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The Best Handguns For Home Defense

We all have our own versions of what a great gun is for both personal carry use and home defense. What you choose may be different from me, and that’s okay. This is meant to be a guide to get you started on choosing a great gun. Please note some of these guns are great for carrying concealed or open. And multi-purpose guns, at least in my opinion, are great.

Before we get to what I like to call the “meat and potatoes,” let’s get a few important things out of the way. First, you need to make sure you choose a caliber in a gun that you’re actually going to shoot. If you don’t actually shoot your gun of choice, and you need to defend yourself with it, you might get startled. You need to make sure you’re ready and know exactly what’s going to happen.

Second, some projectiles can actually over-penetrate through more than one wall. Bigger, slower calibers tend to be the way to go if you have people sleeping in another room. You could always carry frangible ammo for added protection against penetration. It’s a misconception that hollow point rounds won’t over travel through walls because they expand. They only expand when they pass through something wet, and drywall is not wet. If you miss your target, it could travel through several walls before it stops. If you have a child on the other side, I don’t need to tell you how dangerous that could be.

This article has two parts. The first part is mine, and the second is by the original author, Patrick Johnson. You should be able to tell where I stop and he starts because it is clear we have two different approaches. But, I’ll tell you when it happens, so you’re not confused.

Ruger SP101

Photo credit: Ruger

The SP101 is a great revolver that is available in a few different calibers. When it comes to the point and shoot capabilities of a revolver, you can’t go wrong. My pick for this gun is the .357 Magnum cartridge because of its ultimate stopping ability. Though, the .327 Mag and .38 SP ammunition types work well, too, for lesser recoil with each shot. Speaking of the one chambered for the hardest hitter, its cylinder holds five rounds. It comes with either an external or an internal hammer (which is great if you decide to conceal carry it).

These revolvers weigh 25 ounces (some are heavier, based on barrel length) and are easy to maneuver around your house when needed. MSRP isn’t too bad at $719, and likely a bit cheaper than those in stores. You get a solid revolver with an excellent reputation backed by one of the best companies in the business. You can’t go wrong with this choice. Get your hands on one here.

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FNX 45

Photo Credit: FN America

If you’re looking for a handgun with a large capacity magazine and is also chambered in .45 ACP, look no further than the FNX 45.  This is one of the most reliable semi-auto pistols available today. With its fully ambidextrous controls, 15 round mags (also available with 10 for you poor saps in Commie-fornia), and hard-hitting ammunition (hollow point preferred), it’s sure to get the job done. It even has a MIL-STD accessory rail for flashlights or rail-mounted lasers for easier target acquisition.

The FNX 45 ain’t exactly cheap with an MSRP of $824, but you may be able to get it cheaper than that in the shop. Plus, the gun comes with a few different back-strap options so you can make sure it’s comfortable in your hand. That, combined with the DA/SA trigger and safety/decocker, make it an excellent addition to this list. You can get your hands on this model here.

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Kel-Tec PMR-30

Photo Credit: Kel-Tec

Before you groan about there being anything made by Kel-Tec on this short list, especially one chambered in .22, hear me out. First, it’s actually chambered in .22 magnum. Its magazine has a 30-round ammunition capacity. I’m not saying this is for everybody. This is the perfect home defense gun for someone with weak wrists or is extremely recoil-sensitive. We need to remember that not all of us are big, burly men. Some of us are older and unable to handle the recoil of a big self-defense cartridge.

Plus, this way, you have 30 chances of hitting your target. And, with the nominal amount of recoil it produces, the one defending the house is able to get back to target much quicker. It’s got a safety, fiber optic sights, an accessory rail, and has a very accurate barrel all for the MSRP of $455. As an added benefit, .22 Mag has decent ballistics for what it is.

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S&W Governor

Photo Credit: Smith & Wesson

Like the Taurus Judge (which is also on this list), this handy little revolver shoots Colt .45 calibers and .410 shotshells. It gets a one up on the Judge, however, in that it holds six shots. Add to that another cartridge to the mix with the .45 ACP ammunition. It requires moon clips to do so. But the simple fact that it can hold John Browning’s famous self-defense cartridge makes it noteworthy.

The MSRP of $870, and the ability to shoot three different cartridges ranging from shotgun shells and .45 Colt to the .45 ACP make the S&W Governor perfect for someone capable of handling an actual hand-cannon. It is a highly versatile self-defense weapon with excellent stopping power.

The rest of this article, starting with the Desert Eagle is by Patrick Johnson.

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Desert Eagle

By Patrick Johnson

Now I already know what you’re thinking: “Too big, too stupid, too jam prone, not accurate. I want to defend my home, not start a remodel with a one-shot demolition!” I get it, but as a Desert Eagle fan and owner (50 caliber AE.) I’ve grown to love the beast and have found it to be plenty accurate while delivering an extremely powerful round when you shoot. The noise and recoil from the Desert Eagle make for a weapon with plenty of stopping power. Anyone would stop whatever they’re doing and run away. Not to mention that this is one scary self-defense gun.

If you live alone in the country and you’ve had ample practice with a big bore gun like this, it’s feasible. For those who are apartment dwellers and living in close proximity to others, this just won’t be a viable option. Most crimes in these categories normally take place in low light. The perpetrators usually have an idea of the layout of the target building.

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Glock 19

In terms of simplicity, calibers selection, frame size, and the ability to customize to one’s content, you really cannot beat a Glock. I picked the Glock 19 as a go-to handgun because of frame size. If you are in a household with multiple occupants, say a husband and wife, you’ll probably want a gun that both folks are comfortable holding on to. I felt the 19 was a nice in-between for most people. It’s not as large as some of the full frames, but not as small as the subcompacts, and therefore more comfortable in a wider range of hands. With a 15-round 9mm capacity, highly accurate barrel, and spare magazines readily available, the G19 is a great defense handgun with every accessory you could imagine at your disposal.

It is a time-tested design that provides a level of simplicity that is hard to match. There’s no wonder why it is one of the best-selling semi-automatic pistols today. Easy operation in a high-stress situation can provide a lifesaving difference. With no manual safety, the Glock gives one the ability to point and shoot without fussing around with safeties and levers. Recoil control also comes easy with the Glock 19. Also, the small form factor makes it a great option for concealed carry. The simplicity could also be a downfall if those who are unfamiliar with firearms stumble upon your home defense weapon and inadvertently pull the trigger. But I would hope we are properly securing our firearms depending upon the occupants of our homes, at any given time.

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Taurus Judge – Public Defender

Revolver or Blunderbuss? I guess it’s kind of both, and very effective for home defense!

The Taurus Judge has the unique ability to fire a few distinctly different types of ammunition: the 45 Colt ACP, the .410 birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. What’s so great about that you might ask? Well think about it: Most rounds we are discussing here today will have some level of penetration through walls and hard surfaces. If you use the buckshot or birdshot, the chance of over-penetration is limited. This is an awesome feature for people who live in tight quarters like apartments, or for folks with family members spread throughout the house.

Having different ammunition options, dare I say less lethal options (for other home occupants), is interesting. You could have different cartridges loaded in different orders while utilizing the 5 round capacity such as 45 Colt, .410 Buckshot, 45 Colt, .410 Buckshot, .410 Buckshot, and so on. With the Judge, you get trusty and simplistic revolver performance and a manual safety system, along with a built-in Taurus Security System (TSS) that can completely disable the firearm and can only be engaged and disengaged with the key provided at purchase. Rubberized grips and fiber optic sight come standard, rare for many revolvers.

The Taurus Judge is a great home defense option when you’re looking at revolvers. If you have kids and visitors who are unfamiliar with firearms frequenting the residence, the TSS system can help you rest assured that no one will accidentally discharge the firearm. (Editor’s Note: Proper firearms safety must be used at all times, and no safety should ever be trusted)

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Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

What if your carry gun is also your home defense gun?

For this list, one of the things I had to keep in mind was that some folks are just going to have one pistol! It’s a shocker, right? Most of us could never imagine having only one gun, because hey, variety is the spice of life! Anyway, the Shield is a great gun in general. It is compact but has everything you would hope to find on a standard frame pistol. A great set of sights, manual safety (some like it, some don’t, for home defense I think, it is a positive), and the ability to attach a light or laser.  And when used with the extended mag (I would recommend this for home defense use) it is an easy gun to control.

If you need and want guns, but you do not have the cash to get yourself one pistol for home defense and another pistol for carry, this semi-automatic handgun should be one of the options you explore first. I have shot the 9mm version and must say it was a pleasure to shoot. (My fiancé uses the M&P Shield and she loves it!)

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SIG Sauer Tac Ops 1911 with Threaded Barrel

A full size 1911 is a great option for a home defense gun. The weight of the all steel frame and slide provides a nice dampening effect on the recoil of any round, making it easy for anyone to shoot with accuracy. This SIG Sauer is particularly nice because of a few added features: the addition of a rail for light and laser attachment, and the threaded barrel that comes along from the factory. The Tac Ops is loaded with 8 rounds of .45 ACP, which when compared to some of the polymer pistols isn’t a whole lot, but is still capable of getting the job done.

The all steel build makes this .45 ACP handgun manageable for a lot of people. The threaded barrel from the factory is ready for a suppressor if you’re willing to jump through the necessary hoops for one. Night sights and a light/laser rail allow you to equip for home defense situations.

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H&K USP Full Size Tactical 9mm with a Suppressor

H&K USP Full Size Tactical 9mm with a Suppressor is of the best handguns for home defense. image via

Suppressor?! Are those even legal? Yes, they are, and they are a fantastic tool for home defense!

I’ve used the H&K USP Full Size Tactical 9mm for years and I have to say it is one of the finest pistols, if not the finest, I’ve ever used. The USP tactical comes with a threaded barrel which makes the process of jumping into the suppressor game a little easier to start with. The full-size frame provides for a secure grip, but the mag release will be a bit confusing for some at first. However, after a few dry runs, it will seem easier than previous unload and reload manipulations you are accustomed to (tip: use your index finger to drop the mag).

The Best Home Defense handguns need to be reliable, easy to use, and easy to manipulate in high-stress situations. The most important thing, though, is that you’re comfortable using it and are willing to train with it at the range on at least a monthly basis. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are more than just handguns available to you for home defense. If you want to know which guns Josh says are the best for home defense, click on that link.

Now that you have a list of quality firearms, it’s time to grab some quality ammo. Skip the trip to the store and sign up with our friends at AmmoSubscription.

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This article was originally published on September 20, 2016. It has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.