Choosing a Home Defense Pistol


So you want a pistol for home defense, right?  The sort of gun to keep on/in your nightstand, and able to be grabbed and used in an awful emergency, perhaps late one night, but hopefully never?

Okay.  We can help you find the best gun for this sort of situation, although seriously, if you’re seeking a gun exclusively for home defense, why not select a shotgun (or even a rifle) rather than a pistol?

Maybe you have this mental picture of yourself creeping around your house, seeking out the bad guy, with pistol in one hand and flashlight in the other?  Maybe you think that a shotgun would be too unwieldy as you creep around corners and through doorways?

Well, you’re half right.  Shotguns are harder to manage in a confined space.  But that mental picture of you seeking out the bad guy?  Forget that, right now!  Please.

If you think there’s a bad guy in your house, you should never go looking for him (or them – the chances are there might be more than one).  Instead, you should take cover somewhere in your bedroom and urgently call the police, and wait for their arrival.  Let them do the ‘heavy lifting’ – your taxes pay them to risk their lives on your behalf.  They have the training, they have the bullet proof vests, they have partners with them, and possibly a dog too.  You probably have none of these things.

It is much easier for a bad guy to hide out and wait to ambush someone in a house than it is for the person who is moving around to find the person who is hiding and ready to spring the ambush.  This is true, even when the bad guy is unfamiliar with the house, and it is you who is seeking them, in your own house.  We’ll talk more about this in another article, but for now, trust us, okay.  Hunker down in your bedroom and don’t leave it.  Call out to the intruders to go away.

There is only one main reason you’d leave your bedroom if there is an intruder in your house.  And that is if you have loved ones you need to protect, and they are in other bedrooms.  In such a case, you need to go get them and bring everyone together in one safe area.

If you live either alone, or if you live with ‘a significant other’ and that person generally sleeps with you, then maybe you don’t need a pistol.  Maybe a shotgun is good enough for your needs – a last-ditch weapon that is easily used, reliable, and of great power.

If you’re interested, here’s a page about choosing a shotgun for home defense.

Anyway, back to pistols.

You’ve two more questions to consider before we can start to zero in on makes and models and stuff like that.

  • Do you want a revolver or a semi-auto pistol?
  • What caliber should the gun be?

Let’s consider the first question first – should you choose a revolver or a semi-auto pistol?

Please click this link for the page Strengths and Weaknesses of Revolvers and Semi-Auto Pistols for Home Defense to continue working your way through this process.

If you’d like to return to the first page of this guide to choosing a pistol, please click the back button or link in this sentence.

  One Response to “Choosing a Home Defense Pistol”

  1. It seems to just end right there- I thought you’d have something on common makes of pistols for home defense to foster an intelligent choice but can’t find another link.

    Actually I have FN/Browning Hi-Powers and HP-DA service pistols in 9mm and one in .40 cal and am pleased with both. The increased recoil of the .40 cal compared to the 9mm is negligible to me. My Hi-Power has a 15 round Mec-Gar mag in it and the HP-DAs come with 15 round mags. These are very reliable all steel guns- none has ever jammed on me at the range.. I’m not going with plastic. For concealed carry I have HP-DA Compacts, very sweet and still with a 3 7/8 barrel and 10 rounds. They are not made any longer unfortunately.

    I would say something in your revolver section about not getting snub nosed because you lose a lot of velocity with anything less than a 3 inch barrel. I have several .38 snubbies before I tried and learned of the superiority of semiautos and wish they had 3-inch barrels now.

    Happy holidays,
    Bill in Cleveland
    retired gummint worker and veteran

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