Why My Home Defense Firearm is a Handgun
Author: Manny Espinoza
I recently did an informal demonstration for Cabela’s, regarding “Intro to tactical firearms” and enjoyed it. They set me up at a table and provided me one of their employees, a firearm instructor and enthusiast, Curtis, to assist me. Curtis and I discussed different options to the customers on choosing the right firearm for different “missions,” including concealed carry, home defense and competitive shooting.
During the demo, we spent a considerable amount of time discussing “tactical firearms” for home defense. I explained how my top choice for home defense is the tactical shotgun. What is better than a shoulder fired weapon, loaded with 00-Buck. A firearm that will shoot nine, .38 caliber rounds, 1300 feet per seconds. It just can’t be matched.
There are many great shotgun options out there such as the Remington 870, proven and used by many law enforcement agencies. The Mossberg 500, tactical version, which has an 18.5” barrel and can carry 6 rounds. And of course, I must mention the Benelli M4, Semi-Auto shotgun (such a great gun to shoot). All of which are great tactical home defense options. And if you reviewed this year’s shot show, there were several amazing magazine fed shotguns, the Remington 870DM Tactical and the Mossberg 590M. Can you say wow!
The shotgun is probably one of the best home defense firearms in my opinion. Therefore, you would think that I must be using a tactical shotgun for my own home protection. I don’t. Instead, I use a handgun for my home defense weapon system. Wait a minute, after all the tactical shotgun promoting, why am I not using one? This is where we need to reflect on our current situation and determine the best weapon system for our own “mission.”
There are many reasons I run a handgun instead of a tactical shotgun. With small children and a wife who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm of firearms as I do, a handgun is a better choice. Let’s look at the pros and cons on why I chose a handgun for my home defense weapon system. Reviewing my reasoning can and should make you think as to what is best for you and your home defense.
SAFETY: I must think of the practicality of the weapon system. Keeping a shotgun near my bed is not the best option. With small children constantly coming in and out of my room, it would be irresponsible to have it in the open. My solution is I have a small safe (GunVault) near my bed, which is both practical and a safe storage method. I can be a responsible gun owner by keeping my guns locked up, away from my children, and still be able to access my gun rather quickly should I need it. It’s a small electronic safe, accessed by punching a code on the four buttons located on the top. Once activated the safe opens and I can immediately access my firearm.
Although, I educate my children about firearms and trust they would never touch a gun without my permission, I still lock my guns up, why take any chances. Also, just because my children may be educated in firearms, their friends may or may not be. So, to prevent any chance of dangerous curiosity, I lock my firearms up.
MOBILITY and EASE OF USE: I must also think of ease of use. As I’ve stated before, my wife is not as into guns as I am. Therefore, she does not train like I do. I have taken her shooting numerous times, and although reluctant, she will, in the event she is forced to use the firearm to protect herself and our children. She will not train with a shotgun, so it would be reckless for her to use one or any other weapon system she has not trained with. Further, should she have to use a shotgun, she is smaller framed and may have issues keeping the shotgun shouldered if she needed to cover a suspect while attempting to call 911. Not saying she can’t do it, I’m just saying she doesn’t train it.
Should my wife, God forbid, need to utilize a handgun, she already has the knowledge and know how. Also, it is quite easier to keep a handgun trained on a suspect with one hand than with a shotgun. This action can free her other hand for tasks such as dialing a phone, opening doors or whatever else she needs to use it for. Please note, I understand one-handed shooting techniques can be more difficult, as they require higher concentrations on the fundamentals; however, it is very doable in an average sized bedroom, hallway or living room. In my house, I would not have a distance any further than maybe 10 yards and with furniture and the setup, 10 yards would be a stretch.
CAPACITY: Handguns typically will have a higher capacity than any shotgun. I know the oldest argument in the book capacity vs. power, so even if your preference is the power, your .45 caliber 1911 may only carry 8 plus 1; however, it is still typically higher than most shotguns and far easier and quicker to reload. For my home defense choice, I have 13 plus 1. Imagine, you are asleep and wake up to glass breakage. You obtain your gun just after waking up and still gaining your senses. Chances are, you are dressed (or undressed) for sleeping and probably will not have anywhere to place an extra magazine. So, for my choice, I like a higher capacity gun.
CONCLUSION: I have chosen a handgun for my home defense weapon system. However, what is good for me does not necessarily mean it’s good for you. There are many factors when considering a firearm, some of which I addressed. Other factors on a home defense weapon system are lights, night sights and size. It is important you consider not only what you’re comfortable with, but your lifestyle. When selecting the gun, if possible try to shoot the gun before purchase, if it's not possible, at least get a good feel for it. Don’t take the word of someone who says, “you have to get this gun, because there is no better home-defense gun available.” Also, if choosing a safe for your gun, make sure you can access your firearm from the safe with either of your hands. If you choose an electronic safe, ensure you have a backup means of opening it.
The instructors of Halo Defense Training & Tactics see and handle many types of firearms. They understand that a gun is not a “one size fits all” even though each instructor has their own personal preferences. If you have any questions on selecting the right firearm for the right “mission” (home defense, concealed carry, competition) our instructors have the knowledge to assist you. If they do not have the answer, they will seek it out or direct you to someone who might. Halo Defense Training & Tactics instructors believe having the right gun for each mission is vital to provide you the tactical advantage to optimize personal protection.
As always, continue to train, be safe and stay armed.