSA/IPSC events, which introduce you to challenging tactical shooting situations in a friendly competitive environment.
posted by Tubes at 11:35 AM on January 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

This guy seems to have good advice. He favors a shotgun. I like his emphasis on training kids to be safe around guns. I have neglected this with my 5 year-old, since we don't have guns, but now I realize it is something we need to talk about, just in case he does encounter one somewhere.
posted by LarryC at 11:35 AM on January 19, 2005

I always thought this would be good for home defence. It's a pistol and a shotgun
posted by Tenuki at 11:36 AM on January 19, 2005

I keep a .38 snubbie with light hollowpoints and a 12-gauge autoloading shotgun with birdshot. Neither is ideal, but they're what I've got. My criteria other than availability were ease of use and handling safety and low penetration of walls and such. Sooner or later, I'll get some Glaser safety slugs for the .38. Overpenetration is a concern of mine.

Were I to pick a dedicated home defense weapon, I'd likely go with either a pump shotgun with a pistol grip and flashlight or a .38 with a three or four inch barrel. I do own a semi-auto pistol, but it's too complicated for home defense or any situation where a flat pistol isn't called for.

I've also got a 75-lb dog and an excellent relationship with my neighbors.
posted by stet at 11:53 AM on January 19, 2005

Only because people have brought it up:

Don't get a dog for protection. Get a dog because you want to live with a dog, and get the kind you want to live with.

A dog -- more or less any kind, so long as it will bark -- makes a great deterrent. But a (normal) dog is not going to defend you. If it comes down to a choice between getting hurt and running away, a normal, sane dog is going to run away, maybe after delivering one don't-fuck-with-me bite. It's not the dog's job to protect you. It's your job, as the head of the pack, to be protecting the dog.

Just about any barking dog will be enough to get a casual burglar to pick the house next door instead, which is all that any reasonable person needs. Anyone breaking into a house with a barking dog is likely to be equipped or armed to deal with a dog of any size.

Yes, there are real life no-shit protection dogs. They're tightly bred and very expensive to start with, and then they're trained in a hugely expensive way, and at the end you have a living weapon that really ought to have a professional-caliber handler full-time and requires ongoing many hours-per-week general-obedience and attack/protection training.

Don't just get a Dobie or German Shepherd Dog or Rottie or similar large, headstrong breed that gets used for schutzhund -- much less one of the mastiff-derived people-eaters like Cane Corsos and Presa Canarios -- and leave it at that. They can be headstrong, willful, and sometimes hard to live with, especially if you're drawing from the higher-strung, higher-drive working/performance lines. Get a dog you want to share your home and life with, not one that you're more likely to abandon when you find that you just can't live with it anymore.

A shotgun, at least, is not going to wander onto your neighbor's property on its own and hurt an inquisitive, clumsy, or aggressive kid.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:58 AM on January 19, 2005

If you short shuck the slide, you can lock up the action converting your firearm into an expensive club.

This is a good point, but one must also consider that a shotgun offers a burgler more weapon to grab ahold of in the case of a struggle. That is, if you're walking around a corner with a pistol, it's less likely that the weapon will be taken from you than with a shotgun. Of course, you really should stay put with your weapon and let the bad guys come to you, but some people don't think straight when they're scared.

With that understanding, I'd go with a big dog. They can tell if it's a burgler or your spouse rummaging through the fridge at 3:00 in the morning. Plus, the growl of a dog can be just as effective an audible deterrent as a pumped shotgun.

Also, it's been said already, but just to reiterate, you only point guns at things you wish to kill. Once this mantra is embedded in your mind, you'll have a far deeper respect for what they're capable of.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:05 PM on January 19, 2005

The type of gun that is best depends on the type of confrontation. Holed up in your bed room (the best option), a shotgun would be a good choice. There are fingerpad combination lock mounts now available. If for some reason you have to leave your bedroom (should never be done unless you are preventing the rape, murder, kidnapping of another person), a pistol will give the intruder less chance of grabbing the gun away from you. I keep a .45 Colt government model, clip in but no round in chamber. Toddlers can not rack the action to make the gun fireable (18 lb. recoil spring, my wife has to try really hard not to short stroke it). I will soon have to move to a combination lock/safe. I love guns (I have 15-20, reload my own ammo, have wildcat calibers that are not commercially available,...), but if I wasn't renting, I'd rather have a dog and the guns in a safe. Once someone is in the house I'd rather be armed, but a dog greatly reduces the chance of your house being targeted, a dog is effective when I'm at work and can go to the park with my wife and kids. Don't buy into the "can't miss with scattergun" nonsense, the pattern of a shotgun from across the room is about 2", effectively making the angular dispersion 20% bigger for a hit. A shot gun is effective because it will blow a 2" hole in someone.
posted by 445supermag at 12:07 PM on January 19, 2005

Don't buy into the "can't miss with scattergun" nonsense, the pattern of a shotgun from across the room is about 2", effectively making the angular dispersion 20% bigger for a hit. A shot gun is effective because it will blow a 2" hole in someone.

Cool. I didn't know this.
posted by TeamBilly at 12:19 PM on January 19, 2005

I have a .40 Glock and a couple of shotguns, and I appreciate the poster asking the question before just going out and buying. Since there's a load of good advice on what gun to pick, I'll simply reiterate that you should take a course and continue your training with any weapon you buy. I'm a peaceful person, and I hope I never have to aim any weapon at a person (whether knife, gun, or baseball bat), but I want to be absolutely certain I know what I'm doing, both to ensure that my target goes down and for the safety of those I want to protect.
posted by socratic at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2005

I used to keep my rifle available for protection. The problem is that I walk in my sleep, often in a rather involved fashion. Now I keep the ammunition in the drawer, the trigger lock on the gun, and the gun in the back of a closet.

Were it not for that, I would certainly use my rifle or a shotgun -- threatening-looking, such that I can scare somebody off, rather than shoot them, but be able to shoot if it comes to that.
posted by waldo at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2005

if i had a gun in my home, would i be safer, or would it really likely be used against me?
posted by luriete

Really, you're safety overall would not change that much either way, that is, it is unlikely for someone (who is not a drug dealer, convenience store clerk, gang member...) to die violently. Whether or not you have a gun is probably drowned out by how many miles you ride in a car (hell, probably what kind of car makes a bigger difference). Nobody from my highschool class ('84) has died a violent death, but 3-4 (maybe more) have been killed in car accidents. And of course, nobody is the average person, whether or not you are safer probably depends on your state of mind, experience with guns, mental health, mental health of those living with you....
posted by 445supermag at 1:15 PM on January 19, 2005

luriete, I doubt you'll find truthful information on either side of the debate. I've listened to anti-gun people and pro-gun people. The anti-gun people almost attribute malicious intentions to the gun itself and have managed to make it so you'll never hear about somebody protecting themselves or somebody else on the news. The pro-gun people in the course I took attributed youth related deaths to black gang-bangers. for instance, completely ignoring any stories about accidental shootings or suicides.

The best information is probably from the police. Don't ask them about gun ownership. Ask them how many robberies, rapes and murders were in their precinct. Ask them to do the same for your neighbourhood.

From that you'll have to make your own decisions. If you're in a high-crime area owning a firearm might be the proper informed decision to make (or move!). Having, knowing how to use and having the resolve to use a firearm with the intent of taking a life might save your life. There's a chance that youngsters in your household might play with it too. Gun safes and trigger locks might prevent this but on the other hand you're delaying your own access to your firearm in an emergency and relying on fine motor skills (the first thing to go under stress) to open your gunlocks and safe.

The one thing that I really do agree with from the training I took is that everybody in your household should be trained in the safe handling of any firearm. Even your kids. They should know not to touch it but should also know how to use it.

On preview I agree with what 445supermag said.
posted by substrate at 1:29 PM on January 19, 2005

I owned a .410 pump action shotgun, but it only made that unmistakable sound after the first shot to throw out the expended shell casing.

I had to get rid of it because I was afraid I'd off myself in a suicidal impulse. These things happen...
posted by pissfactory at 1:32 PM on January 19, 2005

Oregon requires children to complete a Hunter Safety Course before they can be issued a hunting license. Many adults take the class for grounding. My husband taught these classes to the point of reaching Platinum award level. He also was called on by the sheriff to present data on "overshoot" - the unintentional targeting of a distant object caused by ignorance of a gun's range.
When I see e.g., TV coverage of a wild celebration with people firing guns into the air, I always wonder about the damage where the slugs come down.
Do we have guns? Yes, but except for my keepsake S&W.38 police special, they are hunting guns.
posted by Cranberry at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2005

I would be leery about using rock salt for home defense. If the intruder is armed he just may fire at you with a more effective load. The same goes for brandishing an unloaded weapon. Several have said it, if you pick up your gun, be prepared to kill.

The traditional use for rock salt was to scare off trespassers. That would be foolish these days because of all the civil and criminal trouble that could get you into.
posted by caddis at 1:47 PM on January 19, 2005

I teach self-defense alongside a number of law enforcement agents and corporate security 'consultants'. Their consensus seems to be that most people would be better served with something like a Taser.

Much easier to use, less maintenance, less chance of permanently damaging your house (or yourself if the weapon is turned on you), less legal paperwork and court time if the weapon is in fact discharged, less problems if (as apparently happens unfortunately frequently) you shoot at someone in the dark who you don't actually want to kill, and less of a psychological barrier to use, which often slows down people using handguns at the moment of decision.

Plus, research is showing it's actually more effective than a pistol in many situations if the person you're shooting at is drugged up enough to not 'feel' the impact.
posted by thomascrown at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2005

Most people are probably best-served by an alarm system.

Hell, even security stickers in your windows will serve as a highly effective deterrent for most criminals.

Couple that with an alarm going off and I really doubt you'll ever have need of anything more: who the hell's going to hang around when a 120dB klaxon is going off?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2005

Great question. Not to be obtuse, but the best gun to have for protection is one you are thoroughly familiar with and confident in your use of - under stress you don't want to be fumbling around and distracting your focus on the issue at hand. Years ago my brother the corporate lawyer & I got into this discussion, which we debated extensively for all the above arguments - He favored a shotgun (which he owned) and I a pistol, which I owned (Browning HiPower 9mm). We must have each been very persuasive, as shortly afterward I bought an Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight 12-gauge police riot gun (8-shot, 20-inch barrel) & he went out and bought a .357. Go figure.

You need to evaluate the place you live (apartment, condo, residential area with houses close by, etc.) to assess the likelihood that your weapon and particular load has desirable features without too much penetration (you don't want to shoot the neighbors by accident). This is the reason a short shotgun with #2 shot or frangible pistol bullets are desirable. No question racking a 12-gauge round in a shotgun will get any undesirable's undivided attention (except for a drunk/drugged out nut too much in a stupor to signify) & may well quell things in and of itself.

That being said, I still prefer a pistol for concealability and ease of maneuver. I have several of various makes & calibers but personally like the Browning, although there are much newer models with better safety features, particularly for the uninitiated - none of them, however, feels as natural an extension of the hand as that HiPower - Browning really knew his stuff.
posted by Pressed Rat at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2005

When looking at gun safes, be aware that many of them still have the same type of round lock that kryptonite bike locks and vending machines have, and thus can be opened very easily with the end of a bic pen.
posted by jennyjenny at 2:41 PM on January 19, 2005

Strictly for home defense, I'd buy a pistol that has an integral rail mount on which I'd mount a surefire weaponlight. Fenriq mentioned a 1.5 million candlepower spotlight. At hallway-length distances (unless you live in a mansion), the surefires are just about as effective, with the added bonus that the center of the (incredibly bright) beam of light is roughly where the round will be delivered to. If you've never seen a surefire, let me assure you that they are bright, and often the light alone is sufficient to stop your attacker. I've used them in, uh, situations with armed opponents. They work.

If you felt like blowing some extra money, you could get a lethal weapon 4 style laser or a lasergrip for added accuracy/deterrent value, but really the weaponlight is more than sufficient and the laser would just satisfy your techno-lust.

Please go to a range and take a handgun course, if you haven't already. Then rent several pistols that fit the above criterion. Beretta, Glock, and HK all make suitable weapons for this purpose and are the ones that I personally would look at, but there are plenty of others. Talk to a knowledgable dealer, fire a bunch of them, and decide what fits you best.

I second what Tubes said about ammo: If punching holes through walls is a concern (it should be), look at glaser safety slugs. This frangible ammunition is designed to "break apart when [it] hit[s] walls or other hard surfaces to prevent ricochets". It'll still kill someone on the other side of a window, but likely not someone on the other side of a door.

Also, what Tubes said about fast-access handgun safes.

And finally, I hope you never feel you need to use whatever you decide to purchase.
posted by cactus at 2:42 PM on January 19, 2005

I live in a low crime area made up of rowhomes. I do, however, have an American made Ithaca 16-gauge pump in the closet that I inherited from my father. The ammo is taped to an object close to the gun and well hidden. When noone has been home I've practiced a response, even after taking a long nap, for grogginess.
I also have a mid-aged German shepherd that is the sweetest dog I have ever had. She barks at us everytime we come home, and at anyone else who comes up to the door.
My point is that someone who wants to break into your house will want to probably go to the house that doesn't have the dog. But, the pros who scope a house that they know has valuables will find a way to get rid of the dog. Avoid mail slots, it's a popular form of getting rid of guard dogs. Be wise about who comes into your house, and by that I mean strangers, and when they are there, stay with them. And as above, get an alarm system, X-10 is fun to play with anyway and with some tinkering of a system, you won't be paying a company.
Yet beware of this. A person who will break into your house knowing that you may be there is someone with a serious problem. I would never intend to hurt someone, but if that someone is intent on hurting me or my family, well then, I just walked out of my closet.
posted by Heatwole at 2:46 PM on January 19, 2005

Best answer: Firstly, let me say that I've pointed a weapon at someone, in my house. I did not have to fire and the situation was resolved, however it was vital in it being resolved with the outcome I desired. When I was younger I had to climb onto the roof when people were taking items from my house. Those of you who say a gun is not needed should go through these experiences a few times.

It is important to ask yourself what is your end goal. It should be the total, absolute, and final death of that who you are pointing the gun at. If you have a problem with this, don't buy one. Guns are meant to kill, a tool that does that very well, and I'm glad they exist.

That said, let's look at what matters with these weapons, foot-pounds (ft-lbs) and ft/sec at the muzzle. A .40 caliber 165 grain Gold Dot Hollow Point is going to have 484ft-lbs with a velocity of 1,150 ft/sec. A 9mm is a bit less. A 12 Gauge shotgun will produce 1,903 ft/lbs at a velocity of 1,400 ft/sec. Hands down, the shotgun wins. For your home, there is nothing else.

I suggest a pump shotgun with a shortened barrel. I would alternate between 3" slugs and #00 (double aught) buck shot. Make the first one a slug, the second #00, etc. This provides you with a few options. First, it allows you fire a warning shot without destroying a whole hell of a lot. If you've not fired a shotgun inside, at night, please let me tell you that it is a really humbling experience if you're not behind the trigger. You will produce a large ball of fire from the end of barrel, the noise will deafening, and they very well could be hit by the concussion wave, knocking them up a bit. If this does not get them to turn around and storm out, nothing will. At this point you pump, eject the shell, and fire the #00 at them. If they are standing behind something you fire again, the 3" slug will breach the barrier and the #00 will knock it out. You'll have six to eight tries, you shouldn't need more.

A handgun is really not appropriate here. It's a mobile device and has it's purpose, which is point blank effectiveness. With a shotgun this is not necessary. Stay away from rifles of all sorts, the lower powered ones will do nothing, and the larger ones will go through your wall, your neighbors wall, his neighbors wall, etc.

I would also suggest obtaining a Concealed Carry Weapon permit for yourself. It's much more comforting to unholster a 9mm and investigate why your front door was kicked in then do saunter in and hope no one shoots you. It honestly takes this happening to you before you realize how important it is.

If you have a weapon, practice with it. Realize that you won't be able to hit anything when you have adrenaline dump in your system. I have discharged sixteen rounds of 9mm without hitting my target when I was under fight or flight stress.

Above all, realize you're killing a person. There might be a very good reason for that, but don't don't take the gun out unless you're ready to do that. If you choose to do it, do it well.

Good luck.
posted by sled at 3:40 PM on January 19, 2005 [3 favorites]

I hope it's okay for me to ask a subsidiary and sort of general question here (I fear that a new askme would invite a trainwreck). Here's a question for the gun (especially handgun and "home defense" sort of gun-owners) out there...

I've often read that there's a high chance that a gun will be used against the owner in a home defense situation. Long ago, I idly thought that if I were to have a handgun and was going to confront someone, I'd, um (don't laugh), duct tape it to my hand. Okay, that is silly. But isn't keeping a gun from being taken frm you a serious issue, and are there not any devices or anything to aid in this? Just wondering.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:20 PM on January 19, 2005

...duct tape it to my hand. Okay, that is silly.

Well, yeah, it's silly -- if you have time to duct tape a gun to your hand, you probably have time to something else, like escape and call the police.

There aren't devices to assist in this, but there are tactics to keep you from getting close enough that the gun can be taken. i.e., how to negotiate corners without presenting someone with the opportunity to take your gun by the protruding muzzle.

Failing that, there are martial arts techniques for both taking and retaining a handgun. You want to know more about the latter than your attacker does of the former.
posted by Tubes at 5:44 PM on January 19, 2005

I don't think that its likely to be taken away from you (but I have heard that most cops are shot by their own gun), especially if you avoid confrontation (if you are alone in the house, stay where you are, the TV style leaping into a room with the gun outstretched is a bad idea). I think the statistic comes from people shooting other inhabitants in domestic disputes (I believe that you are more likely to be murdered by a close acquaintance or family member than anyone else). If you are really worried about having your gun used against you, you can buy guns that require a special magnetic ring to be worn in order for them to fire. I believe S&W sold them at one time. If the statistic were really true that it was more dangerous to be armed in a confrontation, then we should give out free guns to the criminals...
posted by 445supermag at 5:49 PM on January 19, 2005


Holding onto your gun is a training issue, not a engineering issue.

These are situations you have to decide in your mind before the fact. My solution to this problem is that my gun will not be drawn unless I plan to discharge it. If I do draw, I will unload it entirely before my target is within arms reach.

I shoulder my pistol if I feel that I'll be in close in situations where someone can pull it from my usual place, in the small of my back.
posted by sled at 6:00 PM on January 19, 2005

sled: It's much more comforting to unholster a 9mm and investigate why your front door was kicked in then do saunter in and hope no one shoots you. It honestly takes this happening to you before you realize how important it is.

While there are numerous good reasons to aquire a CCW, if your door has been kicked in and you are still outside, I highly recommend that you call the police. House clearing is something that ideally should be left to the professionals. It's too risky if you haven't recieved the proper training.
posted by reverendX at 7:57 PM on January 19, 2005

.45 ACP automatic pistol, 7 in the clip, empty chamber (Condition Three).

Condition Three has the benefit that a child under the age of about 10 is not strong enough to work the slide. Likewise a person who is just casually/stupidly handling the gun is extremely unlikely to chamber a round accidentally.

The gun is a relic from World War II - if I were replacing it for the same purpose, I'd probably go with 10mm for the better stopping power. I would consider .40, or .357 or .44 Magnum, but nothing lighter - if I'm in the unlikely situation of intending to kill someone, I don't want a piece of wallboard interfering.

I do not believe the noise or physical appearance of the gun should be at issue. Trying to deter someone with the threat of shooting them is, to my mind, an extraordinarily bad idea for a number of reasons.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:31 AM on January 20, 2005

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