Your home is your castle—it’s where you should feel free and safe to run around in your under-wear, secure from prying eyes and unwanted intruders. Medieval castles relied on moats, parapet walls and a collection of ruthless warriors armed with battle axes and pikes to keep back the dark forces. While all those things might be desirable, they’re imprac-tical and financially out of reach for most nowadays. So most savvy civilians turn to a firearm for home protection.

There are three firearm options for home protection—a rife (carbine), a shotgun and a handgun. All have merit,so which should you choose? If you’re serious about personal protection, you’re conscious about it 24/7,not just at home. Because they’re hard to conceal, a rifle or shotgun are hardly the answer for a night on the town. So, it’s likely you already own a handgun. But will your concealed carry gun work for home protection too?

Along with providing you with the ability to defend yourself, a firearm—any firearm—provides comfort. The chance that you’ll have to defend your home and loved ones with a firearm is slim,but if and when the vagabonds come clawing at your castle door, you’d like to know you have the correct armament on hand to fight off the invading hordes.

The House Gun

Some folks would like you to believe a home defense handgun is different from a carry gun. This approach—while it sounds logical—does not hold water. Supported by the notion you need the best tool for the job at hand, the idea that a handgun capable of saving your life on the street will not do the same at home is asinine. Punch a bad guy in the chest with a 115-grain TAC-XP load from Buffalo Bore and it will work just as well in a parking garage as it will in your living room. This fact does not mean a separate handgun in the home is a bad idea. A handgun in the home that is always in the same location makes perfect sense.

If a troll is at the door, anyone in the home who is trained and has authorized access should know without a doubt where the handgun is, and it damn sure better be there. What if you’re not at home and your carry gun is with you? A house gun stays with the house.

I think this is where the notion of a house gun gets misunderstood. Just because it is called a house gun does not mean it needs to be a different kind of gun altogether, it simply means it is a gun that belongs to the house. In fact, there’s a good argument that your house gun should be the same as, or at least very similar to your carry gun. That way there’ll be no confusion.

Here is a perfect example. My wife and my son have both been trained on the 1911. My wife used one in her Gunsite class and my son has been shooting one since he was nine. My carry gun is also a 1911—a Colt Gunsite CCO (800-962-2658; All the occupants of our castle who have been trained to shoot know how to safely shoot a 1911.

My young son does not carry a 1911, nor does my wife—she is a bit petite for a handgun that size. She carries a Kimber Solo (888-243-4522; and for all practical purposes, it operates just like the Kimber Stainless Target 1911 currently living in the Stack-On (800-323-9601; safe by her bedside. Both have Crimson Trace (800-442-2406; Lasergrips and both have a manual thumb safety. I can say without hesitation, if you accost her on the street or in our home, a bright red dot will be momentarily visible at the point on your torso where a 9mm hole is about to appear.

Safe at Home

I mention the Stack-On safe for a reason. If you share a home with untrained hands like we do—we have two young daughters—or if untrained hands frequent your home, there’s no excuse for not having a secure storage container for all your firearms. And, just like your carry gun is always carried in the same place, your home gun should always be in the same place—beside your bed, your easy chair or next to the porcelain throne. Wherever you think you’re most likely to be when your walls are breached, is where the house gun should be.

The quick access and security the compact handgun safes from Stack-On provide are a much better option than the top dresser drawer or under the mattress. In our home, we have Stack-On safes on both sides of our bed. Both safes contain a 1911 and we are both familiar with the operation of either gun.

In addition to the handgun, both safes contain two additional items—a compact, SureFire (800-828-8809; flashlight and a loaded, spare magazine. The extra ammunition supply should need no explanation but why the flashlight? This should be obvious as well, since criminals like the dark because it provides anonymity and gives them a stealthy environment in which to operate. You need that light to see what is creeping in your castle, meanwhile that light might just be enough to deter further encroachment.

Weapon-mounted lights are often sug-gested for a home defense handgun. At first blush this makes great sense but keep in mind, if you’re searching your home to see what that bump in the night was, and if you are using a weapon-mounted light to do it, you may end up pointing the handgun at your teenage daughter who is sneaking in the window from a late night rendezvous with her greaseball boyfriend.

A weapon mounted light like the excellent and compact Crimson Trace Lightguard is indeed an asset when you’re trying to shoot in the dark. However, a weapon mounted light is not a light you should be using to search with. Remember rule number two; never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Weapon mounted light on a home defense handgun? Sure. But, keep a handheld flashlight with it for searching. The Stack-On safe beside my bed contains a Colt Commander, which is wearing a Crimson Trace Lightguard. But there’s a SureFire AZ Combat Light in the safe too. I’ll search with the SureFire but use the Lightguard
to help me shoot. Make sense?

Protection Plan

So we’ve established that a handgun is fine for home defense but it should work the same as the handgun you carry for protection; the home defense handgun needs to be kept secure and always in the same place; plus you should keep extra ammunition and a light source with that handgun. From an equipment standpoint, that’s about it. Now you need a plan.

A plan might be the most important aspect of home defense. Those rugged men who defended castles of old had a standard response to an attack. Due to differences in castles, this standard response was not the same with the castle guard at every fortress—but there was a plan, and you need one too. Where do the kids go? Who calls 911, what position does the wife take and where should the husband be? All these things need to be sorted out in advance so when the “Big Bad Wolf” comes knocking, the “Little Pigs” can be prepared.

Some like to make the use of a firearm for personal protection as complicated as calculus. It’s not. A firearm is nothing more than a tool, just like a hand drill or a lawnmower. Your ability to use that tool to protect yourself will depend on how proficient you are with it and how well you have planned in advance.

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Your home is your castle—it’s where you should feel free and safe to run…