Best Handguns for Home Defense: Expert Picks for 2023 [Guide]

best handguns for home defense

Unfortunately in the day and age in which we live, no one is ever 100% immune from potential home intruders that mean harm to you and your family. With that in mind, are you prepared?

If not, hopefully, the information I’m sharing with you in this article will help you get prepared!

Choosing the best handgun for home defense is crucial in ensuring your family’s protection. The following guide provides an overview of factors to consider when choosing your ideal nightstand gun, and also offers up a few of the top choices currently on the market to help you pick the best defense weapon for your needs.

Home invasions are no joke, so it’s essential to have a reliable firearm that can be quickly accessed when something goes bump in the night. When selecting a home defense weapon, factors such as ease of use, capacity, caliber/stopping power, and size come into play.

Ok, enough of me jabbering on, let’s dive into the world of home protection handguns!

Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Best Handguns for Home Defense

Caliber Considerations

When looking for the best handguns for home defense, one of the first things to consider is caliber. The caliber refers to the diameter of the bullet and can impact both the stopping power and recoil of a handgun.

Some popular calibers typically attractive to beginners include:

  • .22 LR: Low recoil, affordable ammunition, but limited stopping power
  • 9mm: Balanced stopping power, manageable recoil, and widely available ammo
  • .38 Special: Commonly found in revolvers with moderate recoil and good stopping power

As a beginner, it’s essential to find a caliber that you can handle comfortably while still providing adequate protection.

Semi-automatic vs. Revolver

semi-automatic vs revolver

There are two main types of handguns: semi-automatic pistols and revolvers. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Semi-automatic Pistols

  • Higher capacity magazines
  • Quicker reloading
  • More options for customization (e.g., lights, lasers)


  • Simple design with fewer parts that can malfunction
  • Easier operation for beginners (no need to rack a slide)
  • Less likely to jam due to dirt or debris

Ultimately, choosing between a semi-automatic pistol or revolver comes down to personal preference and comfort level.

Budget and Reliability Factors

When selecting a beginner handgun for home defense, it’s crucial not only to consider your budget but also the reliability of the firearm. A reliable handgun is one that functions consistently without issues such as jams or misfires.

Some tips for finding reliable handguns within your budget include:

  1. Research reputable manufacturers known for producing quality firearms.
  2. Read reviews from other users who have experience with specific models.
  3. Consider purchasing used guns from trusted sources like gun shops or friends/family members who are knowledgeable about firearms.

Here are some examples of affordable yet reliable handguns suitable for beginners:

  • Glock 19 (9mm semi-automatic)
  • Ruger Security 9 (9mm semi-automatic)
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 (9mm or .40 S&W semi-automatic)

By considering caliber, type of handgun, and budget/reliability factors, beginners can make an informed decision when choosing the best handgun for home defense. Remember that practicing with your chosen firearm will also play a significant role in its effectiveness during a home defense situation. So, take the time to learn how to operate and maintain your new handgun properly and practice regularly at the range to become proficient in its use.

Importance of Ergonomics and Safety for a Home Defense Handgun

Comfortable Grip for Accuracy

Ergonomics plays a crucial role in selecting the best handguns for home defense. A comfortable grip ensures better control and accuracy when you need it most. Consider these factors when evaluating a handgun’s grip:

  • Material: Some materials offer better traction, while others may be too slippery or uncomfortable.
  • Size: The grip should fit your hand comfortably without being too small or large.
  • Shape: Different designs cater to various hand shapes and sizes, so choose one that feels natural.

Remember, the better the ergonomics, the more likely you are to hit your target in a high-stress situation.

Proper Trigger Discipline

Trigger discipline is essential for safety and control with any firearm. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  2. Maintain consistent pressure on the trigger for smooth operation.
  3. Practice dry-firing (without ammunition) to familiarize yourself with the trigger’s feel and break point.

Developing proper trigger discipline not only helps prevent accidental discharges but also improves overall shooting performance.

Built-in Safety Features

When choosing a handgun for home defense, consider models with built-in safety features that minimize risks without compromising accessibility. Some popular options include:

  • Manual safeties: These require manual disengagement before firing, adding an extra layer of protection against accidental discharge.
  • Grip safeties: Integrated into the grip itself, these prevent firing unless held correctly.
  • Trigger safeties: Designed as part of the trigger mechanism, they ensure proper finger placement before allowing discharge.

Keep in mind that no safety feature can replace responsible gun handling and storage practices.

Top Semi-Automatic Handguns for Home Defense 2023

Glock 19 Gen5 MOS

Glock 19 Gen5 MOS

The Glock 19 Gen5 MOS is an excellent handgun choice for home defense. This popular handgun caliber offers:

  • Enhanced ergonomics
  • Interchangeable backstraps
  • Ambidextrous slide stop lever
  • Flared mag-well
  • Modular optic system (MOS)

With its compact size and reliable performance, the Glock 19 Gen5 MOS provides an excellent balance between concealability and firepower.

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0

Another top contender in home defense handguns is the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0. This firearm boasts:

  • High grip-to-bore axis ratio
  • Aggressive grip texture
  • Four interchangeable palmswell inserts
  • Crisp trigger with lighter pull weight

With these features, the M&P9 M2.0 offers improved handling and accuracy, making it a solid choice for protecting your home.

Sig Sauer P320 X

Sig Sauer P320 X

The Sig Sauer P320 X is a versatile and modular handgun that can be customized to fit any shooter’s preferences. Some of its standout features include:

  • XSeries grip module with extended beavertail
  • Flat-faced trigger for a clean break
  • Optic-ready slide with removable rear sight plate
  • Three-point takedown safety system

These attributes make the Sig P320 X an excellent option for those seeking a highly adaptable firearm for home defense.

FNX-45 Tactical

FNX-45 Tactical

For those who prefer larger calibers, the FNX-45 Tactical is hard to beat. This .45 ACP powerhouse offers:

  • High capacity (15+1 rounds) and soft recoil for big stopping power
  • Threaded barrel for suppressor attachment
  • Raised night sights for easy target acquisition in low-light conditions
  • Ambidextrous controls

With its impressive stopping power and user-friendly features, the FNX-45 Tactical is a top choice for home defense.

CZ SP-01

CZ SP-01

The CZ SP-01 is another best handgun option for home protection. This all-metal firearm provides:

  • Exceptional accuracy
  • Low recoil
  • High capacity (18+1 rounds)
  • Extended beavertail for improved grip and control

With its durable construction and superior shootability, the CZ SP-01 is an ideal choice for those seeking a reliable home defense weapon.

When considering which semi-automatic handgun to purchase for home defense, it’s essential to factor in price.

Here’s a quick comparison of the average prices for these top choices:

HandgunAverage Retail Price
Glock 19 Gen5 MOS$600 – $700
M&P9 M2.0$350 – $550
Sig Sauer P320 X$600 – $800
FNX-45 Tactical$1,000 – $1,200
CZ SP-01$800 – $1,000

Ultimately, choosing the best handgun for home defense comes down to personal preference and budget. By considering factors like caliber, capacity, ergonomics, and price primary arms, you can find the perfect semi-automatic handgun to keep your family safe in 2023.

Best Revolvers for Home Protection

Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum

Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum

The Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum is a top choice among revolvers for home protection. This revolver is known for its reliability, durability, and accuracy. It’s built like a tank, so you know it can withstand the test of time.

  • Chambered in the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge
  • Can also shoot .38 Special rounds for less recoil and cheaper practice
  • Features a 4-inch barrel for improved accuracy
  • Heavy-duty stainless steel construction
  • Double-action trigger system with a smooth pull

With this gun at your side, you’ll feel confident knowing that you have one of the best revolvers available to protect your home and family.

Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus

Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus

Another excellent option in the world of revolvers is the Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus. This classic design has been trusted by law enforcement and civilians alike for decades due to its dependability and performance.

  • Chambered in .357 Magnum with the ability to shoot .38 Special as well
  • Seven-shot cylinder capacity gives you an extra round compared to most other revolvers
  • Available in various barrel lengths (3-inch, 4-inch, or 6-inch) to suit your preference
  • Stainless steel frame provides durability and corrosion resistance
  • Adjustable rear sight allows for fine-tuning of your aim

When it comes down to defending your home, having a reliable firearm like the Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus can make all the difference.

Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer

Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer

For those who want something a bit different from traditional revolvers, consider the Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer. This unique revolver offers versatility by being able to chamber both .45 Colt cartridges and .410 shotgun shells.

  • Shoots both .45 Colt rounds and 2.5-inch .410 shotgun shells for a variety of defense options
  • Compact design with a 2-inch barrel, making it easier to maneuver in tight spaces
  • Polymer frame keeps the weight down for comfortable carry and handling
  • Five-shot cylinder capacity provides ample firepower
  • Ribber grip ensures a secure hold even under recoil

The Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer is an unconventional choice but offers a level of adaptability that’s hard to find in other revolvers.

To sum up, when looking for the best handguns for home defense, these three revolvers stand out among the competition. Each offers unique features and benefits, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences. Whether you opt for the Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum, Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus, or Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer, you’ll be well-equipped to protect your home and loved ones.

Handgun ModelAverage Retail Price
Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum$750 – $850
Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus$800 – $900
Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer$450 – $550

Lasers and Flashlights for Home Defense Handguns

Benefits of Laser Sights

Laser sights are an excellent addition to any home defense handgun. They offer several benefits, such as:

  • Improved accuracy: A laser sight helps you aim more precisely, increasing your chances of hitting the target.
  • Faster target acquisition: With a laser sight, you can quickly identify and focus on the threat without having to line up traditional iron sights.
  • Low-light situations: In dimly lit environments where it’s difficult to see your weapon’s sights, a laser can be invaluable.
  • Intimidation factor: The presence of a visible laser dot on a potential intruder may deter them from continuing their actions.

Some popular brands offering quality laser sights include Crimson Trace and Streamlight.

Advantages of Weapon-Mounted Flashlights

Weapon-mounted flashlights are another great accessory for home defense handguns. Here are some reasons why they’re useful:

  • Illumination: A weapon light allows you to clearly see your target in low-light conditions.
  • Identification: Proper identification of threats is crucial in home defense situations. A weapon-mounted flashlight helps you discern friend from foe before pulling the trigger.
  • Disorientation: A bright light shined directly into an intruder’s eyes can disorient them, giving you an advantage in a confrontation.

Streamlight is one reputable brand that produces high-quality weapon lights for pistols.

Popular Accessory Brands

When choosing accessories for your home defense handgun, consider these well-known brands:

  • Crimson Trace: Specializing in laser sights and optics, Crimson Trace offers products like the Rail Master Universal Laser Sight and Lasergrips for various pistol models.
  • Streamlight: Known for their durable flashlights and weapon lights, Streamlight has options like the TLR series of rail-mounted lights designed specifically for handguns.

In addition to lasers and flashlights, other useful accessories include night sights, suppressors, and red dot optics. Night sights are luminescent or tritium-based sights that glow in the dark, making it easier to aim in low-light conditions. Suppressors reduce the noise and muzzle flash of your gun, which can be beneficial for maintaining your hearing and vision during a home defense situation. Red dot optics provide a quick and easy aiming solution without having to align traditional iron sights.

When selecting a handgun for home defense, consider factors like stopping power, reliability, and ease of use. Popular choices include Glock pistols, Smith & Wesson M&P series handguns, and various models chambered in calibers with proven stopping power like 9mm or .45 ACP. Hollow point ammunition is recommended for home defense due to its increased effectiveness at incapacitating threats without over-penetration.

My Personal Home Defense Nightstand Gun: The FNX-45 Tactical

FNX-45 Tactical

After considering numerous reviews, expert opinions, and personal experiences, I’ve chosen the FNX-45 Tactical as my top pick for home defense.

It’s the handgun that always sits 2 feet away in my nightstand drawer and is equipped with Talon Grips, a Vortex Red Dot and a Streamlight TLR-2 HLG Combination Light/Green Laser. This handgun offers several features that make it stand out from the competition:

  • High magazine capacity: 15 rounds of .45 ACP provide ample stopping power.
  • Ambidextrous controls: Ideal for both left and right-handed users.
  • Enhanced sights: Comes equipped with raised night sights for better target acquisition in low-light situations.

The FNX-45 Tactical’s combination of power, accuracy, and user-friendly design makes it an excellent choice for protecting your home.

It’s big and heavy but shoots like a dream and is laser-accurate. While its price may be higher than some alternatives, I firmly believe that the peace of mind it provides is well worth the investment.

Here’s all the specs and nitty gritty on how I have mine outfitted with prices you can expect to pay for a similar setup.

FeatureFNX-45 Tactical
Caliber.45 ACP
Barrel Length5.3 inches
Overall Length7.9 inches
Weight (unloaded)33.3 ounces
Magazine Capacity15 rounds
Frame MaterialPolymer
Slide MaterialStainless Steel
SightsSuppressor-height Night Sights
Accessory RailMIL-STD 1913 Picatinny Rail
TriggerDouble-action/single-action (DA/SA)
Safety FeaturesAmbidextrous safety and decocking levers
Threaded BarrelYes
Optics ReadyYes (slide cut for mounting red dot sight)
  • FNX-45 Tactical Hangun – $1,050
  • Streamlight TLR-2 HLG Combination Light/Green Laser – $370
  • Talon Grips – $20
  • Vortex Venom Red Dot – $350
  • Total Price as Shown: $1,790

No, it’s definitely not cheap but it’s the perfect setup for my needs, and at the end of the day, I can’t put a price on the peace of mind that having 15 rounds of soft shooting, .45 caliber stopping power brings.

This thing is a lights-out, nail driver!

Final Thoughts About Home Defense Handguns

Throughout this guide, we’ve covered crucial aspects of selecting the best handguns for home defense. From understanding the basics and importance of ergonomics and safety to exploring top semi-automatic handguns and revolvers, you’re now well-equipped to make an informed decision.

Don’t forget the value of adding lasers and flashlights to your home defense handgun setup. These accessories can greatly enhance your accuracy and overall effectiveness in a high-stress situation.

Lastly, consider personal experiences and ratings from others when making your choice. This valuable insight can help you find a reliable firearm that meets your specific needs.

Now it’s time to take action! Use the knowledge you’ve gained here to confidently choose the best handgun for protecting your home and loved ones.

Stay safe out there!

FAQ 1: What is the most important factor when choosing a handgun for home defense?

The most important factor is finding a firearm that fits your hand comfortably, has manageable recoil, and offers adequate stopping power. What works for a man might be completely different for a woman. Ergonomics play a significant role in ensuring accurate shooting under stress.

FAQ 2: Are semi-automatic handguns or revolvers better for home defense?

Both types have their pros and cons. Semi-automatics typically offer higher capacity, while revolvers are known for their simplicity and reliability. Choose based on personal preference, comfort, and familiarity with each type of firearm. Personally, I want the highest capacity possible for my home defense weapon.

FAQ 3: How important are laser sights or flashlights on my home defense handgun?

While not mandatory, these accessories can significantly improve target acquisition speed and accuracy in low-light situations commonly encountered during home invasions. They also serve as useful tools for identifying potential threats without compromising your position.

In my personal opinion, these accessories are a must for the ideal nightstand gun.

FAQ 4: Should I choose a larger caliber handgun for more stopping power?

A larger caliber may provide more stopping power but often comes with increased recoil which can affect shot placement – especially under stress. It’s essential to find a balance between stopping power and manageable recoil for accurate shooting.

Heavier steel handguns make for great home defense weapons because the additional weight allows you to easily manage recoil while benefitting from the increased stopping power of a larger caliber.

FAQ 5: How can I practice using my home defense handgun effectively?

Regular training at a shooting range is crucial to maintain proficiency. Consider taking self-defense courses that focus on real-life scenarios to better prepare you for potential home invasion situations.