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Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetration

80156 Views 97 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Becks
Hey guys,

I know this question has been asked a lot and debated to death from what I've already read online. But I thought I would come straight to the source. I figured if anyone would know about penetration, this would be the place to find out.

I am new to guns. I owned a 9mm years ago that I bought on a whim, hardly ever shot (maybe 200rds), and then subsequently sold to buy a guitar. But now that I have a family I'm looking to get a gun for home defense.

My primary concern is that we live in a manufactured home with neighbors on three sides. We don't even have drywall walls. They're more like double-ply cardboard. I would be concerned about shooting anything that, if I missed, would go through all of our walls, the aluminum siding, and into our neighbor's place. Granted, there are closets and things in the way, but still it's a concern. However, I realize that anything that is not able to go through a couple of cardboard walls is not going to go through an intruder enough to do signifant damage, either.

I have read countless reviews about different guns and ammunition types, and have watched several of the videos on the site. From what I've gathered so far, I'm leaning towards either a 20ga shotgun (Mossberg SA-20), or possibly a Taurus Judge. Though I know the judge did not get good reviews on this site using the buckshot, it did get positive reviews on other sites when they've used the buckshot specifically designed for the gun (you have to get one with a 3" chamber, I think). I did things bass ackwards back in the day and went to the range and rented a handful of guns AFTER I bought the 9mm that I didn't like, and I found that I shot revolvers pretty accurately. But I've never shot a shotgun. I would really love to get a .357, but I'm concerned that would blow straight through our place and probably through a couple of neighbor's homes.

I think my best bet is to stick with a baseball bat, maybe a ninja sword or ideally a lightsaber, but I wouldn't want to bring a knife to a gun fight, and I'm no jedi. What are your thoughts? Based on all of your experience with penetration tests, which do you think would be my best option?

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

You pretty much got it in one: anything which will tear a hole in a bad guy will tear holes through the cardboard box in which you live.

Your best bet is to get something fairly marginal, power-wise, and make it a hollowpoint so that what energy it does have, it loses pretty quickly after impact with anything substantial.

A .357 Magnum in any plausible load will tear a big, deep hole unless you're using some kind of frangible round, and even then it's not fooling around. Out of a 4 inch barrel its typical loads are easily supersonic. Unimpeded, it takes a bit of distance before those rounds enter the transonic zone, and the 158 grain classic .357 Magnum is obviously heavier than your typical 110 grain 9mm Luger round.

However, I think that you're going about this the wrong way.

Instead of worrying about the bullets which miss (after all, your opposition might be spraying bullets like a rage hose) take good care to ensure that your bullets go where you want them. A .380 is deadly if shot accurately. A .500 S&W is just loud when it misses.

So my recommendation is: get a firearm in a calibre which is cheap and comfortable to shoot, while being adequately powerful for bad guys. Then buy several thousand rounds, find a good training course, and learn to put holes in things you don't like, reliably, under stress.

I'd rather have a Hi-point .45 and 4,000 rounds of ammunition than a Kimber and 50 rounds. I'd never shoot the Kimber enough to get skills.

You say you like a revolver. Turns out, so do I. My daily carry on the farm is a Ruger GP100 with a six inch barrel. I reload, which cuts the cost of regular shooting. You should probably reload, on the grounds that if you're not reloading enough to save you money on ammunition, you're probably not shooting enough to really get skilled. I can report that the Ruger will tear a hole through a big varmint which I can put a walking stick through. You don't want to stick the walking stick through the bad guy - the police might request explanations - but poking the hole through him when he's in front of you and your baby's behind will probably fly in most states. But if you get a revolver, get a couple of speedloaders and practice using them too.

Hope that gives you some food for thought.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

It does, thanks a lot. It makes sense. Focus on getting the gun I'm most comfortable with and least likely to miss with. I've looked at the GP100 and like it a lot. I may go that route. It's hard too because I live in smalltown, Michigan, and there's no range nearby where I can rent guns to try. There are gun stores where I can at least hold the guns, but no way to rent 'em. Trying to make a decision just based on what I've read on the internet is challenging. I appreciate the advice. Thanks.
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

The simplest answer, by general laws of physics and likely shown in tests here, and verified on my own testing, is that a high kinetic energy roundis better of low weight and high velocity will penetrate far less than one higher weight and equal KE. In other words, a +p 110 grain hp .38 special penetrates far less than other .38 specials. In fact, the low velocity solid semi wad cutter penetrated more than anything else I tested. High KE expends the energy by deforming and breaking things, and loses KE quickly. Where a low speed marble will punch through paper and dent wood, that same marble accelerated to maybe 1,000 fps will shatter on wood, and not do as much damage as expected.

A .38 with 110 grain very soft semi jacketed HP bullet will deform and break up on even light resistance, but no handgun bullet except frangibles will stop on a little vinyl or aluminum and be made safe for the neighbors.

My best suggestion would be to get a .223 rifle and use the ultra frangible rounds, another suggestion would be tungsten turkey loads in say 5 shot in short rounds such as this. Small shot will disperse some after an impact, but will strike full in a short range defense situation. Whereas a full load of 00 will disperse very little, and still present a tight load on target after going through those barriers. Better, IMO, to risk 20-30 hits of tungsten to a person than a full load of buckshot, maybe. If you choose to use lead buckshot use smaller shot and very low velocity rounds to make collateral damage a little less direct in case of a hit on a human. herters sells a mini buck load with only 6 00 pellets, again lessening the chances of a pellet making it into a body outside the home, while still presenting a tiny pattern at short to medium range, ensuring most hits in a short distance situation. last choice, IMO, is a high velocity small expanding bullet in a pistol, or frangible loads. no solid point or large, heavy bullet will be safe in a shoot through hit on a bystander.

In short, IMO, light bullets, frangible bullets, and small loads of buckshot or even just ordinary heavy shot field loads in low pellet counts. You will not ever be able to avoid putting a fatal round into another home with any ordinary firearm round. these may help lessen the concern that a shoot through will present a serious and lethal hit on a bystander after a couple of such light barriers. ... spx?id=779 ... BIK-218557
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Thanks for the detailed feedback. But being a bit gun-speak-impaired, that's a lot of words that I don't understand, but I think I get the "in short" segments. I agree with the low-count shots if I go the shotgun route.

At this time (for lack of a better direction to go right now), I'm focusing on what I feel comfortable with. Having owned a 9mm before, maybe that's the way to go with frangible rounds. I held the Springfield XDM 9mm, and it felt really great in my hands, which is important since I have very large hands and have had trouble finding guns I'm really comfortable holding.

But from some stuff I've read online, the smaller rounds can penetrate more than heavier, slower loads. All things being equal (given standard weight, powder, muzzle velocity, etc) do you think I'd be better off with a 9mm frangible or .40S&W frangible? Some folks say the smaller 9mm will penetrate further, while others say the larger but slower .40 cal will penetrate further.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Would a +P frangible 9mm penetrate more than a regular 9mm, or would the increased speed make it more prone to break up upon impact?
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Hypothetically speaking, if I were debating between a Springfield XDM 9mm, XDM .40cal, or a Ruger GP100 .357/.38, which gun/ammo combination would give me the least likelihood of blowing through our whole neighborhood? Also considering standard or +P ammo in any of the above options, and I'd use hollowpoints whatever the choice.
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

OK, you asked a lot of questions and I'm going to do my very best to answer them. This may get long, so go get a drink, put your feet up, and settle in for the ride.

As Old Painless pointed out in the past, every projectile going downrange has a lawyer attached. If you're hunting birds with anybody but Dick Cheney, and you're shooting bird shot at the open fields, nobody cares.

Any pellet from a shotgun which goes off target might (improbable, but it's possible) have tragic consequences. I don't care for shotguns for home defence for this reason above all others, especially considering that pellets big and dense enough to do the job on a bad guy are also big and dense enough to go through a wall and do the job on a baby. Adding projectiles of reduced precision is not the ideal answer, in my view. Others my disagree, and this is their prerogative, and I will even respectfully listen, but this is what has justified my choice so far. Old Painless demonstrated quite clearly that across the room even an open choke shotgun doesn't have much spread, so it may be an exaggerated concern.

It sounds as if you're thinking of handguns, so I'll drop the scattergun topic there.

The number one predicting factor for penetration, other things being equal, which I have been able to determine from my own attempts as well as looking at other people's research online, is momentum rather than energy. briandg's post says the same thing, a different way. A small fast bullet penetrates less than a big, long, heavy bullet from the same brass over the same powder charge. Truly frangible bullets have a problem in that they tend to break up before going deep enough to really stop a bad guy. Hollowpoints and other deforming bullets can still do a pretty good job.

briandg suggested a long arm with a very light frangible, and I don't think he's entirely wrong, but you have been mostly talking about handguns, so I'm going to basically assume that long arms are not in your plans right now. In fact, your last post asked about a 9mm, a .40, and a .357/.38. I will try to narrow my answer on that basis.

I have very big hands. Most handguns are uncomfortably small for me. I can use them, but I don't like it. Like Bill Clinton, I feel your pain. I ended up getting the GP100 with the Hogue grips. It works pretty well for me. If you're concerned about penetration, here's what I recommend: get a basic reloading kit, and load 125 grain bullets on a charge of powder like Trail Boss. They won't be fast, they will be light, and the kick will be negligible.

If you want to go with a semi-automatic, I recommend the 9mm choice simply because of the momentum issue. You can get 90 grain hollowpoints which will do a fine job out of a pistol, and have very limited overpenetration. With a semiautomatic you can't download things too far because your cartridges need to be sufficiently energetic to cycle your action. This constrains things a bit. 9mm is also very cheap to shoot, an adequate personal defence round against bad guys, and there's an enormous selection of available firearms from which to choose.

.38 Special is cheaper than .357 Magnum, and still quite adequate for social work. You don't need a +p round to punch big holes in a bad guy across the room from you, and the .38 Special is a real pussycat out of the GP100 in terms of recoil.

I understand you can't try things at the range, but at the bare minimum, hold them in the gun store. If the gun store won't let you put your hands on them, go find a different gun store. This isn't the time to buy a pig in a poke.

The GP100 rides in my holster. It gets dirt, hay, and other nameless farm waste in it. I have once had a light strike from it, which was my fault anyhow. I pulled the trigger again, and it went BANG. I won't hide from you that I'm a fan of double action revolvers when the chips are down. Yes, they're a bit slower in action, but remember that you can't miss fast enough to win a gunfight. Learn to work your gun, and your gun will take care of you. Leave your gun in the safe, and you won't know which side is up when your adrenalin is pumping like a firehose.

Aside from my preference for wheelguns, there are two other recommendations I want to make.

Hi-point. Yes, laugh at me. Yes, say they're ugly. It's all true, and then some. They go bang. They're cheap. They're reliable. And they come with a ghost ring rear sight right out of the box. Short of fancy glass, it's the fastest acquiring, most accurate sight in town. They also have a great warranty. If it's broke? Call them, send it back, they'll fix it and make it right. No arguments. No discussion. That's service. Made in the USA.

So what if they're ugly? If I have to shoot a man, I don't expect him to admire the engraving on the slide. I expect him to require medical attention. A critical opinion on the artistic merits of my taste in shooting iron is not even on the list.

The other recommendation is to get a good holster, if you intend to carry (and I assume you do, since danger doesn't wait on your convenience, or that of your family), and to practice drawing from that holster, from under cover, without shooting yourself or anyone around you unless you intend to. My current holster for my GP100 (I'm as hard on my clothes as I am on my tools, I'm afraid) is a Galco belt holster. Looks nice, sits nice, holds the gun where I can get it.

And practice. Practice, practice, practice.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

When talking about penetration with handgun rounds, really, the most important thing is Sectional density. Sectional density is measured by whether a projectile is light, or heavy, compared to the surface area. A 9 mm bullet will have a higher SD if it is a 147 grain bullet, than if it has a 110 grain bullet. the 147 has the same surface area, and more weight, and that is what decides penetration. a 200 grain bullet at 1,000 fps in a 30 caliber round will penetrate far deeper than a 200 grain bullet in a .45 caliber bullet.

The people who are saying that lighter bullets penetrate better are wrong, or you are misunderstanding. There is plenty of research proving that given the same caliber and similar velocities, a heavier bullet with higher SD will penetrate deeper. This is why the FBI dropped the 115 grain hollow point for duty carry and took up the .40; the heavier bullets were needed because the 9mm would not penetrate human tissues well enough. The 9mm in the 147 grain bullet is preferred, because of all of the previously mentioned factors.

So, given the choices, what should you choose? Whichever one you choose, 9 mm, .357, .38, 40, what will be important is using the lightest range of bullets you can find, since the lightest and most fragile bullets will shed the most energy as they go through what small amounts of barriers are between you and bystanders.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

briandg said:
When talking about penetration with handgun rounds, really, the most important thing is Sectional density. Sectional density is measured by whether a projectile is light, or heavy, compared to the surface area. A 9 mm bullet will have a higher SD if it is a 147 grain bullet, than if it has a 110 grain bullet. the 147 has the same surface area, and more weight, and that is what decides penetration. a 200 grain bullet at 1,000 fps in a 30 caliber round will penetrate far deeper than a 200 grain bullet in a .45 caliber bullet.
I agree with you, although here we're getting into the details of terminal ballistics. Yes, with two bullets of the same frontal area, the heavier one will have the higher sectional density, but if you have two different bullets of different calibres with the same sectional density and the same profile, the best prediction of penetration goes to the higher momentum, as opposed to higher energy, partly because of frictional effects which rise with velocity, and hydraulic/fracturing effects which rise with velocity.

Profile makes a big difference because of kinetic energy conversion into work of fracture, compression and distortion of tissues and other materials, and actual stopping power requires (outside freak events beyond the control of someone in a firefight) adequate tissue destruction, which is aided by a deep and wide wound channel, but since any round jacoby75 has suggested is likely to be from the list broadly regarded as adequate, I don't think that this is a primary limiting factor for him.

Unless he's loading a .357 with rat shot, which I couldn't possibly recommend.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

This is all agreed with, and covered under the the tag "generally," and I tried to point out how complicated the entire thing is. how many variables there are. And yes, Kinetic energy as measured in ballistics tables is nearly a useless figure, since KE is not really relevant to much of anything. Structure and many other variables cause huge deviations in results.

How many people forget that a bullets Sectional density can change in the first two inches after impact? A solid point retains SD and penetration characteristics, but a nice, mushy, easily expanding bullet loses half the sectional density and may lose as much as half of the penetration, whereas a frangible may lose almost all of the potential expansion.

Too much generalization.

Ed Matunis put together a pretty good equation over 50 years ago. He took KE, score and then factored in momentum, and finished it by factoring in structure. Going from good t
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

good to bad starting at round nose, flat point, and expanding, based on transfer of KE. It would be reversed to determine penetration qualities.

the best thing, and really only way to get an answer is testing, comprehensive and intensive testing, or long term studying of every possible bullet incident. Even then, all a person can hope to do is take the general characteristics of known ammo samples, and take a best guess. Sometimes that works.

OTOH, I recall a teenager who attempted suicide by shooting himself in the heart with his father's 44 magnum. Heck, it blew a hole in his heart that was sewn shut and he lived. Ain't that a hoot? it could have dropped a grizzly bear with a single shot, but he survived a hit through the heart with a high powered big bore heavy weight bullet because all it did was punch a hole through him and didn't dump significant KE into his system. A different load may have even popped his eyeballs out and exploded his gonads.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Thanks so much for taking the time to provide such detailed feedback, everyone. I really appreciate it, and it's all incredibly helpful.

I'll just add that I was originally considering a shotgun because just about everything I've read online says a shotgun is the best choice for home defense. I can see why. The stopping power is great. But I had a few concerns going that route:

1) I've never shot one and my wife has never shot anything.
2) I'm 6'6" and in recent trips to stores I've had a hard time finding a shotgun that I'm really comfortable holding where it sits right on my shoulder and I can get a good sight line down the barrel without having to bend my neck to the side. I was going to order the SA-20 sight unseen because of the elevated sights (one shotgun I held with elevated sights was pretty good, but the length of pull was too short for me), adjustable tilt of the stock and other features, praying that it would be a good fit for both me and my much smaller wife. If not, I'd be stuck with a gun I would never be comfortable shooting and would probably wind up selling it before I ever shot it.
3) If I were to get a shotgun, I'd want something that either of us could pick up and fire relatively easy, with little fear of recoil. I was leaning towards the 20ga semi-auto for that reason. Also because it takes out the user error risk of short stroking in a panic and it's less shot in each, so if you miss it's less damage.
4) If you miss with a shotgun, you miss big and send several projectiles through the home as opposed to one.
5) With any semi-auto shotgun you have to worry about using too weak of a load that the next shell won't feed. So using birdshot for the first round or two just to piss the guy off or scare him away might jam the gun.
6) I was considering the Taurus Judge with 3" buckshot as a compromise because I have shot handguns in the past, having owned a 9mm and shot a few 9mm's and revolvers at a range 10+ years ago before we moved to the sticks. However, I'll never be able to shoot one before buying, and would be concerned about the kick and comfort with it compared to the 9mm I'm semi-used to. Maybe I could find one in a store to hold, but I'd be worried about recoil having never shot those gauges.
7) I have thought out possible avenues of attack from BG's. Our bedroom is on the opposite end of the home from our daughter's room, with the living room in between us. If someone comes into the front door or side window, depending on where they are in the room, almost any shot that spreads like a shot shell I'd be afraid of spreading too much and even one pellet going into our daughter's room if I miss, unless I can get out of our room in a conflict and have a shot across the side of our home, which is unlikely. So a well-placed bullet might be more wise. Best-case scenario they break into the back door, which is right by our room, and there's nothing behind them but a washer and dryer and a huge field, so I could unload the whole clip (or two) and not worry about hitting anything or anyone. Though we'd likely need a new washer and dryer.

Given those considerations and in light of earlier advice, and realizing that whatever I get is going to go through the walls anyway if it's worth having at all, I think it wise to go with something I'm more comfortable with and familiar with and less likely to miss with. To me, that would be either the 9mm Springfield XDM that I held at the store that was really comfortable for me, or the GP100, which was just slightly less comfortable, but I know I can shoot revolvers well, especially if the kick is minimal with .38's. I'm a big guy with big hands, and I want something I can really wrap my hand around that fills my hand. And I think my wife might be more likely to pick one of those up than a shotgun and shoot it in an emergency.

All other things being equal, from what I've read (and what of it I can comprehend with little to no experience), I think I've got about the same terminal ballistics and risk of penetration from a 9mm or a .38 hollowpoint of similar weights. For that reason I might go with the 9mm just because it would be 19 shots in the clip as compared to 5 or 6. Granted, if I get in a shootout in my small home and need more than 19 shots, I'm clearly doing something wrong, and have probably killed all of my neighbors. But if there's more than one perp, the extra bullets could come in handy, short of having to reload every 5-6 rounds with a revolver.

Thanks again.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

If I understand the previous posts correctly, a light frangible might break up before doing enough damage to the perp. So maybe I want a light, fast, jacketed 9mm or .38 hollow point? It will do more damage on impact but also break up faster due to its light weight and high speed if it hits anything but the perp?
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

I personally feel that the shotgun is among the worst choices for a home defense weapon under many, if not most circumstances. Carefully choosing loads and deliberate aim so that the full charge strikes the home invader make it safer to use. Many people believe that "point and squirt" is adequate, and no, it's dangerous and ineffective. A shotgun is practically useless in a home defense distance if it isn't aimed.

I personally agree with using a semi auto 20 gauge, but remember that a long shotgun is difficult to use and maneuver in tight places. It can be snatched from your hands if a bad guy gets right into your face.

It is, if handled properly, it is also one of the best. a direct hit with a shotgun will not overpenetrate. It will cause the most possible damage to a thug. it may minimize collateral damage. Using a shotgun slug? Holy crap, the magnum shotgun slugs are equal to many of the historical elephant rounds.

Keep in mind that there are many, many idiots online who repeat stupidity until it is believed to be absolute truth. The shotgun debate is one of those issues. Hearing that one thing or another is absolutely the best is a clue that it's bull patties. I once read that the .454 casull was the best home defense weapon available. Right. Not even worth arguing about.

Frangible loads at some point can fail. In general, rounds like the glaser are effective. they may not cause instant incapacitation, but there is nothing that will be guaranteed to do so. You pick and take your chances. I still recommend frangible loads in this sort of situation, simply to protect background,. I agree that a light, high velocity round with good expansion characteristics can be the safest round to use. Please, during all of this discussion, remember that there is a pretty slim chance that a lost round will actually hit a bystander in most cases, such as a neighbor. A big trailer 50-100 feet from your muzzle may have as small as a 1-10,00 chance of a person being hit. your round can go wide, passing maybe even hundreds of feet past a bystander. It may go short or long, digging in or ricocheting off of ground, or go high, missing everything.

Do you want to know what will do the best job of keeping your child safe? Get book cases and fill them with books from floor to ceiling, and, set them in an area that will block bullets and shot. It will probably not protect absolutely, even a .22 rifle can get thrgough, but it is better than nothing.

I really hate making sweeping declarations about these things, because there is so much involved. I always believe that the list of compact AR, safely chosen shotgun, and then pistol is a fine progression.

If you have the choice, I suggest a double action revolver, and practice with it until it works. Why? a revolver is either loaded, and ready to fire without any other interventions, or it's empty.

Even handguns like the glock that have no safeties to set off or hammers to cock, and in some cases a loaded magazine without a round in the chamber, may be in the wrong condition when you are presented with a threat. Only a revolver has only one condition. Ready to fire when you pick up a gun and pull the trigger. Otherwise, you should keep speed loaders where they are handy, and be prepared and skillful with dropping a load of ammo into the handgun in the dark.

The other fella seems to be a pretty savvy shooter and a smart guy who doesn't pass on bull snorts and personal prejudice. Yes, there has been a lot said between the two of us. that's because there is a lot to be told, and a lot to learn, right? and eventually, you will make a wise decision, and you will have to just believe that you have made the right one. Don't spend forever second guessing what you have done. You make the best choice you can with the information you have. and that is the best you can do. If there is a failure, you made the best decision you could have made,
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

BTW, regarding books? Go anywhere, even a recycling center, and you will be able to find hundreds of books that can be had for free, if you just ask for them. fill the cases with junk books if you don't have enough real books to fill them. it wouldn't hurt to back the books up with scrap lumber, either.
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Thanks. I just wanted to say you're absolutely right about the shotgun being ripped out of your hand. That was another consideration I have thought of that I forgot to add to the list. We live in a double-wide manufactured home, and if I'm coming out of our room from either direction, there are a lot of tight corners to maneuver and a lot of places the thug could be hiding, waiting to grab the shotgun when I exit the room. Another reason I'm considering the handgun. Thanks.
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

briandg is flattering me, but it's true that we're mostly loudly agreeing with each other.

I like his idea of bookcases. Aside from anything else even if they never stop a bullet, they broaden a child's education and that's never a bad thing.

There is one thing which bothered me a bit, jacoby75. You mention your wife picking up the gun in an emergency. Let's not ignore that possibility, but have you considered that your wife will do better with her own weapon? One which fits her hand?

I've introduced a few ladies to shooting, and their choices can surprise you. One lady loved a polymer 9mm. Another loved a 1911 shooting full house .45ACP rounds. Why? Because the narrow single-stack profile fit her small hands, while the mass of the gun reduced the felt recoil to the point that it didn't bother her, and the big bang and the big holes in the targets made her happy.

I know a lady who shoots a S&W double action modified to shoot .45ACP with moon clips. She's deadly accurate, amazingly fast, and anyone who says that a li'l lady shouldn't shoot a big gun needs to match her shot for shot. Big men with big mouths lose against her in competition all the time. Maybe your wife has a hidden talent just waiting to get out.

So my recommendation is that you take your wife gun shopping. Get her to try the feel of some. Get her to a shooting course. Get her to an IDPA or IPSC or even CSA shoot, and show her that there's a good time to be had and skills to learn. If there's a gang of thugs around your place would you rather have her huddled in a corner, or helping you deliver hot lead at the target? I know which I'd rather have. I have known a lot of women with children, and I can tell you right now that with the possible exception of a few quakers, I think every one of them would kill and die to protect their kids. Maybe your wife would prefer to be equipped to be on the killing side of that equation.

And let me say again: the single biggest factor missing here is practice. Practice, practice and then practice some more. Let's say a thug grabs your kid and holds a gun to the kid's head, can you put a bullet into the brainstem in under two seconds? No? Then you need more practice. Can you do it in low light, with your off hand, from behind a corner? No? You need more practice.

You will be a better defender of your family, and so will your wife, if you both buy really cheap .380 handguns from Hi-point ( ... 80acp.html), and as much ammunition as you can carry, then shoot it all in practice and then reload your brass. The .380 is a tiny round which people make fun of, but if you can put it into a bad guy's head or heart, it's a fight stopper. For an MSRP under $200, that's one hell of a deal on personal defence. A $2000 gun from Wilson Combat or Kimber means $1800 (plus taxes and fees) you aren't spending on ammunition for more practice. I'm a lot more scared of an old ******* with a cheap gun so worn from use that it's lost the checkering on the backstrap than I am of a suburban thug with a pristine Desert Eagle.

So by all means get yourself a GP100. It's a good gun, and with .38 special rounds it's cheap to load and reload. Easy to shoot, and so reliable it's boring. But also consider what your wife can shoot, and carry, and be successful with.

Odds are, if you ever shoot in self defence, it won't be thugs anyway. If I were in Vegas I'd give you five to one odds that your biggest chance of a self defence shooting is on a canine, not a human. And that's every bit as important for your wife and family.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Oh, one other thing before I forget:

I am absolutely opposed to people who advocate putting bird shot in the first round in a shotgun. Here's why:

If you ever point a firearm at a human being, you had better be prepared to kill them. Otherwise you have no business pointing a firearm at a human being. Period. Birdshot can kill people, and has done so in the past. If you want to make a loud bang, slam a door. If you aren't willing to kill someone, your gun should be in low ready, at the most. It should not be pointed.

If on the other hand you are ready to risk killing a human being, why on earth would you shoot a poor stopper (statistically) like birdshot? When it comes to that point, compromise is past, warnings are past, discussions are past. Shoot for success, where success means that your family survives. You should shoot the round best able to stop the threat as well as you can, knowing that if it turns out to be lethal (as opposed to stopping the threat nonlethally) you did what you had to do as well as you could.

As Old Painless points out on his site, birdshot is for little birds. Buckshot is for bad guys.
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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

You're absolutely right. My statement about my wife grabbing the gun in an emergency is an incredibly improbable hypothetical statement. First of all, I wouldn't want her to pick it up with no training. It would probably do more harm than good that way. And I intend to get PLENTY of practice myself, and training if I can. She has said that she highly doubts she would ever be able to pick up a gun and shoot somebody. That is a tough decision to make, and I'd wish it on no man. if given the choice to run, I will always run if I can. But if someone invades my home intending to inflict harm on myself or my family, I won't hesitate (hopefully) to defend them and myself. I'm hoping that after a little time of seeing me shoot mine, she might want to try it, or get her own gun in the future, something she's comfortable with.
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