The Best Gun for Home Defense for New Shooters—Shotgun, AR-15, or Pistol?

by Warrior Poet Society

Choosing the best gun for use in a home defense scenario depends on a number of factors, and each of these factors carries greater weight depending on your level of training and tactical experience. But let's say your wife is home with the kids and the door gets kicked in. Let's assume she's had very little training. What gun do you think she would most easily deploy to stop the intruder—a pistol, AR-15, or 12-gauge shotgun?

Factors to Consider in Home Defense Weapons

Accuracy Ease. How quickly a person can ready, aim, fire the weapon in a stressful situation.
Pistol 30/100 | AR-15 70/100 | Shotgun 90/100

Recoil Management. How quickly can you get back on target after pulling the trigger?
Pistol 60/100 | AR-15 80/100 | Shotgun 40/100

Ammo Capacity. How many rounds can the weapon chamber on a single load?
Pistol 50/100 | AR-15 100/100 | Shotgun 20/100

Over Penetration. How much sheet rock will free-flying projectiles go through before stopping?
Pistol 30/100 | AR-15 60/100 | Shotgun 100/100

Handling Ease. How easy is the gun to hold and maneuver around walls?
Pistol 80/100 | AR-15 50/100 | Shotgun 50/100

Stopping Power. How effectively will a single round neutralize a perpetrator or at least make him give up?
Pistol 30/100 | AR-15 80/100 | Shotgun 100/100

Total. Based on these 6 factors, which, again, are not set in stone, the AR-15 came out on top.
Pistol 47/100 | AR-15 73/100 | Shotgun 58/100

Pistol for Home Defense

While pistols are light and easy to maneuver and fire, they are hard to shoot accurately; they create significant recoil because of their size and balance; they don't hold a lot of rounds; their rounds don't have a lot of stopping power; and the rounds tend to pass easily through walls, thus endangering people in other rooms.

Not so good. Pistols in the hands of a novice could be more dangerous to the user than the perpetrator.

Shotguns for Home Defense

Using a shotgun for home defense definitely gives you the most bang for the trigger pull. While they might be heavy and awkward to move around obstacles, one shotgun round to any part of the body will make a perpetrator wish he'd never stepped foot in your direction. If you use the right shotgun rounds (definitely not slugs), they also prove the least risk to people in adjacent rooms.

Good but not great. However, because of the heavy recoil and low round capacity, if you don't hit your target, it's a little harder to recover than with the AR-15.

AR-15 for Home Defense

The AR-15 has an ease of use similar to that of a pistol, especially if you're using a shorter barrel, and there balance and barrel make accuracy easier to attain; they don't have terrible recoil; they hold a lot of rounds; do significant tissue damage because of muzzle velocity; and don't pass through walls quite as easily.

Our Winner! The AR-15 was designed for high impact ease of use in close quarters and at medium range.

Whatever weapon you choose for home or personal defense, remember:

Train Hard. Train Smart.