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Top Weapons To Defend The Homestead

home defense weapons

The benefits of good fences, good dogs and good cats can’t be overstated in defending the homestead, but there are times when a firearm is the appropriate response. However, the choice of weapons for a given situation should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis, and in the current societal dynamic your black gun is probably not going to be the best choice most of the time.

The bulk of the threats you will face are threats to your food production from wildlife. These threats run the gamut from small rodent pests, such as rats and mice, to large predators, like coyote and mountain lions, to deer in the orchard. Throw in the occasional bear, the increasing population of wolves in the lower 48, an assortment of winged marauders assaulting your crops and poultry, and the homestead becomes a war zone in a big hurry. With the wide variety of threats, however, defense is not a one gun-fits-all proposition.

That having been said, there is one gun that fills a large number of these needs, and provides the versatility to re-task should the threat suddenly change. The weapon of which I speak is the venerable 12 gauge shotgun. I love the 12 gauge above all other weapons. Granted, this is a personal preference and opinions will vary, but I stand by my assertion that the shogun is by far the most versatile weapon there is in the defense of home and homestead. I have often said that if I could have only one gun in a survival situation it would be a shotgun, and this holds true for “normal” times as well.

Why a shotgun? By changing loads and chokes you can cover such a wide range of situations that other long guns seem almost superfluous. With slugs or 00 buck I can take large game at short range, and I can also handle the larger predators, deer ravaging my fruit trees, home invaders, poachers, rustlers, and all manner of zombies. With game loads I can hunt rabbits and squirrels, knock down winged predators assaulting my chickens, and eradicate crows and other birds that wreak havoc in the garden.

Keep Your Handgun Locked and Loaded, Ready For Instant Use – Without Fear Of An Accident!

My all-time favorite 12 gauge shell is the magnum turkey load with No. 4 shot. With this load I have taken (of course) turkey, but have also employed it against fox, coyote, raccoon, opossum, water fowl and crows that thought they had made good on their escape. The No. 4 magnum turkey load is also a formidable home defense load. At standard defensive ranges (measured in the distance across the largest room in your house) it is positively devastating. Another advantage of this load over handguns and rifles for indoor defensive work (and over slugs and heavier buck shot for that matter) is that is less likely to travel through walls and create collateral damage. (Translated: You are less likely to wound your wife or kids in a violent confrontation with intruders).

When the coyotes are howling, the Mossberg 500 that lives above my back door is my first go-to gun. This is a gun that has been with me since high school, a field model with a 28-inch vent rib barrel. I have a newer, more tactical version with an 18.5-inch barrel and a fixed pistol grip stock. My “Zombie Gun” lives under the back seat of my truck (loaded with No. 4 magnum turkey loads). It is a part of my defensive armament in more extreme times, but it seldom sees service at the homestead.

My most-often grabbed handgun at home is a now almost-ancient Ruger Mark1 with a heavy 6-inch target barrel and sights. This is my gopher pistol, my squirrel and rabbit pistol, the handgun I carry to run my winter trap line, and the cheap-to-shoot pinker I use to maintain my handgun skills. With the target barrel and sights, it is perfectly adequate against smaller predators, like fox and raccoon, and in a pinch is good enough for head shots on coyote out to about 50 yards (although this is not the first choice, given options). The Ruger spends a lot of time on my hip around the place and if the need were to arise I would not be hesitant to use it in a confrontation with two-legged predators. The .22 long rifle round does have limitations, but it is more versatile than a lot of folks give it credit for.

Next up, in order of my most-employed firearms, is an even-older Marlin model 20 bolt action .22. This is often on the tractor with me, and it is a great rabbit and squirrel rifle, as well as a great weapon against small predators. If I am packing a long gun on the trap line, this is the one. Through the 34 years I have owned this rifle, it has taken more game and fur bearers than all my other weapons combined. I have dispatched everything from moles to coyote with my model 20, and it is an indispensable tool around the homestead.

It is sad but true that the world has become a far more dangerous place over the past several decades. I am a firm believer in being armed at all times, be it on the homestead or on the town. For this purpose, I prefer full-sized handguns, and my weapon of choice is a Taurus PT92. At home, if I am not carrying my Mark1 I am carrying the PT92, sometimes both. Away from the house, the PT92 is almost always riding in an inside-the-waistband holster at the small of my back (IWB, SOB). Threats can arise at any time, and the ability to meet force with force is comforting. Should you decide in favor of the concealed-carry option, odds are extremely high you will never be called upon to present your weapon. Now, however, is a good time to start carrying; familiarity breeds confidence, and you will be ahead of the curve should the social dynamic change in a way which necessitates being armed.

As a “crazy survivalist,” I do have a host of other weapons. My more tactical firearms are more of a contingency plan than a part of daily life. On rare occasions, primarily at night, I will patrol the perimeter of my property with a battle rifle or tactical carbine. This is generally just a training exercise. Once again, familiarity breeds confidence. It is a good idea to put on your fighting load, pick up your battle rifle, and take a walk around your perimeter from time to time, in the event that this activity should become a survival necessity one day. But as a rule, you will be far less conspicuous on a day-to-day basis with your beat-up old shotgun. Marching around in BDUs with an AK or AR may upset folks and draw attention. Walking your property with anything that resembles a sporting arm will not alarm the neighbors or passersby, and a 12 gauge is probably more than enough firepower to handle any threat you may encounter at the current time. High capacity semi-auto long guns are an important part of a strong defense in truly dire circumstances, but you should probably leave them in reserve until after there’s a crisis or disaster.

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11 comments

  1. Fully agree Pat. A .22 and a 12 gauge of most any brand should be standard equipment for any farmer, or homeowner for that matter. I’ve always had both most of my life and they’ve served me well when the need arises. The higher caliber rifles and handguns are cool, definitely useful, but the ‘ol standbys are hard to beat.

  2. I went with the mossberg 20g with the 26″ barrel and a norinco m305 in .308. I chose the 20g due to my wife being small and the possibility of having to shoot in arkward positions in the house. I want something she would enjoy shooting and not be scared of. I use three different loads. Slug, #3 buck and #4 steel shot. For the .308 I have 150 and 180 grain soft tip. My next purchase will be a 40 cal jericho baby eagle and then a norinco .223.

  3. I can’t argue with the short range versatility of a shotgun, the economy and effectiveness of a .22 or the reach of a regular hunting rifle. However, if I had to choose only ONE gun it would be a model 1892 lever action carbine in .357 magnum.

    Some heavy .357 loads (Buffalo Bore brand) out of a 20″ carbine barrel approach the power of a 30-30. Most .357 loads out of a rifle barrel have a much greater effective range when compared to a 12 ga. smooth bore slug gun due to better accuracy and retained velocity. Also, everyone in a family should be able to use a home defense firearm and most smaller shooters cannot handle the recoil of slug or turkey loads or a full sized hunting rifle, while a lever gun in .357 has very low recoil and is easy to maneuver.

    Most .357 lever guns can also shoot less powerful .38 special loads which are perfect for inside home defense and for eliminating pests and are cheap to shoot. The .357/.38 cases are much easier to reload than shotgun hulls, last longer and require far less equipment to load.

    • Your thoughts on this matter are really good ones. I have a Wichester Legacy edition model 94. By a strange twist of impulse buying, it is chambered in .45 Colt. With an increased availability of modern loads, this is a pretty solid cartridge with a lot of versatility. I like the fact that it is also a good pistol caliber, making it a great companion to an Army Colt. I haven’t gotten one yet, but I like the idea of revolvers such as the Taurus Judge that can handle the .45 colt as well as .410 shotgun shells. I think that the ’94 in conjunction with a Judge and my trusty old model 57 single shot .410 would make for a fairly versatile survival arsenal.

      Computability also lad me to get both a Hipoint carbine and pistol in 9mm, The carbine mags work in the pistol, which is a nice feature.

      The 357 magnum chambering also offers a lot of versatility and the advantage of handgun compatibility. A lever gun in practiced hands is fast and accurate, and not a bad choice at all for warding off threats to the homestead.

  4. Agree with 22 and 12 guage long guns as a base. Then add some variety of 30 caliber rifle. For in house, I like the Taurus Judge Magnum for the variety of loads. Problem is speed loader is difficult with 410s.
    Question – I used to empty 12 guage shells and load them with rock salt to persuade unknown dogs to stay away. This was when 12 guage shells came with cardboard shells. How can I do same with the plastic shells??

  5. Copied from calguns.net:

    “The really easy way to tell if a shotshell is reloadable… if the plastic has a ribbed outside, then it’s garbage… If it is a smooth plastic hull, then it is typically reusable.

    The ribbed ones will typically split when you try to reload them. For smooth plastic hulls, there are generally two ways they are made, the 2-piece compression formed hulls, and the molded tube type which is easily distinguished because the bottom of the shotshell will have a plastic piece of a different color in the bottom.”

    Shotgun shells are made in a number of different ways, higher quality shells are molded from a single piece of plastic, or in the case of AA hulls, are made from two pieces that are ultrasonically welded together. Low cost shells (like the kind you buy at walmart) use a piece of extruded plastic tube, which is cut into lengths, swaged into the brass extraction head, and then a plastic plug is inserted that holds it in place.”…”Also, when one wants to roll crimp their rounds, they need to start with either virgin hulls or previously roll crimped ones.”

    If you cut into an unfired shell in order pry the petals back to remove shot (and replace with salt) without un-crimping the hull you’ll need to use some sort of glue/wax to seal the petals back together. Hull crimps are applied to new or reloaded shells with a reloading machine.

    • Thanks – Was much easier to unroll the cardboard, remove the plug, replace the pellets and then re-roll it all back together. Those that I have, none appear to have a plug, but rather the folded plastic requiring the glue or wax to be used as a plug (with or w/o trimming to length). I guess an advantage is, plastic will not swell like moisture exposed cardboard can.

  6. No matter how many pistols, “sniper” rifles, and carbines you have, if you don’t have at least one shotgun in 12 or 20 guage, or even 410, you are not fully prepared. PERIOD. There are too many situations where they are a better choice for not to have one; especially if you live in a rural area. In an urban event where WROL and ugly crowds get up close and personal, I would rather have an old beater 12 guage than a brand new M4. But that’s just my opinion and worth what you paid for it!

  7. “The No. 4 magnum turkey load is also a formidable home defense load. At standard defensive ranges (measured in the distance across the largest room in your house) it is positively devastating. Another advantage of this load over handguns and rifles for indoor defensive work (and over slugs and heavier buck shot for that matter) is that is less likely to travel through walls and create collateral damage. (Translated: You are less likely to wound your wife or kids in a violent confrontation with intruders).”
    Good way to get people killed.
    http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot3.htm
    Birdshot is for BIRDS.

    • Don’t get your point.

      The number 4 magnum turkey load is not designed to bring down “Little Birds”. It packs a heavy dose of lead that will be in a tight pattern at household ranges. It is more than capable of penetrating the hide of your average intruder, and will in all probability leave him in two pieces. At the same time, it dissipates its energy quickly and is less likely to over-penetrate wall and wound your family. You go ahead and load yours with slugs and sit there wondering why your ounce of solid lead ended up in your next door neighbor’s kid.

  8. Have to agree Pat. I’m just south of you in the hills, with the same critters, two and four legged. In our sticks we keep a riot 12 gauge loaded with 4, #4s and 4, 00 buckshot. It will settle most any problem and I’m not worried about hitting the neighbors……

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