How to pick the best gun for home defense

How do you pick a gun for home defense? Most people just say “I should get a gun” and because this is America, they go buy one. But what if that wasn’t the best strategy? What if the way to find the best gun for home defense was to do a thoughtful analysis of your home, your mission, your shot probabilities, then pick a gun? Doing that guarantees you’ll get the best gun for home defense.

Mission drives the gear train

The first thing we need to look at when picking the best gun for home defense has nothing to do with guns at all. Instead, it’s establishing the mission requirements for home defense. To do that you need to have a clear idea of what your risk factors are, and what a desire end state for your most common risk factor is. For example, if you’re concerned about a violent home invasion and live alone with no roommates, your optimal end state may be “escape and evade.” Maybe you have a family and children, so your optimal end state is “hunker down and wait for the police and hope you don’t have to shoot someone.” Regardless, that mission is going to be a key driver in selecting your home defense firearm.

Is your home secure?

A good next step in selecting the best gun for home defense is getting a better understanding of your own physical security. Do you lock your doors even when you’re home? You should. Do you have alarms, fences, motion sensitive lights, etc? What active and passive measures do you have to delay a potential intruder from entering your property’s secure areas? I’m a big believer that your home should be as physically secure as possible – starting with sturdy locks and going all the way to strong intrusion detection/deterrent capabilities.

Are you sure a gun is the right choice?

Step 3 might be a little controversial over here, but it’s important. This is where after evaluating your mission and your existent physical defenses, you ask yourself whether any gun at all is the right choice. For some people this answer might be “no,” due to the circumstances of their life. To be clear, if you’re a law-abiding American you have every right to own a gun, but there’s a difference between “can I” and “is this the right choice for my circumstances.” It may not be, and I really believe that as gun owners we need to stop just saying “get a gun” as a one-size-fits-all solution.

Know the shots you might have to take

My favorite step is step 4, because this involves a careful analysis of your home/property and figuring what your 1) most likely shot and 2) most technically complex shot is going to be. These might be two different things. Your most likely shot might be an intruder standing in your living room after kicking your door down. You most complex shot might be an intruder standing over your child’s bed after creepin’ in the window. These are very different shooting problems that require different skills to successfully solve. But analysis of these problems, combined with the tactical realities of your mission is absolutely critical to selecting the best gun for home defense.

Ultimately, the “best” gun for home defense is going to be defined by a combination of all four of these factors. For some people it may be a pistol, for others a shotgun, and for some a suppressed modern sporting rifle. The only person who can know what your ideal gun is…is you. So do the work.

Caleb Giddings is a scotch enthusiast with a writing problem, which is apparently common for writers. He also shoots some guns or something, and is a Master Class shooter in IDPA and NRA Action Pistol. You should definitely follow him on instagram