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buying defensive guns

I’m an ex-certified rifle coach and action pistol range officer. I don’t shoot a lot by serious shooting standards, but I keep my modest level of skills current. More importantly, I am a very good teacher, have helped quite a number of people to a functional level of competency with defensive firearms and am respected for that.

Therefore, the question of what gun should I buy has come my way many times. The answer depends on the individual and circumstances they wish to prepare for. However, my recommendations are fairly consistent and simple.  So I am sharing them here.

home invasionmossberg-20-gauge-youth

The concern of home invasion is probably number one. Here the shotgun is, well, top gun. It is very powerful, yet doesn’t send errant rounds lethally a mile away like a rifle can. It does not aim itself like the movies portray, but it is easy to master pointing and shooting accurately at targets from up-close to across your yard. See Shotgun energy here.

I highly recommend owning a pump-action shotgun as they are relatively simple to understand, operate and maintain. They are also, in nearly any brand-name, supremely reliable. Mossberg, Remington, Winchester and many more produce excellent choices.

I DO NOT recommend 12-gauge. They are not pleasant to shoot until you have a lot of experience with them. No, let me rephrase that, They are UNpleasant to shoot until you gain a lot of experience with them or are large and solidly built. The worst of the worst are those with pistol-grips that transfer the recoil to your wrists. If anyone recommends them to you, walk away. Their advise is worse than useless.

I do recommend a 20-gauge pump. They are PLENTY POWERFUL, much easier to master than a 12-gauge and the best way to have 4 or more rounds on tap. The 20-gauge has 3 to 4 times the energy of a typical handgun. This is a serious deterrent to home invaders and those who would do you harm.  With very little training, they are downright fun to shoot.

It is also important to get one with a shorter stock if any women, children or smaller-statured men may be shooting it. The big guys will be able to use it fine anyway and it will fit smaller people like a full-sized gun fits big guys … that is, comfortably and easily controlled. For defense, the barrel should be 18″-20″ long and the magazine tube (under the barrel) should hold at least four rounds, with six or more being even better.

A youth-stocked pump-action shotgun is a very modestly priced and powerful tool.

Buy 100 rounds of birdshot, a box of clay pigeons and find a hillside to set the clays on. Use up the birdshot. Blow up the clays. Smile. Repeat for effect.

Get some buckshot and slugs as well. These are the real defensive tool. In buckshot the lower number means fewer pellets of larger size. Number 7 birdshot is a pile of tiny pellets while number 2 is a countable 18 larger pellets, and 00 (double-ought) are 9 big pellets.  I recommend double-ought as each of those guys carry weight enough to penetrate and the bunch of them will stop the threat.

Get slugs designed for a smooth bore unless you bought one of the relatively rare rifled hunting barrels. Read labels or ask for help. It only matters with slugs, so don’t worry too much.

You can’t buy too many shotgun shells, as they are good as gold, or better, when it comes down to retaining value. Buckshot and slugs for defense. Birdshot for practice (and shooting birds).

personal defensesmith-wesson-636-3x_0

For personal defense, which does include home invasion, a revolver is always my suggestion for a first handgun. Semi-automatics look real good in movies and in the hands of experienced shooters, but the possibility of accidental shootings and failures to shoot when you really, really need them to are huge with sem-autos and tiny with revolvers. Start there. You will never, ever regret owning a nice revolver no matter how many guns you end up owning.

Handguns are handy. They can be with you everywhere you go (excepting some truly immoral, illegal and ridiculous laws). You never know when trouble will find you. Handguns can always be a life-saving friend at your side.  But in case of a serious threat, the phrase many preach is “a handgun is just to fight your way to your long gun”.

I discourage anything below .38 Special in power and strongly recommend buying a .357 which interchangeably shoots .38 Special and when you are ready for it, the powerful and effective .357 Magnum ammo. See Handgun energy for reference.

The lovely Smith and Wesson 636 revolver is still on my short list of guns I NEED to own. But I gave my wife a relatively inexpenssive Rossi .357 that has been a truly great gun. There are lots of good revolvers out there. Get one.

Buy several hundred rounds of .38 Special target ammo, a box of .38 Special +P and one of .357 hunting/defense ammo. Shoot a lot of the target ammo. Get comfortable. Load up with the +P when you are not target shooting.  Someday, when you are getting comfortable with it, shoot some .357 Magnum. It really is a good round.

851SH2C/Rev, 2/19/02, 11:43 am,  8C, 2488x3504 (231+312), 80%, TAURUS,  1/30 s, R89.4, G85.3, B125.9I recommend against the “hammerless” guns. While they slip in and out of pockets without much chance of snagging, their triggers are really heavy and hard to shoot well. Get a holster and have a hammer you can cock.

DO specify “double-action”. This means you have a choice of cocking the hammer back for a wonderful light, crisp trigger pull that makes accurate shooting more likely. It also means when you really gotta just shoot without thinking, your trigger pull can cock AND fire if need be (two actions).

major threat defenserifles-buying_ice_cream-4x

When their world is clearly a threatening place and they have a choice, people choose rifles for defense. They have power, accuracy, effectiveness and distance. Moreover, they choose semi-automatics with full-capacity magazines… world over.

One problem with this is they require training and experience. If you aren’t able to plan for BOTH of those, get a bolt-action rifle or stick with the pump 20-gauge you already bought and practice more with slugs, buckshot and switching between the two.

The most popular, inexpensive and simple defensive semi-auto in the world is the AK-47 and variants thereof. In the wealthier world, the AR-15 semi-auto or M-16 full-auto and varients of it are hugely popular. Both will do well. Each has strenghts over the other.

Go see rifle energy for a sense of what’s what.

The AR-15 shoots .223 ammo which has 760 foot-pounds of energy at 200 yards. The AK-47 shoots 7.62×39 which has 882 foot-pounds of energy at 200 yards. Those are in the range of comfortable for male and female rifle shooters of all statures world wide. Thus good choices. With experience you may want to move up the power chart. But for goodness sakes, try before you buy.

Seek advice from oppressive governments.

The biggest violent threat to life in the last two centuries has consistently been assault by government on their “own people”. The tools they use to attack are clearly the best tools for the job at the time. They are also the very best tools for repelling those attacks.

They now use AK-47 and AR-15 variants.

So should you.

If they try to prevent you from using those tools, be very, very suspicious of their motivations. EVERY TIME governments have disarmed the people, they followed by enslaving and killing them… 100% of the time.

If they are trying to take good defensive rifles away from you, they are also sending a very clear message of their intentions both short and long term. Ignore their advice at your peril.