Here at The Machine Gun Nest, we have many customers coming in and asking us a common question. “What’s the best firearm for home defense?” The answer is a bit more complicated than you might expect. Depending upon your situation, different firearms are better suited to your needs. There are typically three types of firearms that work well for home defense: shotguns, handguns, and rifles. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and each could be an excellent choice for defending your home.


Probably the first thing that someone would think of when hearing “home defense” is a “pump-action shotgun.” Popularized by Hollywood films, video games, and more as being the answer to close-quarters combat, the shotgun is a popular option for a home defense firearm purchase.

The fact that it’s easy to use andsimple to clean and maintain are some of the best reasons to own a shotgun. It is one of the most straightforward firearms to learn or teach someone to use. The simplicity of a pump-action shotgun is not to be understated. Also, there are many different ammo types or loads available for shotguns chambered in 12 gauge, making the shotgun very versatile.

The shotgun has been around since the 16th century in different variations. Many people use shotguns in modern times for all sorts of activities from hunting, trap shooting, skeet & more. For many, it is the most versatile choice because, with a simple swap of the barrel, you have changed your sporting gun into a home defense gun.
Now, there are some drawbacks to shotguns as well. Number one being the misconception that pumping a shotgun will scare off a home intruder. The action of pumping the shotgun is undoubtedly a very recognizable sound, one that makes you feel confident. But for a home defense situation, what the pump of the shotgun does is let your intruder know valuable information. Your general position within your house and that you are armed.

Another drawback is that many shotguns are longer and not exactly the greatest defense tools in tight spaces. Depending on the size and layout of your house, you may want to consider other options.


Handguns come in many shapes, sizes, and calibers & are a fantastic self-defense tool inside the home and out. The most significant advantage of handguns is their small size when compared to rifles and shotguns. Handguns can be conveniently stored in a bedside table or small safe right where you would need it the most.

Another advantage of the handgun’s size is that you are more easily able to move through tighter, confined spaces. If you have a smaller house or maybe have some hallways to contend with, a handgun is a solid choice.
The biggest drawback of using a handgun is that it is a firearm that takes skill to shoot accurately. Handguns (more so than any other type of gun on this list) have an extremely high skill ceiling and a lot of nuance to the mastery of shooting.

It is much harder to teach someone to use a handgun correctly than a rifle or a shotgun. It is even harder to teach someone to shoot accurately at 5 – 10 yards without a decent amount of practice. For this reason, if you choose a handgun for home defense, I recommend really spending time with your firearm and practicing often. This way, you are totally prepared for whatever life can throw at you.


There are many different types of rifles. For home defense, modern sporting rifles such as the AR15 will be best suited to the task. The combination of large magazine capacity, lightweight, light recoil, ease of use, and accuracy makes the AR15 or modern sporting rifle a winning combination.

Modern sporting rifles like the AR15 are some of the easiest platforms to teach a new shooter to use and shoot with exceptional accurately. The controls are simple and easy to learn, and the platform can be customized to meet the user’s needs.

Additionally, for those worried about over-penetration, there are .223 / 5.56 hollow point or soft point self-defense rounds available.

Recommended Accessories

At TMGN when we sell firearms to customers for home defense, often the conversation after the sale is about what they should add to their firearm to increase its effectiveness. I usually recommend a light. In the words of Clint Smith, a truly knowledgeable firearms instructor, “I don’t shoot s*** in the dark.” Having a weapon light allows you to see what you are aiming at in the dark. We don’t get to choose the time of day that our home defense situation happens, I think it’s worth being prepared to fight in the dark.

The best firearm for home defense is going to be the one that you are most comfortable using. The thing that will make you the most effective at stopping a home invasion or dealing with a defensive situation is training and proficiency with whatever firearm you choose for home defense. I always recommend to customers to try everything out, see what they’re the most comfortable with, and then make an informed decision based on that.