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Best Home Defense Guns for Women

The attacks against women at home are overwhelmingly someone they know. Husbands, boyfriends, and ex-husbands lead the least. Statistically, 96% of all attacks against women are done by men, men they knew. On a national average, fewer than 10% of American women own a handgun, and less than one percent a shotgun or rifle.

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Determining the proper firearm for defending your home is a very personal decision, there is no “one size fits all” solution.

A growing number of women now have the added responsibility of defending their homes. A woman must first defend herself in a manner that is different than a man would face. She must also often defend her children.

What is the best home defense gun for a woman? There are many contenders for this choice with pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and long guns all having their place in the discussion. Which gun you choose to defend your home with involves serious thought, training, and practice, we’ll help you in that process. A few of the best home defense guns for women include the Mossberg 500 Compact Super Bantam, Beretta A 400 and Savage Stevens 320 Security. We’ll explore each of these guns and more below.

What a woman should look for in a home defense gun

The are three basic things a woman should consider when selecting a home defense firearm.

  • Can the firearm be handled safely
  • Can the firearm be shot accurately
  • Does the firearm deliver the stopping power to drop an attacker

Add to these three basic requirements, the ability to reach it quickly when needed, being able to handle the recoil of the weapon when fired, and the ease of use.

Four choices

Women have four choices when it comes to a home defense gun, just as their male counterparts do, shotguns, rifles, pistols, and revolvers. We’ll take a look at the relative merits, (and a few demerits) of each one to help you in deciding which platform works best for you.

In doing this, let’s remember that home defense, is a different animal than “self defense.” In home defense, you are in the relative safety of your home or apartment, when danger arrives. With self defense, parking garages, parks, restrooms, dark streets, just about any secluded area is the place where you’re like to be attacked.

The attacks against women at home are overwhelmingly someone they know. Husbands, boyfriends, and ex-husbands lead the least. Statistically, 96% of all attacks against women are done by men, men they knew. On a national average, fewer than 10% of American women own a handgun, and less than one percent a shotgun or rifle.

1. Shotguns

Shotguns are at the top of the list for home defense. Per trigger pull, shotguns deliver the most firepower of any controllable home defense firearm.

Shotguns... Why they’re the best

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It’s not glamorous, it isn’t easy to use in a tight setting, and it can kick pretty hard with a substantial recoil in 12 or 16-gauge, but the shotgun remains the best home defense weapon among all the contenders. That’s a statement made for both men and women.

Men will overwhelmingly choose a shotgun if they’re in a situation against an attacker with a handgun. Women don’t often see it the same way, but a shotgun is the great equalizer in home defense.

A shotgun doesn’t have to be aimed well. Point it at a target within 50 feet and you’ll hit the attacker. Hit them at a closer range and the effect is immediate. A large hole in the attacker and the situation is over in seconds.

Law enforcement still carries the venerable Mossberg 12-gauge pump as standard equipment in many police cruisers and sheriff department vehicles. The firepower of a shotgun is impressive. Loaded with 00 buckshot a single shotgun blast has the equivalent pattern of 17 32 caliber bullets fired at once, and a shotgun has much more energy than a handgun.

Limitations

Shotguns do the job, there is no question. They’ll stop an intruder on the other side of a door with ease, but they do have their limitations.

Shotguns are large weapons, weighing seven to 10 pounds. They’re easy for trained shooters to use, but the novice with minimal training has difficulty lifting them properly to fire. They can have tremendous recoil as well. The most popular gauges remain the 12 and 20-gauge varieties, and both are excellent for home defense, but the 12-gauge in particular packs a wallop at the shoulder when fired, “it kills on both ends” is a common term to describe the recoil of some models.

Many women avoid recoil at the level you’ll find in almost every 12 and many 20 gauge models.

The final consideration is the ease of use, and ability to fire quickly. You won’t likely keep a shotgun next to the bed, so it doesn’t have the advantage of a handgun in the nightstand. The time between discovering an attacker and being able to defend yourself will be longer with a shotgun than with a handgun.

2. Rifles

While not quite as popular as shotguns, rifles can also make excellent home defense weapons. They’re accurate, powerful, and will stop an intruder in their tracks.

Rifles... The utmost in firepower

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Unless you’re Matt Dillon, snap shooting your Colt 45 at an outlaw shooting a Winchester, or Dirty Harry gunning down a terrorist with a machine gun with his .44 Magnum you can’t match the power and accuracy of a long gun with any handgun.

Rifles are more accurate, deliver more energy on target, and are available in a much wider range of calibers and styles than any other home defense weapon. The preferred cartridge for women in a home defense setting is the venerably .223, the standard round for the AR-15 platform. It has light recoil, is easy to hold on target and with the semi-automatic action, it will let a woman empty the entire magazine at an attacker in just a few seconds.

A rifle is much more accurate than a handgun at distances beyond a few dozen yards. It requires two hands to control which can serve as both an advantage and a disadvantage depending on the situation. A bolt action or lever action rifle is much better than no weapon at all in a home defense setting, but the bolt action is slow and requires locating the target after jacking another round into the chamber. A lever action rifle is a bit better, allowing the shooter to stay on target, but neither is as fast as an AR-15, and the AR-15 is a shorter rifle, making it easier for a women to handle.

A rifle offers longer range protection. Not every incident will occur within a few feet. If your home has a large lawn, or acreage included with it, and a family member is under assault at the far end of your property, a well placed rifle shot can end the situation quickly.

A felon with a handgun is no match for a rifle in any setting beyond a few yards.

Rifles... Aren’t always the best choice

For extended reach against an attacker, nothing compares to a rifle, but when the attacker is right in front of a woman, there are problems with a long gun. An assailant can grab the barrel of a rifle, ripping it from a woman’s hands in close contact.

A rifle is slower to aim, and does require two hands to fire. A rifle isn’t as easy to access as a handgun. Most women aren’t going to lean a loaded AR-15 next to the bed, but they might keep a pistol or revolver in the nightstand.

A bolt action hunting rifle will stop an intruder instantly, even driving through most body armor if the rifle is chambered in something above .25-06, but at close range, you’ll only get one shot, and the recoil of a hunting rifle isn’t something most women want to experience again after getting hammered back the first time.

Lever action rifles fill the gap between bolt-action and semi-automatic, and in a carbine design are short enough for quick action. They work, but once again, not as well as an AR-15 will in adrenaline filled home defense situation.

3. Pistols

Pistols are unquestionably the preferred choice for home defense weapon for women. They’re small, compact and relatively easy to shoot.

Pistols... The preferred choice… but is conventional wisdom always right?

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Do a quick Google search for best home defense guns for women and you’ll get hundreds of pages listing a wide variety of pistols, there might be a few references to revolvers, but shotguns and rifles will be rarely seen. You can purchase a pistol in calibers from .22 to .454, but recoil is always an issue with a female shooter, the best calibers are .25, .32, .38 Special, .380, and 9mm. More popular cartridges for men are 10mm and .45 ACP but they come with larger footprints and have substantially more recoil. The lighter cartridges are easier for women to aim and control, which is what home defense is all about.

Too much time is dedicated to caliber alone when deciding which pistol is best for a woman to use in defending her home. Cartridge size is one consideration of many, women should also consider the physical size of the pistol, its weight, ease of use, tension on the slide when manually cocking the weapon, and the ever present problem of recoil. Let’s take a look at why pistols often get the nod for the best choice.

A pistol once cocked, is easy to fire, simply pull the trigger and empty the magazine at an assailant. Pistols are easy to hold if you find one that fits your hand. They are easy to aim at, and at close quarters you can put a lot of lead into an attacker in just a few seconds. As an added benefit, they’re easy to store and easy to access when that loud crash in the night turns out to be someone invading your home.

Pistols... Not everybody whistles Dixie when they use one

A pistol is a great weapon for women, but they require quick thinking to arm, click off the safety, then pull the trigger. They require coordination as well. Even well trained law enforcement personnel routinely miss criminals at close range with their pistols.

A pistol requires time on the range to learn how to fire it effectively and hit targets accurately. If safety is a concern in your home, as it should be if you have children. A pistol should be empty, locked in a drawer or case, with a magazine nearby to slap in and arm at a moment’s notice.

A pistol round in the lighter calibers, and even in .380 or 9mm won’t stop an attacker unless it is a direct kill shot in the head or chest. It often takes several hits to slow down or stop a drug crazed home invader. A rifle or shotgun blast usually takes a single shot.

4. Revolvers

Revolvers are growing in popular as a home defense gun for women. There’s no safety to worry about, no difficult magazines to load or slide to struggle with. Load the cylinder, close it and pull the trigger. Simple and reliable.

Revolvers... Simple to use, deadly effective…

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Revolvers don’t get the respect they deserve. The modern trend of rating home defense weapons based on which type the military and law enforcement prefer is an inaccurate method. A woman defending her home from an intruder is in a vastly different situation than a Navy Seal engaged in combat, or a police officer returning fire against a cornered criminal.

The revolver has advantages in safety, ease of use and is available in a wide range of effective calibers. One of those calibers, in conjunction with the vast array of size and weight designs with revolvers, can create a perfect match for a woman defending her home.

Revolvers come in both single and double-action with each having relative merits over the other. A single-action revolver requires the user to manually pull back the hammer before each shot. This is an additional safety feature, but in a tense situation, it requires more responsibility for the shooter than the double-action revolver that fires with the pull of the trigger.

Revolvers don’t jam as pistols sometimes do, and they work with all different qualities of ammunition. A semi-automatic pistol must have a cartridge with sufficient energy to force the slide back with exhaust to reload the weapon. A revolver does not. Even with a misfire the revolver rotates the cylinder and is ready for the next shot. They are much easier to clean and maintain than a pistol.

Revolvers.. Not the fastest gun on the block

One of the biggest limitations with a revolver in comparison with a pistol is the rate of fire. Only trick shooters who can fan the hammer to fire quickly can get comparative rates of fire with a semi-automatic pistol. Each squeeze of the trigger requires another full squeeze with a double-action revolver, and a squeeze, with the hammer being pulled back with a single-action revolver. With a semi-automatic pistol, it’s just squeeze and release as quickly as you can twitch your finger.

In a desperate situation, with a moving attacker, not everyone shoots well, even well trained police officers routinely miss in this situation. A revolver will get you only one or possibly two shots in a close contact situation before the attacker is within arms reach. That is a disadvantage in comparison with firing six to 10 rounds from a semi-automatic in just a few seconds.

Revolvers have from five to six cartridges in the cylinder in most mainstream models. That is fewer rounds than a standard semi-automatic pistol. They’re slower to reload since you have to eject the spent rounds, and individually reload them in the cylinder. There are options for second cylinders, but there is usually little time to do that. In comparison, to reload a semi-automatic pistol you trip one lever, the magazine slides out, you slide another magazine back in, pull the slide back, and continue firing. With practice, you can do this in less than five seconds.

Recommended guns for home defense

The following home defense guns are some of the most popular firearms choices that are ideal for women. Each meets some or all of the criteria discussed above.

Shotguns

The following are my picks for the top three home defense shotguns for women.

Mossberg 500 Compact Super Bantam

Mossberg 500 Compact Super Bantam Mossy Oak Obsession 20 Gauge 3in Pump Shotgun

Our top pick is a familiar shotgun manufacturer, renowned for both quality, and low price. This Mossberg shotgun is perfect for most women. It is light, quick, has a shorter overall length, and a shorter barrel length than competing models, and is the lowest priced shotgun we’ll review here.

The Mossberg 500 Compact Super Bantam in 20-gauge style offers a five-round magazine capacity, a smooth operating pump, and a short pump length of only 12 to 13 inches.

At 5.25 pounds, it is light enough for the smallest woman to operate, and with an overall length of just 40 inches and a short 22-inch barrel length, it is a quick weapon that can handle obstacles often found in a home defense setting such as tight hallways, closet doors, and furniture.

The Mossberg 500 Compact Super Bantam chambers 3-inch shells, offering great energy in a compact platform. Available in either left or right-handed configuration this shotgun is the great equalizer for women trying to defend their homes from an attacker.

Beretta A400

Beretta A400 Xplor Action Bronze 12 Gauge 3in Semi Automatic Shotgun

This one will set you back a little at the checkout stand, but Beretta is renowned for quality semi-automatic shotguns and the A400 delivers on that reputation.

It is still relatively light at just seven pounds in the 12-gauge offering and is a manageable 48 inches in length with a barrel length of 28 inches.

This shotgun will reach a long way with a full choke, but for home defense, it spreads a deadly shot pattern with a modified cylinder choke.

The magazine holds four rounds that can be emptied as quickly as you can pull the trigger. It handles three-inch shells well but works best with high brass shotgun shells. Lower quality shells with less powder can create cycling problems with the A400. If you’re going to spend top dollar in a shotgun, you should scrimp on the shells that power it.

Available in both right and left-hand models, the Beretta A400 will spread more lead in just a few seconds than any other shotgun on the market. The power of a 12-gauge shotgun in a lightweight seven-pound frame represents a trade off in recoil. The A400 has a substantial recoil, but a quality recoil pad can take a lot of that shock away, making this shotgun a solid choice in home defense for women.

Savage Stevens 320 Security

Savage Stevens 320 Security Pump Shotgun

No one will mistake this shotgun for a duck or pheasant hunting variety. The Savage Stevens 320 is a tactical shotgun, designed exclusively for home defense. The pistol grip gives it away at first glance. A smooth pump action shotgun with a fixed cylinder choke, it arrives with a four round magazine and a very small footprint.

The gun is only 38 inches long and the barrel is just beyond the legal limit at 18.5 inches. This black synthetic stock pump shotgun is intimidating to look at and delivers a lot of firepower. Chambered for three-inch 12-gauge shells it will spray a lot of lead at an attacker with just a quick pump of the hand.

At 6.9 pounds it is a light shotgun, and when firing three-inch 12-gauge shells it can create heavy recoil if a recoil pad is not attached. Larger, stronger women can fire the weapon easily without bringing it to the shoulder with the pistol grip, but a smaller woman will likely want the locked in security and accuracy of a shoulder fired weapon.

Rifles

If you’re set on getting a rifle to defense your home, I’d recommend purchasing one of the following.

Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 Semi-Automatic Rifle

Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 Semi-Automatic Rifle

This one would make Rambo, or rather Ms. Rambo proud. An expensive semi-automatic rifle made by Daniel Defense, an American company it offers versatility, firepower, and precision all in a lightweight package.

The DDM4 V7 is chambered in the popular 5.56mm and has a whopping 32-round external magazine. Listed at just 6.2 pounds, it is a very light rifle, but when fully loaded, the ammunition adds nearly 14 ounces of weight, meaning a fully loaded rifle tips the scales north of seven pounds. That’s still a lightweight platform, easy to handle for most women.

A barrel length of 16 inches and an overall length of 32 to 36 inches makes this a tight, compact rifle. The variance in length comes from an adjustable six position stock that can be configured to meet the needs of a woman of any height or arm length.

This is not an inexpensive rifle. With accessories, it will cost in excess of $2000, but it is the top of the line in a home defense rifle.

Springfield Armory – Saint Edge

Springfield Armory Saint Edge 5.56mm NATO 16in Black Semi Automatic Rifle

Regarded as one of the best manufacturers of high quality semi-automatic rifles, Springfield Armory enters the discussion with the Saint Edge, a 5.56mm semi-auto rifle. At 6.9 pounds, with an overall length of 35.75 inches, this lightweight rifle is a great choice for a woman looking to protect her home.

The 16-inch barrel delivers accurate shots to 300 or more yards, and the six position adjustable stock will allow a custom fit to any size woman. Add the adjustable flip up front and rear sights and you have a rifle that can really reach out and touch someone if the situation arises.

In most home defense situations, the assailant is within a few yards and that’s where the detachable, external 10-round magazine comes into play. A quick action trigger delivers a lot of lead on target in a very short time.

This is an American made rifle.

Ruger AR-556

Ruger AR 556

The lowest priced of the three semi-automatic rifles in this review, this design is a classic from a classic manufacturer. Ruger is renowned for its exacting production quality, and its performance in the field. The Ruger AR-556 brings both to the table in a 6.5-pound platform that is easy to control and aim for anyone, especially for women defending their home.

The 34.4-inch overall length allows quick handling by smaller stature shooters and the 16-inch barrel delivers accurate targeting with a 30-round external magazine of 5.56mm ammunition.

A single stage trigger, with a heat resistant glass filled nylon handguard protects the shooter when the weapon heats up from rapid fire. Available with an adjustable stock, this rifle will deliver top quality performance at a moderate price.

Pistols

Pistols are unquestionably the most popular type of gun for home defense. I recommend one of the following home defense pistols for women.

Glock 19 Gen 3

Glock 19 G3 9mm Luger 4.02in Tungsten Pistol

Weighing less than two pounds fully loaded with 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition, the Glock 19 is a great choice for a woman looking for a reliable home defense semi-automatic pistol.

Glock is a leader in semi-automatic handguns, and they’ve reduced the size of their traditional lineup in the 19 Gen 3. The smaller size, just 7.36 inches long, 5.04 high, and 1.18 wide is perfect for small hands, yet it still delivers maximum firepower at a fast rate of fire.

The Gen 3 19 is a favorite for female sheriff’s deputies, government agencies, and for overall private use in a home defense setting. Glock’s designs are easy to use, easy to maintain, and their reputation as a world leader in small footprint semi-automatic pistols makes this a solid choice for any woman looking for something easily accessible from a nightstand or drawer in the event of an emergency.

Sig Sauer P365 380

Sig Sauer P365 380 Auto

A tiny piece of deadly power right in your hand. That’s what makes the Sig Sauer P365 .380 semi-automatic such a popular choice for women in home defense.

The pistol weighs just 15.7 ounces, less than a pound, and is small in comparison with competing models at just 5.8 inches long, 4.2 inches high, and one inch wide. It won’t fit comfortably in most men’s hands but is a great choice for a smaller woman.

The pistol magazine holds an ample 10 rounds of .380 ammunition with a polymer grip that aids in controlling and aiming the weapon. The recoil on this pistol is reduced with the slightly lower powered .380 ammunition, but it still retains enough energy to stop any attacker at close range.

Coming with Sig Sauer’s international reputation as a producer of quality handguns, this pistol is a great choice for the smaller woman looking to defend her home.

The Ruger LC9S

Ruger LC9S 9mm Luger 3.12in Black/Blued Pistol

Empty it weighs just 17.2 ounces. With a full seven-round magazine it tips the scales at 20.2 ounces, still a very manageable weight for anyone to handle. The LC9S is Ruger’s venture into the world of compact handguns.

With a length of just six inches, a height of 4.5, and a very slim .9 inch width, the Ruger LC9S is definitely not a weapon for someone who can palm a basketball, but it is a perfect choice for a woman with smaller hands to use in defending her home. A manual thumb safety, and drift adjustable three-dot sight make this not only a light weapon but one that is easy to manage, and easy to place on target.

For an added safety feature, a trigger pull of 5.2 pounds guarantees you won’t accidentally fire this weapon. The resistance on the trigger lets you know you mean business when you pull it. Available in 9mm this is a popular pistol made by arguably a designer with the highest engineering tolerances in the business.

Revolvers

Simple and reliable. That sums it up… and each of the following revolvers models are exactly that.

Smith and Wesson 36 Classic

Smith & Wesson Model 36 Classics 38 Special 1.87in Blued Revolver

Ever wonder why Sergeant Joe Friday and every other cop on a police show or movie carried a snub nosed .38? The reason isn’t long distance accuracy, it’s performance at close range and reliability regardless of conditions.

The snub nosed .38 is a classic revolver tracing its roots back almost three-quarters of a century. It remains one of the most effective handguns for a woman to use in home defense. The 19.5-ounce revolver has a little heft, but not so much a woman won’t feel comfortable using it. It is slightly less than seven inches long and has a barrel listed at 1.875 inches, short by any standard, but deadly effective at the close range you’re likely to encounter an attacker at in your home.

The flip out cylinder holds five rounds of .38 Special ammunition in a compact design that is easy for any woman to hold. The added safety of a revolver that won’t go off with an accidental brushing of the trigger as some semi-automatics can is important for women with children. The small footprint allows a woman to keep this handgun in her purse or in a small drawer somewhere in the house.

Old and reliable, with a proven past from a proven manufacturer.

Ruger LCR 38

Ruger LCR 38 Special +P 1.87in Matte Black Revolver

Sometimes the best home defense weapon shouldn’t be in a gun cabinet, a drawer, or locked inside a safe. In tense situations where a woman knows there is a chance of violence against her or her family, having the gun on their person is imperative.

The Ruger LCR 38 is designed for concealed carry on a woman. The revolver has a fashion flair as well with its unique purple embossing inside the black steel frame of the handgun. Available in .38 special, it features a five-round cylinder, with a short 1.87-inch barrel. At 13.5 ounces, it is the lightest home defense weapon in this review.

A hammerless design makes it a great choice for a woman to carry since the smooth features of the revolver won’t catch on clothing as it is pulled out for self defense.

This is a great choice for a woman who is looking for a gun to carry with her, whether at home or outside.

Taurus “The Judge”

Taurus Judge Revolver

Our final consideration merges the world of the revolver and the shotgun into one unique package. Taurus took the identical dimensions of the .45 Long Colt cartridge and the .410 gauge shotgun and put them into one platform.

The Tauras Judge allows a shooter to load it entirely with five .45 Long Colt cartridges, five .410 shotgun shells, or any combination of the two.

Weighing 29 ounces, it has the added heft to reduce the recoil of the .410 shotgun in an easy to handle, easy to manage revolver. The three-inch barrel isn’t designed for long range shooting, but the .45 Long Colt can easily target at 50 yards, and the .410 isn’t intended for target shooting, it's intended for close range use against an assailant when you don’t want to miss on the first shot.

This unique combination is catching on as a home defense weapon for women with growing popularity.

Conclusion

The world of home defense for women is a tangled web of choices. Depending on the circumstances, a shotgun is the best choice for a sure fired (pun intended) method of defending your home, but it isn’t the answer for every woman. A rifle, especially one similar to the fast action and lightweight of an AR-15 is another option, but it isn’t practical for some women.

The world of handguns dominates the market for women looking for a way to defend themselves and their homes. The vast array of semi-automatic pistols available nearly everywhere today makes it difficult to choose, hopefully, this review has helped.

The venerable revolver remains a viable option for women looking to defend themselves or loved ones in a reliable, safe platform. The rate of fire is slower than the three other options in home defense weapons, but the reliability and ease of maintenance make them a good choice for many.

Good luck in your quest for home safety.