The main advantage of a handgun is it’s small size and light weight, both important things for a gun that you’ll be carrying every day. If you’re not carrying a gun, then a rifle or shotgun (aka “long gun”) is fine for self defense at home. Of course, like all things, there is a huge debate in the gun community. Some argue that a long-gun is hard to navigate through a house, doors, hallways, etc (TRUE). Others argue that the superior power, accuracy, and reduced kick of a long gun is an advantage (also TRUE). Some argue that a long-gun is easier to grab and pull out of your hands, while other argue that a 2-handed grip on a long-gun makes it harder to pull away from you than a handgun.
Either way, it is something to consider, especially given the LOW price of a pump-action shotgun. I started thinking, and it’s hard to get a good handgun for $500, but a decent pump-action shotgun can be as cheap as $250 (last time I checked). Understand, a 12ga (twelve gauge) kicks like a mule. However, new shooters should look at the diminuitive .410 shotguns. They really don’t kick very hard, about half of a 12ga. The downside is that they’re rarely used for self-defense, so defensive ammunition is RARE. However, several companies do make it. Also, ammunition is far more expensive for 410 than 12ga. Check out any buckshot from companies like the ones below. Also check out the less-traditional Winchester PDX and Hornady Critical Defense Triple. However, AVOID the ‘slug’ ammo – it is severely underpowered. Also strongly avoid any kind of ‘less lethal’ ammunition for your physical and legal safety (that’s a topic for later).
Sellier & Bellot
see test results here: http://www.410handguns.com/mossberg_spd_text.html
Also note that for the above $250 price range, we’re talking about a pure basic pump-action with a hunting style 24″ barrel. You can crudely shorten the barrel with some basic hand tools, but be sure you don’t cut the barrel shorter than 18.5 inches. On the other hand, the “tactical” Mossberg models are more like $400. They look a little better but won’t protect you better than a hacked hunting shotgun.