If you wake up in the middle of the night to a sound in another part of the house, most of us are going to hesitate before investigating the noise taking nothing but your underwear (or birthday suit and PJs if those are more your speed). Although home defense guns and shotguns in particular often get most of the attention, there are also other effective weapons that could be picked up and used in a time of crisis.
Why do I need a weapon?
You may think that no weapon is necessary because you aren’t going out of your room to clear your house of bad guys, and you’ll simply call the police and wait for reinforcements. But, even with that attitude, there are still situations when you will be served well by a home defense weapon.
Here are a few examples:
- You hear something that wakes you up. But, you can’t confirm a burglar is in your house by any additional noise or lights. Do you just lay your head down and go to sleep without knowing what the sound was? Please don’t. According to a US Department of Justice study (2003-2007), there were 390,000 break-ins that happened while people were sleeping. And, if you read and watch enough interviews of criminals, you will know that they are bold enough to rob you while you sleep. Do you call the cops? And tell them what? You heard a noise at night and need them to drive out and check it out. How many times do you think that will work? If the sound doesn’t continue then it’s more than likely nothing, but YOU still need to determine the source of the noise.
- Your wife wakes up and says she heard something. She won’t go to sleep until she knows the house and your kids are secure. Do you just grab a bat? How well do you think you’ll be able to swing that in a tight hallway when a burglar charges you? What if he has a knife from your kitchen? Do you think you’ll escape that confrontation without a stabbing?
- You wake up and hear repeated sounds downstairs or your alarm system going off. You check and your kids are sleeping, so you have your spouse call the cops while you consolidate your family into your designated sheltering room where you can set up a prepared defense until the police arrive (anywhere from 5 – 20 minutes depending on how rural your location is, where they are when the dispatcher reaches them, and their availability to respond immediately). What do you grab in case the criminal comes up the stairs? Do you shout that the cops are on the way? What if he doesn’t care or laughs at you because he cut the power and phone line before entering the house?
OK, so you get the idea now. You either want to be able to match, and preferably exceed, the amount of force that will be used against you during a home invasion. Or stated another way, you want the capability to completely incapacitate your adversary.
Options for Home Defense Weapons
- Stun guns
- Tasers (that fire projectiles)
- Blades (knives, swords, etc.)
Let’s cover these in a little more detail.
Self defense spraysSprays can be very effective at incapacitating an enemy for short periods. But, you may want to have a backup method to restrain the burglar. After all, the effect will wear off and may do so before the cops show up. Another thing to consider are the residual effects. You may be able to get mace or pepper spray off of the walls, but how easy do you think it will be to get out of the carpet. Chances are, you will be dealing with residual effects for weeks to come.
This will give you plenty of range and multiple shots.
And, if you really want to make them suffer, bear spray will make sure you can give them a good soak. But, make sure you check the laws where you live, because it could be illegal to use bear spray on people.
Another thing to consider is how you can be impacted by these in a confrontation. Let’s assume that you start down a hall and a burglar steps into the other end and spots you. You both assess the situation for a second, and then he comes at you to tackle you. Even if you load the top of his head up with pepper spray, he’s still going to plant his head right in your chest if he keeps his legs pumping. Now, you’re feeling the effects of the spray just like he is. If you have ever experienced pepper spray, being in an enclosed area with it anywhere nearby is not pleasant. You’ll likely have an expensive cleaning operation in your future.
Just make sure that you replace the spray well before the expiration date. As more time goes by, the range of the spray will be diminished and 15 feet can turn into 5 feet . . . too close for comfort.
Stun gunsStun guns, batons, or electric prods can really put someone out, but you have to be in very close proximity to use them. If we’re using the scenario above, that means that the burglar has entered the room with you and your family, you’ve confronted him at the door, and you are fighting hand-to-hand (hopefully, he didn’t bring a gun or a knife). In my opinion, these are best used in close quarters self defense after being surprised or in areas where you can’t legally carry a gun. But, the unit below comes built into a tactical light and can be a good backup weapon and a decent replacement for the flashlight you may be carrying around to clear your house anyway. One advantage of the stun gun is that you can get a good weapon for $30 or so.
TasersTasers and other conducted electrical weapons have the capability to shoot barbs with conductive wires several meters that stick into your assailant and apply the same electric shock as a stun gun. Obviously, the added safety provided by distance makes these a better solution. The downside as a self defense weapon can be the size, but in a home defense situation that isn’t an issue.
WarningIf it is winter and the burglar is wearing thick clothing or somehow dodges or knocks away the barb, the shock won’t be delivered to incapacitate him, and you better have a back-up solution.
The downside to the extra range is the big price tag. At $500 and more, these are every bit as expensive as guns.
GunsGuns are lethal self defense tools. That can be good and bad. If you are faced with a criminal that is intent on more than just burglary, then your only recourse may be to completely incapacitate him. A gun can certainly do that, and you don’t have to be close to the individual to stop them. The down side, of course, is that you may have taken a life depending on your shot placement and how quickly EMTs can arrive and provide assistance. And that can weigh on you for the rest of your life. A lot of veterans can attest to that, and they had significantly more training than the average reader. On top of that, you could face criminal charges depending on how friendly your state laws are when it comes to criminals that break into your house.
Blades and batonsBlades are another option for a home defense weapon. Like stun guns, they generally require being very close to the criminal and put you at risk for injury yourself (I don’t know many people that are any good at throwing knives). And, while you may be able to stab someone who charges you, it may not be enough of a wound to stop them from taking control of the weapon and using it against you. In my mind, these are hobbies and collectables more than home defense weapons. Here is a well-reviewed self-defense knife with a robust handle for improved retention in a scuffle.
And I’m just throwing this in as a bonus because it’s a cool knife that you won’t forget to take with you. Just make sure you buy from Amazon or a reputable supplier, there are a lot of reviewers saying they got knock-offs instead of the real thing.
Our Recommendation for Home Defense Weapon
Here at 24/7 Home Security, we recommend guns for a primary home defense weapon. They can completely incapacitate your adversary (even with a misplaced shot, you will stop most criminals). If you don’t want to take someone’s life, you can achieve your objective with proper shot placement, and with proper medical care, the burglar will survive. And after researching stun guns, I’m strongly considering the tactical light/stun gun combination as a back up or when I normally wouldn’t have my gun with me.
Because of the lethality of guns and these other weapons, no matter what you choose it is important that everyone in your house have proper training on how to handle (and use, as appropriate) the home defense weapon that you buy. For kids, they need to know of the dangers and that they aren’t to handle the weapon without your presence and approval. For other adults, the same training applies, and additional training may be warranted if they will be put in a situation to use the weapon themselves (highly recommended whether you think this will happen or not).
Also, you need to consider how to store any weapon that you choose so that you can control access to it at all times, yet still access it quickly in an emergency. For sprays, stun guns, and handguns, I can personally recommend the Gunvault safes, although I am sure there are other great alternatives.
For longer weapons such as shotguns and swords, a wall safe may be needed to keep it out of the hands of people with no training or need to use them.
As always, if you have recommendations or experiences of your own that you can share, we’d love to hear them. Just submit a comment using the form below.
Hi, I’m Jody. I graduated with honors with a Masters of Science in Computer Engineering and have over 15 years of experience working as an engineer with electronics products. I’m a lifelong learner and tinkerer and enjoy automating things around the house so I can solve bigger problems than getting out of bed to check if the garage door is closed . . . like too little sleep!