Buying your First Gun for Home Defense

Buying your First Gun for Home Defense
When you're thinking about the safety of yourself and your family, one of the most important decisions you will make is the purchase of your first firearm. Despite many people telling you otherwise, only you can determine if a gun is needed in order to keep your family safe. Personally, I feel much more comfortable knowing that I've got a deadly weapon within close reach, but considering this is your first gun purchase you've probably for a laundry list of questions.
  • Should I get a handgun or a long gun?
  • What's the difference between a pistol and a revolver?
  • How do I keep my gun out-of-reach of my children?
Plus many, many more. First though, is understanding the laws in your local area and state. You'll want to know what's required to legally own and carry a gun on your person, as well as the legalities around using your gun against an opponent. There are clear guidelines on the situations where lethal force is justified, which generally requires there to be a clear and present risk to your own life. You are definitely not allowed to shoot someone just because they've broken into your home, and understanding the situations when it is appropriate to use your gun against another human being is very important. Get your head around this before you go any further. Now let's say you wake up and there are intruders in your home. Of course, having a gun in this situation is far better than not being armed, but which type of gun is going to give you the best chances against armed attackers? Again, we'd like to reiterate a point we cover in a number of our previous posts, your single best choice is always to escape your home and call the authorities. Confronting an armed attacker puts yourself in grave danger, but when there's really no other choice, which gun should you grab? Ultimately there's not a single answer to this question, and after debating the issue here at APE Survival the last couple of hours, all we can really tell you is ‘it depends.’ There's a whole ton of factors that come into it, but really there are three main categories of gun we would recommend, and all of these depend on your own abilities, confidence, and skill with the weapon.


At around $200 you're not going to find a better option for defending your home than a pump action shotgun. The unmistakable sound as you chamber a round may even be enough to frighten off an intruder, and the gun is relatively simple to use. Just load the cartridges into the gun, and the pump action chambers a round. Inside each round are multiple pellets, which can be anything from small balls of lead to bird-shot, and firing sends these spraying towards your target at a very high velocity. The spread of the shot makes it very easy to hit your target. Pump the gun again to eject the spent round, and reload, and you're ready for a second shot. The only downside to this gun is the recoil, and it can be difficult to maintain precision accuracy like you would have in any other firearm.


For just a few hundred dollars a revolver is your next option for home defense. They're the simplest and most reliable handgun, and their size makes them easy to store, which can be important if you live down-town in a small apartment. Pick a revolver that has a double-action operation, which means you don't have to cock the hammer for every shot, and is a feature of most modern revolvers anyway. This gun works thanks to the revolving metal cylinder that is loaded with rounds, and each pull of the trigger rotates the cylinder, lining up a new round to the barrel, as the firing pin strikes the gun fires. You can find revolvers in a range of different calibers, and the stopping power of these increases with the size. Having a revolver is great if you want a low-maintenance gun that can be relied on when you need it most.

Semi-automatic Pistols

Once you start looking at the police-issue pistols the price you're spending on a gun starts to escalate dramatically, and you can spend upwards of a thousand dollars on a decent pistol. Rounds are loaded into a magazine which is inserted into the grip of the gun, and it's automatically reloaded every time you fire. Because of these complex mechanisms inside, it requires more work to keep your pistol operational, and they're more prone to jamming than a revolver or a shotgun if you don't keep it clean. The upside is they can hold far more rounds than a revolver or a shotgun, which make a pistol an excellent home defense firearm if you take care of it.

Importance of training

One final note before you rush out and start investigating the gun you plan to buy, always try the gun first. Head to the range and test out a range of different firearms, and have an instructor show you how to use each one effectively. Heck, if you're apprehensive at all, take a course from a qualified instructor and have them train you on the safe way to use each firearm. If you just try to wing it, you're putting your family at risk, and you must never forget how deadly a gun can be. For me, I personally have a classic .357 Smith & Wesson magnum revolver as my home defense firearm of choice. It's tucked in a locked firearm case in my bedside drawer which means my kid can't get at it, but it's close enough should I ever need it. Sitting right next to it is my trusty maglite flash light, because if I'm ever in a situation where I need to use my gun, I want to be able to see who I'm shooting at. Hopefully they both continue to sit in there unused (except for practice of course), and nothing would make me happier than to never have to use my gun on another person, but they're ready, just like I am, just in case.

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