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The Home Defense Dilemma

From the desk of Jerry Bolster

Southwest Asia


Have you ever heard someone discuss what the best firearm is for home defense?  I’ll bet you have, and I’ll bet the folks discussing it had some damn good reasons for liking their firearm of choice. Today, we’re going to throw a perspective on this conversation that’s important no matter WHICH firearm you choose:  What’s BEHIND your target. 

In our last post, we discussed the need to know what is beyond your target, meaning as far beyond as your projectile may travel.  In this installment, we’re concerned about what is immediately BEHIND the target and what it means to you. 

Many people love their M-4/ AR-15 variation rifles and swear they’re the best tool for home defense.  Others like a pistol or a revolver. The shotgun lends itself as an obvious choice in the debate. 

While all these weapons have considerable merit – consider this – how many walls does your preferred caliber and firearm penetrate BEHIND your target?

When thinking about a home defense weapon keep in mind most projectiles fired from the list of fan favorite weapons will rip through interior walls.  For instance, how many interior walls does it take to stop a 5.56 round? 

I don’t know how big your house is…but my guess is ALL of them. Unless you live in a sheik's palace – they will go through ALL of your interior walls made of common sheet rock, insulation, and wood studs.

What about 9mm? .45? .38 special?  7.62X39? 

All of these, with varying effectiveness, will pose a hazard to anyone who happens to be in a room immediately BEHIND your target.

What’s the best firearm then? 

I can’t answer that question for you because I don’t know your situation or your individual circumstances and capabilities. I can make a compelling argument for quite a few weapons. Any of them may, or may not, fit your circumstances.

The point is - factor in the amount of wall penetration you will expect from you particular weapon in your particular environment. 

Maybe you live in a tent?  Maybe you live in a brickhouse?  Maybe you’re a prepper with interior walls made of sandbags 3 rows across.  Maybe your walls are filled with your secret stash of silver coins…I just don’t know. That makes choosing the proper firearm for home defense a question only you are prepared to answer.

Being aware of what is potentially BEHIND and BEYOND your target in any scenario is an essential assessment everyone carrying a firearm needs to work on. Are you concealed carrying when you go to a restaurant? To the movie theater?  Are you thinking about who and what will be behind and beyond targets in these places? 

Do this mental exercise any time you are armed to avoid unintentional collateral damage  from your shots. 

TRAINING TAKEAWAY: Place cardboard targets around and behind your steel targets.  When you engage your targets, think about being in your home or a crowded public location. Work on how you would approach taking a shot in this complex environment.  Do you need to move?  Do you need to wait for a better shot?  Would over penetration be a concern in your environment?

Factor this dynamic thinking into your practice and training to become a better prepared and more professional shooter.


Until we reload,

The VSS Team.

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