Top 10 Handguns for Self-Defense

You might be a woman looking for your first self-defense handgun. Or you might be a lifelong “gun person” that people come to for advice about guns. Either way this article is for you.

Every day, there are people who have never owned any sort of gun — perhaps have never even shot one either – decide to buy a self defense handgun. They aren’t gun people and are not going to become fanatic gun people, they aren’t going to hunt or target shoot They just want a home-defense handgun, and they want one appropriate for concealed carry if they decide to go that route.

With the entire positive and negatives and ifs, buts and ands being factored in, this is the Top 10 list of handguns for self defense I came up with. This article assumes that the gun owner is a healthy being, with an average intelligence or better.

Long-time gun users will undoubtedly find the selection process interesting, and may wish to use this Top 10 article as a basis for their own recommendations.


1. Smith & Wesson 686 .357:

Smith & Wesson 686

Most revolvers like this are simple and reliable. One major advantage of the Smith & Wesson is that it is small in size and will easily store in safe places.

Why number 1? Smith & Wesson L-Frame revolvers like the 686 are built to suit the needs of the most serious firearms devotees. Available in six and seven shot cylinders, the L-Frame has a strong, durable frame and barrel built for continuous Magnum® usage. As police officers and hunters will attest, this firearm is made to endure the heaviest usage.


2. Glock 21 .45 ACP:

Glock 21

This is the best home defense gun on the market. It’s both practical and reliable. This is quite useful for gun owners who live in cold areas where they require practice drawing from under heavy coats and firing with gloved hands.

For the caliber of choice in a home defense situation, I chose the .45 Auto round. It’s very powerful as well as accurate, and has ample stopping from close distance. The overall size of the round is smaller than some of the revolver loads such as the .44 mag and the .550 S&W, which gives the gun a much greater capacity. Even though it isn’t the biggest round available, it has ample stopping power in a home invasion.

The Glock 21 also has the safety built into the trigger, which makes it ready to shoot at any time. There is no need to worry about switching the safety when you want to begin firing. The Glock is simply meant to fire when you pull the trigger, period.


3. Ruger LCP:

Rugger LCP

Rigid is the key here, despite the Ruger LCP having a poor trigger and refined finish. Ruger has been developing some new good models lately that combines the three elements stated above. The gun is now licensed for home protection and law enforcement and was designed with both men and women and is quite practical.


4. The Glock 17:

The Glock 17

It is one of the most reliable handguns on the market, often referred to as the Glock Safe Action Pistol. It belongs to a series of semi-automatic pistols designed and produced by the famous Glock Ges. m.b.H. The founder, Gaston Glock, had no experience in the design of firearms, but had extensive experience in advanced synthetic polymers. This knowledge helped him build a successful line of pistols with polymer frames.


5. Bond Arms Derringer Model 95:

Bond Arms Derringer Model 95

In the late 19th Century, American gunsmith in the name of Henry Deringer became known for his inventive pocket pistols. His name, also spelled as “Derringer,” became synonymous with any pocket-sized single or double barrel pistol. But most recently, the derringer label became synonymous with an offensive denunciation of a pistol’s quality. This is because various companies, who shall not be named, produced poor quality replicas of the famous Remington Model 95. This resulted in the over-under double barrel pistols getting a reputation for being cheap, unreliable, and even unsafe to use as well.

Bond Arms has helped improve the reputation of the original Model 95 concept and redesigned it to be one of the most powerful, reliable, modern defensive handguns in the world. Unlike some derringers, with frames made of an unidentifiable light-weight alloy, the Bond frames and barrels are built from nothing but powerful stainless steel. Well done indeed.


6. Browning Hill-Power 1911 0.45 ACP:

Browning Hill-Power 1911

John Browning, to this day, remains one of the finest gun designers of all time. It’s impossible to find any piece of technology over 100 years old such as this that is still in common use today.

1911. 0.45 is one of the most influential and popular handguns used by thousands of American today. If you do not believe me, believe this: Browning was so popular that the U.S military bought out his rights to the 1911 and he had to start from scratch. The gun was the standard issue side arm for the armed forces from 1911 to 1985, being used in WWI, WWII, The Korean War and the Vietnam War.

It is still popular among civilian shooters in competitive events such as USPSA, IDPS and Bulls eye shooting.


7. Berretta 90-Two:

Berretta 90-Two

The Beretta 90-two is a series of semi-automatic pistol designed and manufactured by Beretta. It was released in 2006 as an improved version of the Beretta 92; the most obvious difference is the appearance. The futuristic-looking pistol was designed in response to a call for tenders for Soldato Futuro program of the Italian armed forces.

With its black glossy finish and exclusive lines, the Beretta 90-Two offers the perfect combination of form and function, and the caliber choices offer the ability to select the amount of firepower you want. Whether you need a pistol for home defense or just to shoot at the range, the Beretta 90-Two has all the features you need for a sturdy, reliable, and high performance gun.


8. SIG P226:


SIG P226

The SIG P226 is a full-sized, service oriented gun made by SIG Sauer. It is similar in design as  the SIG P220, but developed to make use of higher capacity, staggered-column magazines in place of the single-column magazines used by the P220. The SIG Sauer P226 and its variants are in service with numerous law enforcement and military organizations worldwide, making it also one of the best self-defense mechanisms.


9. Glock G-30:

Glock G-30

For everyday use, a Glock G-30 in .45acp is highly recommended. It’s reliable, reasonably powerful, surprisingly accurate and very easy to shoots. Its very small structure can be easily fit into someone shirt without notice. But it is most known for its excellent out of the box precision, paired with the ballistic quality of this genuine big.


10. Springfield XD9:

Springfield XD9

This gun rocks. It almost never malfunctions and works when you need it to especially in self defense. It is one of the safest handguns, which is simple to load and has useful safe features, including grip safety


Handguns continue to be among the most regularly purchased home-defense firearms for several reasons. They are the easy to maneuver in confined spaces, and they can be held and fired with one hand, leaving the other hand free to operate a flashlight, open doors and so on. They can be held close to the body to help prevent them from being grabbed or knocked away by an intruder. A handgun’s compact size allows it to be stored in a small space, like a strong box in a dresser drawer. The market is currently replete with excellent defensive handgun options.


Please Note:

In memory the recent tragedy in Sandy Creek Elementary School…this article would like to take a moment to remember the 26 innocent lives that were lost on December 14, 2012. In writing this article,, does not support gun violence. It cautions people not to misuse guns and keep them away from children at all times. Always put locks on your triggers and ensure that your children do not have access to the code where your guns are kept.


About The Author

17 Responses

  1. CSAcitizen

    Where are the other 5 ? By the way, getting a permit to carry is UN-Constitutional ! 2nd Amendment is all the permit you need. Why give up your rights to get a paid for govt permission ? That is stupid ! Any so-called ‘law’ that goes against the Constitution is null and void and of no force ! – Thomas Jefferson. Better tell that to DC since ALL the so-called ‘laws’ they make are Treason. NONE of them are to be obeyed.
    “In a free nation Firearms are not licensed, regulated, registered or taxed.” – James Madison, Founder, Author of Constitution
    I rest my case.

  2. PilotMKN

    Four of the 10 are Glocks (if you include the XD-9, which is basically a ripoff of a Glock).


    I’ll stick with my 9mm CZ75D PCR

  3. info_bomber

    What no Taurus Judge, it would seem the most likely choice due to the fact that you can put .410 in the chamber along with .45 colt handgun rounds, was this one not even tried, seeing how it is a revolver your mechanical issues should be at worst minimal.

  4. PT

    For CSAcitizen:

    Yeah, try telling them that Constitution stuff when they arrest you.

  5. Alex

    Too many Glocks. I know there is a tendency to Glock fever, but frankly I think they are just generic, uncomfortable to hold and to use and look like they were made out of a children’s blocks. Yes I own one, but don’t really care for it. My preferred carry is the Walther PPS or the H&K 45C. I went from an HK to Glock for a duty weapon yuk. Jealous of my Border Patrol buddy who carries an HK P2000.
    Just bought a PPQ, going form it to a Glock is like going from a Porsche to a pickup truck, the Glock feels so unwiedly in my hand and I hate that square slide. The lock shoots ok, it doesn’t feel good in my hand.

  6. breathial

    I’m a semi-auto enthusiast, so I have no opinion of the revolvers. That being said, there are several companies that make impressive Colt .45ACP clones, with excellent reliability and superb accuracy. My personal choice is the Kimber Stainless II, which retails for ~$900. But for a .45 (or even .40), the recoil is such that I prefer a single-stack magazine, as the grip is narrower and easier to wrap my hand around. As well, a metal frame has more weight to absorb the recoil, making it easier for me to control, especially for follow-up shots.

    While a lot of people want to have extra magazine capacity, this is certainly a subject for debate. A skilled shooter need not have large-capacity magazines; a single well-placed shot is better than 15 misses.

    For lower-powered cartridges (such as the 9mm) I think the Springfield XD-9 is a superb choice. If you use dirt-cheap ammo, though, they suffer failure-to-eject issues (not enough power to properly operate). Give it good-quality ammunition, and it’ll rock forever. They also offer excellent accuracy. For a price of $500, you’ll not find a better model.

    Lastly, for concealed-carry, the Kahr PM-9 is probably the best subcompact weapon on the market today. Reliability is excellent, the trigger is smooth and predictable, and the accuracy is first-class. It’s a little more expensive than other similarly-sized 9mm pistols, but I look at it from this perspective: what’s your life worth? If I spend an extra $100 to save my life (over a cheaper model which may not function when I need it most), is it worth it?

    At the end of the day, it still boils down to the individual; what are you comfortable with? The author clearly favors semi-auto offerings, in larger calibers (as am I). The real question is what you’re comfortable with; the rest is just smoke.


  7. Drew

    2-shot derringer…and at No. 5 above other hi-cap semis? Really? And you want us to take this article and your choices seriously? LOL

  8. Brian Spraker

    Nuts!! Top ten handguns for self defense! This list should be mainly made up by large capacity, striker fired 9mm’s. Glocks and M&P’s leading the list. Now if the title would have been popular concealed carry or some other title then O.K. But as its written “Nuts”.

  9. Mumashik

    The best gun for self defense, hands-down, is a long gun. There is a reason why wars are not fought by soldiers wielding handguns. The only reason to use a handgun is for concealment or VERY close quarters.
    Americans have been sold a handgun self-defense myth.

  10. Zrazys

    Well, since most self-defense would be done in the confines of one’s home, I’d say that a handgun would be more useful than a long gun. A long gun generally fires a high powered round, which will likely go through the offender and, into the thin walls than many homes are made of, possibly killing a bystander. Within 15-20 feet, the hand gun works best, so the myth hold’s a lot of truth.

  11. Ben

    @ Mumashik

    “The best gun for self defense, hands-down, is a long gun.”

    I would probably agree with that estimation. However, the list was the Top 10 HANDGUNS.

    I own 2 of the 10 on the list and would agree with some of his choices, but not all.

    @ PilotMKN,

    I agree wholeheartedly. No love for the CZ-75. One of the finest combat pistols around. I have a P-01 that is one of the most rugged and reliable pistols I have ever owned. Pluse it feels amazing in my hand. How it did not make the list is beyond me.

    The P-226 is hands down one of THEE best handguns on the market.

    All and all, the list was decent, I might have added a couple of other selections…but not a bad list overall.

  12. Drew

    The term “best handgun for self defense” is nuts because it is so different for every person. The best handgun is one that the individual is comfortable and accurate with. My top two are a Para 1911 in 45 acp and a M&P 45 full size that will out shoot my glock 21 any day.

  13. Bill Woods

    “In memory the recent tragedy in Sandy Creek Elementary School…”

    Sandy *Hook* ES.

  14. Drake Nguyen

    Hmm what about an HK USP? I’ve seen multiple accounts where an HK USP did better than a Glock.. besides, I think there are way too many Glocks on here. They’re very good honestly, but I prefer the USP…

  15. Denis

    I prefer my desert eagle.50 i know its a little big but for me its really reliable

  16. JP

    There should be more revolvers on this list (S&W,Ruger,etc.). Semi-autos aren’t practical unless you shoot at least once per month and regularly lube and clean them. Revolvers are easier to shoot, they have less moving parts, so they are less likely to jam. You can put it in a safe for 10yrs without ever touching it and it will work when you need it.

  17. SteveFAL

    The author obviously knows jack sh*t about guns. Half of his BS blurbs read like press releases too. Also, he does not specify whether he means home use or concealed carry, which usually dictate different handguns.
    A 2-shot Derringer? Gimmee a break. Maybe as a backup to your backup carry gun or a snake gun in your tackle box, bot not for serious defense.
    The S&W 68s “small in size”? More BS. I pack the 7-shot 686 at work and it a BIG, beefy revolver. Great “nightstand gun” though.
    The Ruger LCP? A .380 for self- defense? No thanks. Maybe for a pocket gun in hot weather where you can’t conceal anything bigger, but a few 9mms are close enough to it in size that I wouldn’t risk a .380.
    Some of the commenters are retards too, like Zrazys who implies that a handgun round won’t penetrate walls. Obviously the guy never shot a handgun.
    To the folks who do know their stuff, there are much better sites to read top-10 stuff on, guns or otherwise. Don’t wast your time here. I looked at some of this site’s other top-10 lists and this site is obviously just a content mill;- all their articles are piss-poorly researched & written.


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