Being able to defend your family within your home in the worst case scenario such as armed robbery or home invasion is critical. The hope is to never find yourself or your loved ones in such a situation, but if you do, are you prepared?

Today we will look at three potential home defense platforms – a pistol, an AR-15 and a shotgun. What is the best option for a newer shooter, an average family member, or someone that does not have extensive military or law enforcement training?  There are several indices to look at, all of which are somewhat subjective, but the intent is to create a general understanding of what each of these firearms is capable of.


It is harder to be accurate with a pistol. It is common for an inexperienced shooter to unload a magazine into a target at 5 yards, and under stress, not hit the target a single time. An AR-15 falls into the upper region of accuracy. The rifle is easier to manipulate, generally has a large capacity for ammunition, and is handled with both hands giving you a more solid shooting stance. A shotgun, contrary to some myths out there, does not exterminate everything on the west side of your house if you point and shoot to the west. You still have to aim your shotgun. The spread on shot is typically 1 inch per yard, so at 5 yards it would cover 5 inches (not 5 feet like in the movies). Nonetheless, being able to hit your target with a shotgun in close proximity puts this at the top of the list.


Recoil management

The AR-15 wins this circuit, as it has relatively minimal recoil. Pistols fall into the middle of the range, as it does depend somewhat on caliber (for our discussion, we are assuming calibers capable enough to stop virtually any threat). And the shotgun will kick like a mule, which during a high-stress engagement, is not necessarily conducive to efficient operation of the firearm.


Ammunition capacity

Quantitatively speaking, the AR wins here with an average of 30 rounds in a magazine. A high capacity pistol holds perhaps 15 rounds, and a typical shotgun holds 5. There’s the math…


Mitigating over-penetration

Many pistol rounds, especially ball ammunition, will penetrate walls and keep on going. Despite certain types of ammo designed more specifically for close quarters engagement, heavier calibers still suffer from over-penetration concerns. The AR shoots a very small, light projectile at high velocity. Basically speaking, when it comes into contact with a medium, it pretty much disintegrates. This is why it is notorious for causing enormous tissue damage, but this also keeps it from going through wall after wall after wall. With a shotgun, this index depends completely on what type of load you are shooting. Small bird shot won’t penetrate much, including the threat. A slug, on the other hand, will probably go through all the walls of your house and on to the exterior, which is not a good thing.


Handling ease

Pistols are lighter and smaller than either the AR or an average shotgun. Thus they are easiest to handle, especially if the shooter has a smaller physical build.


Stopping power

Unless you have a critical hit on your target, let’s compare whether most threats would go down if shot in the shoulder, for example. The pistol scores lowest here. There are many instances in Law Enforcement where a threat gets shot in a non-vital area and keeps on coming. The AR is close to the top, as the projectile will cause great damage, even if it does not directly impact a vital organ. And if you get hit in the shoulder by a 12 gauge round, you’re definitely not coming back for more!


Applying some point values on a scale of 1-10 for these various topics, we conclude that the AR wins this challenge. Please note, these are generalizations which can be fluid to some degree based on shooter experience, ammunition type, environment etc. Feel free to discuss and questions you may have with our staff, and be sure to stop in a see the amazing selection of firearms that we always have on hand at Metro Pawn & Gun!

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