The Complete Guide to Home Self Defense Weapons: Our Top 5

This is the complete guide to home defense weapons. In this detailed guide, you will learn:

-What to watch out for with a home defense weapon

-The advantages and disadvantages of each type of weapon

-What is the best home defense weapon for you?

– And much more

So if you are looking for the best home defense weapon that will keep you and your family safe, this guide is for you. Let’s dive right in.

There is no one size fits all for central defense.

It depends on you and your needs. More specifically, it boils down to your skill (or comfort) with your weapon. For example, if you only practice with a pistol, this is the weapon for you. If you only practice with a rifle, this will be your best home defense weapon. Why is that?

Stress. When the stressful home invasion takes place, there is no time to think. You only have time to act. So, choosing a weapon that you are comfortable with will allow you to react faster and save your and your families’ lives.

That said, here is the full breakdown of each weapon type, with pros and cons, best uses, and even recommendations.


Rifles are a great choice for central defense. Why? Rifles are insanely accurate, fast and have the largest magazine. This is great for Multi-intruder home defense scenarios. But is it the right choice for you? Here is the complete breakdown:



-Very accurate (longer viewing radius)

– Low recoil (depending on your caliber)

-Large magazine (30 rounds)

-Highly modifiable

– Designed to attack multiple targets



-Heavier (reduces handling speed)

-Easy disarming (due to the barrel size)

-Overaging (hits more than intended target)

– Reduced maneuverability (cannot easily be moved in a small space)

Best use

If you want to give your intruders an edge, get yourself a rifle.

It has a larger magazine, more accurate and quickly incapacitated. You can take an army with a rifle. This is how a veteran carried out a three-man armed robbery. So I recommend a rifle (if you can afford one). It gives you the firepower necessary to overwhelm your invaders.


Smith & Wesson M & P15 Sport II: A very popular 30-round AR-15. It’s an affordable, close-range AR-15 designed for central defense. Bonus tip: put on some groundbreaking accessories like an AR-15 optic, lightweight and adjustable shaft, and you’re ready to go.


Shotguns are usually recommended for central defense. It’s great at close range, scary, and very reliable. Here is the breakdown:



– Does not disturb

– Does not penetrate (depending on the strength)

-Racking sound scares intruders

– Works well in low light

-Weapon of choice for wild animals and zombies (just kidding)



– Strong recoil

-Shorter magazine (5-6 rounds)

– Slow reloading

– For short distances only

-Not exactly (may meet friendly matches due to the spread)

-Necessary to aim (on home defense areas)

– Weak braking power (targets may not be able to be incapacitated immediately)

Best use

If you might be dealing with wild animals or want to intimidate your intruder, choose a shotgun. Otherwise, opt for a different type of weapon.

Why? The dissemination. Let’s say the bad guy has your wife in a headlock. Will a shotgun be able to take down the bad guy accurately (and safely) without hitting your wife? No it wouldn’t.

You would probably hit your wife for the spread. Not to mention, most shotguns have a 5-6 round magazine so you will run out of ammo very quickly. That said, I don’t mind shotguns. Many people prefer them for central defense with wonderful results. I’m just breaking it down on paper.

If you like and know your way around a shotgun, get one! I agree: it’s an intimidating weapon and if you break the weapon it can save you from a firefight. However, it has its shortcomings (as mentioned above).


Remington 870: A reliable (and popular) pump-action shotgun. It’s easy, intimidating, and affordable.

Benelli M2: A semi-automatic shotgun that doesn’t require you to pump the handle. Just aim and shoot.


A revolver (or “hand cannon”) is a simple and reliable pistol. It’s small, deadly, and affordable. It’s terrifying too. This is why some prefer a revolver for central defense. But is it good?

Let’s sum it up:



-Easy to use (aim and pull)



– Disruptive recoil

-Requires more skill to fire

-Fire slower (due to the trigger)

-Loading slower (due to the turret cylinder)

-Smaller magazine (6 rounds)

Best use

If you are a revolver then go for a revolver. But be warned: It is not very effective.

It has a small magazine, a small kick, takes longer to reload and requires more skill to shoot accurately. Because of this, law enforcement agencies (excluding old cops) have stopped using revolvers. They replaced it with a semi-automatic pistol (I’ll explain why below).

That said, if you’re a gunslinger man, you don’t need a referral. But if you do, it’s here.


Smith & Wesson Model 66: A 6-round, .357 magnum revolver. It has an adjustable visor and can be concealed.

Semi-automatic pistol

A semi-automatic pistol is that most common weapon for home defense. It’s light, accurate, easy to use, and covert. It also fits in tight spaces like hallways and doors. That’s why law enforcement and the FBI prefer it. But is it the right choice for central defense? Here is the full breakdown:


– Inexpensive


-I agree


-Fast target acquisition

-Only requires one hand

-Manuverable in tight spaces (such as small spaces)


– Short range

-Shorter Mag (possible shortage of ammunition)

-Less control (smaller grip area)

-Can excessively penetrate (depending on the caliber)

Best use

If you’re looking for a quick and accessible weapon, go for a semi-automatic pistol. According to many weapon experts, it is the best type of weapon for central defense. It’s cheap, concealable, accurate, and very quick. It will be ready whenever you need it.


S & WM & P9c: A 9mm twin stack pistol with a polymer frame fired by the striker. It’s affordable, accurate, ergonomic, and very concealable.

What is the best weapon for central defense?

The truth is it doesn’t matter which weapon you choose. You can choose a shotgun, pistol, revolver, or rifle. They all do the same job – knock out anyone he points out.

Sure, some guns do better than others. But honestly it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you choose a weapon and practice with it. Because we are honest:

In a stressful central defense situation, you don’t have time to remember how to use a gun. You rely on your training instincts. The better trained you are, the better instincts you will have at your disposal.

So keep it simple. First, choose a weapon that you like. Then take it to the area. And practice continuously. The more you practice, the better the weapon (and you) will become at home defense. But that’s enough for me.

What is your favorite central defense weapon?

Maybe you like a shotgun? Or an AR-15 with optics? Either way, let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has been featured in major gun publications such as The Daily Caller, ODU Magazine, American Shooting Journal, SOFREP, and others. In his spare time he checks various optics and weapons on his Scope Blog.

Image: Creative Commons.

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