Long guns vs handguns for HD

This is a discussion on Long guns vs handguns for HD within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; It's no secret that the terminal ballistics of long guns such as shotguns and AR/AK type rifles are far superior to handguns. Most always advocate ...

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Thread: Long guns vs handguns for HD

  1. #1
    Ex Member Array DetChris's Avatar
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    Long guns vs handguns for HD

    It's no secret that the terminal ballistics of long guns such as shotguns and AR/AK type rifles are far superior to handguns. Most always advocate using a handgun just to get to a long gun.

    But I've been wondering if handguns should be the first and main line of defense during a home invasion, especially if you have to move around and herd your family to safety?

    Few factors got me thinking. First being the length of long guns. It's simply harder to get them around corners or maneuver in general. They're heavier and harder to keep out if the way when trying to carry or move children around to safety.

    And the worst drawback of a long gun is simply the explosive bang and flash that will happen indoors. It may cause a momentary daze for a shooter that has never done it before (even seasoned LE and military folks have noted how unpleasant discharging a high powered weapon indoors is). Long term this may cause hearing damage not only for the shooter but also family members, particularly children.

    Sure handguns aren't the best ballistically but they are so much easier to use in indoor environments. If a high cap variant like a Glock 17 is used it can hold up it a slightly longer HD situation. The concussion and noise from handguns may ring ears but it's nothing compared to the bark of a shotgun or carbine.

    Also, unless you were marked for a hit, most thieves will pee their pants when someone starts shooting at them and will likely be out of your house by the 3rd or 4th shot.

    I realize most of these issues with long guns can be overcome with proper preparation and taking defensive carbine classes. But for the average bear that chooses a Mossberg 500 or AK-47 for HD, is a long gun "too much gun" for the job?


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  3. #2
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    Home defense for me will be a close quarters event, simply by virtue of the floor plan and layout. Therefore, a long gun isn't a part of the plan.
    "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk."
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I think the talk about long gun power over a handgun has been repeated for so long, it has become cliche.

    Long guns are better because of accuracy potential and range, so yes, they are more effect. But for the purposes of SD, it's a moot point. Elk have been hunted and killed with a 338 Win Mag, but a 44 mag will kill them as dead.

    I shot a Blue Wildebeast at over 100 yards with a 41 mag, British hunters in the group scoffed until it came back in the truck....dead.

    By the very virtue of giving you far greater reach, the rifle is more powerful. However, much of that power is wasted at closer ranges. A hole, is a hole.
    I really would like to see the BS about handguns being underpowered eradicated from the inet circles.
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  5. #4
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    And to add another thought, the option would come down to the amount of space you have to operate in, and the environment.
    If your floor plan is open, then an M4 would be a good way to go.
    Otoh, if it's confined and close, the handgun is perfect.
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    Member Array redmc's Avatar
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    I beleive in my situation a long gun would be a problem for defene. there is no need for more than I have already. Any confrontation would be close, the biggest room is about 20 ft and what ever I have I feel is more than enough gun. How ever I do keep a loaded 12ga. riot gun in my bedroom, Over kill,yeah but it is not my first choice. Either one of my 2 laser sighted handguns will do.

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    Swat teams use long guns. Special forces use long guns. Given a choice, the professionals use long guns, even when working close and personal. Capacity, stopping power, accuracy are generally better. That being said, my long guns are stored. My handgun is close. The gun you have beats the one you have to get.

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    VIP Member Array Badey's Avatar
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    To each his own. I think a handgun is the best option for my home, but I have other tools available for once I am ensconced in a "safe" area. In reality, unless you have a SBR, if you have to go to another part of your house to get children, or if you plan to clear your home, a handgun seems to be a much better option, YMMV.
    Though defensive violence will always be a sad necessity in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men -St. Augustine

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougb View Post
    Swat teams use long guns. Special forces use long guns. Given a choice, the professionals use long guns, even when working close and personal. Capacity, stopping power, accuracy are generally better. That being said, my long guns are stored. My handgun is close. The gun you have beats the one you have to get.
    Swat and military operators also work as a team, use wireless comm devices, stun grenades, and sector fields of fire, plus are actively seeking an engagement.
    None of which bears any resemblance to the needs or proper tactics required to defend your home.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Senior Member Array CR Williams's Avatar
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    SWAT and SF will also run short-barrel rifles that we don't have as ready an access to as they do.

    It depends on the role. If you're not going to move, the long gun seems best. If you're going to move, the handgun is, well, handier, especially if you might need to be doing something besides carrying the weapon as you go.

    Running around in confined spaces with a carbine is not just an adventure, guys...it's a freakin' job.

    [shamless plug]I've got a section on home defense in Vol. 1 of the book series that looks at the use of the carbine among other choices, and will have some material about moving inside with a rifle in Vol. 3.[/shamless plug]
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DetChris View Post
    It's no secret that the terminal ballistics of long guns such as shotguns and AR/AK type rifles are far superior to handguns. Most always advocate using a handgun just to get to a long gun.

    But I've been wondering if handguns should be the first and main line of defense during a home invasion, especially if you have to move around and herd your family to safety?
    Depends on the situation.

    If capable of getting to a safer, more-secure, "ensconced" position, then by all means a long gun can do quite nicely. If forced to deal with longer ranges where a long gun's sight radius would help, then by all means the long gun can work.

    On the basis of "firepower" (ballistics) alone, sure. Who wouldn't prefer a decent long arm, presuming equivalent competency with whatever platform? However, that presumes the venue and circumstances could allow the long gun to be used to greatest effect, without compromising the situation.

    But in close quarters, where often rapid deployment and mobility can be key, I'm all for recognizing the simple and unparalleled utility of a good sidearm. For myself, all things considered, my first go-to weapon is my sidearm. If I can make it to where I've got my long guns deployed, then absolutely they'd have some utility ... at that point, not before.

    Depends.
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    It depends upon the layout of your house. I'll take a long gun anytime over a handgun, however, you should have a plan.
    Practice movement in your house with both. Consider locations of others in the home and the result of over penetration.
    Have a plan and practice. Plan "A" never works, so have a plan "B" too, including escape routes if possible.

    Did I mention practicing movement in your home?
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    Senior Member Array CR Williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    By the very virtue of giving you far greater reach, the rifle is more powerful. However, much of that power is wasted at closer ranges. A hole, is a hole. I really would like to see the BS about handguns being underpowered eradicated from the inet circles.
    A good point, but especially if the rifle round doesn't exit, won't it do more internal damage than the pistol round? Hydrostatic shock comes into play with rifles, not nearly so much with pistols.

    I say to assume that handgun rounds are anemic for two reasons. The secondary one is that more people survive handgun hits than the do rifle hits. The primary reason, though, is because I don't want anybody to assume that one shot is going to do the job. If you are preparing to maybe put that gun and the rounds in it between you and someone about to kill you, I want you to be thinking to do damage in mass quantity. I do not want anyone to shoot one or two and evaluate. That can get you killed really dead, and I'd rather not have that happen.

    For that matter, I don't plan to depend on single shots with rifles either. I've read too many accounts of people taking heavy hits and going on anyway. I want them to STOP if I shoot them. So long gun or short, my general plan is multiple rounds fired accurately enough.
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  14. #13
    Ex Member Array DetChris's Avatar
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    Long guns vs handguns for HD

    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Depends on the situation.

    If capable of getting to a safer, more-secure, "ensconced" position, then by all means a long gun can do quite nicely. If forced to deal with longer ranges where a long gun's sight radius would help, then by all means the long gun can work.

    On the basis of "firepower" (ballistics) alone, sure. Who wouldn't prefer a decent long arm, presuming equivalent competency with whatever platform? However, that presumes the venue and circumstances could allow the long gun to be used to greatest effect, without compromising the situation.

    But in close quarters, where often rapid deployment and mobility can be key, I'm all for recognizing the simple and unparalleled utility of a good sidearm. For myself, all things considered, my first go-to weapon is my sidearm. If I can make it to where I've got my long guns deployed, then absolutely they'd have some utility ... at that point, not before.

    Depends.
    Very good points from you and gman. IMO if someone broke into my house in the next 10 minutes my go-to would be my Glock 17 with my AR on my back on a sling. Move the family to safety with the handgun, set up shop at my predesignated choke point, camp out with my AR and call for backup. But until then or if I have to sweep the safe zone for intruders I'll likely do it with my Glock.


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    Distinguished Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    A long gun is my HD. Its much more accurate while holding a light and controlling the dogs. A handgun is for when I need both hands free for the normal daily tasks, and is for " Just in case". In a HD situation "That is my only task at hand". DR

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    VIP Member Array Smitty901's Avatar
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    Darn simple issue made into a college course. What can you shoot what can you afford .
    Shot gun hand gun Rifle or cannon it makes No difference you can fail with any or them or you can kill with any of them.
    Comes down to you not the weapon. Over penetration, under-penetration meaningless cavity exit wound ect. Hit your mark. Hit it again and again until threat has stopped.
    And why would anyone want a over rated Glookenhiemer for HD other than it don't madder.
    If some broken into my house first they would need to deal with Pretzel and Jasmine if Pretzel did not eat them yet someone will shoot them.
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