When to Use a Handgun vs. a Shotgun for Home Defense

Good article by Jason Hanson from http://www.concealedcarryacademy.com

When to Use a Handgun vs. a Shotgun for Home Defense

If you wake up at 2:00am to the sound of a window being smashed and you hear someone entering your house, here’s what you should ideally do: Gather all of your family members together in the same room, lock the door, call the police and have your gun ready in case the intruder should try and enter that room.

However, we don’t live in an ideal world so it’s much more likely that if you hear someone breaking into your home at 2:00am you’ll have to go confront them or at the very least, you’ll have to go to the top of your stairs and make sure the intruder doesn’t make it past you to get to your family members.

So, if the above ever happened to you, should you use a handgun or shotgun for home defense? Well, to tell you the truth, it depends on the situation. For instance, let’s say you’re a prepared homeowner and you’ve already rehearsed a “home invasion” plan with your family. So they know if they hear you shout a special code word they’re supposed to quickly run to your master bedroom.

And let’s pretend…

Remington 870 for Home Defense

That one day someone did try to break into your house and since you were prepared you were able to safely get all of your family members into the designated “safe room.” For this particular situation I would want a shotgun. I would want to be able to have my family in the bathroom (out of the line of fire) and I would find a good piece of cover and just sit there with my shotgun pointed at the bedroom door. My shotgun of choice is the trusty Remington 870 and my ammo of choice is 00 buckshot. (But be very careful with 00 buck. If others are in the house – besides the intruder – you’ll want to consider birdshot.)

On the other hand, if I weren’t able to get my family in the “safe room” and I had to go confront the intruder and clear my house, I would definitely want a handgun. Here are a few of the reasons why:
First off, there are a lot of corners in a house.

And the last thing I want to do is have my long shotgun barrel sticking out around a corner so that an intruder can grab it and perhaps take my gun away. Also, if you have to enter other bedrooms on the middle floor or basement floor it’s much easier to open a door and bring a handgun to the “close contact firing position” than to clumsily open a door with the shotgun sticking out for a person to grab.

Let’s not forget, if you’re trying to be “stealth” and sneak around your house so the intruder doesn’t know you’re coming, there’s a much better chance you’re going to knock your shotgun into a wall or hit something, especially if you haven’t practiced clearing your house with a shotgun, which most people haven’t. That’s why my handgun of choice for this situation is my concealed carry gun, the Glock 19.

Of course, the gun you have at the time of a home invasion is the one you use whether it’s a shotgun, rifle, or handgun. But whatever gun you decide to go with I would practice the two scenarios above: Gathering your family in the safe room and clearing your house.

Whad do you think? When to Use a Handgun vs. a Shotgun for Home Defense? Please leave a comment.

Related Post:

Remington 870 Shotgun Guide: Disassembly, Reassembly, Cleaning, Shooting, Upgrades and Repair

Vitaly Pedchenko

My name is Vitaly Pedchenko, I started this blog and forum to share information, tips, photos, and advice about the Remington 870 shotgun, accessories, and upgrades. Now I also own AR-15 rifle and MP5 pistol caliber carbine. I am firearms instructor, competitive shooter and IPSC Range Officer. I participate in practical shooting and 3-Gun competitions because they are the best way for me to test equipment and upgrades under stress. I am member of the PRACTICA shooting club. I also participate in REAGO, which provides Tactical Combat Casualty Care training. The main purpose of the Rem870.com blog and forum is to have a compilation of information about the Remington 870 shotgun in one organized, accessible place.

6 thoughts on “When to Use a Handgun vs. a Shotgun for Home Defense

  • 20.01.2012 at 08:02

    Logical and sensible. I keep a S&W Sigma 9mm (which is a Glock 19 clone) in a paddle holster right next to a high lumen flashlight (Maglite XL200) and my eyeglasses. Behind that is the Rem 870 HD.

    For now, I’m finding myself insisting I always put my stuff down in the same spot and in the same order before I go to bed. That way, even blind, I can grab my glasses, slip the paddle holster on, and pickup the flashlight. If I decide the issue may warrant the 870, it’s right there in front of me.

    One of my former friends said during an argument, that “the firearm should be there when it is needed” (while he was also attacking me for carrying concealed). I thought to myself, “But where is the firearm? Locked in a gun cabinet? That’s useless. If the gun is not THERE where you ARE, what’s the point?”

    • 21.01.2012 at 10:50

      Thomas, I think that you are absolutely right. It’s good to have several tools and choose which one will do a better job in particular situation.

  • 20.01.2012 at 08:10

    I just realized I shared on Facebook last night another one of Jason’s articles. It was his “Letter to My Daughter” from http://www.usacarry.com

    I love this guy’s writing. Conversational, logical, controlled, humorous, and not possessing what so many people consider to be “gun nut” language.

    The way I presented my link on FB was “This is just a good read… But please, don’t read it unless you absolutely want to. If you get pissy with me, you were warned not to read it.” I have to preface that because so many people cannot even begin to consider the thought of owning or using a firearm in defense of life or property, they can’t even read an article about it! I think that if more gun and safety enthusiasts could present themselves and their concerns as well as Jason does, we could have a lot less fear and distrust of our philosphy and choices.

  • 20.01.2012 at 21:56

    I was always taught that a side arm gets you to the long gun. The 226 gets the family to cover, then the big boys take over (iPhone/870).

  • 21.01.2012 at 17:20

    Yeppers, an 870 HD is a great home defense unit. Have a plan and pray that you don’t have to use it.


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