With home invasions are on the rise in America, defending your home and family is not something anyone should take lightly. While there are many schools of thought on what firearm is best for home defense, a handgun is the best starting point for any homeowner.
The handgun is the base of a prepared home. Rifles or shotgun do not make very good close quarters weapons. Handguns are simple to operate, easily handled by both men and women, and are the basic tools used by law enforcement in the United States.
The handgun has become the go to of law enforcement, concealed carry citizens, sport shooters, and gun hobby enthusiasts as the entry into the firearms world.
In 2016 there were over two million firearms sold in the United States alone. The ability to purchase, train with, and carry a handgun is a real and viable option for those looking to defend themselves.
A defense firearm should be reliable, easy to repair, as well as easy to obtain parts and ammunition for use.
The first reason the five listed below were selected was based on use across the United States. They are primarily used by police officers, making any of these a great firearm for home defense and prepping.
The second factor in picking these handguns was for the availability of ammunition. The most common ammunition in production is .22 LR and 9x19mm followed by .45ACP, .40 S&W, and .38 Special.
When thinking about your perfect home defense handgun, you have to think about your ability to handle it properly in light and in darkness.
Your comfort with the pistol when you use it is has a life or death impact. If you cannot properly clean, load, handle, and fire a firearm, it will be of no use during a violent altercation and could be your undoing instead of your saving grace.
The Three Cs
When you go shopping for a gun, you must think about the three C: comfort, consistency, and cost. Too many people purchase a firearm based on cost alone.
Certainly you have to shop within your personal budget, and everyone’s is different, but your life and your family’s safety are worth more than money. Thus, all three Cs must be considered when you prepare to make your purchase.
When it comes to comfort you must ask yourself the following questions: How does the firearm fit in your hand? Are you comfortable when firing said firearm? Will it fit into your everyday carry (purse, pocket, etc.) or will you need to buy a new wardrobe?
When you look at consistency, ask questions such as:
Am I able to hit the same spot on a target accurately over and over?
Can I consistently draw and fire the firearm without hesitation, fear, or obstruction?
Cost should again be your last question but not just in cost to purchase a firearm. How much will it cost to practice with the firearm? How much time will it take me to feel comfortable shooting this firearm? How much time will it take to become proficient with this firearm.
A firearm is a responsibility that includes spending time perfecting your skill, as well as responsible use and storage. A firearm may be a one time purchase for some, however it should never be a one time thought.
#1. Glock 17
Glock is an Austrian based company that has changed the face of firearms. Glock has created a series of polymer framed semi automatic pistols built through years of exhaustive reliability and safety tests to emerge as the brand used by police and militaries around the world.
With all of the mechanics of the firearm built into the slide and frame, Glock is the simplest firearm to maintain and use. It weighs around 1.5 pounds unloaded, which also makes it one of the lightest firearms around.
The Glock 17 is the most widely used law enforcement pistol in the world. Chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, the most commonly used pistol round in the world thanks to NATO makes the Glock 17 is the simplest handgun to use.
Since all of the parts of the Glock are internal, the ability for someone to have a failure while shooting is limited.
While the Glock is not indestructible, it is as close to as you can get. It holds 17 rounds of 9mm ammunition in a double-stacked polymer magazine.
It is at the top of this list because of its ability to be used by all kinds of people due to its unsurpassed reliability, above-average magazine capacity (17 rounds in the standard magazine), and its low weight.
Another great reason to buy a Glock, is that different Glocks are able to use other Glock magazines of the same caliber.
Glock also makes a Glock 18, which is a fully automatic pistol built for Military and government use. The Glock 18 is a fully automatic version of the Glock 17, and no, you can’t buy one.
What you can buy, however, are the magazines for the Glock 18, which holds 33 rounds of 9mm Parabellum. If you live in a state that allows for high capacity magazines, owning a Glock 17 simply for this reason makes this firearm unbeatable by any other on the list.
The ability to carry large amounts of ammunition should you need to bug out and having the option to reload a 33 round magazine (after you are done with your 17 round magazine) makes the Glock 17 the most formidable firearm on this list hands down.
The Glock 17 magazines are so diverse that there are many aftermarket firearms including Kel-Tec that use Glock magazines for their firearms.
With others jumping on the Glock magazine bandwagon you can almost guarantee that you will be able to purchase magazines for your Glock for years to come.
Glock 17 is also very reasonably priced. Compared to some of the top tier guns you may look at, a Glock 17 usually runs between $500 and $600 before taxes and paperwork fees. For a firearm that has not been changed much since its inception, Glock is one of the best values for your dollar and your magazine.
#2. Beretta 92FS
In the same vein as the Glock 17 comes the most trusted firearm in military service since 1985. Adopted as the M9, the Beretta 92FS has been the standard for military, police and tactical pistols for over a quarter century.
The 92FS was designed so that all the parts would be 100% interchangeable to simplify maintenance for large government organizations.
The 92FS also includes a reversible magazine release which lets you use either hand for tactical magazine changes. An ambidextrous safety-decocker makes the firearm flexible for right or left-handed shooters.
This ambidextrous design also makes trying out different gripping or shooting styles simple and effective. Beretta’s own “Bruniton” finish is highly resistant to sweat and corrosion and gives the 92FS it’s famous blue color.
During test trails for The Department of Defense, the Beretta 92FS was exposed to temperatures from −40 to 140 °F (−40 to 60 °C). It was also soaked in salt water, dropped repeatedly onto concrete, as well as buried in sand, mud and snow.
The 92FS also has one of the best a MRBF (mean rounds before failure) of 35,000 rounds. That number is equivalent to five or six times the pistol’s service life, making the 92FS one of the best service firearms in the world.
In further designing the 92FS, Beretta wanted to make cleaning and disassembly easier than the previous 1911A1 model pistol.
Beretta designed the 92FS to have a tool-free disassembly latch which makes it a snap to take the pistol apart for cleaning. Thanks to NATO this pistol is available in 9x19mm. This pistol is the primary sidearm of the United States Military.
Like Glock, Beretta has made a machine pistol known as the 93R which, has allowed for high capacity magazines to be produced which fit inside the 92FS including one that holds 32 rounds of 9x19mm.
This makes a Beretta a formidable pistol. Another bonus is that spare parts, including magazines and sights are easily available.
The Beretta 92FS magazines are also used in the Beretta CX4 Storm. The Storm has become the go-to tactical carbine for shooters who want to carry both a pistol and rifle made by Beretta. With this innovation as well as the 92FS being THE United States Military sidearm, you would be hard pressed to find another pistol that could hold its own against the Beretta 92FS.
The Beretta 92FS has a higher price point than the Glock’s. A Beretta 92FS usually runs between $650 and $750 before taxes and paperwork fees.
#3. Glock 22
The Glock 22 is the big brother of the Glock 17. It is chambered in .40 S&W, a round that was designed by Smith and Wesson along with Winchester to replace the Federal Bureau of Investigations 10mm auto cartridge.
The .40 S&W has quickly become the preferred round for law enforcement and firearms enthusiasts. While this round has plenty of stopping power it is not as common as 9x19mm or .45 ACP again due to contracts with NATO to produce ammunition for over 70 countries.
Glock was the first manufacturer to make this effective round accessible for law enforcement agencies in a high quality firearms package.
Today, police agencies across the United States, including the Los Angeles Police Department and countless others throughout the world, have adopted the Glock 22 as their firearm of choice.
With 15-rounds of .40 S&W ammunition this pistol makes a powerful sidearm and primary weapon for law enforcement. The power of a .40 S&W round is over 1,100 feet per second, making the switch from 9x19mm to .40 S&W a very slight one.
The one drawback is the sometimes-limited stock of this ammunition. Although, with the adoption of this caliber by law enforcement around the United States it has become a bigger factor in the last several years.
Another flaw in the Glock 22 is that the larger round of .40 S&W also makes the kick slightly larger than on the Glock 17.
While it is minimal, many people (including those with smaller hands or smaller stature) tend to have a tough time adjusting to the Glock 22 even after becoming accustomed to the Glock 19. While this is a small issue, it should be noted that many people prefer one Glock over the other.
Glock 22 is also very reasonably priced. Compared to some of the top tier guns you may look at, a Glock 22 usually runs between $500 and $600 before taxes and paperwork fees. No matter which one you prefer, Glock is one of the best values for your dollar and your magazine.
#4. Colt 1911 (and Variants)
The Colt 1911 and its many variants are some of the most reliable firearms ever created. Having served the United States Armed Forces from its adoption in 1911 until its official retirement in 1986, it is a firearm with a rich history.
The 1911 was such a popular firearm that the United States government procured over 2.5 million of these pistols during its time in service.
The Colt 1911 was designed to take the large .45 ACP round meant to replace the military revolvers of the era. Alongside the Thompson submachine gun the 1911 was a welcome edition to the battlefront of World War Two.
The power of the .45 ACP is almost unmatched by any other mass produced ammunition cartridge. The 1911 fires the .45 ACP at a rate of 830 feet per second making it a powerful firearm indeed.
The 1911 features include: an arched steel mainspring housing and a short steel trigger, a standard safety lock, standard grip safety and spur hammer. It is one of the most customizable firearms in the world and can be modified easily as well as repaired and cleaned with ease.
However, due to its technical design many owners will have to seek the assistance of a trained gunsmith, should the 1911 need repairs.
While the standard size 1911 weighs almost 2.5 pounds unloaded, there are many smaller versions of John Browning’s design.
The 1911 only holds seven rounds in a magazine and when carried always has a round in the chamber for a total of eight rounds. While the 1911 is one of the most common every day carry firearms, it is not ideal for anyone with small hands or a small frame.
The 1911 series are the most used firearms for competitive shooting and military special operations teams.
Usually referred to as “race guns”, upgraded 1911’s are designed for specific styles of shooting, from fast draw target shooting to closed quarters combat. From Colt to Wilson Combat, the ability to customize and upgrade an 1911 are almost endless.
If you are looking for a one of a kind firearm that you want to put your heart and soul (as well as hard earned dollars) into, a 1911 may be the very firearm you are looking for. If you are looking for a firearm that has proven itself on more battlefields around the world than any other firearm, the 1911 is definitely for you.
Based on the variations between models of 1911’s and the amount of customization, a 1911 can run anywhere from $800 and $2000 before taxes and paperwork fees.
#5. Ruger SP101 (revolver)
If semi-automatic firearms are not your thing, or you are simply a lover of revolvers (and there are many who fall into that category) you might consider the Ruger SP101. Ruger has been around since 1949.
They’re most popular for their semi-automatic rimfire .22LR rifles and pistols. However, they make some of the best revolvers in the marketplace today. The Ruger Sp101 has many versions and comes chambered from .22 LR up to .357 Magnum.
The vast array of calibers makes it easy for a novice shooter to carry anywhere from 5 rounds (.38 Special and .357 Magnum) up to 8 rounds (.22LR).
A revolver offers a novice shooter or concealed carry holder a smaller and more compact firearm with a single action to perform: pulling the trigger. In times of great stress or fear, this single action of only pulling the trigger could be the difference between life and death.
A revolver is a traditional concealed carry and the Ruger SP101 is an ideal backup carry for any gun owner.
Many people are hesitant to purchase a revolver due to the external hammer, but this problem is easily solved since you can also purchase a hammerless SP101. This way you can carry such a firearm in your purse or on your ankle without fear of snagging the hammer on anything. Another fear is the weight of the Ruger SP101.
Weighing in at about 1.8 pounds, the small revolver is considered heavy. However, heavy for a revolver is not a bad thing as the weight helps to dissipate the force of the projectile when firing which tends to make many people more accurate with a revolver than with a semi-automatic.
Due to the variation between models of SP101, a Ruger SP101 can run anywhere from $700 and $1000 before taxes and paperwork fees.
While there is no single “best” firearm, there are some excellent options for shooters of all ages, sizes, and income levels.
A firearm is like a car, you should know how to operate, perform minor repairs, and handle it all in a safe manner. You would never buy a car you have not test-driven, and it is always recommended that you test every firearm for a minimum of fifty rounds before deciding to purchase.
A firearm is a life saving and life taking tool that cannot be taken lightly. Your life and the lives of others depend on the amount of education, preparation, and dedication you take to your firearms ownership.
Without a fair amount of range time, instruction, and familiarity with our firearm you are just buying an expensive paperweight.
A pistol is the backbone of a solid home protection and SHTF scenario. Often, we live in urban or suburban environments, which means our threats are usually on top of us before we realize the danger we are facing.
The factors for buying a pistol for defense, whether it be in a SHTF situation or an everyday carry, are varied like each person who owns a firearm.
There are many schools of thought on which firearm may be the “best”. Do you want something simple? If so, a revolver fills this need.
Do you want to be able to find ammunition anywhere should the SHTF and you are forced to protect and scavenge? If so a 9x19mm pistol or .45 ACP has the most available ammunition due to NATO and the mass production of military grade ball ammunition.
Are you looking to be able to work with law enforcement? Then a .40 S&W caliber pistol may make the best sense.
James C. spent four years as a Gunner’s Mate in the United States Navy. He served two tours to the Persian Gulf and played a role in the Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He has a Master’s Degree in Military History as well as an MBA. After leaving the Navy he married his wife, Krystal in Las Vegas and later joined the church in 2005. He and his wife have two daughters, Hannah and Emma.