8 Best Home Defense Pistol Review & Buying Giude

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Choosing the best home defense pistol can be difficult, even for experienced shooters. There are so many models out there, from so many manufacturers, how can anyone possibly decide which one is best?

Well, the good news is, you don’t have to decide which one is the best, you just have to decide which one is the best for you. Something like the Glock 17 Gen 5 MOS is great and is our top overall pick, but there are a ton of choices out there that might work better for you.

We’re going to go over all the best options on the market, what makes them different, and how to choose the best one to meet your needs. Let’s dive right in with the list.

Best Home Defense PistolUSPBuying Links
Glock 17 Gen 5 MOS Best Overall ProductClick here
SIG P320 Full-SizeRunner UpClick here
Beretta 92X Full-SizeBest Premium ProductClick here
Canik TP9SFBest Budget ProductClick here

Best Home Defense Pistol

1. Glock 17 Gen 5 MOS

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First up, we have our top choice, the Glock 17 Gen 5 MOS.

This legendary duty gun got some updates when Glock released their Gen 5 platform, and the MOS (modular optics system) designation means that you can add a red dot to the slide right out of the box, no special milling or slide swaps required.

For the Gen 5 series, Glock improved their triggers a bit, did away with the awful finger grooves on the grip, and improved the finish on the slide to be more sweat and wear-resistant. All of which combine to make an already good handgun even better.

If you’re a Glock fan, or you just want something that is going to be absolutely reliable no matter the conditions, then this is a great option. And there’s no handgun on the planet that has the aftermarket support the Glock 17 does, so you can customize it to fit you perfectly. 

All of this combines to make the Glock 17, specifically the Gen 5 MOS version, our number one pick for a home defense gun. Yes, this is a boring choice. Yes, there are probably a dozen other articles out there that list this as their number one pick. 

Well, there’s a reason for that. The Glock 17 just works. It’s not perfect, and it’s not for everyone, but it will always get the job done. 

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 8.03”
  • Barrel Length: 4.49”
  • Width: 1.26”
  • Weight: 22.5 oz
  • Capacity: 17+1

Takeaway

The Glock 17 is one of the most popular duty guns on the planet for a reason. For over a decade, this has been the gold standard by which other full-size, striker-fired handguns have been measured.


2. SIG P320 Full-Size

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The SIG P320 became the gun industry’s new darling when it was released a few years ago, and while the hype storm has died down a little bit in the intervening period, all it’s done is reveal a simple fact: this is a good handgun.

The big hype around the gun stemmed from the fact that it uses a modular chassis system for the serialized “firearm” as opposed to a serialized frame.

This means that you can simply swap slides and frames out as needed to go from sub-compact to compact to full-size and back, all in about 5 minutes. For military armorers, this is great news and has driven the P320’s adoption as the US military’s chief sidearm.

For Joe and Jane Civilian, it means this is the ultimate do-it-all pistol. You can easily swap from a sub-compact to slip into a pocket for the day to a full-size home defense gun to defend hearth and home at night.

Beyond that, the trigger is solid, the sights are good, and you can use a number of older-model SIG pistol mags (P250 mags in particular) and it’s as reliable as death and taxes.

Now, the Legion edition X5 kicks things up another notch and utilizes some Dawson precision sights and magazine baseplates, as well as a hybrid tungsten-infused polymer grip module.

Related Article: 14 Most Powerful Air Pistols (Pellet and BB)

This grip combines the recoil absorbing flex of polymer with the recoil absorbing the weight of steel to create a 9mm handgun that has some of the least muzzle-flip I’ve ever experienced. The bull barrel doesn’t hurt in this department either.

Shooting this one is so incredibly smooth that I’d be more than happy to use it in something like USPSA, especially with a red dot on the optics-ready slide.

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Barrel Length: 5”
  • Width: 1.4”
  • Weight: 43.4 oz
  • Capacity: 17+1.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for a gun that’s just as at home helping you defend yourself as it is helping you smoke the competition at your next USPSA match, then this is the pistol for you. The tungsten-infused frame soaks up recoil like nothing else on the market, and the modular design allows for immense customization to boot.


3. H&K USP Tactical

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You get that excellent trigger as always, now coupled with some internal polishing, plus a threaded barrel and suppressor-height sights that have a fiber-optic front post. The sights are an adjustable target style as well, which is great.

Speaking of adjustable, the trigger is also adjustable, allowing you to dial in the reset to get those follow-up shots as smooth and quick as possible.

And best of all, this one is available in both a 9mm chambering and a .45 ACP chambering so you can have one in whichever flavor you prefer.

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm or .45 ACP
  • Overall Length: 7.94” (9mm) or 8.64” (.45 ACP)
  • Barrel Length: 4.86” (9mm) or 5.09” (.45 ACP)
  • Width: 1.26”
  • Weight: 27.2oz (9mm) or 31.29oz (.45 ACP)
  • Capacity: 17+1 (9mm) or 10/12+1 (.45 ACP)

Takeaway

If you love the Mark 23 or HK USP the way most gun owners tend to, then the USP Tactical is really going to blow your hair back. This gun has an immense lineage of military success, and it’s proven itself in defending civilian homesteads as well.


4. CZ P10-F OR

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Next up we have CZ’s new and improved P10, particularly the P10-F, the full-size version.

This is the updated version of the original CZ P10 that was released a few years ago, so it’s not technically CZ’s first time making a striker-fired gun, but it’s pretty close. And with the new version, they’ve proven that the success of the first iteration was definitely not just beginner’s luck.

The new version offers some ergonomic improvements, a smoothed-out trigger, and some other little tweaks like deeper slide serrations. 

When the original P10-C came out, many people called it the “Glock killer” and while I didn’t buy that much hype, and still don’t, it’s impossible to deny that CZ has entered the striker-fired market with a polymer-framed beast that can absolutely run with Gaston’s finest. 

Related Article: 14 Best Pellet Pistols (Reviews and Buying Guide)

All in all, I found that I shoot the P10 extremely well, and I bet you will too. It’s a rock-solid platform, and the OR version is ready for you to slap your preferred red dot on top for some faster sight acquisition and better low-light performance.

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 5.8”
  • Barrel Length: 3.1”
  • Width: 1.0”
  • Weight: 17.8 oz
  • Capacity: 10+1

Takeaway

The P10-F is a phenomenal option for anyone looking for a striker-fired gun that’s a little bit different from the regular Glock and SIG offerings that most people rock. It shoots well, and in over 1000 rounds of testing, I didn’t have a single stoppage. Hard to ask for much more than that.


5. CZ 75 SP-01

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The CZ 75 SP-01 is a little different from their foray into the world of polymer-framed striker-fired guns that we discussed above. This one is an all-steel tank of a gun designed specifically for home defense.

It’s big and heavy, but that doesn’t matter when it lives in a bedside safe. It just makes the recoil of the 19 rounds of 9mm in the mag virtually nonexistent.

It’s a DA/SA gun with a crisp, clean trigger in either mode and some pretty decent fiber-optic sights as standard, though you should swap these out for tritium models ASAP in my opinion.

The previous model this improves on, the P-01, is a popular duty gun across many NATO countries, and the SP-01 just takes that already battle-tested design (and the underlying CZ 75 design) and elevates it to modern ergonomic standards.

If you want a soft-shooting or steel-framed 9mm for home defense, this is the one I’d recommend going with. It’s heavy yes, but heavy is good. Heavy is reliable. Heavy soaks up recoil like a sponge soaks up water.

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Barrel Length: 4.6”
  • Width: 1.46”
  • Weight: 40.7 oz
  • Capacity: 19+1


Takeaway

The CZ 75 SP-01 is a modern update of the venerable CZ-75 that drags it into a new century and wraps it up in a bow for a new audience. If you’ve never shot a CZ, I’d recommend getting to the range and giving this one a try.

And if you have tried CZs before, just know that this is all the quality machining and brilliant design you’d normally expect from them.


6. Canik TP9SF

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Next, we have a relative newcomer of a manufacturer that has nevertheless been making some serious waves over the past ten years. Canik as a whole has been setting new bars for what constitutes a good, budget-friendly pistol, and the Canik TP9SF upholds that standard.

Simply put, this is probably the best bang for your buck (pun very much intended) of any pistol on the market right now.

If you’re looking for a high-quality gun that you don’t have to pay through the nose for, this is the one to go with.

For your shockingly low entry price, you get one of the best triggers on the market and the best overall at this price point, and I mean
best. Canik’s single-action trigger is a joy to behold in this gun.

You also get Warren tactical sights, a durable Cerakote finish on most models, and a striker-ready indicator at the back of the slide that lets you know the striker is retracted and ready to fire.

Related Article: 11 Best 9mm Carbines (Pistol Caliber)

All in all, for a budget choice, the TP9SF is my top recommendation. It’s not quite as polished or ergonomic as some of its more expensive brethren, but it’s a case of being 90% the gun at 50% the price a lot of the time.

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 5.8”
  • Barrel Length: 4.46”
  • Width: 1.3”
  • Weight: 28.48 oz
  • Capacity: 18 or 20+1

Takeaway

If budget is one of your chief concerns, then the Canik TP9SF is the number one gun I’d suggest you look at for a home defense pistol. It’s reliable, accurate, has a great sight and trigger, and it’ll do everything you need it to do without breaking the bank.


7. Walther PDP

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One of the best (and only) good things about the past few years has been the release of the Walther PDP, which has quickly become one of the most well-reviewed full-sized pistols on the market. 

The ergonomics on this gun are phenomenal and lead to some of the most natural pointing of any pistol I’ve personally tested in the past several years. It also has the best striker-fired trigger on the market right now.

I’m going to say that again: this is the best trigger you’ll get on a mass-market striker-fired gun. Yes, there are some pro shop and aftermarket triggers that are better, but for an OEM, mass-produced option you can just pick up off the shelf? Nope. This is the best.

Beyond the excellent trigger, you get an extremely accurate cold hammer-forged barrel with polygonal rifling and a stepped match chamber. Altogether, this is possibly the most accurate gun on this list out of the box, and that’s saying something given the competition. 

Key Specifications: 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 5.8”
  • Barrel Length: 5.0”
  • Width: 1.34”
  • Weight: 26.9 oz
  • Capacity: 18+1

Takeaway

If you really value shooting performance, good ergonomics, and trigger quality, then the Walther PDP is a great option for you. Out of all the guns on this list, I think this one might be the one with the highest overall accuracy in most shooters’ hands. I love it, and I guarantee you will too.


8. Beretta 92X Full-Size

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Lastly, we have the Italian Stallion, the Beretta 92X. This is Beretta’s upgraded and modernized version of the 92FS/M9, and I personally absolutely love it. 

You get all of the classic 92 stylings, but with some modern upgrades like some truly excellent Vertec-style grips that make holding this gun a completely different experience from the “oil drum” like grip of the older 92 models.

This grip upgrade coupled with the overall straighter grip angle Beretta has given the 92X honestly turned me around completely on the 92 as a whole. I never loved the 92FS because I have normal human-sized hands and not the enormous bear paws the FS seems to have been designed for.

Now though, with the 92X I’ve completely come around to the gun. It has always shot well and been reliable, but now with the improved grip and trigger, it is truly an excellent firearm that I have no problem recommending to anyone. 

Key Specifications:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Barrel Length: 4.7”
  • Width: 1.5”
  • Weight: 33.1 oz
  • Capacity: 17+1

Takeaway

The Beretta 92X improves on an already great design by addressing a few ergonomic issues that were really keeping the pistol from leaping forward into the new millennium. Now, with the 92X and other models in the 92 line, Beretta has shown that they can still compete with modern duty-style guns.

Why Use a Home Defense Pistol?

Of course, you might be wondering, why use a pistol for home defense instead of something like a rifle or shotgun, right? 

Well, that’s easy: size.

Pistols are easy to store, and more importantly, easier to move around with in a tight space. Rifles and shotguns fire bigger bullets, with more energy, which is better for stopping a threat reliably. 

But they’re also hard to move with in the confines of a typical home, especially if you aren’t trained to do so. A handgun is much easier to move with in close quarters, and a lot harder for an attacker to take away from you before you can use the firearm. 

The other thing about the smaller size is that it makes storage in something like a quick-access safe a lot easier and more convenient. These safes fit on or under your nightstand, or in a drawer, and keep the firearm secure but within easy reach.

Sure, you can get full-size cabinets that you can store a long gun in, but these aren’t very convenient, are bulky, and are really going to throw off the feng shui of your bedroom.

Not to mention they all scream “Hey, I’m full of valuables!” to any potential burglars who come in during the day when you’re not home. A smaller nightstand safe is a little more discrete and takes up a lot less space in your bedroom, and is a great reason to choose a pistol for home defense.

The other thing to keep in mind is over-penetration. A rifle or shotgun (especially one loaded with self-defense slugs) is going to be much more prone to go through a wall or three than a handgun loaded with proper hollow points. 

Now, if you live by yourself on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, who cares about some drywall and maybe some siding when it comes to defending your life. But if you’re in suburbia, or especially in an apartment, you really don’t want rounds finding their way through your walls. 

And even if you do live on a farm out in the boonies, if you have family or animals that could inadvertently be in the line of fire through a wall or two, a pistol is much less likely to put them in danger than say, an AR-15. 

That said, any pistol in 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, or other similarly-sized handgun caliber is going to have the power to stop a two-legged threat, especially with modern defensive ammo. All of this combines to make a pistol a better choice for 99% of people worried about defending hearth and home.

Types of Home Defense Pistol

The term “home defense pistol” is a bit loosely defined. The ideal, for me, is a full-sized pistol with a capacity of 15+, some good night sights, and a high-quality weapon light.

That said, any pistol that you choose to use for home defense will work, from a .22LR derringer to a Desert Eagle. 

So with that in mind, we’re going to break down this section by caliber, as that’s going to be the biggest concern for most folks. We recommend that all your home defense guns be full-size, like the ones on this list.

9x19mm 

First up, we have the most popular caliber, the beloved 9mm.  9mm is a great pistol caliber and a great choice for home defense. It’s right in the sweet spot of having enough power to reliably stop a threat, while not having too much recoil to be controlled easily.

For a home defense gun, this is the caliber we actually recommend because of the combination of shootability and capacity. It’s not uncommon to find full-size 9mm handguns with a capacity of around 20 rounds or so, which is great for a home defense scenario. 

9mm is definitely the “Goldilocks” caliber in that it’s neither too big nor too small, and it’s also widely available wherever ammo is sold. This also means that ammo is cheap, and you have a huge variety of both training ammo and defensive ammo to choose from.

.45 ACP

Next, we have the venerable (two world wars!) .45 ACP. Over the years, this cartridge has proven itself to be an effective stopper of two-legged threats, and it’s hard to argue with over a hundred years of history. 

Folks gravitate to .45 ACP because it’s right on the upper edge of what most people consider controllable in a semi-automatic platform, and it offers excellent terminal ballistics due to the sheer mass of the round.

Lately, we’ve seen a bit of a resurgence in the .45 ACP because of its phenomenal performance when suppressed, making it a great choice for home defense if you’re looking at getting a suppressor. 

Big slow bullets tend to suppress very well, meaning the .45 ACP is going to be more than hearing safe with subsonic rounds, which is perfect for anyone that wants to still have their hearing after having to fire a gun indoors.

.380 ACP

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the humble but effective .380 ACP. This is our top recommendation for recoil-sensitive shooters, especially anyone that might have reduced hand strength for one reason or another. 

Just as the .45 ACP is on the upper limits of what most people find controllable under rapid-fire, .380 ACP is on the lower limit of what most people consider to be powerful enough for consideration as a defensive caliber. 

While .380 is great for pocket guns, most people don’t gravitate towards it as a home-defense caliber and there aren’t a lot of full-sized guns that come chambered for it, but it will absolutely get the job done when loaded with quality defensive ammo.

5.7x28mm

Next up, we have the 5.7x28mm which has been popularized by the P90, FN Five-seveN, and other newer guns like the Ruger-57.

As a defensive cartridge, we know that the 5.7×28 can defeat some body armor, but most loads actually have less overall energy (and therefore penetration) than your average defensive 9mm load. 

Where the 5.7×28 really excels is in terms of velocity and recoil. The  5.7×28 has an average muzzle velocity about 25% greater than 9mm out of a similarly-sized barrel. This increased velocity is what gives certain 5.7×28 the ability to defeat body armor so effectively. 

But how many civilians are dealing with body armor in their defensive gun use scenarios? Obviously, we don’t have stats for that, but I’d hazard a guess that the answer is somewhere in the range of “absolutely none” to “a precious handful”.

So, does the 5.7×28 work for home defense? I argue that yes it does, especially if high-capacity and low-recoil is the name of the game. 5.7×28 has about half the recoil of 9mm, the current self-defense king, which is saying something because 9mm doesn’t have much recoil in the first place.

This allows the 5.7 to carve out a bit of a niche for itself in the home defense world, as it makes a great choice for anyone with limited hand strength/dexterity. 

I know, the idea of giving your grandmother a gun made famous by first-person shooter video games and South American cartel members may seem a bit silly, but it is a phenomenal option for anyone with reduced hand strength.

.40 S&W

Our last main caliber is the .40 S&W. Now, personally, I don’t love .40 S&W, but that’s mainly just personal preference. If I want capacity, I’d rather have a 9mm, and if I want more energy, I’d rather have a .45 ACP.

Now,  does that make .40 S&W a bad round? Of course not, and many people love it for the increased velocity over a 9mm.

That said, the FBI found that there’s not really an appreciable difference between the 9mm and .40 S&W when it comes to stopping a threat, and that’s why they switched from it to 9mm in 2015.

This is especially damaging for .40 S&W’s case because the FBI were the ones who actually commissioned the development of the round.

Other things being equal, a 9mm has less recoil, higher capacity is cheaper to shoot, and has the same performance in defensive situations. For these reasons, I don’t personally recommend .40 S&W for new shooters, or anyone looking to pick up a new defensive gun.

Other Calibers

There are more handgun calibers out there than I have time or space to list here, and every time we do one of these articles someone asks “Well what about my 9×18 Makarov/.17 HMR/5.7x28mm, etc?”

The short answer is, you can defend yourself with anything. You can stop a threat with .22LR if it’s all you have to hand. You can go all Kevin Mccalister and set up your own Home Alone traps and stop a home invasion with a BB gun if you really put your mind to it.

But is that optimal? Is that going to give you the best chance of making it through what is likely going to be one of the most difficult experiences of your life? 

No. No, it’s not.

For that reason, I always recommend sticking to either 9mm or .45 ACP for a home defense pistol, with honorable mentions going out to .40 S&W, .380 ACP, and 5.7x28mm.

Really though, all the guns on this list are 9mm or .45 ACP for a reason, and that’s what I’d recommend for any new gun owner, or someone looking for a dedicated home defense pistol.

What Should You Look for in a Home Defense Pistol?

Next, let’s talk about the criteria you should look at when it comes to choosing your very own home defense pistol. This is what I look for, and how I evaluated my picks for this list, and I recommend you follow the same guidelines when making your own choices.

Reliability

The only thing worse than not having a gun is having a gun that isn’t reliable. First and foremost, we should make sure the gun goes bang when we want it to, and doesn’t when we don’t want it to. 

Safety first, after all. 

Ergonomics/Shootability

After we make sure the gun goes bang when we want it to, we have to make sure that we can put the bullets where they need to go.

This is where the ergonomics and shootability characteristics of your gun come into play. 

Now, because what I find comfortable and ergonomic for me is going to be different from what is comfortable and ergonomic for you, I strongly advise trying out your prospective home defense gun at the range before you commit.

However, good design is good design at the end of the day, and good pistol manufacturers design their guns to work with the largest variety of hand sizes and shapes that they can. To that end, just about any reputable modern handgun is going to feel okay.

What I recommend that you do then, is to find the one that feels great. As gun owners, we are spoiled for choice these days when it comes to good handguns, and that’s wonderful! But for defending hearth and home, it’s worth doing some comparison shopping and finding the one that works great

In other words, don’t settle for the first pistol that you feel okay with. Borrow some from friends, rent some at ranges, and find what works the best with your personal preferences, hand geometry, and shooting style.

In terms of general shootability, you’re going to want something that has a good trigger, good sights, and is a bit on the larger size. Speaking of which…

Size & Capacity

Next, we’re going to look at two fairly related aspects of a home defense pistol: size and capacity. 

First up, size. Simply put, a larger handgun is going to be easier to shoot for most people. There’s more to grip, and the extra weight means that felt recoil and muzzle flip are going to be lessened as well.

Now, when it comes to a carry firearm, we often have to compromise and get something smaller and more difficult to shoot in order to have something that’s comfortable and convenient to carry. 

That’s not an issue with a home defense gun that’s going to be sitting in a quick-access bedside safe.

With a home defense gun, we can go with something that’s full-size, with a longer sight radius, larger grip, and easier-to-manipulate slide. These full-size guns also frequently come with accessory rails, meaning we can throw a light on the front in case something goes bump in the night.

All of this has the added benefit of giving you more space in the grip which, as astute gun scholars, you know, is where the bullets go. More space in the grip means more bullets, more bullets means more opportunities to come out on top in a violent situation. Simple math. 

Aftermarket Support & Accessories

Another thing to keep in mind is the aftermarket support and accessories available for your gun of choice. All of the guns on this list are excellent right out of the box, but there’s always room for improvement and customization.

Everyone’s shooting style and preferences, as well as physiology and hand geometry, are going to be different, not to mention the differences in aesthetic preferences that we all have. To that end, having a gun that you can truly customize and make your own is actually very important. 

Sure, a bog-standard Glock or CZ is going to get the job done, but having something that’s truly your own, that you’ve customized to meet your individual needs and preferences, is much better. 

For one thing, the gun is going to be more familiar to you, and for another, you’re more likely to practice extensively with a gun that’s more comfortable and attuned to your specific wants and needs.

The other thing to consider is that you should always have night sights and a light on a defensive gun, so having a large number of options to choose from will give you a better selection and better overall quality. 

Pulling Double Duty

One last thing to consider, especially if you’re on a budget, is getting a pistol that can pull double duty. There are a number of carry and even competition-focused guns that can absolutely fill the home defense role equally well. 

The thing to consider here is what compromises you’ll be making, and whether or not those are worth it to you. For example, a more carryable gun is going to lose some capacity over a full-size home defense gun. 

Meanwhile, a competition gun is likely to have a lighter trigger (not always ideal in a high-stress situation). These are both things to consider, but shouldn’t make or break a decision one way or the other if you’re on a tight budget.

Final Verdict

Out of all the home defense pistols we’ve tested, the clear winner is the Glock 17 Gen 5 MOS. It’s reliable, has a good capacity, and has the most aftermarket parts availability of just about any firearm on the planet, save for the AR-15.

Of course, what works best for me may not work best for you, so don’t feel like you absolutely have to go with the Glock. It’s just the pick that’s most likely to work for most folks. There are plenty of great options on this list, and some may work better for you than others. 

Hopefully, you’re now armed with all the info you need to properly arm yourself with a home defense pistol. The most important thing is you get something that works for you, then practice with it till you’re proficient. 

Oh, and put a light on the damn thing. 

 

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