Home Defense: AR-15 vs. Shotgun vs. Handgun thumbnail image

Home Defense: AR-15 vs. Shotgun vs. Handgun

80 Percent Arms   |   Jan 7th 2021

Perhaps you have heard folks recommend a shotgun or handgun for home defense purposes. Both are easily maneuverable in tight quarters, like your home’s hallways and doorways. But what they do not tell you is that hitting a target accurately with a handgun takes immense practice. And using a shotgun indoors? You risk blowing your eardrums and destroying more of your home than of the intruder.

Does that mean neither will work for home defense purposes? No, that is not what we are saying. Every firearm has a use. Sometimes, that use is outside of the home, and just sometimes inside the house. Perhaps an AR-15 is better suited to home defense?

What to Consider When Selecting a Home Defense Firearm

Shotgun (Top) Rifle (Middle) Pistol (Bottom)

Every weapon has its advantages and disadvantages for home defense. Before you run out and buy a new gun, consider the following factors if your primary goal is home defense.

  1. Space — As we said, your home is loaded with confined spaces, like hallways, that will affect how you operate a weapon and aim indoors. Both shotguns and stock AR-15s feature 16-inch or longer barrels. They are out of the question. But an AR-15 pistol or handgun would make sense.
  2. Experience — How experienced are you with each type of firearm? Do you have one in your home right now? If so, how often do you visit the range or clean your weapon? The greater your experience level, the more comfortable you are operating a weapon inside tight quarters.
  3. Firepower — A pistol offers the least amount of firepower of all three weapons in our discussion, but an AR-15 uses a small bullet with high velocity. Shotguns, on the other hand, offer stopping power at close ranges.
  4. Recoil — If your goal is to stop an intruder from doing you or your family harm, you want to take them down quickly. Therefore, recoil and target reacquisition is crucial. For that, an AR-15 is the clear winner, as shotguns are heavy and pistols kick hard.
  5. Family — The whole point of home defense is to protect your home and family. It would not be good to fire a round capable of piercing a wall and entering your master bedroom. In home defense scenarios, opt for hollow points, which expand and slow on impact rather than penetrate.

Pros of AR-15s for Home Defense

AR-15 for home defense

There are a few great reasons why homeowners opt for an AR-15 for home defense instead of the usual pistol or pump-action shotguns of old.

  • Magazine Capacity — In most states, the standard magazine capacity of an AR-15 is 30 rounds. You do not want to take precious time to reload when someone is in your home.
  • Simplicity — Overall, the AR-15 is one of the easiest and simplest firearms to learn and master. It offers fantastic ergonomics, controllable recoil, and customization to improve comfort, accuracy, and usability.
  • Customizable — Speaking of customization, the AR-15 is one of the most modifiable weapons of all time. You can attach lights, lasers, adjustable stocks, and foregrips to your rifle.

Of course, an AR-15 is not without a few marks in the cons column. For one, you have price. Of all three firearms, a rifle is the most expensive. If you know where to look, you can score a bargain rifle for about $400-$500.

Then, there is the length. Unless you purchase an AR-15 pistol or apply for a tax stamp to run a short-barreled AR-15, the length of a 16" AR-15 can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces like hallways and doorways.. The area is too confined.

Home Defense Done Right

If you intend to purchase a firearm for home defense purposes, always remember to secure your weapon at all times. It is especially important if you have children in the home.

For a pistol, an excellent handgun safe with a code lock is preferred. You can purchase strong and secure long-gun safes both online and in-person at most gun shops and sports equipment stores for a rifle or shotgun.

Furthermore, learn how to shoot accurately and maintain your firearm. The same goes for anyone in your home old enough to use a gun safely. Nothing beats practice.

An excellent option, should you choose to use an AR-15 for home defense, is to build one yourself using an 80% lower receiver. We have all you need to get started!