For a long time shotguns and handguns were the traditional home defense weapon, although ranchers and farmers often had a loaded rifle handy in case predators were attacking chicken coops or spooking the horses and cattle.
Hunting rifles in large calibers, like the 30-06, is not good for home defense because the rounds can go through walls. The same applies to 7.62mm FMJ rounds like those used in an AK carbine.
Tests have shown that the proper .223 ammo does not have any more penetrating power than pistol ammunition when hitting residential building material. Thus, SWAT officers use MP5 submachineguns or the M16/AR15 rifle/carbine. The Federal .223 hollowpoint 55-grain round drops most people with one shot, rarely passing through the body.
The kick of the .223 caliber rifles is nothing compared to a 12 Gauge shotgun, which makes it more manageable (and lighter) than a shotgun. The AR15 rifle/carbine has become popular with women shooters, thus it has been recommended for those who want an all-round defense weapon. Of course, a pistol is smaller and can be stored in a bedside table in a drawer. Like motor vehicles, types and size of firearms is always a personal preference.