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Home Defense Handgun

3143 Views 42 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  blzn69
I am currently looking to buy my first handgun. It's purpose would be to defend my home from intruders. It should have enough knock down power for that reason, but I also want my wife to be able to use it. If that's a factor.

Neither one of us have any experience with handguns. I grew up in Germany, where the only guns you're allowed to have... are pellet guns. So once we purchase this gun, I would like to take some sort of class with my wife, to really know what we're doing. Wonder if there is a class for home defense out there!?

Another factor is that my budget is rather small right now, since the economy in CA is still bottoming out. Which is another reason to get some sort of home defense. You never know when one of those crack heads decides that there's gotta be something of value in your house...

Any suggestions on what to buy? I'm looking forward to your responses!!

TheGermanGuy :sniper:

God bless America!!
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I keep a ruger gp100 .357 mag revolver loaded for home defense. What's nice about a double action revolver is:

1. Long trigger pull. You have to think about what your doing before pulling the trigger. You are not going to accidently pull the trigger. For that reason I would do a lot of training in double action. Don't cock the hammer in a defensive situation. We don't to accidently shoot the wife when shes up going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

2. Simplicity. Revolvers are easy to load & unload. You don't have to worry about:
a. whether or not you left the chamber loaded?
b. is the safety on or off?
c. is the gun loaded at all?

3. Reliability. If you keep a semi-auto pistol loaded long enough, you will find that the magazine springs weaken & cause jams. I have gone thru many a 1911 spring this way. The revolver doesn't have that issue.

4. Easy to train the wife to use a revolver. The mechanism is simpler(if there is such a word) all you have to do is pull the trigger.

5. interchangeability of ammo, the 357 revolver will allow you & your wife to pratice with light 38special loadings.

Last of all remmember that you might need to grab this in the middle of the night when you are 1/2 awake & 1/2 coherrant in your thoughts. I keep the revolver loaded for this reason.

When I'm fully awake, I carry & compete with the Sigs, Glocks, & Colts.
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I think I'm starting to let go of that semi auto idea. It just seems to make so much more sense to go with a revolver. Having said that, my dealer (he's not the crack dealing kind) has offered me a Ruger GP100 with 4" or 6" barrel in stainless for 380 Bucks. Brand new. Does anybody have any experience with the GP100? He seems to like it, and by comparing prices on I found that $380 is a pretty good deal.

What do ya think?

TheGermanGuy :sniper:

My Gp100 has a 4inch barrel. Is a very nice shooting gun. The 6incher may be a little to heavy for your wife in my opinion. I won't reccommed goinf any shorter than 4inches. The shorter guns in 357 get very painful in the hand. $380 is not a bad price. I bought mine for $350 off a friend. I believe new it goes for $400+.

I'm very happy with this gun. Though I let a friend shoot it & now he wants to buy it off of me. Ruger is known for it's quality, I found that Smith & Wesson are a little more tuned as far as trigger pull but I've had a lot of fun with my Ruger.

You might want to go to an indoor pistol range and see if you can't rent or try out a Ruger and a Smith. Sometimes if you ask nicely a gunshop owner or salesman might bring one in so you can try shooting it.

One more thing. Gun ownership can get addicting. Don't completely give up on semi autos. I have more semi's than revolvers but for the reasons I stated in my ealier post I keep the revolver for home defense loaded.

Later on you can buy a Glock or Sig & shoot that one. I say start with the revolver and then as you start to really enjoy that one you can always buy something else later.

Well best of luck to ya.
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What he said. You put it a lot better words than I did drobs, thanx. I have used a few 100's. You can't go wrong. And like I said before, a 4in. bbl may be best all around. I have several Smiths, and only shoot them double action. A few have bobbed hammers. My 442 has an internal hammer. The main reason I shoot only Smiths is for the double click they make shooting double action. With some work I have gotten a rythem with them and can now shoot them better double than single. What ever and witch ever you get. PRATICE. If you or your wife thinks or feels they could not shoot a bad guy, buy pepper mace. If you know you can not pull the trigger, a gun is no good and can and will be used to harm you. Good luck and good hunting : )
Start with a smith and wesson 38/357 revolver, such as a model 19 or 66 with a 4 inch barrel. You can use mild 38 special loads for practice or plinking and use 38+p or 357s for serious business. I would recommend a used revolver over a new one. You could always add more guns to your collection later.
I think you are making the right choice by going with the revolver. I started out with wheelguns, and recommend for any beginner to do the same. Personally, I think the "great caliber" debate is pretty overrated. I wouldn't want to get shot with anything personally, and feel that in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, anything over a .38 special or .380 is going to have a good effect. Remember that most attackers are not that determined to fight through a gun shot wound, many are going to leave the fight just at the potential of a gun shot wound. If you want to use bigger calibers once you've gotten comfortable with the gun, go ahead, it can't hurt anything to have marginally better chances, after all. But that said, point of impact and speed of follow up shots are going to be more important than a slightly bigger bullet.

One thing you might want to think about later is a laser. I shied away from them for awhile, thinking that they were a bit to "Hollywood" for me. I've since used a laser on a carbine, and am a firm believer in it now, as long as it is a good quality one. If Crimson Trace offered the grip lasers for my CZ, I'd have one on my carry gun, too.
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Originally posted by Coyote
The 9mm is not a bad weapon. But from experience go with the 40/45. Those are stopping rounds. Remember you are NOT trying to kill anyone. Your just trying to stop their actions. (This is a must when going to court, and if you shoot someone, you will go to court.)
I'm no lawyer,but I've always maintained that if you are going to shoot someone,KILL THEM! That way there's only one story........YOURS! You let them live,and the next thing you know,they'll be on TV with their mommy talking about "what a good boy Johnny is"and "how he was only trying to ask directions to the nearest church"! Next thing you know,you've got nuns protesting in your front yard. That being said,situations obviously dictate,such as you can't stand over a wounded man and fill him with lead! So you must make the most of your first shot. I personally like my Glock20, 16rds of 10mm!!


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I'm partial to an AR-15/M4 clone with 14.5" barrel (permanently attached flash suppressor to make it a legal 16+") and an Aimpoint Comp ML2, but that's just me.


Since you live in California, the M4 idea isn't doable. More over, with the current laws you cannot have any magazines over 10 rounds unless you owned them in California before the ban came into effect. So, that being said, your original question was the best choice for a home defense handgun. You have a number of decisions to make, and my humble suggestions...

Revolver or semi auto: As discussed above, for starting out, there isn't anything safer and more reliable then a revolver, good instruction, and lots of practice.

Caliber: .38 spl +p, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 mag, .357 Sig, .45 acp, and 10mm are all considered good self defense rounds. With the exception of .357 Sig, all of those calibers can be found in a revolver. The one which is right for you is usually the largest round you and your wife can accurately and comfortably fire multiple shots. The .357 does have the added advantage of being able to practice with the a large range of loads in both .357 and .38 special. It makes a good compromise for you and you're wife using the piece, and cheaper, less punishing practice, for both of you.

Make / model: S&W, Ruger, and Taurus all make good quality handguns. If you've decided on the action and caliber, then the next thing to consider is fit. Remember that very short barrels have much harsher recoil in the higher calibers. Very long barrels are heavy to hold and practice with. Try going to a range and renting a pistol that both you and you're wife can shoot. If you both have larger or smaller hands, then you want the grip to be comfortable and the distance to the trigger be correct. If the grip is too large for smaller hands, then recoil will be more difficult to manage, and accuracy will suffer. An uncomfortable weapon will not be used to practice as often, which will be very bad in an emergency where you feel you need it.

Other thoughts: Take a safety course. A safety course is a good thing. Do it as a couple. Do it as a family. Even with experience there's always something new to be learned or remembered. Buying a new weapon is a good excuse to brush up. Take a defensive pistol course. Learn about both tactics and the legal implications. Its much better to find out before something happens. If either of you ever need to use the pistol to defend yourself, it shows responsibility to the jury. If it teaches you something that saves you or prevents you from accidentally injuring someone, its worth every dime and every minute. Both you and your wife should be comfortable with the safe handling of the pistol alone. It sounds like you are deciding on the weapon, but the one time she will need to use it you will probably not be there to instruct her. Make sure you can both use it solo and have confidence in doing so. If you buy a used pistol make sure you have a qualified gun smith inspect it for reliability and safety. As I'm sure you and most people here know, owning a firearm is a huge responsibility, for you, and everyone who has access to it. Don't skimp on a quality weapon due to price, and don't skimp on training and practice period. If that is too much, I'd recommend an aluminum baseball bat. ;) Good luck with your decision and stay safe.

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Originally posted by davey

Since you live in California, the M4 idea isn't doable. More over, with the current laws you cannot have any magazines over 10 rounds unless you owned them in California before the ban came into effect. So, that being said, your original question was the best choice for a home defense handgun. You have a number of decisions to make, and my humble suggestions...

yeah, I'm in CA too, that's why I loaded up on toys in 1999.
I was pulling my hair out over what type of nighttime bedroom gun to maintain. I started with a Ruger K94 in 40. S&W. Got to remember to load the magazines at night but my wife can't work the slide. Hmmmmmmmmmm, what to do? So then I added a Smith model 66. I was an L.E. for ten years and always had a model 19. But, I have kids down the hall and sheet rock, well, I don't kow. So then I added a Mossberg 8+ 1 pump 12 gauge shotgun as well. In th end, the various firearms suggested by the other posters are excellent. Try them if you can, become proficient with it, and then stick to one. Have other responsible parties in your house become proficient as well.

P.S. I'm not emotionally involved in the debate between those who like and don't like Glocks. I have never considered a Glock because I didn't like their looks. And then, a friend let me try his brand new $1000 dollar Kimber .45. Yeah, it shot great, no doubt about it. But what really surprised me was that his Glock in .45 shot about as well!!! Remember, this is coming from someone who never liked Glocks. I'll tell you what, if I was looking for a small concealed carry pistol and didn't want to sacrifice power, and could afford it, I'd buy a Glock in a heartbeat. Never thought I'd say it but I sure was impressed with that pistol!!!
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GermanGuy, if you haven't already, a "handgun" safety course. (Not the same as a hunter safety course). A newbie to hand guns need more hands on training, ask your local Law Enforcement. They often give courses, as they know this will cut down on accidental shootings. After you, and your wife get that under your belts, a handgun defensive course is a big plus, as it will do you no good to confront an attacker if he can take your gun away from you.

I prefer a double action revolver. I can squeeze off rounds (harder trigger pull), or cock first (the sound alone can stop an attacker!) for a lite trigger pull if you have the time, and is more accurate.

Having been at a local shooting range I noticed the ladies are a little scared of guns, till they have been trained on how to use them, and gain confidense, then they really get into it, and want their own gun.

BTW, I got my training in the USMC. They offer a wide variety of weapons training, and I got paid to take the training. Can't beat that! :D
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My choice is a Glock 21. Hydra-Shok bullets. This means nothing really. Well, maybe 50% of the solution. If you could shoot a pellet gun, with a well placed shot, situation is over. Practice, practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. You're only as good as your training and the tool in your hand.
homes can be replaced, or done-without. It's not your home you are defending. It's your health, honor and liberty, and that of your loved ones. Dont buy into the bs about just your home being worthy of defending. You are every bit as justified in defending yourself 1500 miles from your home, as you are when ensconced within its walls, are you not? A handgun's main thing is concealment, and portability. Even when at home, you are NOT going to carry a longarm around. you probably will have no warning when you need the gun, so you should WEAR it, at all times, or slide it betwixt mattress and box springs while sleeping, That is the only way to be READY, and to also insure that it won't fall into the wrong hands.

Dont think that half assed levels of skill will suffice, either. Dont do slowfire accuracy stuff, because you'll need it at 10 ft, with extreme speed, and rapidfire. Dont start with expensive centerfire ammo, either. Start with a good .22. then, when you can toss up a soda can, draw from concealment and hit the can in midair, almost always, get a good 9mm. I recommend the Sub $250 Star BM. The .22 to start with is a 4" barreled, skinny barrel, used, k$150 Browning Buckmark. Its safety is manipulated like the Star's
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Just a couple of thoughts. 1) If your going to shoot, shoot to kill. Solves the problem of your intruder sueing you after the fact for "pain and suffering". It has happened before. 2) Any of the weapons mentioned above for home defense share the same shortcoming, overpenetration! If your laying down enough lead to attract the attention of the EPA for air polution while repeling an assualt in the middle of the night, you won't want one of your stray rounds to go through a wall to hit your wife, kids, dog, big screen TV etc. Use frangible ammo that won't overpenetrate. 3) Practice at night after your are used to the weapon. You will be supprised what a difference that big flash makes! 4) If possible, try shooting inside somewhere. Even a 22 is loud as hell indoors. As for me? Officers Model .45 w/ 8 Winchester Silvertips. Have wifey trained to back me up with my mini!
As I have said in some of my other post is that I love wheel guns. When I started 30 some years ago. The wheel gun was the best way to start. And I have never given them up. I shoot almost totaly double action only now. But I must say that my house gun is now a hi-cap 380. If I can not get the job done with 26 rounds of 380+P's I'll be in deep @#$%. I have put a lot of rounds and time in with the 380. With less muzz. flash and muzz. flip I can get back on target pretty fast for the double tap. And 380's are not going to go through 6 wall boards and kill my friend next door. Shot placement and ease of use will pay off, no matter what you use. Like I have herd others say. The best gun to use is the one in your hand.
there''s ZERO reason to settle for the pathetically feeble blowback 380. Especially in a house gun, where size and wt are irrelevant. A Star BM 9mm offers twice the power of any 380, for a lousy $250, brand new, with a spare mag. Just load it with Mag Safe ammo, and you won't shoot thru even TWO such walls. The $200 you save on the gun will pay for nearly 100 rds of Mag Safe. So there's no reason to be so POORLY armed as are all 380 users. The BM is 7.2", 8 rd single stack mag, 28 ozs. Nice trigger pull, sights, and safety, too.
you are not going to HAVE the 10+ seconds necessary to get 26 hits with a 380. You will indeed be lucky to have 2 seconds. Most of the time, you win or lose in one second flat. You will be lucky to get more than 1-2 hits, regardless of what gun you have, before pure LUCK determines whether or not you or a loved one gets hurt. In that shockingly short period of time, you need to get in an OVERWHELMING amount of shock and tissue destruction. No blowback 380 is going to even come close to achieving that, on a reliable basis. Many 380 loads, when you pull the bullets, weigh them, and chonograph the velocity, are a LOT closer to 150 ft lbs than they are to 200 ft lbs. The better 9mm loads are right at 500 ft lbs, even in short barrels. In 5" barrels, like a $250 copy of the P35, some of them achieve nearly 600 ft lbs.
Even with the 9mm, you're not gaining a whole lot in terms of stopping power. If he's comfortable and accurate (i.e. headshot capable) with a 380, then it'll be more than enough for the job.
PS: what type of 380 do you have, 26rd capacity is leading me to think Browning BDA with an extended mag or a MAC-12. :blink:
achieve nearly 600 ft lbs.
Just out of curiousity, what load is this? Sounds like a subgun load perhaps. If so, they're pretty dangerous to use in pistols. Besides, I'd take a 350 ft/lb 45ACP load over a 600 ft/lb 9mm load anyday. Not to frown on the 9mm, but ft/lbs don't tell the whole story. :D
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