Best Handguns for Home Defense

5 Home Defense Handguns Perfect For The Nightstand or Gun Safe


Handguns are tools, and there are some obvious concealed carry guns and some obvious service or home defense handguns. Though plenty of people do conceal and carry a service-size pistol, they aren't the best tool for that task due to their weight and dimensions.


As a result, some pistols are better suited to the nightstand or the gun safe rather than a holster and gun belt for daily CCW.


Sig Sauer P226


Sig P226 for Home Defense

There may be no finer handgun on the planet than the Sig Sauer P226. It's one of the most commonly carried police and military sidearms in dozens of countries worldwide, including the United States. It has proven itself many times over as an accurate, reliable firearm that is well and truly able to save a person's life when it has to.


It has a capacity of 15+1 rounds of 9mm or 12 rounds of .40 S&W. It's has Sig Sauer's DA/SA operating system, which uses a decocker rather than a manual safety of any kind, ensuring that the gun can get in the fight right away.


Granted, the Sig label and especially the big steel Sigs carry with it a premium regarding the price point, but the high cost of entry will pay for itself in length of use. With only cursory cleaning and maintenance, a P226 will last longer than you.


A Good Old M1911


1911 Home Defense Handgun

Another fantastic implement of personal defense is the one that the American military issued for more than half a century: the M1911 pistol. Operation is relatively simple and very few guns fit the hand and point as intuitively.


As far as 1911s go, it's a buyer's market. It's all up to you. Plain Jane GI models can be had for as little as a few hundred dollars from some manufacturers, and it goes all the way up to complete custom guns costing about as much as a decent motorcycle. Standard caliber is good old .45 ACP, which is a solid defensive load with a good hollowpoint, but there are plenty out there in 9mm, 10mm, .40 S&W and the odd .38 Super and other obscure handgun calibers as well.


A wipe down with cleaner and lubricant every couple weeks and good magazines will keep a 1911 in good working order for decades.


Glock 17


Home Defense Glock 17

If you prefer a plastic poly-striker gun, you might as well get the one that started it all - the Glock 17. It's been in service with police and military personnel for decades and is one of the most popular on the market for that purpose and arguably THE most popular. It would be tough to do better.


It holds 17 rounds of 9mm in a double-stack magazine, and controls couldn't be simpler. It doesn't go "bang" unless you touch the trigger. While some may lament the lack of anything other than the passive trigger safety on a Glock, the truth is that all you need to do is to keep your booger hook off it until you mean to shoot. Sounds like a gun safety rule someone ought to write down or something.


Accessories abound and this pistol is in nearly every gun shop nationwide. It also has an accessory rail, allowing for the mounting of flashlights or lasers (or light/laser systems) if desired, and the Gen 4 models can accept a red dot sight.


Don't like 9mm? That's okay; other full-size Glocks are available in .40 S&W, .357 Sig, .45 ACP, .45 GAP and 10mm.


Ruger GP100


Ruger GP100 for Home Defense

Some people think 9mm plastic guns just don't pack enough punch and for that sort of person, the Ruger GP100 is just about perfect. It's a full-meal deal .357 Magnum revolver, with a double-action operation and carrying 6 rounds of the hot stuff.


Ruger literally engineered the GP100 from the ground up for this round and typical to Ruger, they over-built it with tough, dense steel and a triple-locking swing-out cylinder. This ensures reliability and length of service as well as ensuring that Mr. Wildcat over there with his insane handloads won't have to worry about a thing. The term "Ruger handloads" is a thing for a reason. That said, it's also available in .44 Special in case you prefer a bigger bullet.


There may be a few minor details that aren't as good as other revolvers. Maybe a different make and model is prettier, has better grips for your hand or so on...but this gun is a tank. Your grandchildren will be able to shoot full-house loads all day without issue. Good luck finding another revolver built as tough.


Smith and Wesson M&P9


M&P9 for Home Defense

Today's Smith and Wesson M&P is a poly-striker auto rather than the .38 Special of yesteryear (the old M&P is now the Model 10) but it so happens that the Smith and Wesson M&P9 is one of the best examples of the breed.


It's much like the Glock 17, and people who have shot Glocks will find some similarities. The trigger safety is much the same. The capacity is about the same. There's an accessory rail so you can put lights on it. What sets it apart? Amazing ergonomics. The M&P9 fits in the hand, points and acquires targets like a part of one's arm, which lends itself to being very accurate indeed. It has also established itself as a proven police and military sidearm, so there's a track record to go with it as well.


If you prefer, there are also the M&P40 and M&P45 available as well, in .40 S&W and .45 ACP. There was a .357 Sig version, but it was pulled from the market. (Drop a .357 Sig barrel in the .40 and you're good to go.) Price of entry is incredibly reasonable, and with minimal care it will last decades.




Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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