Your Best Home Defense Gun?

By Fred Mastison
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Your Best Home Defense Gun?

February 14th, 2020

4 minute read

Choosing a home defense handgun may seem a simple task on the surface. In many cases, it starts out as not much more than a beauty contest with a person being drawn to a “good looking” gun. While I won’t deny that is indeed a factor you can consider, we must remember that even with guns, beauty is only skin deep (or high-tech environment resistant finish deep). There are a few key points I would suggest you consider when considering what will be your home defense handgun.

If you are forced to defend yourself in your home, will you be prepared? Image: Shutterstock/Therealhedlund

Hands-On

First up is the fit of the handgun. The handgun market is flush with options of every size. From micro pocket pistols to Dirty Harry hand cannons. What is important is that you find a gun that fits you well. Make sure it feels good in your hands and that you can easily operate it. Smaller is not always better. While small guns are easy to conceal, they can provide significant recoil and be difficult to control when shot.

A side issue to consider is just how you will be storing the gun. The principle of concealability goes out the window when the gun takes on the single duty of home protection. If this is going to be a dual-duty gun for CCW and home defense, then you can factor that back in. Take your time and find the gun that fits not only your hands, but your needs as well. Does it fit your hand? Can you operate it? Can you shoot it well? Do you like it? These are all important considerations.

Picking the right gun is an important decision. In addition to a home defense role, will it also be your CCW gun? Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 3.3″ pistol shown.

Power Sources

Caliber is our next consideration. There are few more argument driving questions than the age old, “What is the best pistol caliber?” We must first understand that the handgun round is severely underpowered when it comes to personal defense. What it is, however, is a compromise. We simply can’t carry a rifle with us everywhere we go. Since we choose a handgun because of its portability and concealability, we need to choose the best round for the job. While there are many arguments for a “big bore” cartridge, and while they make large holes in wood, the human body is much more complicated to shoot into and reacts differently than wood.

Recently the FBI completed extensive testing on various handgun calibers. “Most of what is ‘common knowledge’ with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore…Handgun stopping power is simply a myth,” the FBI said in its report. “There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger and .45 Auto.”

The 9mm round has proven itself to be a real performer, making it an excellent choice for self-defense roles. Shown with a Springfield Armory XD-E 3.3″ pistol.

This coupled with the advances in modern bullet design has driven a change in the FBI as well as thousands of agencies around the country. They are opting for what I personally believe is the best pistol caliber for personal defense; the 9mm. In fact, the highest-scoring performance in FBI testing protocol went to the 147-gr. Speer Gold Dot G2 personal defense round. But again, this comes down to your preferences. Can you shoot a .40, 10mm or .45 ACP well, like the platform and it fits your hand well? In so, then it’s the right choice for you.

If CCW is not a concern, you could even go with something like the Springfield Armory Victor pistol in .300 BLK.

Delivery System

The last item I suggest you consider is the type of handgun you want. As with caliber, opinions are all over the board. Some claim the revolver is king because it is easy to run while others cling to the 1911 because of “two world wars,” but I believe the answer is in the middle. I am a fan of striker-fired handguns for personal defense because of two major factors; their ease of use and reliability. However, that is simply my choice. There are other options out there, such as hammer-fired pistols that might fit your hand well, be eminently shootable, and be just right for your personal needs.

The most important thing is to pick a gun that works for you. Shown is a Springfield Armory 911 9mm pistol in a Vaultek VT-Essential smart safe.

Choosing a home defense handgun should be a thoughtful, well-considered decision. Hit the local range and test drive some options to better educate yourself on what works and possibly what doesn’t work for you. The more you know, the better you will be prepared to get a handgun that will best serve your needs.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

Fred Mastison

Fred Mastison

Fred Mastison is a national magazine contributor, professional firearms & combatives instructor and executive protection provider and trainer. He is also the host of the weekly firearms podcast Center Mass. He has written over 600 articles for 27 different magazines. He is a reserve police officer and has been training in firearms & close quarter combatives for over three decades. Additionally he has almost 40 years in the martial arts and holds advanced degrees in multiple arts. He currently holds 17 separate law enforcement POST course certifications around the U.S. and is a certifying instructor for law enforcement firearms instructors in handgun, patrol rifle, shotgun and sub machine gun. In addition to training in the US, Mr. Mastison has divisions in Germany, Ireland and Mexico.

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