There are a lot of reasons to have a weapon that’s primary role is for self-defense of you or someone you want to protect.  There are also many weapons that can be used in the role of self-defense.  In this case, I want to address some firearms that are used for self-defense and provide some tips on how to help select which firearm may be the most useful for you and your plan to be safe.

Basic Types of Firearms

In a very general overview, you have three basic types of firearms; handguns, rifles, and shotguns.  Each of these categories can be further refined quite a bit, but to keep it simple we will stay broad-stroke.


Within the handgun selection you have semi-automatics and revolvers.  Obviously, a handgun is going to be easier to conceal than a long gun, either the rifle or shotgun.  A semi-automatic generally provides more immediate firepower and requires a little more training in its use.  A revolver is generally easier to use, but limited in comparison to the number of rounds you can fire without reloading.

Long Guns (Rifles or Shotguns)


Civilian rifles are limited to a single shot for each trigger pull.  “Assault rifle” is a term often misused when describing civilian rifles, even if they are black and look like military rifles.  In reality, any firearm can be used as an assault weapon.  However, the true definition of Assault Rifle means the rifle can fire multiple rounds by pressing and holding the trigger.  This is called automatic fire, full auto, or machine gun style firing.

A civilian rifle, whether it’s an AR-15 style or AK-47 style, shoots only once each time the trigger is pulled, that being a “semi-automatic” type of firing system.  You also have semi-automatic shotguns available.

Bolt Action, Lever Action, or Pump Action

This type of rifle or shotgun requires some manipulation of the loading mechanism between each shot to prepare the rifle to fire again.  The rounds may be contained in a built-in or external magazine (clip) keeping them as part of the assembled weapon.

Single Shot

A single-shot rifle or shotgun requires you to open the loading chamber after each shot and insert the next round.

Firearm Selection Process

First identify why and where you want to have access to the weapon.  If you want to be able to carry the weapon at all times, you will likely want a handgun.  For strictly home defense, you may want a shotgun or rifle.

Determine your level of training and experience, as well as your physical capabilities, and then select the firearm best suited to your situation.  For example, a small person with limited arm and hand strength may choose a revolver over a semi-auto pistol due to his or her ability to manipulate the weapon during loading, cleaning, or use.

Ask for advice from the dealer and try out several different types of firearms before you buy one.  Many gun dealers also have access to firing ranges.  Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, remember to include training and practice into your plan.  Always keep your firearms safely secured.  If the firearm isn’t in its holster or your hands, it needs to be locked in an appropriate location such as a GunVault or Cannon Safe.  Stay safe!