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How To Survive a Home Invasion

We're going to help you lay out a plan, gather the necessary tools, and study up on the tactics needed to defend your home against invaders.

What sits beside me as I type out the articles you all surely love and adore?

A firearm, sitting on my waist in its holster.

Smiht & Wesson M&P Shield Plus in a holster

I write at home most often and for tax purposes 100% of the time. So why do I need to carry a firearm in my home?

Because when stuff hits the fan, I like to be ready. If a home invasion should occur, I have a gun immediately on hand to defend myself.

Concealed Carry Glock 19
Having a gun on you means you’re ready for whatever comes your way.

Home invasions are a terrifying prospect.

Violence outside the home we can deal with and prepare for. However, violence inside the home, the place where you sleep and should feel safe, is absolutely terrifying.

It destroys our primal feeling of safety and shelter. But once you admit it can happen, you can better prepare.

Be Prepared
He may be a villain, but he’s not wrong.

With that said, let’s explore how we can survive a home invasion. We’ll lay out some stats, tell you what gear you’ll need, and explore the tactics behind staying alive.

Table of Contents


Home Invasions in the U.S: The Stats

Good news, bad news time.

The good news is America is a great country filled with great people. We are generous, kind, and law-abiding people who do our best to help neighbors and serve our communities.

The bad news…not everyone feels that way. A very small group of people like to exploit and harm others.


According to a report published by the United States Department of Justice, roughly 1 million home invasions happen per year.

For 2021, the FBI Uniform Crime Report showed over 619,000 burglaries but noted a 31% drop.

FBI UCR 2021
Burglaries have dropped since 1990. (Photo: FBI)

But what constitutes a home invasion?

“’Home invasion’ has been used broadly to describe any crime committed by an individual unlawfully entering a residence while someone is home. More narrowly, home invasion has been used to describe a situation where an offender forcibly enters an occupied residence with the specific intent of robbing or violently harming those inside,” a special report by the Department of Justice concluded.

The DOJ report shows simple assault was the most common form of violence during home invasions. Robbery and rape were the second and third most common crimes during home invasions.  


61% of home invasions involved an unarmed person, while 12% of home invasions involved an invader armed with a firearm.

Now that we know what a home invasion is and some of the facts behind home invasions, we can start talking about how to survive one.

How to Survive a Home Invasion

1. Have a Plan

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis once said, “Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” Having a plan is just as important, if not more important, than a firearm.

A thought-out plan goes beyond you, though, and should involve your entire family or the entirety of everyone in the home.

Backup Plan

Your plan should be personal and address your specific situation, your house, family, etc.

First, every adult needs a job. That could be retrieving a weapon, calling 911, or gathering others together.

Sig Sauer AXG Profile
Someone’s task should be retrieving the gun.

You want everyone in the same area, not spread throughout your home. Everyone should gather in one room together if possible.

Having everyone together allows you to engage a threat if necessary, without worrying about accidentally harming a family member. Establish a code word that can be shouted and passed on from person to person.

Code Word
I would probably go with something a bit…shorter.

When one person shouts the word, everyone repeats it. This ensures everyone knows and everyone hears the code word that signals danger.

The code word should create actions. Adults get on their dedicated tasks, and everyone else makes their way to the designated gathering place.

Train your plan!

The plan should be understood by all and even rehearsed on occasion to ensure everyone knows what to do.

For more on creating a family plan, check out the 5 Tips for a Family Defense Plan and Creating a Family Defense Plan.

2. Defense-in-Depth

Defense-in-depth is a concept that can apply to nearly anything worth defending. From your computer to a military base, the best defenses have depth to them.

Daniel Defense DDM4ISR Shoot House
Shoot housework can prepare you for home defense.

Depth means multiple layers working together to create a harder-to-penetrate environment.

From a home invasion perspective, no one wants to live in a prison with bars on the window. However, steps can be taken to create defense in depth around your home.

(We have some tips on fortifying your home against invaders.)

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Motion-activated lights, secure doors with strong locks, window security film, door alarms, and cameras turn a home into a virtual bunker.

I’ve become a big fan of Blink cameras and Ring home defense systems. The security systems are affordable and easy to set up, and widely available.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Having a firearm at hand is also critical. But leaving one lying around loaded isn’t a safe option, especially with kids in the home.

A good, accessible safe for handguns, AR-15s and shotguns is essential.

Vaultek RS500i, Open
Vaultek RS500i, Open

Also, remember that loose lips sink ships. Watch your social media posts. Don’t advertise that new awesome TV or video game system. Don’t show entry doors, security systems, safe placement, etc.

Dwight Shh

Keep it quiet, and don’t make yourself a target.

To keep it on the down low, we suggest staging your guns in stealthy places or storing them hidden/concealment safes.

3. Designate a Safe Room

A key part of a successful plan is choosing a safe room. The safe room is a room everyone gathers in and lays low until the blue calvary arrives.

Centrally located should be the best way to describe a safe room. The room should be easy to access.

Safe Room
Safe rooms keep Jared Leto…err bad guys…out.

You also want a room that is easy to secure with a locked door.

There should be a means to escape the room and flee if necessary, as well. Personally, I’d keep a medical kit, a phone charger, and even an old cell phone stashed in the room.

Even without paid service, a phone can make emergency calls.

Home Defense Phone 911
A spare phone is a good addition to a safe room kit.

You may need to choose a safe room based on how your home is designed and your family’s situation. Sometimes that means a less-than-optimum room but one that is faster for everyone to reach and secure themselves in.

As part of my home defense plan, I situate myself between the threat and the room until I receive the all-clear that my family is in the safe room, then I join…late as usual.

4. Firearms & Training

Of course, I’m going to advise you to have a gun. A handgun on the belt is better than a long gun in the safe. But a long gun is much more potent than a handgun.

So, which gun is best for home defense? For the majority of people, an AR-15 makes for a better home defense gun.

Modded AR-15s
An AR-15 is often the best choice for home defense.

Lightweight, easy to handle, accurate, reliable, and when loaded with the right ammo, an AR-15 is less likely to over-penetrate drywall. That said, any gun is better than no gun. If you have a personal preference, then stick to what you know.

On top of the gun, I’d suggest a white light and a red dot.

Budget Red Dots, Front
Grab one of these bad boys.

Both allow you to accurately aim and identify threats when the power’s out, and the sun goes down. On top of owning a firearm, you must be proficient in its use.

Jeff Cooper once said, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

Lt. Col Jeff Cooper
If this guy says it, it’s probably right. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

And he’s right.

Get training, practice often, and seek professional aid. A good handgun, carbine, or shotgun class will make you much better prepared to deal with a threat.

Home Defense Glock G19 and Light
Knowing how to use a gun is as important as owning one.

Also, we suggest investing in a first aid class as well. Should things get bad, it’s good to know how to treat wounds until help arrives.

5. Use the Room

As someone who has cleared rooms in a non-permissive environment, I can tell you it’s not easy. When a trained and well-armed home defender uses their home to their advantage, the threat is put at an immediate disadvantage.

So, use your home to your advantage. In room clearing, we establish that the fatal funnel is a narrow, confining area that offers little to no cover. It often acts as a chokepoint.

Fatal Funnel
Fatal Funnel. (Photo: Reflex Protect)

A doorway is a good example of a fatal funnel and a great way to hold a room. Position yourself in a corner opposite the door and orient your firearm at the door.

If the home invaders make it into that room, you’ll be able to quickly decide whether to shoot or not shoot.

Home Defense Glock G19 at Door
Controlling the room is vital!

You can hold the room and kill the momentum of the threat instantly by controlling the room. Never leave the room, not until the police arrive and the house is secure.

Ensure that you inform the police you are armed and advise them what room you are in. When the police call out, reply and let them know where you are.

Final Thoughts

Home invasions are a terrifying prospect, even for the most well-prepared and ready. But the more you plan and prepare, the better and quicker you’ll act in the moment – increasing your odds of survival.

Home Defense AR-15

Though home invasions are seemingly rare crimes in the grand scheme of things, statistics are of cold comfort to those struck by lightning. I don’t play in lightning, and I’m prepared for a home invasion scenario.

For more tips on dealing with home invasions at night, check out the Brownells Daily Defense video below.

Do you have a plan? If you have some tips and tricks, please share them below. For more on home defense check out our guides on the Best Home Defense Gun [Shotgun vs Pistol vs Rifle].

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20 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Ben Spears

    Because of the transition from the UCR to NIBRS, the crime statistics cannot be completely trusted anymore. The incentives for departments to report their statistics under the UCR are largely gone with NIBRS. For 2020 onward we cannot generalize any sort of trend yet because of the transition. Additionally, the statistics can only cover what is actually reported, and the actual number of crimes and home invasions will always be higher than what the statistics say. Lastly, the statistics included in this article only include burglaries, and not robberies. This also contributes to the perception of lower rates of home invasions than actually occur.

    May 10, 2023 10:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chuck Cochran

    After reading your article Travis, I told my better half, "Honey, read this. I am not Paranoid."
    The only times I don't carry are when I'm sleeping, or taking a shower, and even then, it's within reach.
    Actually, I do have to give her credit, as she always stays strapped whenever she heads out the door.

    The sad thing is, we live in a rural farming/ranching community, and there's less than 300 people in the hamlet. There hadn't been a crime here in over 30 years. Yet, most of our neighbors are armed too.

    May 9, 2023 6:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    You could buy several Mossberg Maverick 12-gauge shotguns (around $200 each) and stage them around your house. You could also buy several cheap .38 special revolvers and stash them around the house - I believe a revolver could stay in the drawer for years, fully loaded, and still shoot as good as new; however, if you fully loaded a semi-auto and stashed it in the drawer for years, the spring might be worn out by the time you have to shoot it.

    May 8, 2023 11:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The only thing I'd add is to be a bit careful about Ring cameras, given how friendly Ring has been as far as turning over video to police without notifying the camera owners.

    March 10, 2023 11:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chuck Cochran

      I agree with you. Camera evidence could possibly be used against you in a court by an overzealous Anti-Gun/Self Defense Prosecutor.
      Would you even be allowed to review the camera evidence to verify your story while being questioned with your attorney present? Because any deviation from your statement from the camera footage, will be rigorously pursued by an Anti2A DA, guaranteed.

      May 9, 2023 6:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Turners Outdoorman

    Amazing blog! we have decided to buy some firearms before purchasing these firearms, we consult with Turners Outdoorsman about the firearms and we bought some tools from them. We got some information from some blogs and our experience was amazing.

    March 7, 2023 3:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    This article....considering that this is seen by the general public who for the most part are not trained skilled operator 'army of one' types ....

    It leaves out a very important thing plainly stated and that thing is get out of the house and run away if you can do so safely (you and your family). That should be the very first thing under "1. Have a Plan". If you can not get out safely then defend.

    Yeah, I know "but but but... stand your ground and castle doctrine say...". But you know what those do not say? They do not say that's the only thing you can do, and, they do not say be stupid and not escape the danger when you can do so safely.

    March 1, 2023 9:35 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      The only place you can legally shoot an invader is inside of your house. If you leave your house, you lose that legal protection for the most part.

      That said, yes, if you can get away safely, that would be the best thing to do.

      May 8, 2023 11:55 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        It depends.

        I'm not sure about where you are but...

        Where I live we can shoot them outside if they are in the act of breaking in and present a threat - we can also shoot them outside if we are outside and catch them breaking in if a family member (or another person) is inside the house. But there is a caveat to that, and that is that they must have 'persisted' in attempting to break in AND still pose a threat (to you or those inside) which means if they run off after being detected you can't shoot them. This is because it's still a felony here if they are attempting to break in and if they are a threat of serious harm or death you can stand your ground and defend even if outside, and use of force (up to and including) deadly force is legal to use if a felony is being committed against you or another (the person inside the house). It doesn't happen very often that way that one is shot outside, but it has happened.

        May 9, 2023 10:46 am
        • Commenter Avatar

          To clarify a point: Where I live, to shoot a bad guy, it only has to be a felony committed against you or another person with the threat of serious harm or death - it doesn't matter if its inside the house or outside the house. For example, If you hear/see someone breaking in and your family is inside the house, here, you can go outside to engage the threat (if its a threat of serious harm or death while you are outside to either you or those inside, e.g. the bad guy has a gun or other weapon and tries to use it).

          May 9, 2023 1:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kurtis Hughes

    "Get training, practice often, and seek professional aid" Pretty much Sums it up !
    Not to mention Mr. Coopers .....Jeff Cooper once said, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”
    Train, Train, then Train some more.......

    February 28, 2023 7:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Small house. We have melee/edged weapons at doorways, also. My experience says they can be useful in certain situations. Thoughts?

    February 28, 2023 5:38 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chuck Cochran

      I've a fully functional antique basket hilt broadsword inherited from a great grandfather was was and officer in the Canadian Argyll and Sutherland regiment in the Great War, and according to my Grandfather, it was used more than once, right above the hallway entrance to the living room from the bedrooms. 36" of forged and sharpened steel. Though my primary is an SBR with pistol backup, it's still comforting to know a blooded weapon is at hand.

      February 28, 2023 7:39 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Very nice. That's awesome. While I do have a large sword the bulk of our backups are smaller hand weapons. Hatchets and clubs with pointy things on them. Things my wife would be able to use more easily if she was unable to bring her pistol to bear.

        March 3, 2023 4:59 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Chuck Cochran

          We've a couple of Hatchets and machetes placed around for that reason too. My wife's good about keeping her gun on her when she's out and about, but not so good about keeping it on or near while at home.
          You're right, it's best to have multiple weapons strategically placed for easy and quick access.

          March 3, 2023 5:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Move to a state or city not controlled by liberals because if you have to shoot it out with bad guys you want those who prosecute to be on your side. If moving isn't possible it's still better to be judged by 12 rather than carried by 6, but try to move.

    The article neglected making exterior doors stronger by using longer screws in the hinges and plates. Having dogs that make guarding you their number one priority is another tip, early warning can add critical seconds. Get to know your neighbors. Sounds silly but I'm amazed how some neighbors know nothing about people a couple doors down and even next door, maybe it's just a PNW thing. There are actually dozens of tips this article leaves out so I'd suggest that this be only your first stop in educating yourself if this is really a concern.

    February 28, 2023 1:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Its also a good idea to have your family trained to meet at your safe room and have a secondary place outside of the home. Walk through your home with the purpose of memorizing where you safe room is so you know what directions are safe to fire.

    February 14, 2022 2:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar


    Your articles are always solid, man. I bought a Fenris chest rig because of a different post of yours! Love that you included a quote from CHAOS himself. Rah, from an armorer.

    February 8, 2022 6:26 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Len Chel

    Excellent article. As previously mentioned keep those doors locked, nothing deters a bush league invader better than aa locked door. Irks the heck out of my wife but if someone still insist on busting in it give you those valuable seconds to retrieve your firearm.

    March 16, 2021 5:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Keep all exterior doors locked, even when you are at home. It can buy you time. At night, keep exterior of home well lit, keep interior of home dark as possible. Make night vision work for YOU, against the intruder. You know the layout of your home better than a stranger (hopefully!). You know where, chairs, tables, etc. are located. If you HAVE to move, the darker the better.

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
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