Tactical Weapons Firearms

Ultimate guide to home defense guns

Here we discuss the various types of firearms and ammo suitable for different living situations and general best practices for home defense.
Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
best home defense guns
A firearm shooting instructor assisting a student at a shooting range. (Getty Images/Credit: RichLegg)

When it comes to home defense, having the right firearms and ammunition is crucial. This becomes even more important when considering the type of residence you live in, such as a single-family home or an apartment with shared walls. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the various types of firearms and ammo suitable for different living situations, as well as some general best practices for home defense.

Here is our helpful guide to home defense guns

Single-Family Homes: Shotgun, Handgun and Rifle Options

For those living in single-family homes, there are generally more open spaces and fewer restrictions for bullet travel, which means you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to choosing your firearms and ammo. However, you should still be mindful of over-penetration. Here are our recommendations for single-family home defense:

  • Shotgun: A 12-gauge shotgun loaded with double-ought buckshot or slug rounds is a popular choice for home defense due to its incredible stopping power and versatility. Remember, though, that shotguns can have quite a kick, so make sure you practice and are comfortable handling one. 
  • Handgun: Having a handgun on hand can be a great backup option, as they are compact and easy to use in high-stress situations. A 9mm or .45 caliber handgun loaded with hollow point, soft point, or frangible rounds is ideal for stopping power without excessive penetration.
  • Rifle: For those with larger homes or properties, an AR-15 chambered in .223 or 5.56mm rounds can provide excellent accuracy and power. When combined with hollow point or soft point ammunition, you’ll have a formidable weapon for home defense with limited penetration liability.

Duplexes, Apartments, and Condos: Shotgun and Handgun Options

For those living in shared-wall residences, such as apartments or condos, your choice of firearm and ammo becomes even more critical due to the risk of over-penetration. You’ll want to consider firearms with low recoil for increased control and target acquisition. Here are our recommendations for shared-wall residence defense:

  • Shotgun: While powerful, shotguns can pose a risk of over-penetration in shared-wall residences. If a shotgun is your only option, opt for light loads with small shots to reduce penetration risk while still maintaining effectiveness.
  • Handgun: A 9mm or .38 special handgun loaded with hollow point ammo is an excellent choice for shared-wall residences, as they offer reduced recoil and penetration risk. Smaller pistols like the Ruger LCP or Smith & Wesson Bodyguard also have a much smaller profile and far less recoil, making them great options for those who may have difficulty handling larger firearms.
tactical best home defense guns
Cycling 12-gauge buckshot in a Mossberg 590A1 12-gauge shotgun. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Brendan Custer)

General Home Defense Best Practices

Regardless of your living situation or choice of firearm, there are some best practices to keep in mind when it comes to home defense:

  • Practice firearm safety: Always adhere to the basic rules of gun safety, such as treating every firearm as if it’s loaded, keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and never pointing a firearm at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
  • Develop a home defense plan: Know the layout of your home, identify potential entry points, and have a plan in place for how to respond to a home invasion.
  • Train regularly: Practice shooting your chosen firearm in various positions and stances to increase your comfort and proficiency.
  • Secure your home: Implement security measures such as deadbolts, window locks, and smart home technology to deter potential intruders.

Ultimately, choosing the best home defense guns and ammunition for your specific living situation is essential for effective home defense. 

By considering factors such as stopping power, penetration risk, and ease of use, you can ensure that you have the most suitable weapon on hand in case of an emergency. Additionally, practicing proper safety measures and maintaining your skills will go a long way in protecting your home and loved ones.