7 Best Handguns for Home Defense [2024]

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / March 21 2024

It takes home invaders seconds to break through non-hardened doors.

As they break in, you might be in bed, watching TV, on your computer, or on the toilet. How do you respond in time? For home defense pistols, there are two options:

  1. Conceal carry a pistol all day, all the time, even if it's just a pocket pistol. Then you can respond immediately.
  2. A gun on the nightstand or a quick-access safe for when you're asleep.

I recommend both. If you can make your nightstand gun a rifle by your bed, go for it. But if you have young children, you have a dilemma:

  • Larger safes can store rifles, but take too long to access.
  • Most quick-access safes are only for pistols.
If your nightstand gun must be a pistol, read on.

What Makes a Good Home Defense Pistol

The best home defense handguns are large and heavy, because they don't have to be carried all day. The extra weight absorbs recoil,so you can fire accurate shots faster.

Home defense pistols can be conceal carried, but it's not recommended long-term.

Why? First, the extra weight of a home defense pistol can lead to back problems after years of daily carry. Second, the size of a home defense pistol means you need a shirt or jacket to conceal it. A pocket pistol, on the other hand, can still be concealed with your waist exposed.

Overview

CZ Shadow 2
Pistol Size Length: 8-10". Any longer and they become slower to aim.
Frame Material Steel or Alloy. More weight in the frame improves balance and recoil.
Weight 2 lb. or more. More weight absorbs recoil.
Ammo Caliber 9mm.The best balance of power, recoil, ammo capacity, and price for everyday self-defense.
Ammo Capacity 17+ rounds. Home invasions sometimes have 5 or more assailants. If they're determined, it can take several shots to stop one.
Best Upgrades Pistol light, Threaded barrel, Compensator or Suppressor, Laser Grips or Red Dot (optional).
Storage Quick-access safe.

  1. Standard Home Defense Pistols
  2. Optics-Ready Home Defense Pistols


Top 3 Standard Home Defense Pistols

These pistols aren't compatible with a red dot sight (RDS),but are cheaper.


  1. Under $400
  2. Over $400

Best Home Defense Pistols under $400

Best Budget Pick: Century Arms TP9SFT

The Century Arms TP9SFT may seem an odd choice, but its threaded barrel gives it the performance of a full-size pistol, and the option to upgrade with a compensator or suppressor. At under $400, nothing comes close for a home defense pistol.

Updated hourly

Century Arms TP9SFT
Compare Prices
18+1
1.8 lb
7.5"L x 1.4"W x 5.7"H
  • Outstanding value for the money
  • If you can't find it near you, try a Walther PPQ to see how it fits your hand
  • Worst recoil


Best Home Defense Pistols over $400

Best Value Pick: CZ Shadow 2

The CZ Shadow 2 dominates in competitive shooting, and has the best value of any pistol in the $1000-1,500 price range. The only thing that might put you off is its manual safety - you'll have to train with it or else in a gunfight you might aim the pistol and find the gun won't fire.

If you want something a bit cheaper or without a manual safety, scroll down for optics-ready pistols.

Updated hourly

CZ Shadow 2
$1398.59
$1005.99
@ Gritr
Compare Prices
$1005.99 @ Gritr
$1099.00 @ Rainier Arms
$1331.39 @ Impact Guns
$1398.59 @ Impact Guns
17+1
2.9 lb
8.5"L x 1.3"W x 6.2"H


Top 4 Optics-Ready Home Defense Pistols

These pistols are compatible with one or more red dot sights by default. Check the icon on each entry to see which red dots a pistol is compatible with.


  1. Under $600
  2. $601-700
  3. Over $700

Best Optics-Ready Home Defense Pistols under $600

Best Value Pick: Century Arms TP9SFx

The Century Arms TP9SFx is an awesome value, offering the quality and features of a $800 pistol.

Updated hourly

Century Arms TP9SFx
$499.99
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$499.99 @ Impact Guns
20+1
1.8 lb
8.3"L x 1.3"W x 6.2"H
Holosun 507C, Holosun 508T, Trijicon RMR, Deltapoint Pro
  • Upgraded match-grade barrel
  • Upgraded Fiber-Optic sights
  • If you can't find one near you, try the Walther Q5 Match or Walther PPQ to see how it fits your hand
  • Mounting an optic means removing your rear sight
  • Worst recoil


Best Optics-Ready Home Defense Pistols for $601-700

Best Value: Canik TP9 Elite Combat

The Canik TP9 Elite Combat is an outstanding pick. It offers the features and quality of a $950 pistol.

For Glock Lovers: Glock 34 MOS

The Glock 34 MOS has a few advantages, though: It has much better aftermarket support (upgrades, holsters, etc.), and if you own Glocks for other roles (pocket pistol, bear defense, etc.), switching from one Glock to another is seamless. Just be aware that adding all the upgrades of the TP9 Elite Combat (like the magwell, upgraded sights, trigger, and threaded barrel) to the Glock would cost around $300.

If you're new to Glocks, make sure you can use the slide release and magazine release easily. Several of my students had issues with them when doing reloads, locking the slide open, clearing jams, etc., and it's no concidence that two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts.

Updated hourly

Canik TP9 Elite Combat
$939.69
$773.89
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$773.89 @ Impact Guns
$939.69 @ Impact Guns

Glock 34 MOS
$799.99
$709.00
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$709.00 @ Impact Guns
$799.99 @ Impact Guns
17+1 17+1
1.6 lb 1.5 lb
7.9"L x 1.5"W x 6"H 8.7"L x 1.3"W x 5.5"H
Holosun 507C, Holosun 508T, Trijicon RMR, Deltapoint Pro Holosun 507C, Holosun 508T, Trijicon RMR, Deltapoint Pro
  • Upgraded Fiber-Optic sights
  • Upgraded match-grade threaded barrel
  • Upgraded magwell
  • Upgraded ambidextrous slide release
  • If you can't find it near you, try a Walther PPQ to see how it fits your hand
  • Worst recoil
  • Mounting an optic means removing your rear sight


Best Optics-Ready Home Defense Pistols for $700-1,000

Best Aftermarket: Sig P320 X5 Legion

In competitive shooting, the Sig P320 X5 Legion is one of the top pistols in the Carry Optics division. It does so at a great value. It's a solid blend of performance, price, and aftermarket support.

Best Value: Canik SFx RIVAL

A new contender is the Canik SFx RIVAL. It has the best value in its class - if you're on a budget, you get the most for your money. Compared to the normal Canik SFx, you get an ambi slide release, a magwell, and a flat-faced trigger.

The downside? Aftermarket support isn't as strong as Sig or CZ. If you like tinkering with your pistol, there are better choices.

Be aware, there are two models: The RIVAL and the RIVAL-S. The RIVAL is polymer-framed. It's cheaper (around $679) but lighter, so you'll feel more recoil. The RIVAL-S is steel-framed, so it's more expensive (around $899) but heavier, so you'll feel less recoil.

If the RIVAL sounds right for you, compare with the normal SFx to see if the upgrades are worth it. And if you have medium or smaller hands, the Canik Elite Combat is a better value than the RIVAL.

Updated hourly

Sig P320 X5 Legion
$1049.99
@ Gritr
Compare Prices
$1049.99 @ Gritr
$1049.99 @ Rainier Arms
$1049.99 @ Impact Guns

Canik SFx RIVAL
$1050.69
$629.99
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$629.99 @ Impact Guns
$629.99 @ Impact Guns
$1050.69 @ Impact Guns
17+1 18+1
2.7 lb 1.84 (polymer-frame) or 2.67 (steel-frame) lb
8.5"L x 1.6"W x 5.8"H 8.1"L x 1.4"W x 5.75"H
ROMEO1PRO, Deltapoint Pro Holosun 507C, Holosun 508T, Trijicon RMR, Deltapoint Pro
  • Upgraded Fiber-Optic sights
  • Upgraded magwell
  • Upgraded ambidextrous slide release
  • The RIVAL-S is a steel-frame version, weighing more (reducing recoil) but costing $899 instead of $679
  • Worst recoil
  • Mounting an optic means removing your rear sight


Best Optics-Ready Home Defense Pistols for over $1,000

The CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready dominates in Carry Optics competition shooting, with great performance, reliabilty, and aftermarket support.

It's not perfect:

  • If you put a red dot on it, you lose your rear iron sight.
  • It has a manual safety, which you'll love or hate.

If you can afford it and are OK with a manual safety, this is the home defense gun for you.

Updated hourly

CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready
$1298.89
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$1298.89 @ Impact Guns
17+1
2.9 lb
8.5"L x 1.3"W x 6.2"H
  • Upgraded fiber-optic sights
  • Unless you want to put on a red dot sight (RDS) or weapon light (WML), this needs no other upgrades
  • Has a manual safety - you'll either love or hate it
  • Mounting an optic means removing your rear sight
Disclaimer: I get a small commission on purchases through the price links above, at no extra cost to you.


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