This topic can easily ignite fevered debate. Everyone has their own preference, as what works for one person may not work for another. In the end, all one can do is gain the insight and knowledge to make informed decisions about their choice for a home defense firearm.
As the NRA says here in their Oct. 2015 article “Choosing a Home-Defense Gun” (B. Gil Horman):
“Possibly the only topic to generate more arguments than politics is the never-ending discussion of what qualifies as the “best” home-defense gun. The truth of the matter is, no single shooting solution meets the needs of every individual or household. Every firearm is an exercise in compromise. Each platform has limitations to be considered carefully when making a choice.”
I think it really all comes down to what your experience is, and what you are capable of using effectively. A police officer may choose to sweep, clear or defend his home with a semi-automatic pistol, as that may be what he is overwhelmingly familiar with. An Iraq/Afghanistan veteran may choose the AR/M4 platform, as their muscle memory may make that the most comfortable option for them. While the avid turkey/duck hunter may select a shotgun. It’s all relative, and neither of those groups is going to be limited to those disciplines, obviously. I’m just arbitrarily using them to illustrate how different our comfort-zones can be based on our own experiences.
Know your home. Is it large, is it small, do you have neighbors sharing walls? What are those walls made from? Can rounds easily punch through, or are you fairly certain a missed shot wont have enough energy to enter your neighbors dwelling? Are your hallways long with clear line of sight to front door or other points of entry? Or are you rounding lots of corners? If you’re not sure which firearm may be most appropriate for you and your home, seek advice and get a walk-through from a cop friend, or your military veteran buddy with experience in such matters. Ask questions. Don’t be shy. Seek knowledge.
Of course the only way to find out which actual firearm is best for you, is to get experience behind the trigger. Make a time investment. Yes, it’s going to require a monetary investment as well, but consider that the cost of doing business. If you have friends who you know have guns, ask them for help, and offer to pay the range fees and cover the cost of ammo, if they will show you their home defense weapons. I promise you, you have a 99% chance of getting an enthusiastic “hell yeah”. This method avoids you having to rent different firearms, and is also a great opportunity to hang out with your pals you nowadays only interact with on Facebook. Don’t smirk, you know it’s true.
Once you nail down a couple solid options you now feel comfortable with, spend some time reading reviews of them, and in the gun shop, picking a knowledgeable sales reps head on them. Physically go over disassembly, assembly, availability of custom sights or grips, if those are on your mind.
Finally, and this is important: get training. There are a TON of “tactical firearms” classes out there these days. Research them, and pick one, or three. You can never have too much training. (I hear GORUCK has some pretty good courses, all taught by Special Forces/Special Operations personnel)
Selecting a firearm for home-defense is a very personal thing. So don’t let anyone tell you what is “best”. Their best may not be your best, even though their intentions may be good. Gather info, and look within yourself for what works for you!
Ne te quaesiveris extra!