Firearms For Home Defense – The Pros, Cons, & Easy Buttons

Home Defense Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Home defense is always a fun topic. It’s one that we often overthink, but for good reason. Our home is our sanctuary, our hideaway, our safe space. Being capable of defending it is paramount to the vast majority of gun owners. If you aren’t a gun owner and are trying to sus out what works best for home defense, you’ve come to the right spot. 

There are tons of opinions out there on what works best for home defense. Most of these opinions aren’t wrong by any means but are often formed by experience and situations. The debate will typically revolve around what works best for home defense. A pistol, rifle, or shotgun? That’s typically a personal answer that’s dependent on your experience and individual situation. Let’s assume you’ve figured that out. That still leaves you with a vast array of firearms to pick and choose from in the categories of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. 

Luckily, you arrived here, and we have some easy button suggestions for you. 

Home Defense – Pistol vs. Rifle vs. Shotgun vs. PCC

Well, first, let’s assume you don’t know the pros and cons of each defensive firearm’s platform. You may have also noticed that I added PCC to the options because I think PCCs should differentiate from rifles in this conversation. Let’s tackle a quick overview of the pros and cons of each platform. 


Pistols tend to be very compact and easy to wield. Modern defensive handguns have low recoil and are very easy to use indoors due to their size. Pistols can also be easily wielded with one hand, making it easy to usher children to safety, call the police, lock doors, etc. Plus, if you want only one gun for concealed carry and home defense, it’s going to be a pistol. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

The downside is that pistols are underpowered compared to other options. They basically just punch holes in people, and you have to make sure that you’ve hit something effective where you’ve punched a hole. Pistols also lack a third point of contact, making them tougher to shoot accurately than long guns. 


Defensive rifles tend to be semi-automatic and chamber intermediate cartridges like the 5.56. Rifles tend to be quite powerful and provide better terminal ballistics than handguns by a large margin. They also tend to have light recoil and are easy to control. A third point of contact ensures you can easily aim the weapon and easily control it. Intermediate rounds tend to dissipate energy faster in drywall and similar materials, making them the safest option in the event of a miss. 

3 - The Civilian Defensive Rifle - Part 1 New Gas Length

Rifles also tend to be heavier and less compact than handguns, making them tougher to use with one hand. They are also longer, making them tough to maneuver indoors. Rifles are also considerably more expensive, as is their ammunition. Some states often have draconian laws focusing on semi-auto rifles that make them tough to access for some home defenders. 


Shotguns for home defense tend to be 12 gauge shotguns in either pump or semi-auto configurations. They have shorter barrels compared to sporting shotguns. The shotgun’s main advantage is the ability to put eight to nine pellets of 00 buckshot into a threat per one pull of the trigger. Shotguns are excellent at firing a single shot that stops a target effectively. Shotguns do need to be aimed, but allow you to have some minor marksmanship issues due to the spread of the pellets as they strike a threat. Nine pellets are nine opportunities to stop a threat. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

The downside with the repeating claymore is recoil. These things pack a punch at both ends. Pump guns will require two hands to operate, and shooting any shotgun one-handed is fairly difficult. Shotguns also tend to be heavier and longer than even rifles and, obviously, handguns. 


Pistol caliber carbines are rifles that fire pistol rounds. They tend to be quite lightweight and easy to shoot. Most use pistol magazines, making finding magazines quite easy. Pistol ammo is also quite affordable. These guns tend to be soft recoiling and easy to control, and for those willing to take the NFA route, they are very easy to suppress. 

Best 10mm Handguns and Rifles
This Kriss Vector shoots pistol rounds and is suppressed.

The main downside is that these guns are still firing pistol rounds. They might get a velocity boost from a longer barrel, but they are still poking holes. Their terminal ballistics will not touch rifle calibers in any way. At the same time, they are the same size as rifles, making them tougher to maneuver than pistols. 

The Home Defense Easy Button 

Now, we are all on the same page. We know the pros and cons of each platform, and we can give you a few simple options to make your decision an easy one to make. 

Home Defense Handguns 

Glock 19 

The Glock 19 is a classic compact handgun now in its fifth generation. It’s an easy button because the Glock series of handguns, especially the 19, is so easy to find. Most big and small firearm retailers will have multiple in stock. Glocks are reliable, easy to use, easy to disassemble, and well-suited for self-defense. Magazines, holsters, and accessories are very common for this platform. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

The Glock 19 comes in optics-ready formats and has a rail for a light. Lights are a must-have for home defense purposes. The Glock 19 falls into the compact genre of firearms that make it fairly easy to carry if you so choose, but it is still quite large, so it’s easy to shoot. 


If you want something smaller than the Glock 19 for both home defense and concealed carry, the P365XL does fit the bill well without giving up much. It’s smaller and more efficient in its size, with OEM magazine capacities up to 17 rounds. The proprietary rail makes lights tough but not impossible. The gun is also optics-ready, which is a huge plus for me. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

It’s the easy button for a gun capable of both home defense and concealed carry. These guns are widely available and easy to find. They have proven to be quite reliable, and their popularity has spawned plenty of holster options. For concealed carry, I’d pack a 12-round magazine and no light, but for home defense, I’d attach the light and seventeen-round magazine. 

Home Defense Shotguns

Mossberg 590 

The Mossberg 590 is the dedicated tactical variant of the Mossberg 500. The Mossberg 590 series are military-approved shotguns with barrels from 18.5 to 20 inches, making them as compact as shotguns can get without running afoul of the NFA. The Mossberg 590 series are very robust and simple shotguns that are well-proven. As far as tactical pump shotguns go, it’s tough to beat the Mossberg 590. 

The Best Mossberg 500/590 Upgrades

It’s readily accessible and very easy to accessorize, including adding a light. The 590 series comes in varying capacities from six to eight rounds and can be tailored for the individual shooter. While 12 gauge rules the roost of tactical shotguns, the Mossberg 590 now comes in both 20 gauge and .410 bore. 

Beretta 1301 

If money is no object, then a semi-auto shotgun is the way to go, and the current king of semi-auto shotguns is the Beretta 1301. The Beretta 1301 is a gas-operated, semi-auto, tactical shotgun that is known for being reliable, easy to use, and fast cycling. The Beretta 1301’s gas system takes the sting out of a shotgun’s recoil a good bit, and the fast cycling design makes follow-up shots easy. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

The Beretta 1301 series is an easy button because it takes all the effort out of finding a reliable semi-auto shotgun. It’s crazy easy to use and shoot, and it’s been embraced by the firearms industry, and accessories and upgrades are easy to find and implement. 

Home Defense Rifles 

FN 15 Guardian 

A good rifle is rarely cheap, but the FN 15 Guardian does provide a good combination of affordability and performance. It occupies less than a grand budget price point of AR-15 but performs like a more expensive rifle. The FN 15 Guardian series is specifically made for the civilian gun owner looking for a capable home defense rifle. Admittedly, you could put any high-quality AR in this category, from the Guardian to the latest rifle from Knight’s Armory. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

The Guardian is an easy button because it’s capable, reliable, modern, and not budget-breaking. Shooters won’t have an issue finding lights, optics, and furniture that fit their needs with the Guardian. However, adding a red dot and light is all you really need to do. FN is trusted by military forces around the world for a reason: they make good guns, and the Guardian is a great carbine. 

IWI Tavor 

On the flip side of the AR platform, the Tavor provides a pricer option that is ultimately better suited for inside-the-home use. The Tavor or X95, or whatever else IWI calls it these days, is a bullpup rifle. Placing the action and magazine behind the trigger shortens the rifle a good bit, making it much easier to use in the close quarters of home defense. Heck, it’s even easy to use for home defense. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

As far as bullpup rifles go, the Tavor series seems to be the most widely available platform. It’s also very modern with excellent ergonomics. It’s optics and light-ready and uses the same caliber and magazines as the standard AR-15. The IWI Tavor gives you rifle capabilities with pistol-like maneuverability. 

Home Defense PCCs 

CMMG Resolute MkGs 

The CMMG Resolute MkGs is a full-sized 9mm AR Carbine. The Reoslute series uses CMMG’s radial delayed system that lowers recoil to nearly nothing. The Resolute MkGs series uses Glock mags, which makes it easy to find the magazines at affordable price points. These are very modern carbines and give you an optics rail and M-LOK handguard to mount accessories. 

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

The MkGs is a home defense easy button because it’s an everyone rifle. Everyone can handle this uber light, uber low recoiling option. Smaller shooters with less upper body strength will have no problems with the Resolute. 

Henry Homesteader 

The Henry Homesteader is another pistol-caliber carbine in the 9mm realm, but it’s no AR. In fact, it’s the opposite of modern. It’s fairly old school in its design, and that can be a benefit for those living in restricted states. If you have tough gun laws to deal with, the Homesteader likely falls out of any kind of assault weapon ban. 

READ MORE: Texas School District Approves Guardian Program to Allow Teachers, Staff to Carry on Campus

3 - The Home Defense Easy Button

You still get a lightweight, light-recoiling carbine. It’s got a modular magwell that can be swapped, so you can use Henry mags, Glock mags, SIG P320 magazines, or S&W M&P magazines. It’s a nice touch that makes finding magazines easy regardless of where you live. At the same time, the Homesteader is plenty accurate, easy to shoot, and capable of home defense. 

Easy Buttons 

Hopefully, you can walk away from this article with a better idea of the various home defense platforms and which ones are worth the investment. This isn’t a complete list of every great gun out there, but I aimed to provide the most accessible, common, and reliable weapons on the market at various budget levels. 

Have your own suggestion? Drop it in the comments below. 

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  • M.A. MARTINEZ April 6, 2024, 7:06 am

    I have a few quibbles about the article; several important points were either glossed over or ignored. The revolver, for instance, was completely sidestepped, which is surprising. Although ammunition for the .357 Magnum is still sometimes difficult to come by, the sale of these revolvers hasn’t slowed much in the past decade. Which brings me to the topic of “effective caliber”. It’s a subject that would take a book to cover thoroughly, but you might have mentioned that there are a few calibers that are generally considered less effective, if not outright inadequate, for stopping a determined attacker. As far as shotguns go, #4 and #2 shot are considered just as effective as #00 within 15 meters, penetrating clothing, flesh, and bone. Also, while I’m thinking about it, you might have pointed out that MOST homes don’t have any straight distances longer than 12-15 meters inside; in my experience, much less. Within the confines of a home, we’re talking extremely short distances; in these situations, a 20 gauge is just as effective, and easier to shoot, compared to a 12 gauge.

    Although I have other points, I will stop after this last one: you didn’t discuss PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. It doesn’t matter what type of firearm is utilized, it is IMPERATIVE that the owner know how to use that weapon safely, and is WILLING to use it. I have seen too many instances of people who have expensive guns, but they barely know how to fire them, can’t clean dissassemble or clean them effectively, and don’t really have a clue as to how to USE them safely & EFFECTIVELY within their home. I’ve seen, and read, of cases where people were armed, but unwilling to shoot their attacker(s). A life is not something we can replace; I completely understand. It’s a topic for another article, but nonetheless, I think it should have been mentioned. People often equate the enthusiasm for guns as indicative of an enthusiasm for killing. That, at least, should be addressed sometime. It’s a thorny subject, but a necessary point of discussion for all gun owners.

  • Jay Smith March 26, 2024, 10:55 am

    ….”Intermediate (AR rifle pattern*) rounds tend to dissipate energy faster in drywall and similar materials, making them the safest option in the event of a miss. “….. ? Ummm, a .38 spl from a short bbl revolver will go through 4 layers of sheetrock. (without striking a stud, obviously) Fairly sure ANY AR round, at those velocities, will go through more layers). You want something for that , get a 8-9 shot .22 mag revolver. Simple, HUGE muzzle flash, low recoil, & with hollow points,& very few sheetrock walls penetrated.

  • Peter March 25, 2024, 12:05 pm

    You failed to mention AR pistols that are available in dozens of the same calibers that AR rifles can shoot, including pistol caliber rifles.

    “𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒃𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒑𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒉 𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒑𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆”

    They definitely will do that if you’re using ball ammo (FMJ’s) instead of ammo (JHP’s) that EXPANDS up to four times its diameter, PAST the entry hole and INSIDE the BAD GUY.

    “𝑷𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒑𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆” is also what buckshot does in addition to punching holes through walls & doors and into people in other rooms.
    Sure there’s more pellets per shot but the further you are from your target, the greater the chances of “flyers” flying through walls and doors.

    “…𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒗𝒆 𝒉𝒊𝒕 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒆𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒗𝒆 𝒑𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆.”

    What is “something effective?” How about calling it a “vital area” instead?

    Unless you’ll use your shotgun to blow off an extremity like an arm, a leg or a maybe a head, your shot also has to hit a vital area that stops the threat.

    Except for bullpup and NFA configurations, the shotguns you showed are at least 18″ to 18.5″ long making them impractical for CQB at typical room-to-room distances of 20 feet or less and in hallways 3 to 4 feet wide. The minimum length of a rifle is at least 16″ which also limits your ability to maneuver inside your home and particularly getting behind a barrier and returning fire from there.

    The other problem with shotguns is where can you practice with them. Most of the indoor ranges I use only allow slugs to be fired from shotguns.
    There is one outdoor range, but it’s like a boot camp where everyone on the line has to do whatever the “drill sergeant” tells you to do and when.

    I have an AR pistol in .223/5.56 for HD with additional uppers in .300 and 9mm (the rounds are in EndoMags). I also have pistols in 9mm and 10mm.
    That 10mm makes a nice hole on the front of the gel block and a Grand Canyon-sized hole through the middle.
    I like semi-autos but I wouldn’t mind having a revolver in .357, .41 or .44 magnum to punch a few damn big holes.😁

  • LJ March 25, 2024, 9:01 am

    Unfortunately firing any weapon in a home with a caliber much larger than a .22LR is going to be very unpleasant. Especially an intermediate round like a .223 in a rifle which happen to be miserably loud even outdoors. Prepare to at least be temporarily deafened by the blast, if not permanently. With that thought in mind, I built an AR based SBR in .300BO with a 10″ barrel and suppressor. Subsonic hollow points reduce the muzzle blast to an indoor manageable level, but it’s still loud! Yes, it was pricey to build, requiring two stamps and a year waiting on the paper work to clear, but how do you put a price on your families safety?

    For a pistol for indoor work, a G21 .45 ACP with a factory threaded barrel and a suppressor covers the close range work. A .45ACP is an inherently good close range self defense round that works great with a ‘can’.

    • Peter March 25, 2024, 12:12 pm

      While waiting to have my app approved for a silencer, I have electronic muffs in the same drawer as my pistol and I’ve practiced turning on the muffs while slapping them on my head with one hand while taking the pistol out with the other. In total, it takes me about 2 to 2.5 seconds to be muffed, armed and ready.

  • Rock March 25, 2024, 8:41 am

    Why limit yourself to just ONE caliber by choosing the Glock 19? I know it is ultra fanboy cool to be like John Wick and the special ops dudes, but . . with a Glock 23 you can opt for a LARGER MORE CAPABLE CALIBER in the 40sw AND also use a drop in 9mm conversion barrel to shoot the smaller weaker 9mm should you want to do that. Two caliber options in one gun with the G23.

    • Rusty March 25, 2024, 10:02 am

      And maybe even get a 357 sig barrel. The only more versatile platform may be a Glock 20 or other 10mm Glock…. ‘Course with a 20, a call to Guncrafters can get you a 50Gi slide n barrel, for making bigger holes….

      • Rock March 25, 2024, 10:14 am

        Rusty, I was so pleased with the 9mm conversion barrel that I got the 357sig also and am very pleased. There are two very good vendors for these barrels, KKM precision, and Storm Lake. Another thing . . when swapping barrels there is no need to change the extractor or spring on the pistol. Only change is the barrel and obviously magazine. Of course, the stock G40sw mags also handle 357sig. Bonus round: a few years ago when the longslide G41 came out (45acp) I bought one and also bought a KKM 10mm conversion barrel. Works perfect.

        “Glock for life” as far as I am concerned.

  • Mark Bella March 25, 2024, 7:54 am

    How about the Smith & Wesson Governor. It’s a pistol and a .410 shotgun.

    • Rusty March 25, 2024, 10:07 am

      .410 isn’t too bad loaded with some of defense rounds. Need to be pretty judicious with your aim, as there isn’t as much lead as bigger shotguns. I use it mostly for the small slithering critters; I suppose it would work on the two legged version in a pinch.

    • Beckaroo March 25, 2024, 12:22 pm

      The .410 defensive ammo is designed to work at a specific close up distance which doesn’t work well in a home defense situation. It’s also limited in capacity. They are decent choices for outdoors but not very good for home defense.

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