AR-15 vs. Handgun vs. Shotgun for Home Defense

25th Jun 2020

When it comes to home defense, you want to choose the right weapon to defend yourself and protect your family. Hollywood glamorizes the shotgun as the ideal tool for protecting your home, but the truth is, the best home-defense weapon is the one you feel most comfortable using in your unique environment. Knowing what each brings to the table can help you find one that best suits your experience level and your home.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Home Defense Weapon

AR-15s, pistols and shotguns all have unique advantages (and disadvantages) when it comes to responding to a break-in at your home. Comparing each can help you decide which is best for engaging intruders without losing the upper hand, and without risking injury to innocent bystanders.

1. Distance and Space

Most home invasions happen in confined spaces, increasing the challenges for responding with accuracy. To help level the odds in your favor, consider whether your weapon is one you can easily raise and move around corners without exposing yourself. A shotgun and AR-15s with barrels over 16 inches will likely be too big and could be hard to maneuver in a home hallway. Given their smaller size, pistols and AR-15 pistols may provide the greatest advantage in tight spaces.

2. Comfort and Experience Levels

If you have been training with a particular firearm, it makes sense to stick with what you know. When it comes to moving around your home and property, choose the weapon you feel most comfortable using, and then practice with it. Home invasions are intense, and you can expect a rush of adrenaline. When you stick to a weapon that you know, you can rely on your training and muscle memory to do their jobs and help keep your muzzle on target.

3. Firepower and “Stopping Power”

Of the three, an AR-15 will put out the smallest bullet at the highest velocity, which is not ideal for a home-defense situation. Pistols of almost any caliber offer less firepower but can provide much more stopping power due to the larger size of the projectile. However, this rule varies based on the chambering of the firearm — you can even purchase an AR-15 that fires pistol ammunition. Meanwhile, shotguns deliver the most stopping power hands down, with devastating effects on targets at close range.

4. Recoil Sensitivity and Target Reacquisition

All firearms generate recoil, and you need to consider how it will impact your ability to acquire your target under pressure. Larger shotguns have heavy recoil that may prove too much for inexperienced shooters and create challenges when trying to reacquire a target. Most pistols kick as well, making it hard to keep your muzzle on target even at close range. AR-15s, however, generate little recoil and are designed for putting multiple rounds on target in rapid succession, so they provide the most stable platform of the three.

5. Other People in the Home

When planning your home defense strategy, you must consider anyone else in the home. Their presence complicates matters, whether it is you engaging the intruder, or them encountering a burglar first and needing to use your firearm to neutralize the situation. If you have a spouse, children or anyone else in your home, make sure you secure your weapon and limit access only to adults who are trained to use it responsibly.

No matter which firearm you choose, the "other people" factor makes it critical that you select the right ammunition. Opt for hollow points or specialty rounds intended for defense situations, as these are designed to expand on impact — they'll remain in whatever they hit rather than passing through and striking an unintended target.

Prepare Your Weapons for Home Defense

Only you know which gun will serve you best when your family's safety is on the line. Upgrade your preferred home defense weapon with parts and accessories to help reduce recoil, illuminate your target, improve weapon retention and much more. At Wing Tactical, we carry a wide selection of AR-15 parts, parts for other firearms and a large variety of weapons accessories with next-day shipping on all orders. For help choosing the right upgrades, contact us today.


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