Top Home Defense Handguns to Consider for Peace of Mind

Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show is a great place to find a home defense handgun that you can use to protect your property and loved ones. Handguns are the perfect defensive weapon for around the house. Light and maneuverable, pistols are a force multiplier that can be deployed quickly from your home defense safe, carried discreetly in a waistband or robe when answering a door in the middle of the night, and provide real stopping power to address threats from violent individuals or groups who are potentially much larger and stronger than you are. For many gun owners, their bedroom or kitchen handgun is a self-defense tool that gives them peace of mind about the safety and security they have in their own homes.

What to Look For in a Home Defense Gun

When buying a home defense gun, you need to understand that you may have different considerations than you would for either a duty weapon or an EDC handgun you use for concealed carry.  While some gun owners will choose to own a single firearm that serves as an all-purpose self-defense tool, it’s not uncommon for a gun owner to have a favorite gun they carry and a separate handgun they prefer to use in their home defense safe, a kitchen lockbox, or in a locked drawer of the garage toolbox. Your home defense plan is only constrained by your budget, your ability to store your tools safely, and the preferences you have for accessibility and positioning.

  • Stopping Power – Your home defense handgun needs to deliver enough force to stop a threat, whether that be a rabid animal that’s entered the yard your kid is playing in or a would-be home invader that’s potentially using substances that alter their frame of mind. While the hole created by a bullet is a traumatic injury, the force that stops a threat the quickest is hydrostatic shock. As a bullet enters a target, a wave of force spreads out from the trajectory of the bullet itself, pushing aside and compacting soft tissues and the force of the bullet spends itself.

    You want a handgun caliber that is large enough to transfer the energy of the bullet quickly and efficiently. Most self-defense resources view the 9mm family of bullets, for example, .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, and 9mm +P, as the smallest appropriate caliber for reliable stopping power. You also want to avoid bullets that are so large as to be viewed by authorities as excessive or so powerful to punch through the target, endangering bystanders. The .45 caliber family, particularly the .45 auto and .45 ACP, are generally the top end of the power spectrum for home defense handguns.
  • Sight Picture – If you have a preferred sight type or aftermarket sights on an everyday carry weapon, you may want to consider a similar option for your house guns. Consider, however, the condition in which a home defense gun often come into play, often in less-than-ideal circumstances. Just waking up in the middle of the night, eyes watering from preparing food in the kitchen, a lack of quality lighting, and more can all impede safe aiming, including knowing what is both between you and the target and behind it.
close up of a handgun sight

For your home defense handgun, consider sights that offer increased visibility, a wider field of view, or improved reaction time to establish a safe sight picture. Performance optics like red dots or reflex sights help in target acquisition even when you’re caught unaware. Low-light sights can help you ensure better accuracy when lighting is dim to dark. While it will always fall to the gun owner to ensure they’re using their gun safely, these tools can help reduce the risk that you’ll inadvertently take a dangerous shot.

  • Right Size – With home defense handguns, the need to conceal them is lessened, allowing for larger frames and longer barrels that improve accuracy and help reduce recoil. You can also choose aftermarket accessories, such as lights, optics, or aiming point lasers, that improve the utility or efficiency of the weapon. Finally, magazines with a larger capacity give you more rounds to use should repeated shots on target be necessary. 

Full-sized weapons, rather than subcompact variants, make excellent choices. They still fit easily into your home defense safe but offer an expanded range of capabilities when compared to their smaller cousins that are meant to hide discreetly under clothing.  Even should you choose low-cap mags and to forego add-ons, you’ll reap the benefits of the longer aiming axis while still being able to tuck the weapon inside a waistband or rob pocket should the need arise.

  • Budget – For some, price is no object when it comes to peace of mind. Unfortunately, the bank doesn’t always agree with that sentiment. Sometimes, the reality is that the best home defense handgun is the one you can afford to buy and put bullets in. As we go through some of our favorites, we won’t forget the cash-strapped gun owners who need cost-effective protection.

Home Defense Handgun Suggestions

Before we cover a few guns you can look for at your local gun show, we need to set some ground rules.

  • You don’t have to agree. – In fact, disagree! Find your own favorites. Choose the best gun for your home defense needs.
  • This list isn’t exhaustive. – No blog will cover every potential home defense handgun or its many variants, special editions, and combo packages from both the manufacturer and retailer. 
  • This is the start, not the end, of your research. – The final word on your safety and security is always yours. We have a few options to present to you, but you should take it from there when it comes to research, budgeting, and planning. Visit manufacturers’ websites. Price shop at gun stores and online. Read reviews. Do everything you can to inform yourself so you can make the best possible decision.

Now, let’s look at some guns.

Glock G34

Glock pistols have proven themselves in the hands of military personnel, first responders, and private citizens around the world. Pioneers of the polymer-framed construction, Gaston Glock’s short-recoil operated semi-automatic pistols earned a reputation for reliable accuracy and tough-as-nails durability round after round. The Glock G34 is an evolution of the venerable Glock 17 tailored for competitive shooters, but those same attributes make it an excellent home defense gun. Built with a longer barrel and slide but the same overall geometry as the G17, the G34 gives you a friendlier aiming trajectory for safer shots on target while still giving you full access to the numerous aftermarket upgrades available for Glock pistols. From adding premium optics to a smoother trigger action, the Glock G34 chambered for 9mm +p rounds with double-stack magazines offering anywhere from 10-17+ rounds (not to mention the third-party 50-round drums) gives you excellent stopping power in a full-sized weapon that slides easily into a home defense safe or a paddle back holster for easier carry around the house. Expect to pay around $700-$800 for this Austrian-made handgun.

Kimber 1911

The Colt 1911 design has stood the test of time, being copied and adapted by a wide range of manufacturers in almost every conceivable handgun caliber. One of the top manufacturers of 1911 clones is Kimber, which brings you precision engineering and performance without the big price tag some other 1911 specialty gunmakers tack on. Like most true 1911 clones, Kimber offers a single-action 1911 chambered in .45 ACP featuring the traditional sear safety, manual safety, and slide lock right where they’re supposed to be rather than reinventing the wheel. Your single stack mag only holds seven rounds plus one in the chamber, but each one packs a punch. Aftermarket parts and accessories are plentiful, and most 1911 compatible upgrades will work just fine in your Kimber if you end up needing to fine-tune performance. The Custom line offers a range of finish and upgrade options, but most will come in at between $800-$1000, while other, higher-end models can top $2000.

Smith & Wesson Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 handgun

If you’re looking for a reliable home defense handgun, a revolver might be the right choice for you. While wheel guns don’t get the big movie placements of their magazine-fed counterparts, they’ve been effective self-defense weapons for generations. The S&W Model 66 is an evolution of this tried and true technology chambered to carry six .357 Magnum cartridges. The steel construction is heavier than what you’d usually want for concealed carry but comes in particularly handy when counteracting the recoil in a weapon you may not take to the range as much as you should. 

Equipped with traditional notch and blade sights and a 2.75” barrel, these double-action revolvers are good at working straight out of the box. The .357 Mag chambering means you can also use .38 Special rounds easily, reducing the chance that an ammunition shortage leaves you with a revolver-shaped paperweight. You can usually find a good used Model 66 for around $800 with careful searching, and a new one will approach the $1000 mark, but properly cared for, this is a gun that can be passed down to children and grandchildren.

Canik TP9 

The Walther P9 is a popular German-developed semi-automatic handgun that’s been picked up by law enforcement agencies and militaries around the world, much like its Austrian counterparts from Glock. The Canik TP9 line of pistols is an almost exact clone that comes without the high price tag of the original. While you can’t always count on contemporary knock-offs to deliver quality, Canik, a firearms manufacturer out of Turkey,  holds the contract to produce TP9 variants for their domestic military, adding legitimacy to their products that are then imported to the United States by Century Arms, a well-known and trusted importer of guns from across the globe. The TP9 series comes n a range of models featuring different coatings, sizes, and features, but all offer reliable P99 performance at a reasonable price. Barebones models start at less than $400, while tactical and competition versions are generally available for less than $800. This gives you plenty of flexibility in your initial purchase and superior aftermarket support without breaking the bank.

Rock Island M200

One of the main selling points for revolvers is the established technology and rugged design that lead to a reliable firearm. It’s just harder to get it too wrong to at least work. After all, revolvers don’t stove pipe or fail to extract while cycling. The Rock Island M200 gets to the core of what a revolver is with a 4” barrel and .38 Special chambering. You get the same six-round capacity as in the S&W Model 66 but at a lot smaller price tag. These budget revolvers are widely available for less than $300 and make excellent home defense handguns for those with little technical firearms knowledge or interest in customization.

Hear Us Out…

Listen, you can’t run a gun show in today’s political climate if you’re afraid of controversy, and we know we’re about to start one. This isn’t the best gun. Depending on your criteria, it may not be a good gun. For some serious firearms aficionados, it may not even BE a gun. That being said, if you need a home defense handgun…

Hi-Point C9

Hi-Point C9 firearm

The Hi-Point C9 isn’t winning any beauty contests, firearms competitions, or any friends at the range waiting to squeeze off a few rounds. With the strides they’ve made in improving reliability and quality, however, you will get a gun that will fire when you pull the trigger. Featuring a polymer frame and HEAVY zinc-alloy slide, the C9 is a blowback operated semi-automatic 9mm +p  pistol with an 8-round single stack magazine, manual safety, and not much else. 

Hi-point does cover it with a lifetime warranty that has seen them replace some pretty jacked and obviously intentionally damaged weapons, and if you want a pistol that can share mags with a pistol-caliber carbine, their 10-round carbine mags will run as good as the C9’s own. The major selling point for the C9 is the rock bottom price that often sees them out the door brand-new for around $150-$175.

Find Your Next Gun

When you visit your local gun show, you’ll find the top home defense handguns, along with the gear and accessories you need to shoot better. Our venues are safe, well-lit, and protected by professional security, so you can buy, sell, and trade with our regional and national vendors as well as your neighbors who are looking to add to their home defense safe. Guaranty your entry on the day of the show. Order your tickets online from Eagle Shows today.

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