Opinion will always remain divided over whether you should use your hunting weapon for home defense.
Right now, I imagine, the same old argument is being had over the counters of gun shops up and down the country.
And whilst we all agree that, yes, many hunting weapons are not suitable, or at least not ideal, for home defense purposes, in practice most us simply do not have the money to build two completely separate weapon systems – one for hunting, and one for home defense. In practice, at least one of your guns will have to fulfill both purposes.
Today, we are going to look at some aspects of using hunting weapons for self defense – what kind of weapons are suitable for a dual use like this, and some things to remember if you are planning to defend your family using a weapon designed to kill deer.
First and most importantly, have a plan and know how to use your weapon.
You can have the most advanced weaponry in the world, with laser sights on all your guns and a flashlight bright enough to blind the whole neighborhood, but unless you know how to use your weapon in a self-defense situation, this is useless.
In some ways, this is one of the great advantages of having a firearm that you use for both hunting and self-defense. If you are using the weapon regularly to hunt, you get plenty of practice with it, and are likely to already know all of its foibles and weaknesses.
On the other hand, if you are looking primarily for a self-defense weapon, getting a gun that can also double as a hunting weapon can give you a great excuse to go out hunting, building up your experience with the weapon. This familiarity is the most important thing, should the worst happen.
Be aware, also, that defending your home from an intruder is quite a different skill to going hunting. First and foremost, in defending your family you will be moving through the narrow corridors of your house, which can be quite difficult with a long barreled hunting rifle.
Fortunately, this warning is easily nullified – practice your defense strategy. Think about where you store your weapon in your home, so it will be easily available in case of an emergency, know the lines of sight and pinch points in your property, and practice moving around with your chosen weapon.
Choose the Correct Weapon
When it comes to choosing a weapon that can do double service as both a hunting gun and a home defense item, you have two main options – a shotgun, or a hunting rifle.
Both have several advantages and disadvantages, and the one you choose depends on both what you hunt and your home defense plan.
The shotgun is perhaps the original home-defense weapon, and it is not hard to see why – especially when equipped with a short barrel, moving around your home armed is a lot easier with this type of weapon than with a long rifle.
In addition, of course, the shotgun is also the Swiss Army Knife of the hunting world, used in a vast variety of applications.
Nowadays, many good shotguns come with removable and switchable barrels, which is great if you plan to use your hunting shotgun for home defense.
A Remington 870, upgraded 700, or a Mossberg 500 can be used to shoot deer, ducks, or burglars, just by switching out the barrels. It goes without saying, of course, that if this is part of your home defense plan, you need to store your barrels somewhere easily accessible, and get pretty nifty at changing them over whilst under pressure. Practice makes perfect, as always.
It’s also worth noting that the type of shotgun that is sold primarily as a home defense weapon – short barrel, laser sight – can be considerably more expensive than the “field” version of the same gun, and not considerably better at defeating intruders.
In fact, used and slightly beaten up field shotguns are a bargain nowadays, make excellent home defense weapons, and may just encourage you to get back into hunting.
2. Hunting Rifle
Whilst the extra power and accuracy offered by modern hunting rifles may make them sound like they are perfect for home defense, in reality these weapons leave a lot to be desired in this application.
The first problem is obvious – most hunting rifles are designed for accuracy over great ranges, and therefore have really long barrels. Some will not even fit width-ways across the corridor of your home, making moving around inside with one all but impossible.
In addition, what may seem to be a great advantage of this type of weapon – the extra power they offer – is in reality something of a danger. A bullet designed to run through most of an elk is not so useful if the only thing separating your weapon from your loved ones is a skinny intruder and a plywood wall.
That said, some rifles used in big game hunting can also be used for home defense. The current line of AR Rifles are an excellent choice in this regard. Their primary advantage over more traditional hunting rifles are the shorter barrels of this line, which makes maneuvering with them a whole lot easier.
In addition, the faster cycling of these weapons can be a real asset in a firefight. Just make sure, as we mentioned, that the ammo you have loaded is suitable for the task at hand.
3. Throwing Knife
On some occasions, a firearm is not the right tool for the job. Maybe you have kids at home, or maybe it’s not convenient to keep a gun at your bedside for whatever reason.
The truth is, guns are not always the ideal home defense weapon. In certain cases, throwing knives work much better and can fend off intruders. Note: these aren’t necessarily ideal for keeping pests out of your yard (you have to be a darn good thrower to hit moving vermin), but they are a worthwhile tool in every homeowners “self defense toolkit.”
Yes, we know, we already said that. It is impossible to overstate the point, though, so we are repeating it.
It is easy to spend thousands of dollars on achieving the best possible home defense setup, but unless you know how to use your gun, this counts for nothing.
If you only have guns for deer and birds at home, don’t despair – they will likely be excellent home defense weapons. On the other hand, don’t pretend that you are ready for anything.
Part of being a responsible home owner is knowing your limitations, and knowing that the tool you’ve chosen for the job is effective. Take the time, and make a plan to keep yourself safe.