Best Home Defense Gun… For Your Wife

I’m just going to start this post out with saying, this is going to rustle some feathers.

While most articles are going to be around hunting, food, and fitness on this site, part of the name of Protect & Provide is protect,  so we’re going to occasionally cover self-defense like in this article. 

So, before I get started, this article is for the best gun for your significant other who, while they might like guns, they don’t shoot all that often. 

Yes, I know there are some badass ladies that can handle a 44 magnum or mag dump AR10s no problem, this isn’t the article about them. 

Who is this article for? 

This article is about someone who doesn’t shoot all that often, so you probably don’t want to drop a ton of money on the gun and get tons of accessories. But it’s sole purpose is for home defense, so you don’t want to go cheap and have the gun malfunction if the need for it arises.

Also, since we’re talking about home defense, when assessing each gun, we’re looking at performance inside of 10 yards which is fairly standard for most homes. While I’m sure someone will send me an email saying that their open floor plan is 20 yards, this isn’t the norm for most houses.

For the sake of setting a limit, we’re going to put a $1000 limit on the guns. This will keep someone from commenting about their 300 blackout SBR with a IR scope and suppressor that they have for when things go bump in the night (okay, they’ll still comment, but it’s not applicable to the article now)

Yes, I’m sure it’s effective for you, but for a new person who is looking at their first home defense gun, or someone who shoots just a few times a year, dropping 2,5, or even 10k on a gun setup isn’t realistic. 

To get things started, we’re going to look at 4 different types of guns, and assess them on a 4 different areas:

  • Ease of use- How easy is it to use the gun in a home defense situation. Recoil, noise, training requirements, maneuverability around the house are all factors
  • Lethality- Simple, how deadly is the gun
  • Ease of Concealment and Access- how easy is the gun to hide when not in use and access when you need it. 
  • Over Penetration- does the round stop in the target or does it keep going after you hit the target? 

We’re going to score each on one a scale of 1-5, with 1 being not good at all and 5 being perfect. 

9mm Handgun 

Had to start here. Most of you reading this probably own one already, or you’re thinking about one, and for good reason. They’re easy to hide from others, most hold plenty of rounds, you can easily put lights and lasers on most, and are affordable for entry level guns. 

The downside of handguns is that you need to practice with them consistently to be accurate. 

That means spending time at the range and dry firing on a consistent basis to be able to accurately place shots down range. Being good enough might not be good enough in the middle of the night if you have to move quickly with adrenaline pumping. 

So what about lethality? A handgun round is never going to be as lethal as buckshot or a rifle round, but hollow points do get the job done. It’s not the deadliest round on this list, but it is deadly. 

What about over penetration? Here is where the 9mm starts to shine. A hollow point won’t go through all of your walls like a 5.56 NATO green tip round will, so you don’t have to worry about stray rounds or what’s behind the target as much as you would with a rifle round (note that I said “as much” not don’t worry at all).

In fact, the 9mm hollow point will probably only go through 1 or 2 layers of drywall. Limited overpenetration is a win here. 

Ease of concealment and access? You don’t want kids or other adults finding your guns when they’re not supposed to. The smaller size of handguns makes them easier to hide than a shotgun or AR15.

There are also many options for hidden-in-plain-sight or small safes/lockboxes that makes access very easy if the need arises. 

  • Ease of use- 3/5
  • Lethality- 3/5
  • Ease of Concealment and Access- 5/5
  • Over Penetration- 5/5

Total Score: 16/20

12 Gauge Shotgun

Alright, so I probably just ticked off the handgun crowd, so moving on to getting more angry emails as we cover the classic home defense gun, the shotgun. 

Specifically, the 12 gauge shotgun because that is the most common home defense shotgun size. The 20 gauge and 410 can work just fine, but we’re not going to talk about them here. That’s an article for another day.

For ammo, we’re talking about the classic home defense shotgun set up, 00 buckshot. 

I could write (and might at a later date) about all the different home defense ammo setups you could do (birdshot first, 0000 buckshot, etc). 

The beauty of shotguns are how versatile they are, but it also makes them a pain to write about when comparing to other guns, so I’m sticking with the classic 12 gauge with 00 buckshot. 

Is buckshot lethal for home defense? Since it was named buckshot for use on hunting large game and, in the case of India, defending against tigers, so I’d say it’s pretty lethal. 

But what about ease of use? Shotguns are known for their recoil, so for a novice shooter, this could be a problem. 

Another issue is after the recoil and the loud bang that’s going to occur, you’re going to need to remember to reload unless you fork out the money to get a semi-auto shotgun. Since the budget is $1000, chances are it’s going to be pump action. 

All those factors are going to be an issue for someone under stress who doesn’t shoot consistently. 

Last ease of use issue, if you buy a pistol grip shotgun without a stock, it’s easier to store but it hurts the wrist shooting 00 buckshot out of it. Again, someone who shoots all the time can handle it just fine, someone who doesn’t might get one shot off, but might have issues if a second or third shot needs to be fired. 

There isn’t going to be much spread at 10 yards, so even if you use a cylinder choke, you still have to aim a little bit to get the rounds on the target. 

The opposite of the pistol grip is if you have a hunting shotgun you use for home defense. A long 28 inch barrel is great for shooting birds out the sky, not trying to maneuver around corners. 

Over Penetration? This is a problem, there is going to be over penetration at distances within 10 yards with 00 buckshot. You’re going to blow through some walls.

If you live on your own out in the middle of nowhere, it might not be an issue. If you live in the suburbs or a townhouse, or your kid’s bedroom is across the hall from your bedroom, you’ll need to reconsider.

Hiding it and accessing it? Harder than the handgun, but not impossible, especially the shorter tactical shotguns. Unless you really outfit a tactical shotgun with accessories, if you are keeping it in a closet, there isn’t much to snag on stuff when you really need it, making it pretty easy to grab in a few seconds.

Ease of Use: 3/5 

Lethality: 5/5

Ease of Concealment and Access: 4/5

Over Penetration: 1/5

Overall Score: 13


This is America’s gun, and for good reason, they’re easy to use and modify to your needs. For close quarters, like home defense, you can throw on a red dot, holographic, or 1x prism sight with a light and/or laser and have an awesome set up for target acquisition at night. 

I’d argue that, with the right types of bullets, this is the best home defense gun for someone with experience. 

But is it right for someone who doesn’t shoot much?

Well, they’re pretty easy to use, especially with a red dot sighted in. While there is more recoil than a handgun, it’s nothing that someone can’t get used to after one or two trips to the range. 

However, since getting a tax stamp will probably put us over the $1000 mark, we’re limited to barrels between 16-20 inches. 

For some of you, this won’t be an issue. For others, the longer length might make it hard to move around corners of your house. It takes a ding here for ease of use. But the fact that you won’t have to worry about changing mags with 30 rounds in it boosts ease of use back up. 

While some may argue that the 5.56 (or 223 Remington) might not be that lethal, law enforcement and militaries around the world would disagree regardless of a NATO green tip or the 223 round you shoot coyotes with. 

Ease of concealment and access? It’s not the easiest thing if you come home and don’t have anything to hide it with other than a safe. If you’re just leaving it in a closet and you throw a bunch of accessories on it, you might run into an issue of snagging on stuff as you rush to get it.

There are tons of concealment furniture and shelves or safety mechanisms you can buy to help you, but again, you’ll need to factor that stuff into your cost. 

Over penetration? Well it’s similar to the buckshot. It’s not good here. Again, you live alone in the middle of nowhere, no problem. You have neighbors close by? Those NATO green tips might be going through their walls, and that’s going to fall on you. 

Now, there are 223 rounds designed to break and dump all their energy when they hit flesh, dry wall, or wood, so for most of you, look into something like Hornady TAP FPD Personal Defense. 

Ease of use: 4/5

Lethality: 5/5

Ease of Concealment and Access: 4/5

Over Penetration: This is a toss up depending on ammo between a 1 and a 5, so we’re meeting in the middle at 3/5

Overall Score: 16/20

9mm Pistol Caliber Carbine

What happens when you take a handgun and set it up like an AR15? You get the PCCs.

Because they’re a handgun, you get the small size of a SBR but don’t need the tax stamp and they’re generally cheaper. Meaning they’re super easy to move around the house. 

Since they use pistol rounds, there is limited recoil and noise. As a bonus, some of them come with muzzle brakes or compensators built in, further reducing recoil. You can also have magazines with 30+ rounds just like an AR. Throw a red dot on one of these, and it’s almost point and shoot. 

But, because they use pistol rounds, there is a little ding to how lethal these are over a AR15 or shotgun. 

They’re harder to hide over the handgun, but easier to hide over a shotgun or AR15. 

For over penetration, it’s the same as the handgun, hollow points won’t be going through walls which is a huge plus when you have a novice shooter behind one of these. 

Ease of Use: 5/5

Lethality: 3/5

Ease of Concealment and Access: 4/5

Over Penetration: 5/5

Overall score: 17

Bonus: Suppressed Subsonic 300 Black Out Short Barrel Rifle. 

Okay, this one is more for fun and doesn’t really fit the list because the cost is going to be WAY above the $1000 mark.

All the benefits of the PCC and the AR15 all in one. You get the small size for moving quickly around corners in the house with more power in the 300 BLK rounds.

If you compare Hornady 9mm Critical Defense rounds to their 190 grain Subsonic 300 BLK rounds, the 300 BLK has about 133 more ft-lbs over the 9mm (465 ft-lbs vs 332 ft-lbs) at muzzle. 

Subsonic rounds have very little recoil and produce little noise, add the suppressor and it’s going to be super quiet to shoot inside without ear protection. Even supersonic ammo is pretty quiet through a suppressor but then you might have to deal with over penetration and some recoil. 

If you want to drop more money, this would probably be the best set up. 

To wrap things up, the winner is the PCC, but just barely. With more rounds than a handgun, but less recoil and over penetration than a AR15, it’s a good balance between the two. Of course, there is no one best answer in the gun world, and you’ll have to figure out what’s best for your house, situation, and local gun laws. 

What do you think? Let us know your opinion of the list.

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