Last week James at Hellinahandbasket ran an interesting post on rifles for home defense. I started to respond a couple of times but soon saw I had more than a couple of paragraphs comment. So, hopefully with your blessing James, this is my take on the subject.
The Winchester 1894 in the above photograph was my fathers. He had others but this was HIS rifle. It was the first weapon I was ever schooled in self defense with.
When I was ten we lived on a remote ranch (actually a farm, but Dad called it a ranch) in the Queencity Mountain Range of Nevada. When I say remote I mean we were 50 miles from the nearest telephone. The closest neighbor was at least 10 miles away.
As I may have said before, I grew up in the time before gun safes and trigger locks. I knew where the guns were and that the fastest way I would ever meet Jesus was to be caught playing with one.
The .22 was my preferred weapon, but Dad had taught me to use his 30-30. I didn't much enjoy the recoil but it was important to Dad I 'make friends' with the bigger rifle. One afternoon after we practiced Dad said we needed to talk, which worried me. He seemed grim and I thought I was in trouble for something.
"I'm not always here," he started out. "We can't get a phone out here. If something happens when I'm not here your mother can't call anyone. Even if she could it would take half a day for anyone to get here. If someone is going to hurt your mother or sister, you're the only one that can help them."
I was shocked to realize, after years of being told to never point a gun at anyone for any reason, I was now being told when and how to turn a weapon on another person. I knew why. There had been a couple of scary episodes of folks driving up to the house unexpected. The neighbor I mentioned was really bad news. The 30-30 seemed to get heaver in my arms as we talked, and I have never looked at firearms the same way since.
Less than a year after this my father was killed in a car accident and our family returned to Texas. From then until May of 2000 I lived in Dumas, Amarillo and then Houston. Country life was weekends and vacations with family and friends.
As a rule city police officers aren't real patience with folks using firearms to defend themselves. Such incidents result in reams of paperwork. This is understandable but it never slowed me down. While living in Amarillo and Houston I drifted toward shotguns for home defense as a way of limiting range and collateral damage. Better to wipe out my stereo than punch through someone’s house half a mile away.
HomePlace definitely isn't town but we aren't nearly as isolated as the family was in the Nevada desert. Within a mile there are probably a dozen neighbors. Having said that cell phones don't work out here and the one time I have had to call the Sheriff's department they couldn't find me. Figure I'm on my own again.
Now, when it comes to home defense, our son used to paint a picture at the local watering holes of me standing in front of the rifle rack trying to remember what I hadn't shot anyone with yet. He has outgrown such things, but it did have an upside. Combined with the fact that I always carry at least a handgun on property, word got out to the 'little bad boys' that there were easier pickings elsewhere.
I used to think the best possible defense rifle would be my M-1 Garand. In Nevada that might have been the case, but as I said before, there are too many neighbors in range of the beast. So, short of a meth crazed biker gang I would probably leave it on the rack.
My first choice is usually the Winchester 1897 with a mixed load of 00 buck and slugs, or the Mossberg 590 with the same load. This will make short work of all comers, and whatever they are driving. If I have a second person to go out with me one of us would have the Winchester 1894 Trapper in .45 Colt.
Why the Trapper rather than Dad's 30-30? As James said in his article, the pistol round isn't going to go near as far as the rifle round should I miss my intended target. Every time a cartridge is fired you have to consider where the bullet is going to stop. That's true even in the dead of night dealing with prowlers and intruders.
I would list one other consideration for pump shotguns and leaver action rifles. Cycling the action of either is as close to a universal language as we are likely to ever find. A thief or intruder that hears that sound has no doubt you mean business.