The selection of a handgun for home defense is a serious one, requiring one that offers both acceptable power as well as manageable recoil. Accessories such as lasers can also significantly enhance their capabilities.
One question often asked in the industry is, “what is the best pistol for home defense?” The answer depends on a number of things—who is using it, where will it be kept, how often will you practice with it, and a few other points. The mantra here should be “keep it simple,” so anyone that needs it can use it quickly. If the sole or primary purpose of this handgun is home defense, concealment is certainly less critical. That tends to rule out small pistols in calibers on the margins of practicality. When defending your home against an armed intruder, functionality and practical stopping power is key. That means bigger bullets traveling at realistic velocities. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need a hand howitzer, but neither do you need the compromises pocket pistols or small revolvers provide.
Revolver Vs. Pistol
The .38 Special +P loadings are the minimum, and things like .44 Mag or similar are likely impractical. Most magnums, including the .357 Mag, have their drawbacks depending on who is shooting them. While you want the round to penetrate clothing the intruder may be wearing and get to their vital organs, you don’t need it to pass through them and into the next room or through an exterior wall.
Repeat accuracy is critical in the real world, and the magnums present issues after round one for most people. That being said, if you and everyone accessing that magnum handgun is an expert with it, great—but the truth is most people who use a handgun for home defense are not. Most will shoot that gun very little and put it in the drawer only to be used sparingly.
The selection of a handgun for home defense is a serious one, requiring one that…
by Massad Ayoob / Jun 1, 2011