Why Your Hunting Gun May Not Be the Best Home Defense Weapon

By Home Defense Staffer Robhunting guns

I’m not trying to say buying hunting guns isn’t a great hobby. Heck, I love to buy guns. Sometimes it seems like I’m better at buying them than using them. I have all the hallmarks of an avid gun buyer, including my own coffee cup down at the local gun shop. My gunsmith calls me by my first name and asks how my family is doing. My friends all call me to see what a reasonable price for a particular gun might be.

That having been said, even I like getting a little more than a one trick pony for the price of a modern firearm. Sometimes even I get knocked out of my fantasy of being an eccentric millionaire and need a gun that functions well in a variety of roles. This has led to me scrounging around to find a few firearms that serve well for both hunting and self-defense/home-defense. Like I always tell myself: a penny saved is probably going to be frittered away on ammo.

The shotgun always has and always will be a great home defense tool, but it’s also the Swiss Army knife of the hunting world. These days the purchase of a shotgun with an easily removable barrel allows for a wide range of applications. An 870 Remington or Mossberg 500 can do duty as a slug gun for deer, a waterfowler for ducks and a home-defense weapon, just by switching out the barrels. It is also worth pointing out that while a shotgun geared specifically towards home-defense can be rather expensive, the hunting or “field” models of the same gun can usually be had at lower prices, especially on the used and bruised rack. Don’t worry about aesthetics — the ducks don’t care and neither will the burglar.

Oddly enough, there is one type of hunting shotgun that shares many of the same attributes as the tricked-out home-defense shotgun. Turkey hunters prefer short barrels, pistol grips and usually equip their shotgun with some sort of sighting system like a red dot sight. A turkey gun with a turkey load (usually #4 shot) is just the medicine for big birds in the woods, but still works just fine in the living room. The only noticeable difference is that the turkey gun is camo, but once again you’ll have to come up against an awfully critical burglar for them to complain. As an added bonus, you can now start turkey hunting to justify the purchase to anyone who might be watching your finances.

When it comes to using hunting rifles for home defense the modern bolt action, which still dominates the hunting rifle market, really isn’t that great of a choice. Don’t get me wrong, a .338 Winchester Magnum works just fine on bad guys — if it’s good enough for elk it’s more than ample for home invaders. The problem is that the bolt action is a rather long, comparatively slow to cycle, usually scope-equipped weapon. If you want your deer gun to do double duty there are better alternatives out there. The current breed of AR rifles is a fine choice. When it comes to ARs the .223 Remington is no longer the only game in town. There are literally dozens of new cartridges on the market that fit on a standard AR-15 action and have enough authority for deer hunting. The AR-10 family of rifles also offers a variety of choices, mostly derivatives of the .308 Winchester, that are ample for game even bigger than deer. Either way, ARs usually have shorter barrels, are faster cycling, and feature Picatinny rails for the gear you want on a home-defense rig while still allowing for easy removal for hunting trips.

The other class of rifle to consider for both home defense and hunting is the good, old fashioned lever gun. Marlin, Winchester, hunting gunsBrowning and countless other outfits still produce short, handy lever guns in a variety of chamberings for hunting. Most of these guns have all the characteristics of a fine home defense tool. It’s also important to remember that the lever gun is usually a truly ambidextrous gun, which makes it handier still if you and your spouse don’t share the same dominant hand. If you want a true classic, Winchester has recently brought back the Model 73. Now you can keep your house safe the same way John Wayne and a few million settlers did, and have a cool, short-range deer rifle, to boot.

As a final encouragement to the consideration of a hunting/home-defense gun I would like to point out that owning one is a great excuse to go hunting. If you’re a shooter who doesn’t hunt you’re missing out on a great experience, but you’re still paying the ammo tax that goes to fund wildlife programs and improve my hunting experience. Thanks, I really do appreciate it, but why not come out in the woods and check out something new? Hunting sharpens shooting skills like nothing else, is great exercise and might even save you some money with fewer trips to the range and grocery store. Just think of all the guns and ammo you’ll be able to buy with that surplus money.

Do you have a hunting gun that does double duty as your home defense gun? Let us know in the comments.


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