Our homes are the place we consider the safest, but sometimes locking the door isn’t enough to make you feel that way. A popular way to protect yourself and your family is by owning a handgun. In this in-depth guide, we’ve covered important questions concerning ammo, price, safety, size, caliber and we’ve picked some of the best handguns for home defense.
There are many different attributes that contribute to the overall score of a handgun and each must be considered on its own. It is tough to say which gun is the best because that mainly depends on how you use it.
Many people ask themselves why handguns are so popular when there are more powerful options available on the market?
They have a compact design that allows for easier storage and quicker use in life-threatening situations. Secondly, they are useful with close-range encounters that can occur in your home.
Top 10 Handguns for Home Defense Comparison Chart
|Beretta USA 92/M-9A1||Exquisite design with wooden textures. Well-balanced and ergonomic frame.||4||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Glock 19 - Gen 4||Fine for close-range work. Light for size & caliber. Affordable compared to other service pistols.||4||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Sig Sauer MK25 P226||A durable construction that ensures long lifespan. A variety of models tailored to specific requirements.||5||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Smith & Wesson MP Shield||A grip texture that allows you to maintain a firm grip. A highly concealable gun that offers excellent value for its money.||5||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Ruger 1707 GP100||Reliable design, easy-to-operate & very powerful. Smaller magazine, suitable for .357 bullets.||5||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Colt Lightweight Commander||Design suitable for concealed carry that guarantees no misfire. Well-balanced and ergonomic frame.||4||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Springfield XD MOD2||Short barrel and optimized frame for easier carry. Well made & durable - would rarely malfunction.||5||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical||A heavy design that’s not entirely suitable for carrying. Night sight system & recoil management system.||4||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|FNX-40||Has an uncomfortable trigger that can be replaced. Weighs only 2 lbs unloaded.||5||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
|Walther PPQ M2||Short reset and reliable trigger. Light trigger pulls suitable for beginners.||5||VIEW CURRENT PRICE|
Let’s start with the anatomy of the pistol so that you know the importance of each mechanism inside a handgun.
- Barrel: This refers to the long part of the gun, where the bullet comes out of. The end of the barrel is known as a muzzle, whereas the bit around the hole is called “crown”.
- Sights: The sight allows you to find a target quicker and be more accurate. There are front, rear and combined sights.
- Hammer: Some pistols have hammers – a piece of metal that hits the bullet or a firing pin to shoot it out of the barrel. The name comes from the hammer-like swinging motion that it performs.
- Firing pin: A metal pin that hits the bullet to ignite it and shoot it.
- Striker: It is a piece of metal located at the end of the firing pin.
- Slide: Joined to the frame, the slide is the top housing of automatic guns. It slides back and forth as you shoot with striker-based weapons.
- Chamber: The chamber accommodates the bullets that are yet to be fired.
- Cylinder: The cylinder on revolvers is the place where bullets are stacked
- Magazine: A box loaded with bullets that are inserted into automatic handguns. It is placed into the grip of the gun and it pulls bullets forward by the slide.
First and foremost, always choose a gun that fits you perfectly. Comfort is of great importance when choosing a tool on which your life might depend on.
Full-sized guns are a popular option due to the fact that their size allows for greater recoil absorption. The gripping area is larger as well, which allows for easier shooting.
However, if you need to conceal your weapon properly while carrying it, then you might want to go with a compact-sized pistol.
Each model comes with a number of safety options. Some offer comparatively few, while others have multiple safety features implemented.
For example, there’s a firing pin block that is linked to the trigger. It blocks the pin from striking a cartridge unless the trigger is pulled. This way the gun would not misfire if it is dropped to the ground accidentally.
There’s also a mechanical safety that must be turned on/off manually. They block the firing mechanism and the trigger can’t be pulled. The grip safety feature also blocks the trigger from firing, unless it is deactivated.
Double–action/Single–action guns have a de-cocking lever that takes them out of single-mode and puts them in double-action mode. They are mostly used on automatic or hammer-fired pistols.
Single-action and double-action refer to the operations that occur in the gun when the trigger is pulled. With double-action weapons, the hammer cannot be manually cocked back so you use the trigger for that purpose.
Double-action means that the trigger has two functions – cocking & firing the gun. While most weapons are single-action (SA), you can find different variations such as double-action-only (DAO) or single-action/double-action (SA/DA) combination.
We would recommend striker firing guns for beginners and home defense guns. This type of gun doesn’t have an external hammer, which allows for a concealed carry. Also, each shot from the first to the last will have the same weight of pull.
Now that you know the basics, we can continue to the more interesting part of the guide. Here is our list of the 10 best handguns for home defense and what you should know about them.
#1: Beretta 92/M-9A1 9MM (Civilian M9A1)
- Purchase price: $650-700
- Caliber: 9mm
- Ammo: 15+1
The first order of the famous manufacturer dates back to 1526 when Bartolomeo Beretta produced and sold about 185 barrels. Close to 500 years later, the manufacturing company is still a leader in the market of modern firearms.
Probably one of the best performing models available on the market today. The company is the leading supplier of M9 Combat Pistol for the U.S Armed Forces for about thirty years.
The Beretta excels in terms of reliability and effectivity. The 92A1 is a semi-automatic gun, with DA/SA firing modes available. Traditionally, it comes with 9mm Luger, but there are other variations available.
It features an open slide top with curvy lines and a plastic grip. In case you prefer the feel and texture of wood, then you might want to change the plastic grip.
The difference between M9A1 (military version) and the 92A1 (civilian version) is minimal. For example, the grip of the 92A1 is serrated, while the M9A1 is checkered. What differs them most is that 92A1 offers stainless steel 17-round magazines, while the military model comes with PVD-coated 15-round magazines.
This weapon is designed for quick tactical reloads in tough situations. The 92A1 comes with 3-dot sights that can be replaced, unlike the M9A1 series.
A bit of a setback is the troublesome safety lever that requires a two-handed grip to take it off. Another small disadvantage is the longer trigger pull, but it is a minus that can be easily overlooked.
All in all, the Beretta is a solid firearm that’s going to last you for years. Probably it is the best looking modern combat pistol in recent years and it offers fantastic ergonomics and unmatched reliability.
#2. Glock 19 Gen 4 Handgun
- Purchase price: $500-550
- Caliber: 9mm
- Ammo: 15+1
When it comes to handguns, Glock is arguably the most popular name on the market. It is light, compact and easy to use a striker-fired semi-automatic pistol.
The Glock 19 has no external hammer, no manual safety and can be fired with a slight pull of the trigger. The frame is made of reinforced polymer and offers a matte black finish.
Gen 4 features a caliber of 9 x 19 mm and it is 7.28 long and 1.18 wide. It weighs only 23.65oz unloaded and it comes with a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds.
To lessen the recoil effect, Glock has implemented dual recoil springs. The trigger is not too light, neither too heavy as it has a pull weight of 5.5lbs.
Fortunately, Glock is famous for its huge aftermarket, which allows you to make additional purchases to customize your firearm. This includes sights, triggers, magazines, and so much more.
An interesting fact is that the New York Police Department uses this weapon for years in their arsenal. This fact alone shows how effective and reliable Glock is.
#3. Sig Sauer MK25 P226
- Purchase price: $1,000-1,399
- Caliber: 9mm
- Ammo: 15+1
The Sig Sauer MK25 P226 is a symbol of an effective and reliable weapon. An interesting fact is that the Navy Seals carry it as a sidearm, which serves as a proof of its quality.
It ranks as one of the most popular weapons among police, civilians, and the military. The MK25 is a full-size pistol using the Browning locked-breech design, which is preferred by Sig Sauer for most of their models.
This handgun is made of aluminum alloy frame, a stainless steel slide, and a carbon steel barrel. The frame and the slide have a Nitron finish for corrosion resistance.
The P226 is a double-action/single-action semi-auto gun that holds 15 rounds of ammunition. Moreover, it features a de-cocking lever on the grip, which allows for greater safety.
As you might already know, all Sig Sauer’s offer fascinating ergonomics. With a curved, hand-fitting grip, the gun offers incredible comfort.
Similar to other popular brands as Glock or Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer offers a great number of variations such as tactical models, legion series, etc.
If you are looking for an upgrade to the other P226 pistols, then the MK25 is the right choice for you. It is one of the most practical and durable weapons on the market.
#4. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
- Purchase price: $350-500
- Caliber: .45ACP
- Ammo: 7+1
A weapon made for close-range use and concealed carry. The Smith & Wesson offers accuracy, compact and durable design. M&P Shield features a 5.3” fiber optic sight for fast-tracking of targets.
The gun comes with two magazines – one 7-round and an 8-round with an extended base plate. It’s a striker-fired pistol, but it offers a manual safety, unlike other models.
A minor downside of this weapon is the hinged trigger, which doesn’t offer the best shooting experience. The pull weight of the stock trigger is between 6-7 lbs, but we recommend replacing it with a lighter one.
The sights of the weapon are adequate and useful, but they are nothing much. If you are looking for greater accuracy, then the sights should be replaced with aftermarket ones.
Smith & Wesson offers a wide variety of models suitable for each and every taste. You can purchase CORE models with red dot optics, night sights, different triggers, and even calibers.
#5. Ruger 1707 GP100
- Purchase price: $700–800
- Caliber: .357 Magnum
- Ammo: 6
Ruger GP100 is a powerful and compact revolver that comes with a 6-inch barrel for easier aiming. It offers a stainless steel finish against corrosion and a triple-locking cylinder.
Let say that you have a family at home and children running around. You would want to feel safe around them and not worry about your weapon. Ruger offers a patented transfer bar mechanism that prevents accidental triggering for increased safety.
Furthermore, the black mono grip reduces recoil, which is essential for beginners who aren’t used to it. Due to the fact that the magazine’s capacity is only 6 rounds, we recommend heavier ammo such as the .357 Magnum.
With the .357 magnum you can put down even a bear and if you don’t like the recoil, then you can use the .38 specials. Overall, it is easy to load, operate and maintain, making the GP100 a fantastic revolver.
#6: Colt Lightweight Commander
- Purchase price: $900-1,699
- Caliber: .45ACP
- Ammo: 7+1
This model is considered as the offspring of the popular Colt M1911 pistol. In 1949 the military started their new handgun program in search of a gun that was no more than 7 inches in length, weighed no more than 25 ounces and was a 9mm.
First of all, we must mention that this model features the Dual Spring Recoil System, which has been introduced in every Colt 1911 since 2010.
This system improves the recoil springs service life to 15,000 rounds. Besides, the recoil effect is significantly lightened, which improves gun reliability.
The lightweight commander features a slim frame made of aluminum and a slide made of carbon steel. The top of the gun is textured to prevent glare from blinding the shooter.
As we move down to the frame we can see the slide stop located above the trigger on the left side next to the thumb safety. It features a 3-hole trigger with a firing pin block.
The Colt lightweight commander is an excellent choice for a semi-auto, single-action pistol for daily use. It is balanced, easy-to-use, affordable and most importantly – it’s a Colt.
#7. Springfield XD MOD2
- Purchase price: $520-599
- Caliber: .9mm
- Ammo: 13+1
The Springfield XD Mod 2 has been changed numerous times over the years. It has been under development as a military sidearm for years.
The grip of the gun offers three different textures that allow for proper positioning for the entire hand. The entire frame is optimized for ease of carrying and greater accuracy.
The pistol is lightweight, short-barrel and compact, making it perfect for concealed carry. We can truly see rock-solid engineering from the manufacturers which adds to the reliability of the gun.
With each Mod.2, you will receive a polymer holster, double magazine holder and loading tool in a plastic case. There is a 13-round magazine and a larger 16-round version with grip extension.
#8. CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical
- Purchase price: $650-700
- Caliber: 9mm
- Ammo: 18+1
A favorite gun to many weapon enthusiasts, the CZ 75 is an excellent choice for protection purposes. Similar to the Sig Sauer series, the CZ guns are available in different variations, allowing you to pick a pistol tailored to your preferences.
What makes an instant impression is a comfortable grip from the rubber panels. The SP-01 Tactical has a unique frame design that offers recoil management.
Because most encounters happen at night, the CZ features a fixed night-sight system. The barrel comes with a smooth double-action trigger and a safety switch.
If you’re looking for something comfortable, accurate, affordable and easy to use – then this might be the right gun for you.
#9. FNX-40 Handgun
- Purchase price: $649-1,499
- Caliber: .45ACP
- Ammo: 15+1
The FNX-40 features a 15+1 magazine and our first impression was that it was quite big. This means that most people might find it hard to carry it, but it is suitable for self-defense as it has a lot of power.
The sight is standard 3 dot and they do offer night sights as well. When unloaded, the weight of the gun is 2 lb. The single and the double-action pull are smooth, but a bit long.
The trigger is a bit odd and it might take a while to get used, but other than that it performs flawlessly. The gun handles recoil very well and it is reliable.
If you are looking to purchase this gun and keep it at home, then we highly recommend it. However, if you want an ever day carry a gun, then you might want to choose something else.
#10. Walther PPQ M2
- Purchase price: $450-600
- Caliber: 9mm
- Ammo: 15+1
One of the well-known manufacturers, Walther is a synonym of quality and reliability. The PPQ M2 can go thousands of rounds without a misfire.
This model features an ergonomic grip that fills your hand and gives a feeling of comfort. What makes this handgun stand apart from the others is the trigger.
The striker fire action pistol offers a light trigger pull, which makes it a perfect option for beginners. This Walther is available with a 4 & 5-inch barrel, whereas the bigger barrel allows for better aiming.
Buying your first pistol is just the first step as you need to choose bullets next.
They come in different calibers, which is a term that refers to their shape and size. Nowadays, the most popular on the market are the 9mm and .45 ACP. This means that you can always expect to find a lot of models using them.
The 9mm caliber is a preferred choice by most beginners since it is inexpensive and offers a mild recoil. In fact, many police forces in the United States find this caliber the most reliable.
The type of ammunition depends largely on the purpose of the weapon. For home defense scenarios, hollow-point bullets are a recommended option for their stopping power.
There are hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of different handguns. There’s a pistol for every taste and each differs from others in a variety of ways. There is no solid winner when it comes to weapons, as it heavily depends on the personal preferences of the individual.
The most important piece of advice that we could share is to purchase a gun that fits perfectly in your hand. People with bigger hands might prefer the grip of the Glock, while others would go for the Smith & Wesson models.
For home defense, striker-based handguns are a better option as we already stated in the article. Most triggers smooth out with time, but you will not feel the difference probably. So the feeling you experience when you grab it for the first time in-store is what you get.
This concludes our guide on the best handguns for home defense. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below!
A Bulgarian native law student, and a gun aficionado. I’ve graduated from a British International school and have successfully taken a number of Cambridge certificates such as PET, FCE, CAE, GSCE, IGCSE & IELTS. I found love in firearms early on in life when my father took me hunting for the first time. A few years later and an unknown number of rounds fired, I have the opportunity to combine my home defense & firearms expertise with the public.