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How movies get home invasions wrong

Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
john wick home invasion scene

John Wick home invasion scene. (Lions Gate Entertainment)

Do you know that scene in a movie where two burglars cut the main power line and break a window to get inside? The protagonist wakes up, realizes what’s going on, picks up his trusty 9mm, and channels his inner John Wick to protect his home.

Although it should be clear that it’s a movie and not real life, some people seem to think that in case of a home invasion, defending your home is easy and something anyone can do.

Unfortunately, I’m here to analyze what movies get wrong about home invasions and I gotta tell you – they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Weapon Choice – A Handgun Is Not the Best Option

Unless you actually are John Wick and you know how to handle a handgun better than a Special Forces operative, you’re already at a disadvantage if you only own a handgun.

Sure, a handgun is better than no gun, but a shotgun is definitely the best home defense weapon. Why? Because of its high-impact effects and the big margin of aiming error.

First of all, if you shoot someone with a shotgun, chances are you’re going to incapacitate them with a single shot. Truth be told, you can do this with a handgun too, but if you put a round into someone’s leg, they might be able to get up (admittedly, they’ll be in pain, bleeding out, slow, and clumsy).

If you shoot someone in the leg with a shotgun, you’re most likely taking their entire leg off. 

Even if you initially miss the target, at least one of the shots (pellets) might hit it because of the wide shotgun spread. This is the second thing I mentioned – shotguns are pretty forgiving when it comes to aiming – handguns and rifles are not.

In regard to close-quarter combats, the only real advantage handguns have is that they’re easier to maneuver, but that comes at the price of damage and it requires accuracy.

So, if you’re worried about a home invasion, get yourself a Benelli M4 or the Standard Manufacturing DP-12.

benelli m4 for home invasions
Loading a buck shot round into a Benelli M4 Super 90 Shotgun.

Shooting Down the Range and Combat Are Vastly Different

Being a good shot in training is not comparable to combat. In combat, the majority of what you’re doing is flanking your target until you can get a good angle to open fire. Actually firing is just the final piece of the puzzle.

The conditions of a home invasion are also different from the conditions on the range. 

Your electricity might be out, you might have a family to think about, you don’t know the number of invaders in your home, and worst of all – you have no idea where they are.

Moving around your home in the dark while trying to locate the invaders without warning them of your presence, hoping you don’t get shot at the same time, is much harder than what the movies make it look.

What if the shooting starts? You’re going to get disoriented quickly, not to mention that you’re going to temporarily lose your hearing (or at least get it impaired) after the first few shots.

A house has many rooms and hallways, and each corner presents a threat in this scenario, especially if there’s more than one intruder.

The police are aware of this, which is why your first move should always be to alert everyone in your home of what’s going on and leave safely if possible. If you can’t, grab your gun and a phone, lock yourselves in a room, call 911, and tell them what’s going on.

These are official police instructions.

The police have a better chance of arresting them than you do of becoming John Rambo.

Focus on keeping your family safe – get your gun and be ready to use it, but hiding should always be your priority as it’s proven to be the most effective way of surviving without getting hurt.

Movies Are Choreographed – Real Life Isn’t

Something that the movies rarely show is the number of random things that can happen during a home invasion and determine the outcome of it. 

You can trip and fall or knock down a vase to give away your position.

Your gun could jam, or, in the heat of the moment, you could forget to cock it.

The invaders might have scouted your home beforehand and they might have a plan in case you’re armed.

You might have misheard their movements, and while you’re looking for them in the basement, they’re actually in your study.

This is something the movies don’t show you. 

Close-quarters combat is chaotic and you’re not putting it under your control. The best thing for you and your family is to lock yourselves away and call the police.