|Does A Woman Need A Gun For Home Defense|
The decision to purchase a gun to defend your home, yourself and your loved ones is an important and serious one. Does a woman need a gun for home defense? Only you can make the decision that is right for you. You must explore your local laws to fully understand your rights and your local and state laws governing the use of "lethal deadly force". If someone breaks into your home, can you shoot them even if they are not visibly armed? Under what circumstances can you legally display your gun? These are just a few of the questions you want to answer as you make the decision to own a gun for home defense.
In most states, you cannot shoot a thief running away with your property as the immediate threat to your person is considered to have passed. Neglecting to understand the legal issues including your rights along with your risks involved with owning a gun for home defense is careless. You not only put others and yourself at risk, but the 2nd Amendment Rights of others is placed in jeopardy as well. Being a knowledgeable gun owner is part of what defines The Well Armed Woman. In addition, the better you understand the laws, the better equipped you will be to make quick decisions when under great stress.
This article will discuss owning a gun with the primary purpose of home defense and protecting yourself at home. If you are not comfortable and have chosen to not carry a firearm on your person, but would like to own a gun for home defense (or for the fun of target shooting) this article will discuss the best options. If you have or carry a handgun on your person (concealed and carry) which is typically a smaller, lower caliber gun, but would like to own a gun specifically for the purpose of home defense, the same recommendations will apply.
Blog Article: Part One - Your Personal Defense in Your Home
Blog Article: Part Two - The Safe Room
Blog Article: Part Three - Being Mentally Prepared For A Home Invasion
Many women purchase their first gun for home defense, and the question of which type of firearm to pick can be daunting. The two practical choices for a woman are, a handgun or a shotgun. The first question to ask yourself is "which can I handle best, confidently and safely?" A shotgun in most situations is the "mother of home defense". But, they are large, heavy and can be difficult to handle. A larger caliber handgun would be recommended if you lack the physical ability to handle a shotgun. A large revolver designed to shoot either .410 shotgun shells or .45 Colt ammunition can be ideal for the short distance shooting that most commonly occurs in self-defense situations. The Taurus Judge is an example of such a firearm and is described below. It is almost like a shotgun in a revolver body.
Walls don't stop bullets. If you have to fire your firearm in your house then you must be aware of what lies behind your target. Innocent bystanders in adjacent rooms and adjacent houses can be wounded and even killed. Caliber and ammunition selection can lessen the significant risk, but the bottom line for any gun of any caliber is this: NEVER DISCHARGE A GUN AT A TA TARGET IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO STRIKE EVERYTHING THAT LIES BEHIND THAT TARGET
Let's start with the shotgun. The shotgun has always been a favorite gun for home defense. A shotgun shoots multiple pellets which are housed in casings (shells) which are shot at a very high velocity. Because it shoots a "spray" of pellets it can be more difficult to miss your attacker and has excellent stopping power.
The shotgun is best when those in your home can take refuge in a protected area, and defend themselves from a single point. The multiple pellets that make the shot shell so effective are equally dangerous to innocents if they miss the intruder. A shotgun has a very powerful recoil that can be difficult to handle and recover from to shoot a second round. Another challenge for many women will be its weight. Shotguns are larger, heavier guns. If you must hold a home intruder at gun point with the shotgun for more than 10 or 15 minutes, its weight will become tiresome. So your size, strength and tolerance for recoil are very significant things to consider. Trips to a shooting range and practice are necessary and will make you more comfortable and confident with these powerful and large firearms.
If you buy a firearm that you cannot handle, you will not enjoy shooting it. And if you don't enjoy shooting it, you won't practice with it. If you don't practice with it, you will not be in a very good position when you need to use that firearm to protect your family's life.
The term "gauge" describes bore diameter, but unlike "caliber" used for handguns and rifles the larger the number, the smaller the bore. (The inside diameter of the barrel.) Gauge was defined by the number of solid balls the same diameter as the inside of the barrel that could be made from a pound of lead. Thus, the 10-gauge shotgun is larger than the 12-gauge, which is larger than the 20-gauge. While there are many different sizes, or gauges, of shotguns, the two most often recommended for home defense are 12 gauge and 20 gauge shotgun.
I will start by saying that generally the 20 gauge is a better choice for a woman for home defense. A 20 gauge will be easier to handle, have less recoil and more than adequately provide stopping power. But.... I will finish by saying that many woman can both handle and prefer the added power of a 12 qauge. Your physical size and your ability and/or sensitivity to recoil will be determining factors.
There are two types of shotguns actions, they each describe how they cycle rounds.
Slide Action shotguns - A slide action will require you to have to slide the action backwards and forwards to load each shell. These are also known as "pump action". They are low-maintenance and, in experienced hands, deadly fast. They can also hold as many shells as the tubular magazine under the gun's barrel can hold, so you can shoot multiple shots in fairly rapid succession. This does however require practice.
Semi-automatic shotguns A semi automatic action uses the force generated by the last shot to automatically eject the empty shell case and chamber the next round after each shot (cycle). They can be fired as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger for each shot. Semi-automatics have less recoil which makes them appealing to many women. As with many semi-automatic firearms, there can be an issue with ammunition sensitivity. Because the the rounds are "automatically" chambered after the first round is fired, the gun assumes the round or shell is "perfect" and will move perfectly as it moves it into place. So the shotgun shell can potentially get hung up and not chamber properly. The quality of the ammunition you use is a key factor in preventing these issues. Practice with multiple brands will also help you to figure out - which shells your gun "prefers."
Which is better for a woman to use for home defense?
I would suggest a gas-operated semi-automatic 20-gauge for most women. The gas-operated semi-automatic is much softer kicking than any other shotgun type firing the same shell. The 20 gauge is readily available in an 18" length as well and in junior sizes which fit a woman's size better. The semi-automatic shotgun can shoot multiple shots quickly and without any manual action. The cost is more expensive than a pump action though. As it is a more complex machine it requires proper cleaning and care.
The advantages of manual operation is the lower cost and the gun's ability to handle a variety of different kinds of ammunition. A number of semi-automatic shotguns will not cycle low-powered bird shot, a common and inexpensive choice of ammunition for training. Because the pump shotguns do not need to harness the gases when the shell is fired to operate the gun, a pump-action shotgun can fire a greater variety of ammunition and operates when dirty or un-lubricated, since the shooter does all the work manually. On the down side, the pump-action shotgun will have more felt recoil than a semi-automatic shotgun of the same gauge and must be manually "pumped" for each shot.
Size matters in two important aspects: length of barrel and length of pull.
The length of the shotgun barrel typically ranges from 18" to 28". A long shotgun barrel, is difficult to maneuver around corners and through a house. The 18″ barrel is the best option.
Length of pull refers to the distance from the gun butt to the trigger. If the size of the shotgun is wrong, you are going to be less accurate and it will be more difficult for you to work the controls on the gun. While aftermarket (add on) stocks allow for an adjustable length of pull, a great option for women is to purchase a youth-sized shotgun. These shotguns have a shorter stock and typically are less expensive.
As a general rule, when the butt of the shotgun is held in the elbow crook of your bent arm, the first joint crease on your index finger should fully contact the trigger. The 20-gauge youth shotguns fit this dimension perfectly for many women and should be seriously considered when buying a home-defense shotgun.
If a youth model is too short, you can add a recoil pad which not only dampens the felt recoil enormously, but also adds length to the stock.
Choke is the degree of constriction machined into the muzzle end of the barrel. It's a way of controlling the size of the pattern or spray at a given range. The tighter the choke the tighter the pellets are squeezed together so the pattern holds tighter over a longer distance. Conversely, the less restriction you have in the shotgun choke the more loosely the pellets are held together and the faster the pattern opens up.
AMMUNITION (visit the Ammunition Demystifier for more in depth information)
To quickly stop an attacker, the pellets must penetrate his body deeply enough to cause internal damage and stop him immediately.
Shotgun pellets are classified into three general categories:
Buckshot is generally recommended for home defense. The larger the buckshot the greater the stopping power and the greater the chances of over-penetration and injury to innocents in other rooms or buildings. If you are in a densely populated home or neighborhood you can minimize the risk of over-penetration by using small game loads of #6 birdshot or smaller, but this sacrifices a great deal of effectiveness. Versatility in available loadings is a great strength of shotguns, but you must choose your loads carefully for your environment. The largest shot size commercially available is #2 buck.
BEST HOME DEFENSE SHOTGUN AMMUNITION
FOR THE 20 GAUGE SHOTGUN
The Federal Classic 3-inch 20 gauge Magnum #2 buckshot cartridge is the best choice. It contains 18 pellets of #2 buckshot. This will have a bit more recoil, if this is an issue, Remington's Premier Buckshot 2 ¾-inch 20 gauge #3 buckshot cartridge is the next best choice.
FOR THE 12 GAUGE SHOTGUN
The # 1 buck is recommended. A standard 2 ¾-inch 12 gauge shotshell contains 16 pellets of #1 buck and will produce an effective wound trauma to the attacker. In addition, number 1 buck is less likely to over-penetrate and exit an attacker's body.
A standard velocity 2 ¾-inch #1 buck shotshell (16 pellet payload) from Federal, Remington or Winchester is your best choice.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SHOTGUNS
For home defense, a shotgun is superior to a handgun in terms of being able to stop a violent intruder as quickly as possible. A reliable, well-made, pump-action shotgun can usually be purchased for less than the cost of a handgun of comparable quality. Also, inexpensive birdshot ammunition, typically used for training applications, is about three-fourths the cost, round for round, of comparable handgun ammunition.
If you're considering a shotgun for home defense or already have one, we stongly suggest you attend a "defensive shotgun" training course from a reputable shooting school. It's one thing to be armed with a well-equipped, high-tech shotgun and premium personal defense ammunition, but if you're not comfortable or skilled shotgun shooter, you're the weakest link in your home defense weapon system.
Skill with the shotgun, like any other defensive firearm, requires competent instruction and dedicated practice. When these skills are mastered, it becomes a powerful and effective weapon and a wonderfully fun sporting activity.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for information purposes only and is provided solely as a guide to assist you in forming your own opinions. Although the information on the website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, it is provided on an "as is" basis without a warranty of any kind. None of the information is legal advice or the opinion of any professional or expert. This website is not a substitute for formal, qualified instruction in the handling, use or storage of firearms. You alone are completely responsible for your use of a firearm.
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