The AR-15 thread is interesting, but lots of folks here may not want to spend 1 oz AU to get a nice one. Here are my suggestions for those who are not into tacti-cool:
Shotgun: Any brand name pump action 12 gage shotgun. A must have for home defense IMHO. Hopefully that unmistakable "Clack-kachak" sound of chamber a shell ends the disturbance without a shot.
Handgun: A .357 mag or 38 Spl revolver. The basic cop gun that served law enforcement for most of the last century. I like revolvers over autos for two reasons. First, because there is no manual safety to remember to flip, the safety is a link inside the gun that prevents the hammer from striking unless the trigger is pulled back. Second, autos are more sensitive to ammunition because it has to automatically feed. Mid range caliber hollow points may or may not expand and that versatility in ammo lets you shoot some nastier non-expanding bullets like semi-wadcutters.
Rifle: Some in the AR-15 thread mentioned the Mosin-Nagant rifle. I have one, like it and they can be bought for less than $100. If you want a little more rapid fire in a handy carbine I would consider a classic 30-30, the classic American deer rifle that most hunters have upgraded from (might find one less than $300 used). If you live in an urban area like I do, you might also consider a pistol caliber carbine like a Hi-Point. A lot of hard core gunners dis them, but my model 995 is about $250 new, shoots inexpensive 9mm ammo, has never malfunctioned and has a 100% warranty for the life of the gun.
Good luck to all, hope things never slide this far downhill.
Very nice analysis for the non gun people without getting hung up on manufacturers.
These are just my opinions but here are other things you may want consider when it comes to using guns for self defense:
Rifles and shotguns are far superior to handguns from a ballistic perspective. Handguns are best used for back-up or concealment. A handgun can easily take someone down with the right caliber and well placed shots but if your life is in danger you want every advantage possible.
Bullets will easily go through walls and seriously injure or kill someone on the other side. Buckshot, a type of shotgun load, lowers this risk. One of the primary gun safety tenants is to know what's behind your target in case you miss or the bullet travels through it. If you have other people living in your home, like children, you certainly don't want to injure or kill them. If you are defending yourself in your home you will probably not have the presence of mind to be thinking about what's on the other side of the wall behind your target. For the reasons above I prefer a shotgun as my primary home defense weapon.
You also may not want to rack the slide of your gun if you hear someone in your house. Doing so tells the perpetrator you are there and gives him an idea of where you are. The element of surprise is a huge tactical advantage. I personally prefer not to give that up, therefore my weapons are stored with a round in the chamber.
I cant emphasize this last point enough, the best and most important investment you can make if you own or plan on owning firearms is tactical training from a reputable school. There you will learn important things like gun safety, handling, clearing malfunctions, clearing rooms, etc. Do not overlook this. Owning a gun does not make you safer from danger. Knowing how to properly defend yourself with one does.
Too many people have a false sense of security just because they own a gun. You need to be better than the person you are up against unless you feel comfortable letting luck be the primary determining factor in the outcome.
The case for the auto pistol is high capacity and many do not have manual safeties like Glock, Sig, Springfield. Its inexperience with the mag release and losing magazines that are bad for the noob. However, it doesn't take much training to get comfortable. And if one is going to have a hand gun, being confident in knowing how to use and demonstrating ability to put shots on target are essential to effective use. Training and practice are key to successful self-defense.
Look at the Taurus Judge, load .45's or .410 shot gun shells
I prefer 9mm Springfield XDMs or 9mm Glocks for a couple reasons:
My XDM carries one hell of a lot of bullets and it is a very light weight gun. The magazines are small and easily carried as well. If there is a need to defend myself from a person wearing body armor, then a 9mm will work great as long as I can hit the target in the right places.
No way a 9mm will take down a bear in the woods, but a 9mm is a great daily carry weapon. Easily concealable. The XDM is easy to clean. And its a lot cheaper than a good AR-15!
Look at the Taurus Judge, load .45's or .410 shot gun shells
I don't know what you're thinking recommending the Judge. I've shot this thing and its awesome and lots of fun, but it is by no means a perfect carry firearm. It has serious problems in its design and the capacity compared to a modern semi its pathetic since its a revolver. It sounds like a fun gun and gets you all excited to shoot, but I can't recommend it ever.
A Mossburg 590 8+1, 12 gauge with a 20" barrel is the premium home defense weapon. Shorter barrel makes it easier to handle, 9 shots means you have enough to miss a few times or take out a few members of the gang, and 12 gauge won't typically tear up your walls too bad should you have to shoot it indoors. Plus the Mossburg is a good quality gun that doesn't require alot of maintenence.
As a conceal / carry weapon, I agree, not the best choice. For a home defense, for non-gun people, I think revolvers are a simple and easy weapon to use. Of course if you a looking to get into a big firefighter, I would not pick a revolver either.
@Ben Martin - I agree with you 100% regarding long guns vs. handguns. When it comes to defending the family at home, if you can hold it in one hand, you haven't got enough gun. I have to admit the racking the slide as a deterrent comment is my own thinking - not a result of training. You may well be right.
Regarding revolvers - Unless you expect to get into a major firefight I think a six shooter is perfectly adequate. I certainly would not call them "pathetic". And for someone not into firearms, a Glock or Springfield is more expensive. Having said that I gotta say I think a Taurus Judge is nose heavy - I like my 357.
@Captain Benny - Cheap 9mm is a reason I like the Hi-Point. So far, I have only shot commercial ammo out of it. I just started reloading 9mm. With 147 grain handloads, I think it will approach being an effective 100 yard gun against a bad guy without body armor.
I'm a big bore pistol fan and not a big fan of 9 mm. But that said if you like any gun and can put rounds on target and will carry it. That's the gun for you. I have a .40 S&W and a .45 ACP Hi- points for 2 reasons. They are inexpensive to buy (2 pistols for under $300.00) , descent quality though neither will win a beauty contest. Ammo is cheap and common. Most Police dept. are going to the 40 cal. and away from the 9mm. Don't forget if you have a good pawn shop or gun shows you can use that gun's value to trade up. At least here in Idaho you can still trade guns.
Just an observation I think is important for any gun selection this day in age:
Choose your caliber wisely for both availability and reloadability. I often make large ammo purchases (25+ case purchases) and have been unable to get case size quantities of some calibers reliably. .38, .380, .44 are some of the more problamatic defense rounds from a supply standpoint. I have had trouble getting quality .40 S&W and for a time, quality 9mm has also been a problem in the recent past but the situation has improved.
Right now, 9mm, .45 seem to be readily available, and I've been able to get case quantities of .357.
So before selecting a good defense weapon, make sure you're going to be able to feed it reliably, stick with readily available calibers that fit your need.
In my BOB inventory, I have a 9mm semi auto and a .45 to be able to handle the two most common and likely to be found in a pinch rounds.
Full metal jacket (FMJ) is a poor choice for self defense and could get you in trouble. A 9mm round with a quality hollow point bullet is usually adequate, but 9mm FMJ ammo is not. The same is true for any handgun; you can practice with cheaper FMJ ammo but you need to keep them loaded with good hollow points. I carry a Glock with 9mm+P ammo which is a higher velocity than regular 9mm and therefore more effective round.
I was investigating the collapse of Argentina and found that most of the violence was car jacking, kidnappings, home invasion, muggings, and armed robbery. So rifles and shotguns are great as long as you can identify your "Bad Guy" most of these occur by surprise and do not look suspicious, as they are rather well dressed and groomed. The best defense will be awareness and avoidance of course but other than that a reliable hand gun or hand guns with a large surplus of ammo will be the best.
Home invasion shotgun
Multiple threats at once semi auto rifle
A handgun for home defense is very effective IFF you know how to use it. Whatever weapon you have, go out and shoot it. Stay proficient. Practice shooting off hand, without sighting (in a safe manner please!). If you can't stay proficient with the handgun, it's just a noise maker. Get a shotgun, or better yet a baseball bat! My wife can't hit S^%T with a handgun, but I have no doubt that if she gets pissed she'll be hell with that baseball bat.
I have been shooting for 35 years, and I have been in law enforcement for 20 years. We shoot the Glock semi-automatic pistol chambered in .40 S&W at work. I agree with the posts in this thread about training being important. Sure it is. I do not disagree.
But the title of this thread is: "guns for people who want one for protection, but aren't into them." Let's be honest. People that are not "into" guns will not practice. Even some people who are into guns rarely practice. I do not practice as much as I should.
With that said, I will give you the advice I have given to many people, including customers of the gun store where I used to work years ago.
If you have never owned any gun, buy a revolver in .357 caliber. Buy some .38 special ammo and practice at the range. Shoot some .38 and some .357. A revolver in .357 caliber can shoot both .38 and .357, but the opposite is not true: A .38 caliber revolver cannot shoot the higher-powered .357 rounds.
After you have become familiar with your revolver, and you want to buy a second gun, get a 12 gauge pump shotgun from a reputable manufacturer. I like Benelli, Remington, and Mossberg, but there are others. Don't spend more than $400 USD on a pump shotgun. Watch for sales to get a good deal.
If you want to buy a third gun, well, you are starting to "get into guns." And that is cool. What would I recommend for a 3rd or 4th gun? Start over! Get another .357 revolver. That way you can loan one to your spouse, and use the same type of ammunition in both firearms. Having a second 12 gauge shotgun follows the same logic: same ammunition can be used in both guns. So now you have four guns: 2 revolvers and 2 shotguns. You are styling!
Best of luck to you all.
Thank you for your service in law enforcement.
I guess my philosophy is if you want to buy a gun to defend yourself then you should do it right. If you are not going to spend the time to get trained and practice then it might end up being more of a liability than an asset.
I recommend people take a class before they even buy their first gun. Then they know what they are getting into and will have a better idea of how to choose the right gun for them.
Practicing does not help unless you are practicing the right things. If you are forming bad habits you are putting yourself at greater risk.
I also recommend after you take a class go to a range that rents guns and try as many out as you need to until you find the one that feels best to you. After you find one you like do some research on the internet to see what people have to say about it. Anyone that has owned lots of firearms knows there are pros and cons to just about every gun out there.
Guns are extremely dangerous in the hands of someone that does not understand and follow basic safety protocol.
For those of you that are new to guns or maybe those of you that own a gun and haven't taken a safety class or course if you religiously follow the rules below you will never have an accident.
1. Treat every gun as if its loaded at all times (even if you have just stripped it and know that its not)
2. Never point a gun at anything you don't intend to shoot. This also means don't cover your own body parts like fingers with the muzzle when handling. The gun is always muzzling something, make sure its not you!
3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are pointed in on your target and ready to fire.
4. Always be sure of what's behind your target. Bullets don't always stop when they hit their target, and often times, especially under stress, you will miss your target all together.
5. Never leave your gun outside of your control. If you keep one at home for defense make sure its locked up if you are not there.
There are too many tragic stories of children and people that don't know or follow basic safety rules being accidently shot, often by themselves. You don't want to be one of those statistics.
Owning and being proficient with firearms will go a long way to ensuring the safety of you and your family, especially if things are heading where many people on this blog seem to think they are.
Agree 100% on revolver for first gun. The 44/.410 option is also a good defense gun, I have a Colt Python that I use as a snake gun in the woods with .410. Gun is good for everything from home defense to deer hunting.
Did you know, in the UK they had to change the law to allow next year's Olympic shooting events to take place on British soil?
I read your gun posts with a mixture of awe, admiration and revulsion.
Nothing personal against you guys, but my general rule of thumb is that humans, generally, are idiots. When a human ceases, briefly, to be an idiot, there should be cakes and bunting. It doesn't fill me with confidence to know that powerful weapons are so readily accessible to humans across the pond. But then you would say, you need a gun because of the idiot down the road. Plus, it's not as if the average Brit isn't now excessively docile.
Incidentally, guns were banned in the UK after a scoutmaster shot up a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, killing 16 little kids and an adult. This was one of the kids who was in the school and hiding while the murders took place:
you learn something new everyday!
After reading this thread I am very glad I live in the UK where we don't have to worry about carrying guns for protection.
I know Americans feel they need them and it is in your constitution that you have the right to carry them, but feel there is a lot to be said for banning firearms. It works here in the UK, I am 43 and have never seen a gun on the street other than those carried by the police.