By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Obviously, we think of guns and various other implements as being tools for home defense. They are, but one could also view them as tools of home defense of last resort. In other words, a gun is what you pick up when your first line of home defense fails.
And what is the first line of home defense?
A securely locked door. Look, if they can’t get in, they can’t threaten you. The thing about self-defense is that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. If you don’t go picking stupid fights, you probably won’t have to draw your gun. If your home isn’t easy to break into, you won’t have to worry as much about having to blast somebody.
The typical way that burglars and home invaders get into your home is via the door. So let’s go over what a secure door means.
Let us consider how burglars and robbers gain access in the first place. Most commonly is with brute force, meaning they literally kick the door in. Another method is by smashing windows or glass ports if you happen to have one of those decorative front doors with a brickmould window.
Another common method is by drilling the lock. Your typical door knob – which is not enough lock on its own – can be drilled in a matter of seconds and turned with a flathead screwdriver. A deadbolt doesn’t take a hell of a lot longer.
So, know that we know how someone might try to get through your door, we can start addressing it.
First is the door itself. Besides the obvious of ensuring the door is properly hung, is door selection. Hollow-core doors shouldn’t be used as exterior doors in any case, but occasionally they are; landlords can be lackadaisical but then again so can many homeowners.
Any idiot can pay a mortgage, and often enough in practice it’s barely any different from renting except you’re on the hook for repairs. But so much for that.
Anyhow, the best doors for exterior use are steel, aluminum or solid wood; anything with a solid core and hard exterior. Avoid doors with large decorative windows. A little port in the upper quarter of the door to let in some light is okay, but otherwise you’re making it easier on a potential burglar.
If your back yard is securely fenced, then it would be a little more acceptable for a back door, but otherwise it’s a bad idea. “But I want to let in light” something something something; that’s what windows are for. You can add security film, but be aware that the framing is vulnerable as well.
After selecting a solid door, there are a few other tips and tricks.
First is to install a strike plate on the door itself. The typical strike plate is just not enough. A hard kick or use of a tool – some burglars are known to use a sledgehammer – will easily defeat the typical deadbolt and door knob strike plates.
Get a security strike plate that runs as much up the vertical side of the door jamb as possible, if not the full door frame. This reinforces the jamb and prevents the striker plate from being blasted off the jamb itself.
Another top tip? Don’t use wood screws shorter than 3 inches when installing the strike plates. A 1-½” screw will secure the hardware, but not against a solid boot to the door. A 3-inch wood screw, however, will.
Sliding glass doors can be secured with a sawn-off broom handle, but an actual sliding door lock is a better idea. Typically, they function just like a deadbolt, though at the top of the door jamb rather than the sides. You should also add window security film, and buy the good stuff.
We mentioned that you can drill standard door knobs and deadbolts. Look for lock sets that are rated and reviewed by reputable sources and not anonymous people on the internet for being resistant to drilling and kicking. Smart locks have a durable housing – though not all of them are created equal! – that can add a bit more protection. However, again, not all of them are necessarily created equal; if you want to add one, make sure it’s tested and rated against drilling and kicking.
The thing is that you don’t actually want to shoot anyone if you don’t have to. Therefore, do what you can to not have to.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.