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Top 10 Home Defense Weapons

Guest post by Dustin Sanchez

Top 10 Home Defense Weapons

It’s well past midnight and you hear an unfamiliar sound coming from the living room. It sounds like there’s an intruder in your house. Are you home defense planningprepared to defend your home from a violent criminal? This is a question I had to answer a few years ago and I found myself woefully unprepared. I don’t think I have ever felt more alone than when I was waiting (unarmed) for the police to respond to my 911 home invasion call.

The good news is that it is relatively easy and inexpensive to secure your home. Generally, the people breaking into our homes are not special forces trained commandos. Most of the “weapons” on this list are designed to defend against the common street thug (think unmotivated, lazy, teenage punk) looking to score a quick buck. These are the individuals who are breaking into your home for monetary gain only. It is quite easy to defend against these types.

On the other hand, there are also some violent individuals out there who are determined to harm us, and I have included some weapons on this list to deal with those people as well. It has been said that most violence is perpetrated on us by people we know. Defending your house against your deranged ex-husband or a complete psychopath intent on violence for the sake of being violent is a different animal, but the same principles apply.

Most home invaders, violent or otherwise, want stealth, speed, and easy targets. The reason they want these three things is because it decreases the likelihood that they will be held accountable for their actions, i.e., get caught. Your home defense plan should be based upon 1) depriving any home invader of these three characteristics and 2) having a good plan to deal with those who would not be deterred.

I don’t try to make my home an impenetrable fortress. I just try to make it a hard target. I try to make it look less appealing than my neighbor’s house. Criminals want easy targets. If your house looks like the hardest target on the block, he’s probably just going to move on. Unless you are dealing with a violent psychopath. There is usually only one way to protect yourself from someone who arrives at your front door with the sole purpose of doing you physical harm. And this list will discuss that as well. Without further delay, here are the top 10 home defense weapons (in no particular order)….

10) Door and Window Locks

I really shouldn’t have to list this one, but the simple fact is you have to make the layups. What is the point of having an AR-15 with a laser sight if you are not even going to lock all of your doors and windows? There are few things more appealing to the common house burglar than an unlocked window or door. It’s like putting a criminal Easy button on your house. Every entrance to your house should remain locked at all times, even the upper story doors and windows. Why make it easy for them?

Keep in mind that most door locks are easily defeated by an experienced burglar with a stout screwdriver and one or two other common tools. And a locked window doesn’t provide much protection from any kind of determined criminal. But a locked door or window is definitely more of a deterrent than an unlocked one and that may be just enough to deter the garden variety street punk.

9) Exterior Lighting

I’m not ranking these in any particular order, but if I was, this one would be near the top of the list. This is the easiest way to deny the criminal of any stealth. The exterior of my house has photosensitive lights that only turn on when the sun goes down and some of those remain on all night, while the others are motion sensitive, and they only turn on when someone walks by. Don’t afford any criminal a dark corner where he can do his work unnoticed. Light up your entire yard so that the whole world can see who is trying to pick your lock. Home invaders hate exterior lighting.

8) A Storm Door

This probably sounds crazy, but storm doors can be good deterrents to the average home invader. First, they add another barrier that the criminal has to defeat, and second they make noise when they are opened. This serves to deprive the criminal of a speedy entry and also makes enough noise to possibly give you an early warning of trouble. It’s not the best deterrent, but if you have everything else on this list and you are looking for added security, a storm door is a great addition to your home defense plan.

7) Dog

Get a medium to large size dog that you can keep in the house, or in your back yard. You don’t even have to give this dog any special training. Most dogs will naturally defend their territory and that usually means barking at all strangers. Home invaders hate barking dogs. This is probably the most effective weapon against the random home invasion. Most common street thugs will not break into a home that has a barking dog inside of it. There have to be at least 100 other homes in your neighborhood that don’t have barking dogs inside of them so why risk it?

If someone does break into your home with the sole intent of physically harming you there is a good chance that the dog will attack them and give you an opportunity to escape. At a minimum, the dog will provide an early warning so that you have time to prepare for the coming attack. Either way, your chances of surviving or winning the fight increase.

Even a small dog, an annoying little lap dog, will bark enough to provide you with some early warning. The last thing you want is to wake up with a criminal standing over you. If this happens,then the fight is over before it even starts, and you will probably wake up dead. It would be a much better scenario to be waken from your slumber by the yipping and yapping of your annoying little lap dog and just meet the intruder at the door with a loaded shotgun.

6) Home Security System

If for some reason you can’t own a dog, then I would consider a home security system. The problem with home security systems is that after a few months you realize how annoying it is and just stop using it. Now you are stuck with a monthly bill for a security alarm system that you don’t even activate on a daily basis. This is why I tell people to just get a dog, they’re not nearly as annoying as a home security system.

But maybe you are allergic to dogs. You still need some kind of early warning system so that you don’t wake up with a criminal standing over your bed. I don’t feel that it is necessary for you to go with one of the large companies who will wire your alarm system to the local police and fire department. These are usually much more expensive than the actual value they provide and some cities charge you for every false alarm that is received. I recommend finding a wireless security system that you can install yourself and customize to your needs. There are several inexpensive wireless solutions available and installation can be as easy as choosing which windows and doors you want to monitor and ordering the correct sensors off of Amazon.com.

HomeSafe makes a few wireless security systems that can be installed with nothing more than a phillips head screwdriver. You can order as many door and window monitors as you need and also purchase motion detectors if you need to monitor large areas. If you have small children who are likely to head to the kitchen at night for a snack or glass of water, then you will want to forego the motion detectors and just load up on door and window sensors. This will avoid any false alarms during the middle of the night. Depending on how large your house is, you could probably monitor every door and window for a one time fee of under five hundred dollars. After the initial purchase, you just need to change the batteries once or twice a year. In the long run, I think installing your own wireless system is just as effective as using any of the national services and much less expensive.

5) 20 Gauge Shotgun

The first question you are asking is, “Why a shotgun?”

If you don’t have to conceal it, and you don’t have to worry about transporting it anywhere, then I say bring the most firepower to the fight that you can. There are few weapons available to us civilians that are more deadly than a shotgun. They can be absolutely devastating.

The second question you are asking is, “Why not a 12 gauge?”

Bigger is not always better. Anyone who can shoot a 12 Gauge well, can shoot a 20 gauge better. Shooting a 12 gauge can be quite intimidating for some people. They are violent guns and have a mean kick to the inexperienced shooter. This can make it difficult for new shooters to shoot accurately and can also deter people from training with it. I absolutely dread training sessions with my 12 gauge. After about five slugs, my shoulder is numb. At home defense distances, a 20 gauge is just as effective as a 12 gauge and it is more comfortable to shoot.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I can tell you that my home defense shotgun is a pump action 12 gauge. I keep five loaded in the tube and if I ever hear a bump in the night I pump a round into the chamber BEFORE I go investigate. I load it with 2 ¾” segmented rifled slugs. I’m comfortable shooting this 12 gauge, but if I were advising a new shooter I would recommend a 20 gauge for home defense. It has much less kick with nearly as much power for home defense applications.

4) .357 Magnum Revolver or .45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol

I’m not going to get into a scholarly debate about ballistics, but I will point you to an article on USACarry.com which states that getting hit with a 20 gauge slug is like getting hit with two .44 Magnum rounds simultaneously. In other words, it’s going to be difficult to find a handgun for home defense that is more devastating than a shotgun, even if it’s “just” a 20 gauge shotgun instead of a 12 gauge.

But if you have to use a pistol for home defense, then I say use the largest caliber pistol that you can comfortably shoot. For concealed carry I wear a 9mm Glock 19, which I believe is one of the best concealed carry guns. However, if you attack me in my home, where I don’t have to worry about size and concealment, then you are probably going to be dodging bigger rounds than 9mm. When it comes to stopping power, size matters (assuming you actually hit the threat).

3) High Lumen Flashlighthigh lumen flashlight

Your home defense arsenal should include a flashlight that is at least 200 lumens. I keep a small tactical flashlight next to my home defense weapon. If you have to defend your home at night, you want to make sure that you don’t shoot any friendlies. This is especially important if you have roommates or if any friends or family have a key to your house and are prone to dropping by unannounced. The bottom line is if you are going to be carrying a weapon through a dark house at night; you need to positively identify who you are about to use it on.

2) Less Lethal Weapons

Not everyone can keep a firearm in their home. Some people are legally restricted from keeping a gun in their residence, some people choose not to own firearms for other reasons, but there is no reason to ever engage in hand to hand combat with a criminal. Always use a tool.

Maybe you live on a college campus or in one of those blue states that makes gun ownership next to impossible. Maybe you choose not to own a gun because you have small children in your home. Whatever the reason, arm yourself with something. I recommend something like an aluminum T-ball bat. A weapon like this is easily wielded in the confines of your home and may inflict just enough damage to allow you to escape or incapacitate the invader. It’s not optimal, but any advantage you can gain in a life or death struggle is worth looking into.

I’m not a big advocate of pepper spray because while I think it will deter the common street thug, I don’t think it is a good deterrent for someone who is trying to kill you. However, something is better than nothing and pepper spray may provide you with a small window of escape that could be the difference between life and death.

But let’s face it, if someone is in your home, you are not looking for an escape route, at this point you are looking for incapacitation. So if you can’t bring a gun to this encounter, then you need to choose your alternative weapon with incapacitation mind. In that case you might consider a baseball bat, a metal pipe, or even a machete (legal in all 50 states).

1) Training and Practice

In any fight, the person who acts first has the advantage. This is because action is faster than reaction. Just about all criminal action involves some degree of planning. The criminal has a plan and he is banking on the fact that you do not have a plan. He is acting, and he is forcing you to react to his action. If you do not have a well thought out home defense plan, that you and your family rehearse on a regular basis, then you are at a serious disadvantage in any home invasion.

The criminal will not email you a meeting request with the time and date of his attack. Chances are, you will be caught completely by surprise, at a time when you are least prepared to defend yourself. This is how criminals operate. They depend on you to be confused, frozen with fear, and they don’t expect you to fight back. This is why you should sit down with your family and develop a planned response to any home invasion. Then you need to drill this response enough times so that your family becomes bored or even annoyed by it. And hopefully at 3:30 in the morning when someone kicks the front door down your family will fall back on their training and systematically eliminate the threat.

The plan doesn’t need to be very elaborate. In these kind of situations, less is often more. You should start off by just discussing what the best response to a home invasion might be. Determine who will fight off the attack, who will head for a safe room, what to do if shots are fired, who will be in charge of calling the police, weapons locations, first aid kit location, and anything else that you think would be important. After you have developed your plan, you should do a few mental walkthroughs with the family. At some point it would be a good idea to have a friend or family member simulate breaking into your home and allow the family to respond to it in a safe controlled environment. Just make sure that there are no weapons or ammunition in the home during these drills. That’s worth repeating, do not simulate any home defense drills with live ammo or weapons.

After the simulations, it is always a good idea to debrief the drill and talk about what went wrong and what went right. Once you have a good response down, you can run the drill bi-annually to keep your training fresh.

When it comes to home defense, you want to give your family the best possible chance of survival. While there are no guarantees in this world, the items on this list, coupled with a well thought out and rehearsed home defense plan will go a long way toward securing your home from criminal invasion.

Dustin Sanchez is an attorney in Texas, a veteran of the U. S. Navy, and writes for BestConcealedCarryGun101.com. Click here to download a free copy of Dustin’s ebook Defensive Pistol 101.

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