Best Guns for Home Defense

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The best gun for home defense is a nebulous concept that can mean different things to different people. But the reality is, for most of us, home defense means protecting you and yours inside the confines of your residence. That’s because roughly 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban or suburban areas. So, unless we’re talking about a zombie apocalypse where you might want to turn you home into the Alamo with a protected perimeter, any shots necessary are likely going to be at length-of-hallway distances.

Ok, so keeping the short-range reality in mind, what are some of the best guns for home defense? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options.

How I Picked the Best Guns for Home Defense

I selected this list of the best guns for home defense on numerous criteria. First, I broke it down by platform, looking at handguns, shotguns, and carbines. Within each of the categories I then picked firearms that I’ve used extensively and that have a good reputation for reliability.

One thing that’s peculiar about guns for home defense is that they might not get the same level of loving care and maintenance that a favorite range gun or hunting rifle might receive. So, a good gun for home defense needs to be able to withstand long periods of benign neglect and still be ready to perform if the time comes.

You’ll also notice that none of the guns here are chambered in exotic cartridges. We have 9mms, .357 Magnums / .38 Specials, and 12 gauges. All of which are readily available and all of which have excellent options for ammo geared toward personal protection.

Finally, I considered value. You can certainly spend more on a firearm for home defense, and if you have the budget, knock yourself out. But since most people watch their dollars carefully, I wanted to highlight guns that deliver good bang for the buck. I also avoided listing bargain-basement guns where long-term reliability might be an issue.

Best Guns for Home Defense

Best Home Defense Pistol: Springfield Echelon

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The Echelon has some great features for a home defense handgun. It’s a full-size pistol, which isn’t the best for concealed carry, but it is optimal for cartridge capacity, gun handling, mounting accessories and so on, which makes it ideal for home defense.

Why do I like the Echelon in particular? It’s easy to add a red dot due to its innovative optics mounting design. Basically, it is pre-cut and pre-drilled and set up to use most of the major red dots on the market. The grip has interchangeable inserts to make the gun fit you, not vice versa. Exceptionally pronounced gripping serration help with racking the slide which could come in handy under stress. The bottom accessory rail makes adding a weapon-mounted light a plug-and-play proposition.

Using both a light and an optic is great for low-light or no-light shooting. While night sights help, a red dot is quicker to find, orient, and shoot. That’s just a fact. A 20- and 17-round magazine come standard. There’s even a model available with a threaded barrel for use with a suppressor, which aside from being civilized, is a good idea in close confines to preserve your hearing and situational awareness.

You might be asking why a pistol instead of a revolver, wheelguns are more reliable after all, right? Well, revolvers have less capacity, fewer options for mounting optics, and almost no options for mounting lights. Sure, they are available in more powerful cartridges, but the other deficiencies negate the benefits of the cartridge horsepower. Besides, pistols are combat-worthy reliable. So, for a home defense handgun, I suggest you opt for a pistol. The base model has an MSRP of $679.

Springfield Echelon

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Color: Black
  • Barrel: 4.5-inch hammer forged with Melonite finish, 1:10 twist
  • Slide: Billet machined, Melonite finish, optics ready
  • Frame: Black Polymer
  • Sights: Tritium / Luminescent Front, Tactical Rack U-Dot Rear
  • Grip Width: 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 23.9 ounces
  • Length: 8 inches
  • Height: 5.5 inches

Read Next: Best 9mm Ammo

Best Revolver for Home Defense: Taurus Raging Hunter

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Did you really think I would omit a revolver from the list? No way. If you want to spin the wheelgun of fortune for home defense, give the Taurus Raging Hunter a look—specifically the 5.1 inch model in .357 Magnum / .38 Special. Per its namesake, this full frame revolver was designed for hunting, so it’s not an ultralight handgun, which in this case is a good thing. It’s not overly heavy—like a Smith & Wesson X-Frame—but has enough heft to help control recoil. The ported barrel further reduces muzzle flip. I find it shoots pleasantly, even with full power .357 magnum loads.

What really sets this particular Raging Hunter apart from traditional revolvers is the rail machined into the top of the barrel shroud. This makes it a breeze to mount a micro red dot or even a full size tubular red dot. The Taurus Raging Hunter is a double action revolver that holds seven shots. While that’s not a tremendous amount of capacity, it is likely enough to handle most situations. The base model has an MSRP of $1029.

Taurus Raging Hunter

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum / .38 Special +P
  • Capacity: 7 Rounds
  • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable
  • Action Type: Double action / Single action
  • Frame Material: Alloy Steel
  • Cylinder Material: Alloy Steel
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Barrel Length: 5.12 inches
  • Overall Length: 11.50 inches
  • Overall Height: 6.50 inches
  • Overall Width: 1.80 inches
  • Overall Weight: 49 ounces (unloaded)

Best Semi-Auto Shotgun for Home Defense: Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol

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If I’m going for a shotgun for home defense, I’m reaching for a Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol. Why? Because it has everything you need and nothing you don’t. This semi-auto scattergun has an 19.1-inch barrel with removable chokes and a full-length magazine tube giving it a capacity of 7+1 rounds of versatile 12-gauge goodness.

Being a gas operated semi-auto, it won’t hammer your shoulder quite as bad as a pump action. And putting your desired shotshell payload on target is assisted by a great set of sights, an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and robust front blade.

To anyone serious about shooting in low light, I recommend mounting a red dot optic on the included receiver mounted Picatinny rail. Combine this with a light mounted on either the M-LOK slots on the front of the fore-end, or the M-LOK slots on the mag tube clamp, and you have a great low light setup.

Push button QD sling swivel sockets are included in the buttstock and the magazine tube clamp.  Taking a cue from competition shotguns, controls such as the charging handle and bolt release are oversized and easy to manipulate even if wearing gloves. (I’m not sure why you’d want to wear gloves in your house, but I’m not here to judge.) Another feature familiar to competition shooters is the beveled loading port. This makes replacing the shotshells you’ve expended much easier compared to flat-sided loading ports. The base model has an MSRP of $1099.

Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol

  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Action Type: Semi-auto
  • Chamber Size: 3 inch
  • Barrel Length: 19.1 inches
  • Finish: Black and Gray Synthetic
  • Choke: Changeable
  • Capacity: 7+1
  • Length: 38 inches
  • LOP: 13 inches
  • Sights: Ghost Ring with Picatinny Rail
  • Stock: Synthetic (Black)
  • Weight: 7.1 pounds

Best Pump Action for Self Defense: Mossberg 590A1 – 9 Shot

Mossberg 590 A1

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For those who feel more comfortable with the manual control of a pump action shotgun, the 12-gauge Mossberg 590A1 – 9 Shot is an easy choice. It is a grab-and-go setup from the factory. The 20-inch barrel has a fixed, cylinder bore choke—the most common constriction to use when shooting tactical shotshells. Speaking of shotshells, the 590A1 holds a bunch; it has a full-length magazine tube giving it an 8+1 shot capacity.

One thing I really like about this model of the 590 is the sights, the option of easily mounting a red dot, and the M-LOK real estate for mounting a light. An XS Ghost Ring sight set comes standard, with the rear sight being integrated into a Picatinny rail mounted on the receiver. If you want to run a red dot, simply mount it on top and you’re ready to go. M-LOK slots on the fore-end provide the option of adding a Picatinny rail section, then a light, or a just use a light that mounts directly to M-LOK. Either way, it is very simple to add what you want or need, or just use it as it is.

An ambidextrous top-tang safety, synthetic rear butt stock that holds a couple shells on each side and sling swivel studs round out the package. It may not be the latest technological wonder, but you can’t go wrong with this shotgun. MSRP is $812.

Mossberg 590A1 – 9 Shot

  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Action Type: Pump-Action
  • Chamber Size: 3 inches
  • Barrel Length: 20 inches
  • Barrel Finish: Parkerized
  • Choke: Cylinder Bore
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • Length: 41 inches
  • LOP: 13.87 inches
  • LOP Type: Fixed
  • Sights: XS Ghost Ring
  • Stock: Synthetic (Black) w/ Shell Storage (4), M-Lok Forend
  • Weight: 7 pounds

Best Pistol Caliber Carbine for Home Defense: Ruger PC Carbine

Ruger PCC

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If a 9mm pistol is good for home defense, and assuming size and space aren’t an issue, then a 9mm rifle is better. Enter the Ruger PC Carbine. This rifle made a splash when it was introduced in 2017 because it is a takedown design, reasonably priced, it actually looks like a traditional rifle, and is ready to go out of the box, but can also be easily accessorized if desired.

This semi-automatic pistol caliber carbine has a modified blowback action, an aluminum receiver with an integrated Picatinny rail, a 16-inch takedown barrel and synthetic stock. Because it’s a takedown design, the iron sights—a ghost ring rear and shielded blade front—are on the barrel, ensuring the rifle returns to zero when reassembled. That said, I have used a red dot on mine, and it returns to zero beautifully even though the optics mount is on the receiver, not the barrel.

A light can be added to the polymer Picatinny accessory rail on the front portion of the bottom of the fore-end.  The barrel is fluted and is threaded and includes a thread protector.

One of the smartest things Ruger did with the PC Carbine is set it up to use ubiquitous Glock magazines. If you also shoot a Glock or Ruger American, the PC Carbine uses magazines from both these 9mm pistols because it has interchangeable magazine well inserts.

On the surface, the Ruger PC Carbine seems quite simple. But its clever design allows it to be customized with useful elements that elevate it as an effective, yet tactically discreet, platform. MSRP for the base model is $779.

Ruger PC Carbine Specs

  • Stock: Black Synthetic
  • Capacity: 17
  • Barrel Length: 16.12 inches
  • Overall Length: 34.37 inches
  • Front Sight: Protected Blade
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Ghost Ring
  • Barrel: Threaded, Fluted
  • Thread Pattern: 1/2-28
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Length of Pull: 12.62 to 14.12 inches
  • Receiver Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Receiver Finish: Type III Hard-Coat Anodized

Best Lever Action for Home Defense: Marlin 1894

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While the thought of using a .45/70 Gov’t to stop a home intruder might sound like a good idea to the bigger-is-better crowd, that cartridge isn’t very practical for a host of reasons. Not the least of which having to use both hands to count the walls it will probably go through. Fortunately, there are lever actions chambered in pistol cartridges, in the case of the Marlin 1894 it’s the venerable .357 Magnum/.38 Special.

No doubt a lever action rifle isn’t the first thought when it comes to the best guns for home defense, but it has merits in that role. Lever guns are one of the fastest cycling manually operated actions, and with practice they can be fast— like really fast.  They also are quick handling, intuitive to point, and get on target quickly. Their aesthetics and reputation can also be a benefit. Lever actions aren’t “scary,” thus they are legal in just about every locale.

The Marlin 1894 embodies all these glowing attributes and then some. The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts, and XS Sights even makes an extended rail that runs from the receiver out past the rear sight dovetail. This makes it easy to mount a red dot and even a small light toward the very front. Do that, you now have a tactical lever action with a capacity of 9+1 rounds of .357 Magnum. That’s a lot of horsepower in an easy-to-handle package.

Marlin 1894 Specs

  • Caliber: 357 Magnum/38 Special
  • Capacity: 9/10
  • Stock: American Black Walnut
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Finish: Satin Blued
  • Front Sight: Brass Bead with Hood
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Semi-Buckhorn
  • Weight: 6.2 pounds
  • Overall Length: 36 inches
  • Length of Pull: 13.63 inches
  • Barrel Length: 18.63 inches
  • Barrel: Cold Hammer-Forged Alloy Steel

Best Pistol for Crossover/EDC: Gen 5 Glock 19MOS

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If you’re looking for one gun that can serve double duty as an EDC piece as well as a formidable home defense handgun, then the Gen 5 Glock 19MOS is your knight in dull black armor. The G19 established itself as an industry standard for concealed carry pistols decades ago, and for good reason—they work.

In fact, they work so well you might say they are boring. Though for our purposes—identifying the best guns for home defense—boring is good. The Glock 19 is reliable, comes standard with 15-round capacity magazines, is accurate, has a plethora of accessory and holster options, and is quite controllable on top of it.

It’s not as concealable pistol as many of the sub-compacts or “micro 9s” available, but that’s what makes it so great as a home defense pistol. With the Gen5 G19 you’re not giving up full-size pistol performance or capacity. The Gen 5 improvements over the previous versions have been covered here.

The MOS version lets you easily mount a micro red dot, which is a great idea for a home defense pistol. Mounting a light is quick and easy. Just attach it to the bottom accessory rail. Most don’t require tools. For EDC, simply put it in a good quality holster without the light and go about your business. When it’s time to protect your castle, attach the light and put it in the storage method of your choice. It’s that simple.

Glock pistols have earned their place as a go-to gun for concealed carry, duty personnel, military, etc. If you’re looking for one gun to do everything short of stopping charging bears, this is going to do it for you.

Gen 5 Glock 19MOS

  • Length: 7.28 inches
  • Slide Length: 6.85 inches
  • Width: 1.34 inches
  • Slide Width: 1.00 inch
  • Height Including Magazine:  5.04 inches
  • Line of Sight (Polymer): 6.18 inches
  • Line of Sight (Steel):  6.14 inches
  • Line of Sight (GNS):  6.10 inches

Final Thoughts on the Best Guns for Home Defense

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. No matter what you choose as your best gun for home defense, practice with it. Don’t just practice with it, practice with it and test the ammunition you intend to load it with for protection. Not all cartridges or shotshells work in all guns. Test different loads that will get the job done and choose the one that is most reliable. If they all work perfectly, great. If not, go with the loads that work the most consistently. If it’s permissible somewhere, definitely test out your sight or optic and light setup. Everything looks different in the dark. Don’t let the first time you need it be the first time you’ve tried it.

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