Home defense at night

Home Defense at Night | Be Sure of your Target and what is Beyond it

Home defense at night, be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

One of the VERY important rules of firearm safety is “Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.”

Target identification is supremely important when it comes to home defense at night.

Imagine that you hear a noise in the middle of the night. You wait, then definitely confirm that it’s coming from INSIDE the house.

Your handgun is in the quick-access biometric gun safe next to your nightstand. A quick swipe of your index finger triggers the actuator as the lid pops open.

Review of SentrySafe Pistol Safe

biometric pistol gun safe

Picking up your pistol, you cautiously head out of the bedroom to have a look. (You did check the other side of the bed to be sure your wife was there, right?)

The noises are coming from down the hall, maybe over in the living room or kitchen. You’re not quite sure yet…

I’ll jump to the point. But what if it’s your wife or one of your children doing whatever it is that’s making noise? You never know, right?

Actually, yes, there is a way to know…

Shed Some Light on the Subject

It’s dark at night. Criminals love the dark. Why? Because it provides concealment. It lets them do their thing while at the same time being difficult to be identified.

If you are ever facing the immensely intense adrenaline rushed situation of raising your firearm upon another human, you better dam well know your target and what is beyond.

Why? Because in the rush of the moment, your mind might play tricks on you, so to speak. Everyone handles it in their own way. Some simply cannot handle an adrenaline dump.

Home Defense at Night

Are you certain of the target? How well can you see? Is the target an actual threat?

And just as important, what’s behind that target? A bedroom perhaps? Your neighbors house?

You do know that if you miss, the bullet is going to keep going, right? Today’s home construction and walls offer little resistance to a projectile packing 404 ft-lb of energy at 890 feet per second… (Federal’s 45 ACP FMJ, for example).

Light It Up

The point of this firearm safety article is this…

For home defense, you need to plan ahead for lighting up the target.

There are multiple ways to get this done.

You might purchase one of those remote controllers that turn on lights in the house by the press of a button at your nightstand.

My own solution to this issue is having a number of flashlights.

My nightstand home defense handgun has a light mounted to it. You can mount a light to pretty much any firearm. Maybe yours is a shotgun. No problem. Attach a light (with this).

Side note: Perhaps a best choice for a home defense firearm is the shotgun. Pellets (depending on shot size) will be better stopped by walls and such (safer for the neighbors). I don’t have any neighbors or kids in the house, so I choose a handgun for this purpose.

Flashlights Everywhere

What about keeping flashlights in multiple locations around the house? I do. It serves many purposes. I never have to look far for a flashlight.

StreamLight ProTac 2L

Continue reading: Headlamp compared to a Flashlight

Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Beyond It

That’s your safety tip for the day. If you do have a firearm in your bedroom for ‘just in case’, plan ahead for what you would do if you ever heard a noise inside your house in the middle of the night.

Read more: My Home Defense Night Stand


  1. When I was married to the LEO and my youngest teenage son was still at home the LEO drew on him one night when he came in from a date.

    After that he just kept the gun in the closet which was close by. Scary.

    My grandmother in her 90’s moved back to her hometown after her husband died. A bit nervous being alone she bought a hand gun. My sister said what if she kills somebody. Me, well they are not suppose to be in her house! ha ha So she slept on the couch awhile with her handgun……

    Something else to consider watch and listen to your pets/animals. They say volumes.

    1. Mrs USMCBG: Right you are when you say “……listen to your pets/animals.”

      They rarely wrong (i.e. false alarm) but they are absolutely incapable of lying.

  2. Great article Ken, and something everyone needs to ponder, and be prepared for. Many folks have a false sense of preparedness, thinking they’ve got all the bases covered because they’ve got a gun and a flashlight. So much more needs to be considered.

    Most residential burglaries are daytime, when the burglar is pretty sure no one is at home. If some unauthorized person is in your home after lights out, most likely he is prepared for more than just stealing your stuff……..or they are mentally unstable. Whichever, they pose a real threat. Be aware of that, prepare for that, and understand that you are in a very dangerous situation, fraught with personal responsibilities.

    Responsibilities? Yes. You can either protect your loved ones….or end up hurting, or worse… according to what your own actions are. Have you ever practiced shooting your defensive weapon in the dark, with only a flashlight for illumination? How much time do you spend practicing one handed shooting? If you have, how consistently accurate are you? Every bullet you fire will hit something. It does not have a mind of it’s own, you are the brains of the operation.

    I have further thoughts on the subject, but got chores to do.

    1. continuing-

      Consider keeping electronic hearing protection next to your weapon and light. Many offerings are stereo and amplify sound until you fire, then shut down to protect your hearing. You think that hand cannon is noisy on the range? Wait till you touch a round off in your living room.

      Nothing wrong with weapon mounted lights, but you need to consider a few things. If you’re searching your home using the light mounted on your weapon, when you spot your wife, child, or next door neighbor in the yard in the beam of that light, you are also pointing a loaded gun on them. Your nerves and presence of mind had better be sharp.

      Most weapon mounted lights do not illuminate the standard sights on your weapon. Consider adding a red dot site or laser.

      You also need to consider the fact that any light that you’re holding leads back to you and a heck of a target for return fire.

      Consider this: most homes have enough ambient light that you can navigate from room to room w/o turning on any lights (especially when you wake up in the middle of the night to go pee, like us old men). So why turn on that light until you need it? The moment you do, you’ve given away your location, possibly made yourself a target, lost the element of surprise, and lost your night vision ……for what? You know the layout of your home and possible obstacles better than any intruder. Use that to your advantage.

      Many other things to consider, but I will stop for now with this. Taking a life is sometimes necessary, but to be avoided if possible w/o risking your own or the lives of loved ones. It’s not the equivalent of taking your first deer, or some kind of right of passage into manhood. It’s a life altering event for those with a conscience, and will have legal and civil ramifications. Having a well thought out plan, being as well trained as you can will not only help you survive, but help you be able to defend your actions in the aftermath.

  3. The noises in the night are the brother and sister cats, brother is beating up his sister as usual.

    If were to be something else the dog would go banana’s, she has a very deep throat growl that wakes up acdh, he then wakes me up. House has night lights in different areas, an home protection.

    With the recent folks coming into this area, yes one has to be care which direction one can fire without it putting a hole in their homes. No longer enough acreage between us and them🙄😫.

  4. How about just using motion sensors inside the home, say in the bedroom hallway, or alcove leading to the Master suite, which controls the activation of various intruder defense systems?

    A two-stage sensor system, using multiple sensors, detects the approach of an intruder coming down the hallway, and sends a signal to unlock the trap door located just in front of the Master bedroom, which is held up by a spring clip until a load of greater than 100 pounds is placed upon it. This feature allows the intruder to have committed his step onto the trap door before it activates, and after the intruder can evade it.

    The trap door leads to an underground chamber, which also serves as the home’s storm shelter. The trap door, as it falls away, then trips a pneumatic piston, which closes the trap door again…which then is held up by the original spring clip…quickly followed the door again locking in place.

    The same system can be used without the handy trap door feature, to activate a wall mounted F-18 Fighter Landing Light, which is placed facing away from the bedroom door. The system features a small sound system, installed nest to the light, which plays a soft, faint noise, designed to attract the intense stare of the intruder’s eyes in the darkness, an instant before the light activates and the Bose sound system plays a recording of a pump shotgun being jacked and fired rapidly…at realistic volume…mixed with a recording of Hugh Jackman, as “Wolverine” screaming in rage.

    Or, simply, the system plays a very calm voice, which tells the intruder their life is now forfeit for their transgression, and how each bedroom door is steel framed, solid core, bullet proof, and impassible….in various languages.

    1. So descriptive of a comment, I can ‘see’ it! Reads like a scene in a movie ;)

    2. Actually talked to a friend last year about adding sound of shot being racked to motion sensor light. Haven’t followed up on it, but did add a recording of gunfire to my phone.

      On the other hand, if an intruder is armed will such sounds trigger a trigger-happy response? Hope to never find out.

      Dennis is correct. Most folks snooping down here at the bottom of this dead end road come during the day. Almost none at night. Everyone’s got dogs, everyone’s got guns. Nature’s got teeth.

    3. Is your last name Coyote? Is the trap door by Acme? Beepbeep.

      Seriously though, I like it!

  5. I have layers of security.

    I live 15 miles from town

    Outside 4 different systems, 2 with their own power sources.

    Driveway monitors, pressure activated, plus motion.

    I know who the meth heads are. Had a talk with them, on my terms. Told them to put the word out, if I catch you on my place, you are the ones who are gonna be calling 911., not me. SSS.!!

    My home would be very hard to break into, unless you are a professional.

    MY dog, would probably allow a decent warning, as he is a trained guard dog. But, dogs can easily be defeated.

    I have IR capabilities, and plenty of motion lights, plus a few other surprises for strangers outside.

    This place is not bullet proof, but would be a very bad experience for the causal thief. Other intruders, well, depends on their training, which, I have a lot of the same training, so probably a draw, at least for a short time anyway.

    I get along very well with local LEOs, been helping them my whole life. Went to school with many of the local Sheriffs. I just don’t like the FEDs.

  6. Hi Ken, thanks for the article!

    I live in a densely packed suburb of Sacramento and worry about the neighbors if I had to discharge my pistol in this situation. Because of that, I have “home defender” rounds loaded in the clips.

    I too keep a flashlight next to the bed, and a simple swipe to the left will let me know if the DW is next to me. Quite honestly tho, if a noise were to be heard downstairs, it would probably be her that heard it! I’m usually out like a log!

  7. All my defense weapons have lights. The handguns also have night sights. This also helps facilitate finding the weapon in the dark.

    I prefer a rifle or AR pistol with quality HP or SP which penetrates much less than handguns even with quality HP. That protects the neighbors.

    Given enough time I’ve also got night vision options.

    Shotguns are ok but I prefer precision when possible to negate property damage or stray pellets. Slugs are too much inside my place at range.

    I do keep a flashlight on me as well as by the bed and many other places because not everything in every circumstance needs a gun pointed at it.

  8. We each have a flashlight on our nightstands. We also recently purchased a strobe light. We keep it on the headboard for easy access for both of us. If someone should enter our bedroom at night, the plan is to grab the strobe light to disorientate the intruder. That would give us a few more seconds to act.

  9. Timely article. I recently completed a firearms class where the instructor, with 28 years police service , was very adamant about having a light to identify your suspect at nighttime .There have been many cases of homeowners shooting other family members.

  10. umm…Now that I am a senior citizen, I. no longer run so fast and I will be darned if I run from my house and home where my wife and critters are. My critters are family as is my wife. Most of my guns are in the house as well so why would I run from my own home when the bad guys come?

    About the only reason I would leave my home is if it was on fire. I have some fire extinguishers and I l also have several high capacity 9 mm handguns with a light/laser attachment on it. Bullets within said 9mm’s are hollow point type to avoid over-penetration into the neighbor’s home.

    My wife likes the 20 gauge shotgun with #4 buckshot and she has many flashlights with the shotgun. She likes my old service revolver loaded with frangible ammunition.

    We have night lights around our house because I also wake up in order to use the restroom several times per night. My cats and dogs make a lot of ambient noise all night long. When something or some one approaches our house, the dog really makes a lot of noise. Even the cats act weird and will usually look out the window at the disturbance.

    We have not had to open fire within my own home. We just had the problem family down the street move away so our street and neighborhood is good and quiet though we do had a through street running through our neighborhood.

    We do not bring guns out beyond the thresh hold of my doors because we are now surrounded by occupied homes and brandishing a gun is still a crime. When I take guns from the home to a car or truck, they are in a case.

    We have many police officers living in our neighborhood and most of the senior citizens are armed. I help teach defensive pistol work at our local club so I know most of the homes that have at least several guns per household.

    Keep in mind, there are times to have all the guns locked up or otherwise unusable. examples of this include having young children in the home, mentally disturbed or elders with dementia. Guns and knives are for good though if they end up in the wrong hands…

    This is why my wife takes refuge in the bedroom. I will go out to our kitchen where there is a landline phone, house keys to toss out to responding police officers and the knife block. The kitchen is also line-of-sight from the bedroom.

    My plan is to stay in place with my loved ones. If you cross the threshold of my home as a stranger intent on harming or taking anything, I will not leave my home without a fight. The town is small. So is the police department. Response time may take a while.

  11. Presuming a night event…

    My wife and I are empty nesters with a bedroom upstairs. My few guns are up there with us. The little yappy dog would no doubt let us know if something were amiss.

    I am definitely not a trained professional so I don’t feel comfortable with ‘clearing’ the house. We would call 911 and I would stay upstairs with my 12 gauge and engage only if the intruder had the cojones to progress that far. As long as he/she/they just take a few things and leave, I’m okay with that. I don’t think I really want to take a life over a $400 TV.

    1. @Newbie Dan, We also have a ‘yappy’ dog (a mini Dachshund) who can bark amazingly loud! A dog is a great deterrent.

      I also agree with your general sentiment. It’s not necessarily worth risking your life for a flat screen TV (or whatever). Though it is worth risking your life to defend your life! There is a difference.

      I believe that most intruders would ‘vanish’ at the sound of a cycled shotgun and/or a shout (from you) that you are armed and get the hell out…

  12. A few years back one of our rural neighbors had his home invaded by four thugs looking for drugs. Supposedly, they entered the wrong home because they got lost in the country. His wife and two teen boys were home along with his two large dogs that he had put outside because they were barking too much. He didn’t respond appropriately and got beat up and had things stolen from the house (the least of the problems). It could have been far worse.

    We have motion sensor lights in each room and flashlights stored in each room. Our dog rarely gives a false alarm. If she barks, something is around the house that should not be. Upon release, she goes after it.

    As Ken said, always check for others in the home to make sure they are safe, then investigate with appropriate protection. And always make sure you have a backup weapon because if you are forced to shoot the intruder, they will take that protection from you for evidence leaving you without.

    That adrenaline dump will have you questioning whether your guts can hold their contents so practice your response so you have it down and can operate better when under stress.

  13. A home defense course I took had us repeat the following; “I HAVE A GUN AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT!”

    Plus, I have a 12 gauge next to the bed loaded with double aught buckshot.

    Don’t sneak around. State your intentions and act.

  14. I keep a Glock 21 on the bedside with an extra clip next to it as well as a 700 lumen flashlight. The glock is equipped with night sights so if I can see my target I dont need the flashlight…I keep low powered lights on throughout the house in case I need to go to the kitchen in the dark for tums or some such thing. Its enough to see by and identify friend or foe. If an intruder makes it as far as the bedroom they have already had to walk a good 50 feet inside the house to get there and their ass is mine. No question…I am a light sleeper and I dont believe anyone could get past the threshold without me knowing it. By the time they get to the bedroom I am awake and at full alert with gun in hand and I wont hesitate. Its their ass or mine…If I am unsure of identity, I always have the flashlight to blind them temporarily and give me clear identification of who they are. They wont hear me rack the slide either…it stays chambered and ready to fire at all times.

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