5 Common Home Defense Myths (Don’t fall for them!)

Home defense is a serious concern for most Americans. And it’s gotten more serious as police departments are increasingly under-staffed. Add to that the increase in prison releases, and widespread increases in violence that we’re seeing and it adds up to a need to prepare.
But there are myths about home defense—dangerous myths—that just won’t die that we’re going to cover today.
Myth #1:  “I load my home defense gun with birdshot because it doesn’t over penetrate.”
Truth:  Range is a huge factor here.  At contact distances, bird shot works to stop threats. 
The problem with bird shot is that at in-home distances, the shot hasn’t had time to spread out very much and it goes straight through sheetrock
When bird shot hits fluid, it tends to slow down very quickly and may not penetrate deeply enough to stop determined threats.
The counter to this is oftentimes, “I’ll just shoot them in the face…that’ll stop them.”  That takes aiming and brings us to Myth #2.
Myth #2:  “You don’t need to aim a shotgun.”
Truth: We have a tradition every fall of shooting pumpkins.  If they’re fresh, we just shoot them.  If they’ve been sitting around as decoration, we poke a hole in the top and fill them with water.
When we shoot them with a shotgun, it’s always amazing how small the entry hole is with bird shot.
You still have to aim and a glancing blow doesn’t do much.
If you don’t think you need to aim a shotgun, I want to challenge you to shoot at a big piece of cardboard or butcher paper.
Stand 10-15 feet away.
Put a dot in the middle to aim at.
What you’ll probably see is a hole from the wadding and a slightly bigger hole from the shot.  It may or may not take out the dot that you were aiming at.
If you imagine a circle that 80% of the shot went through…that’s your margin of error.  It’s not really meaningful at in-home distances.
The bigger that 80% circle is, the easier it is to hit your target, but the less penetration you’ll get and the less likely it is that you’ll stop a determined threat.
Myth #3:  “If you want to keep someone away from your house, just shoot through the door.”
Truth: I won’t embarrass the person who said this by naming them…but they’re pretty famous and influential.
This is a really, really bad idea.
There may be several reasons, depending on where you live, but one reason that’s universal is that you need to know your target and what’s beyond it.  Are you shooting at a lethal threat or just a stranger?  A loved one?  A pet?
There’s another layer to this that’s a very old piece of bad advice and that’s…
Myth #4:  “If you shoot an attacker outside of your house, drag them inside before you call the police.”
Truth: To begin with, you need to prepare yourself that shooting someone may stop the threat but not cause them to die.  If they run away and if the blood trail only leads to your door but not into your house, you may have some explaining to do.
They may also stop being a threat but not move until the police arrive.  No dragging then.
But the big thing is, you want to plan do defend yourself LEGALLY…not pre-plan scenarios where you are disturbing evidence and making yourself look guilty to any investigator with more than a week or two of experience.
In your mind, you only want to plan to shoot someone who is posing a clear and present threat to your life or to the life of another innocent person in your home.  (in a home defense situation) And, you only want to plan to shoot until you’ve stopped the threat.
Myth #5: “Night sights are all I need.”
Truth: This may or may not be true, but, in general you want to plan on having the ability to visually discriminate between threats and non-threats as well as the ability to aim in all lighting conditions.
This means not shooting at something/someone unless you are positive that it is a threat.
In general, that means using a handheld light, ambient light, a weapon-mounted light, or lighting in the room that you’ve turned on.
There are a dozen more similar myths surrounding home defense…as far as cover vs. concealment, proper use of light, interacting with law enforcement, providing medical care, citizen defender tactics vs. police and military tactics, tactics when you’re only wearing underwear vs. tactics in full kit, etc.
Some of these myths get spread by “counter intelligence” at gun stores, some by gun writers and personalities, and some by busybodies answering questions online that they don’t have the expertise or knowledge to answer.

That’s why it’s so important that you get this >HOME DEFENSE TRAINING<.

Things are sketchy right now and there’s no sign of things calming down anytime soon.

You need to be thinking ahead about the skills that you want to have 2, 3, and 6 months from now and start working on them today…tonight…and >THIS TRAINING< can help you do that with home defense.

Everything from how to harden your house, early warnings, layered defense, concentric rings of security, force escalation, the 911 call, and interacting with police.  Do the smart thing and get it today by going >HERE< now.

Have any other home defense myths you want to share?

Any thoughts on home defense that you’re not sure about?  Fire away by asking below.


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  • rod vanzeller

    Reply Reply November 7, 2022

    You may not have both hands available to operate a long gun.
    Also, it may be considered excessive force in court

    • Ox

      Reply Reply November 7, 2022

      Great point on possibly not having both hands available. That’s why we cover 1-handed carbine techniques in Home Defense Rifle.

      I think we had the “excessive force” conversation last week as well…have you found any instances where someone was found guilty of using excessive force with a carbine where they wouldn’t have been guilty if they’d used a pistol? What about a pistol caliber carbine?

      • rod vanzeller

        Reply Reply November 7, 2022

        I would not want to take a chance of a possible excessive force claim from the prosecutor to the jury.
        May be in some areas you will be ok with it.
        Would you recommend using an ar15 in new york?

        • Ox

          Reply Reply November 7, 2022

          It really depends on the political, gun, and legal climate where a person lives. But, even in the most anti-gun jurisdictions of NY, IL, and CA, I am not aware of any instances where a person who was able to demonstrate ability, intent, opportunity, and who satisfied any preclusion requirements was found guilty BECAUSE they used an intermediate caliber, semi-automatic carbine (AR-15/MSR chambered in .223/5.56)

            instead of

          a pistol. If you are aware of any, please let me know.

  • Craig Bergman

    Reply Reply November 27, 2021

    I’ve been asked many times what my shotgun loads are in my home-defense shotgun. I load 00 Buck. It’s interesting that the police academy trained with #4 Buck. Some of my students have asked the birdshot question as well as a non-lethal load. I’ve told them that I’ve read where birdshot has worked, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than birds, as I do. My only concern with non-lethal rounds is that home invasions are very violent, and attacks by drug-induced rage, the same. The bottom line which I also stress is that self-defense is defeating the threat, and nothing more.

  • Richard

    Reply Reply November 13, 2020

    My primary home defense gun is an AR15 carbine with a light on it. I have a 12 ga in the other end of the house, and it’s loaded with #1 buckshot. That’s based on a rather lengthy article I read 2 years ago from the FBI. It had to do with the over-penetration problems of OO buckshot. The article concluded that the most effective anti-personnel shotshell round is a standard 2 3/4″ #1 buck load.
    What does Ox say?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply November 15, 2020

      It’s right on the edge of proven effectiveness. It’s not something that I’m going to chime in on other than that. Why? Because, in the gun world there are several topics where there is a clear-cut, dramatic difference between A & B, but people tend to spend the majority of their time debating the difference between y & z where there is very little difference between y & z.

      As an example…people who think nothing of spending $100-$200 on a new trigger to shave .05 seconds off of their splits will oftentimes refuse to spend $50-$100 on vision training that will help them see (and potentially avoid) threats SECONDS earlier.

      I can see an advantage to both #1 buck and #00…I’m going to stick with #00, but I wouldn’t feel under-gunned if you tossed me the shotgun with #1.

  • Michael

    Reply Reply November 13, 2020

    I live in NYC and own a 12g Shotgun for defense. I fall for myth #1, and only have birdshot ammo. What should I be using?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply November 13, 2020

      Great question…, although I wouldn’t say you “fell” for it. It’s an incredibly commonly held belief that’s reinforced by occasional success with birdshot on attackers. It definitely CAN work and it’s better than nothing, but it’s not reliable and there are better options.

      My answer is going to sound like a cop-out, but it’s not.

      Check with a local officer and ask them what their tactical teams carry in THEIR shotguns.

      You’re not interested in slugs or breaching rounds, but more than likely they’re going to say that they carry 00 (double aught) buck (buckshot). They are roughly .38 caliber balls (.33″) and have enough mass to actually penetrate on their own.

      So, now the question becomes…do you go on a mad search to find better ammo and feel inadequate in the meantime? No. What it means is that you need to prepare for the possible reality of shooting an attacker and them not stopping. In other words, you want to shoot, rack (if it’s not semi-auto), and assess without taking your aim off of the threat. I say that because it’s common for people to shoot a shotgun, lower the shotgun, assess, and then have an “oh crap!” moment when they realize that the magical boom stick didn’t stop the bad guy. I WOULD suggest ordering some 12ga snap caps, marking them clearly if they don’t look VERY different than your live rounds, and practicing with them.

      • Robert Magill

        Reply Reply November 14, 2020

        We trained with #4 buck in the police academy. Same size as .32 cal. and a few more pellets. I have two rubber shot shells followed by 00 buck in my 870.

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