Choosing The Best Home Defense Pistol & Handguns: 2019 Guide and Review

This is an article about the best home defense pistols on the market.

Given the historical precedence for this type of weapon and the vast marketplace that caters to the purchase of such a firearm, this article is not outside the mainstream in any way. The home protection or personal protection handgun is the most popular firearm on the market today in the handgun space.

While a good argument could be made that in the confines of your home, or on a battlefield, the superior ballistics and the significant control gained through use of a shoulder fired weapon makes the handgun obsolete comparatively, alas, the handgun continues to be a popular and proven home defense firearm.

So much so, in fact, that most people search first for a handgun before they search for any other option for home defense. It is simply tied to the idea of defense within a domicile. Certainly, there are adequate and even fantastic options for defending your home in the world of the handgun, and this list will cover several of the best choices available on the market.

While we won’t bore you with the ages-old argument between the handgun and the rifle as to which would perform better in a given situation, we will highlight some of the more important factors that make the handgun a popular choice for home defense, and personal protection.

  • Handgun cartridges typically offer reduced risk of overpenetration which can be a positive result in a home filled with your loved ones
  • A handgun is very easy to get into action quickly because it is small and easily handled
  • A handgun is more concealable, and lends itself to easier safe storage and easier readiness
  • Particularly revolvers, lend themselves to easy integration and simple understanding for any member of the family with basic training

What is the best pistol caliber for home defense? A range of calibers are suitable for home defense and personal defense style handguns, and we cover several popular calibers in this list. We are partial to the best stopping power cartridges which offer enough heft to make a quick stop to the threat, but we also recognize the importance of avoiding friendly fire as a result of over penetration. You may see some notes in the different handgun write-ups regarding this aspect.

With nearly a thousand choices on the market touted as home defense pistols, it’s not as easy to make a list of the best because the baseline for production quality is incredibly high now. We’re bound to be missing a few interesting options, and we don’t claim that this is the definitive, comprehensive list of the best pistols for every situation.

Simply put this is a list of best home defense handguns that would serve any user well. The diversity on this list tries to cover most broad-based scenarios. To clarify, each of these firearms is a substantially significant gun within the marketplace and offers excellent characteristics for home defense.

How to choose the right home defense handgun – Is it as simple as finding a good gun?

You can choose to go about the decision by methodically weighing caliber, style of firearm and ultimately the way the gun feels in your hand. But we urge you to weigh all component variables with adequate respect to their importance. Additionally, training with your firearm and understanding the laws in your area are equally important in a holistic search for the best pistol for home defense.

The Best Home Defense Pistols

FN FNX Series Pistols

FN FNX Series Pistols - Best Home Defense Pistol
A spectacular model range with a good mix of calibers in a completely tactical buildout. This is one of the best polymer framed handguns on the market, and yet, it doesn’t enjoy the same kind of popularity as some of its direct competitors.

FN and this line are very respected entities in the industry and the performance and handling of this firearm will impress any that hold it.

The pistol was made for inclusion into trials for law enforcement and military sidearm contracts. It has all the bases covered from a tactical perspective. It is almost too complicated for some, as it can be a bit over-embellished depending on what you’re used to. But for those who want it all in a polymer framed firearm and trust the history of Fabrique Nacional, this is the flagship.

Our pick would be the 16 round .45 ACP for home defense. The heavy hitting, proven .45 will offer good stopping power and the high capacity and large size makes it easy to control for most, while the beveled mag well, solid safeties and the reliability the platform is famous for, make it a trusted companion.  

Note: the large size and thick grip frame make this a prime candidate for the home, but not necessarily for the carry holster.

Pros:

  • Incredible value for those who want a full-sized firearm
  • Excellent accuracy
  • High capacity and adequate firepower

Cons:

  • Could be a bit bulky for some shooters

This is best for:

Larger shooters who want the high capacity firearm that has a good balance when fully loaded.


CZ 75 Centerfire Pistols

CZ 75 Centerfire Pistol
If you have never used a CZ75 or other similar clone, the smooth action, accuracy and handling characteristics are incredibly impressive. On top of the high-end build quality and the high capacity buildout, the price point is excellent.  

The ergonomics of the pistol makes it perfect for a range of shooter hand sizes. The clean interface for safeties; not to mention the rounded edges and clean sight profile that makes holstering and drawing the weapon smooth and easy.

Nineteen rounds of 9mm with a low bore line makes the gun easy to handle, adequate from a stopping power perspective and very accurate.

The proven performance from hundreds of thousands of CZ pistols in the hands of shooters everywhere shows how good this gun is at everything most shooters will ever use it for.

The CZ75 SP01 is the obvious choice here with a threaded barrel, tritium night sights and a decocking lever. The stealthy, dark motif gives a matte, low glare pistol that will serve any homeowner well, regardless of hand size.

Pros:

  • Incredible ergonomics
  • High capacity and unbelievable reliability

Cons:

  • No real Cons

This is best for:

Multiple users in the same household that have different hand sizes. Shooters who want an incredibly smooth action and a proven design that is based on a John Browning innovation.


SMITH & WESSON - 686

SMITH & WESSON - 686 3-5-7 MAGNUM SERIES HANDGUN- best home defense handgun
This is the obvious choice for a first-time gun owner that needs a pistol for whatever reason for home protection. 

The long, heavy but smooth double action pull is the only safety on the gun and is an effective safety for new shooters as long as access to the revolver is controlled well.

In stressful moments the shooter doesn’t have to remember how to do anything but put the sights on target and pull the trigger. The reliability of Smith & Wesson revolvers and the balance of the pistol make this a very easy to use gun in a home defense scenario.

The craftsmanship and materials are top notch and the 7 shots of .357 Magnum can easily be enough for most situations. For training new shooters, the option to use .38 Special cartridges gives a cheap training alternative and helps keep recoil to a minimum.

This pistol will easily last your lifetime and the historical performance of this very model has helped to keep the entire line in the top tier for Smith & Wesson for more than the last decade.

Pros:

  • Simple to operate
  • Built incredibly well
  • Reliable
  • Recoil is manageable for most shooters because of the size

Cons:

  • Heavy and large

This is best for:

Those who need the easiest to implement handgun for personal defense. Traditionalists who know the clear benefits of having a revolver for defensive uses.


Beretta PX4 Semiautomatic Pistols

Beretta PX4 Semiautomatic Pistol
The lockup and accuracy of this firearm is amazing. 

While the look is a bit non-traditional, the benefits of the design come through in the usage of the pistol. The low bore axis makes the gun exceptionally accurate and helps to mitigate felt recoil. The feel in the hand is like no other gun and seems to feel like an extension of your hand.

The smooth look of the gun aids in making it easily holsterable and intuitive to use in stressful situations; the maintenance is easy and the stout rotary bolt lockup is a vast improvement over other styles of chamber lockup for several shooting styles and situations.

The same smooth congruity that characterizes the looks of the pistol also exists because of the ambidextrous potential of the gun. The ergonomics are improved by this congruity and the smooth lines.

The core design features that makes this pistol so different than other market options have been innovative additions to the portfolio of one of the oldest companies in the world.

Pros:

  • A lot of features on a very cohesive looking pistol
  • Incredibly accurate and easy to control thanks to the heavy chamber lockup and the low bore axis
  • Integrated rail

Cons:

  • More expensive than most polymer framed pistols

This is best for:

Shooters who want something a bit different but need a quality pistol. Anyone who doesn’t like the inherent (lacking) accuracy of tilting lockup barrels. One of the best semi auto pistol for home defense.


SMITH & WESSON - 629

SMITH & WESSON - 629-min

While the .44 magnum may not be ideal from a close quarters perspective for some living situations, it is an undeniably good threat stopper with excellent ballistic performance.

Note: we still think ballistic stopping power outweighs other metrics when choosing a caliber or platform but recognize different conditions and living situations as cause for concern.

The S&W 629 is the classic hunting handgun that doubles as a home defense implement.

The build quality is top tier and the 6 round capacity offers more than enough firepower for home defense with training. Furthermore, the ability to shoot .44 Special helps to mitigate recoil concerns for newer shooters getting accustomed to using this weapon.

Smith & Wesson has a history of producing the finest mainstream revolvers in the industry at the price point. The rugged good looks and the unmatched reliability make this revolver something any shooter would be proud to own.

Pros:

  • Powerful cartridge and relatively easy to handle firearm
  • Reliable and proven

Cons:

  • Heavy and possibly hard to handle for smaller shooters/hands

This is best for:

Seasoned shooters who want simple, easy to use firepower that can stop any threat. Users who might consider handgun hunting for medium and large game in Addition to using it for home defense.


SMITH & WESSON - M&P45 M2.0

SMITH & WESSON - M&P45 M2.0-min.jpg


A full-sized firearm is appropriate for home defense use more so than for other needs like concealed carry.

The cartridge used in this handgun (.45 ACP) offers good stopping power and the gun offers good recoil mitigation with the larger size and good design features.

The hand grip allows for customization with palm swell inserts and a heavily textured stipple pattern.

The 2.0 is the refined version of this gun with S&W having improved the trigger experience.

Among the polymer framed guns, which offer a lot of potential customization usually, this pistol is among the most customizable and allows shooters to tailor the shooting experience to their unique needs.

There are also several additional design improvements over competitors to incorporate things like low profile sights a very high grip and a lowered bore axis; integrated accessory rail and extended trigger guard for gloved hands.

For the money it is hard to beat this refined polymer-based handgun. Best home defense pistol for the budget.

Pros:

  • A lot of customization for the shooter
  • Improvements on an already very good gun
  • Value priced

Cons:

  • No real Cons

This is best for:

Shooters who like to be able to make ergonomics improvements on their firearm without custom gunsmithing.


KIMBER - K6S STAINLESS

KIMBER - K6S STAINLESS

Kimber has proven itself capable of producing top tier semi-custom and fully-custom firearms in larger quantities at a moderate price point.

This is a perfect example of what the factory is capable of. Kimber hasn’t been in the revolver game for very long, but they already have a loyal following. 

This handgun is a very lightweight, hard hitting performer with an easy to handle form factor.

It’s good looking; capable of easy concealment and long-term duty use and features a DAO (double action only) trigger to take all the guesswork out of a tactical or defensive situation.

The low-profile sights are still very good. The combination of sights and grip style make for a very easy to point handgun that becomes even better when you feel the trigger and the trigger stack, which makes the gun’s only “safety” a very smooth, intuitive process to initiate.

Pros:

  • Incredible fit and finish for a factory gun
  • Excellent sizing and modifications for carry and home defense use

Cons:

  • Starting to get pricey

This is best for:

The user who will full time carry the revolver and use it in a home protection capacity after hours. Shooters who prefer the smaller form factor with the ease of use of the revolver.


KRISS USA - SDP G2 45 ACP

KRISS USA - SDP G2 45 ACP

Perhaps the Kriss is an odd choice for this list, but it offers a unique take on home protection with a lot of benefits, and only a couple minor drawbacks.

The caliber is a near perfect choice for the task, as the .45 projectile offers good stopping power but not a ton of risk of overpenetration with a trained user handling the firearm.​

It has a higher capacity than most pistols (13+1) and gives a second handhold for support of the firearm which in theory produces a better control position for the defensive shooter.

Tons of accessory rails and good sights for quick target acquisition, pair with a totally unique and innovative recoil mitigation system that was patented by KRISS for the Vector platform.

It uses a series of counterbalance and weight distribution to keep muzzle rise to a minimum and recoil in a more solid state.

While the system is probably best used in a full-auto fire scenario, the firearm’s weight; and distribution of that weight for this firearm do help to keep recoil to a minimum.

Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Well suited to Close Quarters Battle
  • A versatile gun that has uses in other areas of shooting

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Bulky and non-traditional

This is best for:

A shooter who desires to shoot something innovative and might be able to use it in a home defense fashion too. A shooter who may prefer a sling mounted firearm that mimics a PDW/SMG style.


RUGER - GP-100

RUGER - GP-100

A classic personal defense revolver that was popularized in the 1990’s for use as a home defense and carry gun in the height of the Glock years.

This is a chambering that flips that classic revolver image on its head though. The 10mm is neither a revolver specific rimmed cartridge, nor is it an extremely popular round, but its ballistics from a pistol platform are exceptional for stopping a threat.

The idea that you can get the kind reliability and ease of use that a revolver offers with excellent ballistics like the 10mm offers for CQB, is great, though the loading/reloading can be a drawback.

It’s worth noting too, that the 10mm ballistics can be bested by .357 Magnum ballistics, and therefore the rimmed cartridges simply offer a better experience.

But notwithstanding, the quality of the firearm and the caliber choice offers a unique and interesting choice for the home defense purposes, that becomes a very fun gun to use on the range or in the field.

Ruger’s take on this modernized revolver pairs a very good grip with very good sights to make the first shot on target fast and easy to execute.

The GP100 is also very well balanced and the barrel size is not unwieldy either.

Pros:

  • Interesting caliber for home defense
  • Proven platform (GP100)
  • Very durable and reliable

Cons:

  • 10mm may not be an optimized choice for a revolver, especially considering that the .357 Magnum can match the excellent ballistics with the right loads

This is best for:

A shooter who already has adopted the 10mm round for bulk shooting and wants the simplicity of a revolver in a home defense scenario.


HECKLER & KOCH - VP9

HECKLER & KOCH - VP9

The renewed interest by law enforcement in the 9mm cartridge for defensive and duty use has made it one of the hottest trends of late in the firearms industry.

But it’s also been the go-to round for the mainstream defensive shooter for decades too. In the case of the home defense situation, the VP9 is an excellent choice.

Along with the above-mentioned Smith & Wesson M&P, the VP9 is a versatile polymer framed gun that can be customized for hand fit.

These two polymer framed automatics, despite numerous differences are among the best choices for those who want good reliability, ease of use and well-stacked feature sets in a polymer framed gun that can be tailored to the user’s specific ergonomic needs.

H&K’s history of production of firearms that have seen law enforcement and military duty uses makes them an ideal company to source a home defense firearm from.

The innovation and adoption of proven technologies, in this case a striker fired mechanism with ambidextrous controls means you are getting a great baseline to begin with, that is heightened from a performance perspective by Heckler & Koch’s thoughtful feature set.

Pros:

  • Heckler & Koch’s proven performance
  • Custom tailored grip and ergonomics

Cons:

  • Expensive relative to industry peers – paying extra for the H&K name

This is best for:

HK fans who know they don’t want another brand of striker fired semi-automatic handgun to trust their lives to. Diehard 9mm loyalists. One of the best 9mm pistol for home defense.


Q - HONEY BADGER 300 BLK PISTOL

Q - HONEY BADGER 300 BLK PISTOL

This is a gun that you will find on a few other lists in this website. Not because it is the best gun in history, but because in theory this firearm is something special for home defense. Most of that stems from the caliber (.300BLK) and the configuration (roughly the platform of a PDW/SMG).

The rest comes from the mindset: potential for a suppressor; rifle caliber ballistics with pistol size and lack of overpenetration concerns, which make it perfect for CQ scenarios.

Notably: The producer (Q) is somewhat unproven in the landscape of producers, but they are utilizing a platform that uses modular components that are proven individually and together. So, the worry that this brand might somehow influence the reliability or use of the firearm are unfounded. This is just one more reason that we rate it so highly.

Thirty rounds of rifle caliber cartridges; low overall difficulty to learn the layout and operation of the gun and the fact that the .300BLK can be very effectively suppressed and can help avoid friendly fire concerns, makes this an ideal weapon for home defense.

NOTE: while it would technically be illegal to use this as a shoulder fired weapon, the unique design does offer better handling and control over the weapon especially when utilizing an optic and sling.

Pros:

  • Excellent cartridge for home defense
  • Great feature set that includes some of the best AR style innovations built in
  • Two handed control
  • Easily suppressible and handles well with a suppressor

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not legally able to be shoulder fired

This is best for:

The shooter who wants the best in class theoretically, but also wants a gun that will have a use outside of the home. Shooters who want rifle ballistics with pistol handling and low recoil. Those who would seriously consider a suppressor for in-home sound reduction.


GLOCK - G20SF

GLOCK - G20SF

The Model 20 was essentially chosen arbitrarily, mostly due to superior ballistics on paper. Any of the full-size Glock pistols would fit the bill for most users, however, depending on your personal opinions about a given caliber.

Glock is simple, safe and reliable from the perspective of the home defense pistol. The innovations are still relevant even though little has changed since the mid 1980’s when the gun made its debut in the United States.

What is changed of late is the realization of refinements in the model lineup that takes years of duty experience (as one of the most prominent sidearms in history) and turns that experience into subtle but practical improvements on the pistol.

High capacity (15+1 rounds for the 10mm G20) and very good durability and reliability make this an obvious choice for home protection if a pistol is desired. The history of providing exceptional service for law enforcement and military professionals proves it’s worth as a sidearm or primary piece.

Pros:

  • Legendary Glock reliability
  • Safe, despite not a lot of safety specific additions
  • High capacity of highly potent cartridges (G20 – 10mm)

Cons:

  • No real Cons

This is best for:

A shooter who has used Glocks and knows of their capabilities and prefers the simplicity the platform offers relative to other handguns.


Conclusion

The best home defense pistol is a title that could be given to any number of handguns depending on your unique scenario, but the actual candidates for such a title, while it starts broad, actually culminates into a small handful of guns once your needs are assessed properly.

In the above list you are given a substantial list of significant firearms. All of them capable of being used as a primary home defense handgun; many with a slew of other uses. It’s important to weigh the needs you have, to determine which track to go down in choosing the right firearm for defense of your life, home and family. We trust the above information is adequate to help you make that decision.

Choosing The Best Home Defense Pistol & Handguns: 2019 Guide and Review
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