Well, the snow outside is coming down ‘in buckets’; and it looks like we’re going to be snowed-in, here on top of the mountain, for the next several days. There’s already a good foot to a foot and a half on top of the cars; and the front steps and walkway have, all but, disappeared under a heavy coating of the wet white stuff! (The large plow-trucks are having trouble climbing the road; and one of them has already slid off into a drainage ditch where one of his buddies is going to have to chain up and pull him out.) All in all it’s a good day to think about home security and go over some of the rather unique security adaptations we’ve adopted in years past. Back in 1990 my wife and I survived a rather intense (and totally unexpected) home invasion event. Bright and early that Sunday morning none of the usual home safety precautions applied. I was only 3 days out of the hospital and on crutches for the next couple of months. My wife had been watering the vines on the front porch; and the front door was unlocked. Me? I was in the middle of the living room, hobbling over to my La-Z-Boy recliner when, all of a sudden, the front door opened wide and in walks one of the largest and most filthy dirty dudes or ‘dudettes’ I had ever seen. (Because ‘he’ looked like a real bad case of, among other things, frustrated sexual confusion. I don’t know quite ‘Why’; but these people always remind me of some sort of fish; and I can never really tell exactly what piscine sex they either are or would really like to be?) Yesterday evening, just as it was starting to snow, my wife mentioned that she had left the snowblower out on the porch; and she wanted to know if I thought anyone could see it there and come in off the road to steal it? I laughed and replied that we could, both, be dead in here for a week before anyone found us; so, the snowblower would, probably, be safe. She thought about it for a moment, and agreed. She, then, reminded me of our home invasion experience (That neither one of us had ever, so much as, dreamed could happen; but …… it DID!) and how if it weren’t for our two superlatively well-trained Bulldogs she didn’t think either one of us would have survived! She’s probably right, too! Both large AND small dogs do make for excellent (non:electronic) burglar alarms, as well as fearless and unhesitating home defenders; and, that morning, our Pit Bulls certainly proved their worth! Without those two Bulldogs I think she and I would have definitely been ‘checking out’ early. The small dogs are quite useful for raising an alarm; something that the larger ‘catch dogs’ are always curiously reluctant to do. It’s the big dogs, though, that are needed to take care of the problem AFTER it has arrived. For almost 40 years my hobby was breeding and training large: guard, search and rescue, and attack dogs. (I’ve owned some superlative canines, too!) Power can go out, equipment can either fail, be cross-wired, or mechanically fooled, too. Personally I do not think any home defense system is complete without a combination of one large and one small dog inside the home. This home security method was, for many years, our first line of home self-defense; and, voilà, it worked very well for everybody except that burglar! With us the dogs always came first, and individual self-defense equipment has always come second; however, at our house I like to think that, over the years, we’ve developed the best of both approaches. Each of us owns and knows how to use our (awesome) ‘black rifles’ — which are, as far as I’m concerned, the finest home self-defense weapons ever invented! At our house armed self-defense is NOT an individual task. Instead, my wife and I have learned how to work together as a single cooperative unit. Me? I never play the ‘lone wolf’ and attempt to do silly things like run around the house with a gun and light in hand. That’s about as foolish a thing to do as, say, standing at the top of the stairs and loudly racking a round into the chamber. (Which, if the other guy is also armed and knows what he’s doing, is sure — SURE — to get an ingenuous shotgun-toting homeowner promptly killed on-the-spot.) Just like the National Rifle Association (correctly) teaches, we use a ‘safe room’ home defense technique. We work together; and neither one of us would ever walk around the house in the dark looking for whatever might be ‘going bump’ in the night. With the possible exception of animal hunting (Animals don’t shoot back, right!) I have never attached a light to my gun; and, for a fact, I know that I never will. Why? Because, most of the time, I’m a lone (or stand-alone) gunman; and I need my muzzle to be able to point in one direction while my forward-held light is pointing in another. When it comes to safe room self-defense I teach the standard home course, literally, ‘by the book’; but, privately, I tell my friends that the best way to use a light in self-defense is to always have somebody else work the light for you. Although I’m sure that I’ll be dead and long gone before the general public finally ‘gets the message’ the only self-defense people who should ever affix a light to their guns are SUPPORTED — NOT UNSUPPORTED — shooters. (Not in my lifetime, though, right!) Anyone who might enter our home at night and attempts to breach our safe room is going to get lit up; that’s for sure; BUT, the light will be coming from one direction while the gunfire will be coming from another! Now, before anyone starts firing inside a home, the safest and most advantageous LINES AND ANGLES OF GUNFIRE must be known; and, in addition to knowing your best lines and angles of gunfire, the principal engagement points around the home should also be carefully preselected. (Hint: stairs, hallways, and doors are the first places that need to be considered and mapped out. Some of my own personal favorites? I like to lie down at the back of a hallway and watch the top of the stairs for the first head to appear. I, also, like to stand behind open-backed stairs to wait for the first intruder to come down. Stairways are, then, the most dangerous contact points inside any dwelling.) Hallways and doorways are, about, equally dangerous and need to be traversed as quickly as possible. In this regard there is one hard fast rule to which I know of no exceptions: (Ready?) THE COMBATANT WHO MOVES FIRST IS ALWAYS AT A DISADVANTAGE; OR, SAID IN ANOTHER WAY, IF YOU WANT TO MAINTAIN THE ADVANTAGE, COMPEL YOUR OPPONENT TO MOVE TOWARD YOUR POSITION RATHER THAN YOU MOVING TOWARD HIS. This tactic applies equally well to: large groups, small groups, and individual combatants. Hence, the strong advantage to using a safe room, rather than stalking around in the dark looking for an intruder (or intruders). What’s the best way to defend any non:hardened room? First, once the fight is on, remember that sheetrock doesn’t stop bullets; and, second, stay out of the corners. Personally, I like to be somewhere close to the middle of the room; ideally as one of several different pieces of furniture; one of which will be me, hunkered on down, and looking straight at the middle of the doorway! (Applegate used to recommend that the best place for a room defender to position himself against a breaching attack force is smack-dab in the middle of the room while lying across the top of a table!) Another home self-defense technique (Perhaps my personal favorite!) I like is to exit the home the moment an intruder enters. (Getting out through either a window, or a door doesn’t matter.) One fellow I know realized that he was about to face multiple assailants; so he slipped out a side window and waited to engage the intruders as they attempted to leave his home. He made it; but they didn’t. Now, let’s talk about self-defense equipment: Every nighttime bedroom should contain a: cell phone, firearm, set of house and car keys, and high-intensity flashlight. What question do I hear and see all of the time, especially on internet gun forums? (You probably already know!) (1) ‘What gun should I keep by the side of my bed?’ There are, also, several ancillary questions: (2) ‘Should I keep an extra reload with my bedside gun?’ Then there’s my own personal all time favorite IGF question, (3) ‘Should I keep a round chambered in my semiautomatic pistol while I’m sleeping?’ My own answer to Question #1? 'Yes, you should keep a firearm with which you are, both, well practiced AND familiar by your bedside.' Are there any caveats? Yes, there are! If there are children or elderly (not quite or mostly ‘non compos mentis’) people in the home then all firearms should be kept unloaded, and locked up in either a gun safe, or high-security lockbox. Generally speaking: Shotguns are also a very poor choice for home self-defense. Shotguns are not practical for either precision fire and/or hostage situations. Shotguns are remarkably capable of doing a lot of structural damage, too; and, while shotguns are certainly ‘killers’, I remain in complete agreement with Jim Cirillo that, most likely because of imprecise shot patterns, shotguns can too often be really anemic ‘stoppers’. Neither are small caliber pistols ideally suited for home self-defense; and I do NOT care that the American public is currently in the midst of a torrid love affair with small pistols. Like shotguns small pistols ARE also ‘killers’; but they are NOT rapid ‘stoppers’; and rapid stopping is what every home self-defense scenario is ultimately all about. (The fact that an attacker might die an hour later in the hospital isn’t going to do a home self-defender any good in ‘real time’, right here, or right now — Understand! On Question #2 the correct answer is, I would hope, obvious. ‘Yes, you should!’ With a revolver: five, six, or seven rounds might not be enough; and with a semi-auto: It’s feeding malfunctions that are the principal reason ‘Why’ an extra magazine should always be kept with the gun. (With many high-capacity pistols extra ammo is simply an additional plus that’s nice to have.) Common question #3? The correct answer is an emphatic, ‘No, you should not!’ I know of, at least, six people who have shot themselves with an assortment of different bedside semi-autos; and, in general, (because there are a few exceptions) nobody should attempt to: wake up, grab a pistol, and perform competently with it ALL at the same time — OK! (Sorry, Glockeroos!) Finally a few words about caliber and that great bugaboo of home self-defense scenarios: Bullet penetration. (Which, although it shouldn’t be, is often referred to as ‘over penetration’.) Let’s get this straight: ALL bullets penetrate, ALL of them! ALL bullets are, also, 100% capable of ‘over penetration’ too. ‘Why?’ Because the expression ‘over penetration’ is too often used as a catchphrase for just plain, good old fashioned, piss-poor marksmanship; and, in my personal (carefully considered) opinion, it’s naïve to think of fired bullets in any other way. THIS is the reason ‘Why’ Jeff Cooper’s Fourth Firearm Safety Rule (@ Post #9) is so important; and every home self-defender should always be extra careful to predetermine each of his open and available LINES AND ANGLES of fire. (You can’t always do it, OK; but when these lines and angles are available they should be used.) What follows is an article by ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ someone whose self-defense opinions I have learned to respect. Before closing this out I’m including it here because, after a long lifetime of doing these things, I am not personally aware of a better answer; so I might as well let ‘J.J.’ say the rest of THIS for me. Remember, when it comes to home self-defense: ‘Tactical carbines’ are superior to both rifles and shotguns. Rifles (If you've got the maneuvering room to use them.) are superior to all handguns; and all self-defense handguns should be either 9 x 19mm, or 45 ACP and capable of holding, at least, a bare minimum of 10 rounds.