Try a .38 special since it's relatively easy to use and effective as well. Wouldn't go with something too fancy cause in a life or death situation you don't want to something complicated. You'll probably be spending between $275 and $350 for one.
Answered: 03 May '12, 15:55
Warning: Long Answer!
Here are three practical options:
You said you don't know much about guns, so I'll include a basic primer for each category.
Shotguns don't fire "bullets" in the traditional sense. It's more like a concentrated spray of pellets. But trust me, serious damage comes with those pellets. The advantage of a shotgun is that it requires very little skill to hit a target. "pump" action shotguns have that signature "chk-chk" sound when you chamber a round, which often is enough to scare off an intruder.
The downside to a shotgun is that most are designed for just a handful of rounds, like 3 or 4. So reload time is an issue.
Shotguns, as a class of firearms, are very reliable. I've never seen a misfire in all my shooting.
The two most common types of shotguns are 12-gauge and 20-gauge. 20-gauge is a bit smaller than the 12 gauge. 12 gauge is the most common round.
You can get a shotgun for 250-500, and the rounds are extremely cheap. Maybe $20 for a box of 100.
Revolvers are also reliable, which makes them great for home defense. The mechanism is very simple, so you really don't ever see a revolver fail or misfire, unless the round itself is a dud.
There are tons of variations in revolver-land. Single-Action is when you have to manually cock the hammer before you pull the trigger for each round. Double-Action is when you just keep pulling the trigger and the hammer cocks itself. Most double-action revolvers will allow you to manually pull down the trigger if you want to (thus acting like a single action). Why would you do this? Most people are more accurate with their shots in single-action mode.
I recommend looking at a 357 Magnum revolver. 357 Magnums will take two types of rounds - 357 Magnum rounds, and also .38 Special. As the other response stated, .38 special is an awesome round. Pretty cheap, but powerful and easy to find in stores.
Another popular round is the .45 Long Colt. These are more expensive than the 357M/.38S.
Like shotguns, the downside to revolvers is reload time. Revolvers typically max out at 6 rounds, so you need to be a very good shot if you don't want to reload.
You should be able to find a revolver for around $500. You might consider used revolvers if they are in good condition.
Semi-Auto means each time you pull the trigger, a bullet is fired without any other action on your part. Note the difference between Semi-Auto and Full-Auto, where full-auto means you can hold down the trigger for continuous fire.
These pistols have spring-loaded magazines that hold rounds, and the magazines are typically inserted vertically into the grip of the gun.
Because the semi-auto mechanism is much more complicated, there is an increased risk of failure in these pistols. The advantage, though, is that you can store multiple magazines pre-loaded with rounds, so when you run out of bullets you can just slip the old magazine out and immediately pop the next one in, all ready to go. Much faster than reloading a revolver or shotgun.
If you are looking at a pistol, I believe it is worth the money to buy something that will reduce the risk of malfunction. The worst thing would be to confront an intruder and aim your weapon only to have it misfire.
From my research, the Beretta 92FS has the best reliability record of any pistol. It is a 9mm, which is probably the most common caliber and therefore easy to find. It is also cheaper than most other calibers. The 92FS is about $650. 9mm is around $20 for a box of 50 rounds.
.45 is also a popular pistol round (.45 ACP is the pistol round, as opposed to the .45LC or "Long Colt" which is for revolvers). But the .45 is expensive.
.38 special is a popular self-defense weapon, because they make a lot of small form factor pistols that you can easily carry and conceal. PI's often use those.
A good pistol will cost $500-1000.
Answered: 30 May '12, 11:13
A shortened shotgun would be your best bet, preferably a double barrel. You can have one slug, which is a BIG bullet and 000 buck shot. If you have a pistol and you miss, where is that bullet going and how far is it going. That's how bystanders get hit. When you fire of 000 buck shot, the intruder is down and the pellets lose terminal velocity before they hit the street. If the intruder is still coming, which I doubt, the slug will cut him in half.
Answered: 27 Jun '12, 03:22
I would say a 45. My grandmother slept with one under her pillow from the time i was born to the day she died, about 28 years. Her house was broken into one time, after shooting up the entire house during that break-in, the rumor mill spreaded rapidly about the ole lady with the 45 under her pillow. After that, my grandmother never had to pay Brink's security again, her gun was good enough.
Answered: 20 Oct '12, 19:14
Pistols/revolvers are ok and shotguns work fine but if I could chose any firearm for home defense it would be a AR-15 with a 16" barrel. It's pretty much a barbie doll for men. I recommend throwing on a foregrip, a light and a mount for it, and an illuminated red dot sight.
Here's my setup
Daniel Defense M4V3
Surefire 6PX Tactical Single-Output LED
Gear Sector SUREFIRE 6P OFFSET FLASHLIGHT MOUNT
Cantilever LT129 VFZ Mount This set up will run about $2500 and you can get the Aimpoint and the cantilever as a combo deal (the cantilever is the mount for the aimpoint)
Answered: 24 Feb, 21:26
.50 cal. fo a fagit lyke yo, yo gon need da power
Answered: 22 May, 12:37