Home defense tactics matter, because in the words of a famous Pixar character, “Luck favors the prepared.”
And that’s all you can do really. You can prepare for the worst and hope you never have to put into practice any of the strategies that you’ve previously devised. You’d rather have them in your head and not need them.
What I want to do here is outline a basic handgun home defense tactics list.
This is a “scenario” best-practices guide that assumes the following:
- You own a handgun that you rely on for basic self defense
- You live in a home with multiple entrances
- You live in a home with at least two floors
Now, I’m basing some of these ideas loosely of the layout and design of my own home.
Me, my wife and three kids live in a ranch style house with a basement floor and a top floor, with multiple entrances to each.
Here’s a rough layout of the first floor.
It’s simple, with all of the ground access located on the West end of the home, and only windows (mostly high off the ground) on the East end.
We’ll come back to this later.
Here’s a rough sketch of the basement:
I’d advise sketching out a similar diagram for each floor in your house, that way you can walk through some of these steps as I discuss them.
It’ll help to have blueprints in front of you to visualize each tactic.
Let’s jump in.
Step #1: Mark the Weak and Strong Access Points to Each Floor
To defend you home effectively, with or without a handgun, you need to know where your home is the most vulnerable.
This is particularly true with older houses.
In order to gauge degrees of vulnerability, you need to make a mental note of the weaknesses/strengths of each access point, which generally includes windows and doorways.
Simply put: Where would it be the easiest to break into your home?
Since my home was built in the 1950s, we’ve done a lot of repairs and renovating, which included replacing most of the windows and all of the doors. As a result, there was a long period of time where we had a conglomerate of really strong and really weak access points.
- New, strong windows
- New, strong doorways
- Old, weak windows
- Old, weak doorways
Now, all of the windows and doorways have been replaced and have a security system on them. But even in that scenario there are still easier and weaker access points.
For a more obvious example, a window at ground level is weaker than a window on a second floor.
Thus the likelihood of being broken into is automatically greater on any ground level window.
So, what we’ll do is mark the strength of each access point on each floor on a grade of 1 to 10, where 1 is extremely weak and likely to be infiltrated, while 10 is extremely strong and unlikely to be the entry point of choice.
The goal is to give yourself a framework in your mind of where an intrusion into your home is likely to originate. That way, when you hear crashing or breaking glass in the middle of the night, you can make educated guesses about where an intruder might be lurking.
Ground level first.
There are a few other factors that I would consider when “grading” the strength of each entryway into your house.
They would include:
- Foliage or “cover” around a given entryway
- Location of an entryway, relative to neighbors and lines of site surrounding your home
- Buffer rooms that appear empty and can be seen from outdoors
These are a little tough to describe briefly in bullet points, so I want to quickly talk about each one individually.
#1: Foliage or “cover” around a given entryway
Most intruders will only attempt breaking and entering if an entryway is available to them that is either completely or partially concealed. This means that windows that are surrounded by a large bush or some other kind of foliage, should be considered “softer” targets as they’re more accommodating to someone trying to break in. Thus, if you have two windows that are physically identical, but one is well-covered by shrubbery or trees, the covered one should get a lower score and be considered a softer target.
#2: Locations relative to lines of site surrounding your home
This is in the same vein as number one, in that you should take note of entryways that are secluded from lines of site that might lead to neighbors or surrounding homes. The best example of this is a front door, compared to a back door. Most front doors face roads or other houses, making them far less appealing to potential intruders. Back doors, particularly those that might be covered by a fence or facing land with no houses, are far more likely targets. Entryways that have no line of site from other homes or roads, should be given a lower score.
#3: Buffer rooms that appear empty
Most intruders want to avoid contact with whoever lives in the house they’re breaking into. This means that in most cases, they’ll look for empty rooms to break into or what I call “buffer” rooms that separate an entryway from where people in the home might actually be located. For example, a foyer is going to be a much friendlier target than a bedroom, because an intruder doesn’t want to be immediately met with a resident that they must then contend with. Consider entryways in buffer rooms to be weaker targets and give them a lower score.
With this information in view, I’ll grade the entryways for our basement level as well. Do the same for each diagram you’ve drawn up of your home.
Notice the northwest portion of the above graphics, with the three threes and the six.
This part of the basement is underneath a porch, facing a back yard with a ton of foliage and, at the time, contained two doors and two windows, with only one door that had been replaced. The others were old and had very limited methods of security.
Thus, I could quickly tell that this was the single most vulnerable part of my home, thus the most likely source of a break in.
Now that we have all this information, we can use it as a grid for the following steps that involve prepping your home for a break in.
Step #2: Prep your Home for a Break-in
Before we even get to discussing your handguns, there are some cheap and extremely effective things we can do to secure our home in the short term.
And since we know where our home’s weakest points are, we’ll want to apply these measures so that we can create resistance between soft target entryways and our living spaces or bedrooms.
In other words:
- We assume a scenario in which our soft target(s) have been compromised
- We put plot the most likely route from that target to our bedrooms and living spaces
- We put mechanisms in place inside our house to make that path harder to travel
It’s simple, really. Just basic logic.
And the most logical solution (which you’ve probably already thought of) is interior doors with locks.
Using Interior Locks
You might think that it’s a bit of a pain to actually lock doors within your house that don’t lead outside, and to some extent it is.
However, consider the graphic I drew up earlier.
In this scenario, the “storage” area is the weakest point and is (by far) most likely to be the first room visited by an intruder.
Now, in my home, those doors and windows (as weak as they are) are almost always locked. There’s also a door in the living space right next to it, which then leads to a stairway.
I put an interior lock on the door from the living area that led into the storage so I could lock that part of the house out at night before going to bed.
Here’s a better sketch:
I can assume that an intruder is going to come through the interior door that leads into the living space, then go for the stairs in that room.
To prevent this, I can put a lock on the interior door leading into the basement’s living area and (if I want to be really thorough) the door at the top of the stairway.
In most cases, this additional hurdle will be enough of an inconvenience to send the intruder back out the door they came or at least to isolate them to that particular room, giving you time to get your bearings.
Even after I shored up the windows in the storage area, I still kept the lock for the interior door.
Moreover, these locks don’t have to be expensive. They’re the same ones you would put on a bathroom or private bedroom. Something like the Kwikset Juno Entry Knob will do the work nicely.
Now, it’s certainly true that these locks are fairly easy to circumvent. Though it still makes things extremely inconvenient and is a major blow to the morale of an intruder who has just gone through the trouble to break through an exterior door.
If he or she now has to deal with locked interior doors, it’s more than likely they’ll turn around and head back the way they came.
Placing your Handguns
Once you’ve outfitted your home with interior locks to buffer potential intruders away from living areas, it’s now time to think about placing your handguns.
Obviously, a major part of this strategy will depend on how many handguns you own or have available to you. In total, I have four different weapons, two of which are handguns. So, for the sake of argument, I’ll assume that you have two handguns to work with.
Now, before we talk about placing them, here are a few variables you’ll have to consider:
- Children in the house (in all circumstances weapons should be 100% out of the reach of your kids)
- Location of your stairway
- Location of your bedroom in relation to the stairway
In every case, you’ll want to have one sidearm accessible from your bedroom. A lot of people use small fingerprint quick-access safes, like this one from Verifi.
The Verifi Quick Access safe with fingerprint sensor is a good option for keeping guns in your bedroom.
Having access to a weapon in your bedroom is probably all you’ll need. If you have a second handgun, it might be a good idea to keep one in the kitchen, where everyone in the family (who is old enough and qualified to use a handgun can have access to it).
Surprisingly, most burglaries take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. In that situation, a gun in the bedroom may not be much help to you. Your optimal scenario is to have a second firearm located in a common living area that, once again, is completely out of the reach and inaccessible to children or anyone who isn’t qualified to us it.
I can’t say that enough.
Once you have your guns placed, make sure everyone who is qualified to use it, knows where it is and how to access it.
Handguns are only part of the solution. In fact, they’re a relatively small aspect of this article, at least when you consider how many other things are considered.
In reality, preparation and having a well-thought out plan are more important when it comes to preventing home intrusion.
The more you’ve taken care to plan and get ahead of the would-be burglar, the better of you’re going to be if, heaven forbid, you actually need to defend your home against an intruder.
Know your homes weak spots, lock and shore up everything you can and place a couple handguns to make sure you always have the upper hand.
Image Courtesy of Freepik.com