Attributes of a home defense handgun?


February 13, 2010, 09:05 PM
Assuming you put in the time to familiarize yourself with your selected handgun, what attributes are important to you when selecting a home defense handgun?

I'm not looking for a caliber war. More interested in trigger type, round capacity, type of sights, handgun type (revolver vs. semi-auto) etc.

For me, I have a choice of Glocks, Sig P226 DA/SA, Ruger GP100, 1911 Commander or Govt Model and a S&W 442.


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February 13, 2010, 09:15 PM
A reliable gun that can hold the most amount of the largest bullets you can shoot well.

February 13, 2010, 09:19 PM
I really wanted my G23 to be my HD handgun. But, it is a jam-o-matic with a Streamlight TLR-1 light on it. I'm thinking of getting a G17 or G21SF. Currently either use my 1911 Commander with night sights or my G19 with light attached.

February 13, 2010, 10:30 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // It used to be my S&W 586 6" .357

The 586 had to do everything HD/SD/Hunting.
I now think a HD/SD handgun should be a snubbie due to the take away factor of a longer barrel when grappleing. The 6" would be very easy to grab.

Now I have a S&W 442 1 7/8".
It is either on me or in the pocket of a pair of shorts next to the bed. I get up, put on the shorts and I have the 442 and a flashlight set on pulse at hand.

Trigger: For me it is DAO (safer)
I had a guy tell me about the time his dog jumped up and cocked the hammer on his IWB 638:what:

Round capacity: 5 shots of .38+P
As soon as I get the 870 up the 442 is back up.

Sights: Lacking on a 442 (black on black)
I asked the women in my family to suggest types of nail polish they thought might be good. Mom won with the "Wet Shine Diamonds" hot pink. The pink is easy to focus on and the "diamonds" actuall sparkle with very little light. Improved my groups at the range right away.

Type: I'm a Revolver guy
No safety,no racking,no hoping I oiled it enough
I have semiautos but I shoot some weapons better than others.

Grips: I prefer the Hogue extended grips for my 442.

MY main reason for using the 442 is that I practice with and carry it more than any other handgun I have right now. So my muscle memory and mind set should be tuned in quicker if I awaken to trouble.

So I suggest,from those you list, you use the handgun you are most tuned in to naturally. The one you can grab and shoot the X without thinking.(too much)

February 13, 2010, 10:34 PM
I'm most accurate with my Springfield TRP. But, I just got it and haven't tried JHP's with it yet. So, the Kimber Pro Raptor II gets the nod for now.

February 13, 2010, 10:41 PM
anything that any street cop is real likely to be seen wearing
or anything any street cop was real likely to be seen wearing in the last 30 years
not what they maybe did or did not have CCW
that is a whole different genre, and application

why might you suppose they wore 'em

other than that, if you were wondering if you should choose what I choose, the answer is yes !
who woulda' ever thunk it ?

S&W k-frame, full size, 38/357

"I have a choice of Glocks, Sig P226 DA/SA, Ruger GP100, 1911 Commander or Govt Model and a S&W 442."
you have it more than merely well covered, friend
442 = CCW
any/all the rest - whatever you shoot most/best
(why settle for shorter vs. more pointable/shootable under stress conditions and possible dim/low lighting for the sake of smaller/ligher ?)
if you shoot 'em all same, rotate 'em every week and sleep well !

Ohio Gun Guy
February 13, 2010, 10:42 PM
#1. you should be able to pick it up, look at something (In the dark) and find you are naturally aiming where you are pointing. (IE the grip isnt at a wierd angle, etc. etc.

#2. Reliable, Reliable, Reliable! (I'll take a working .22lr over a jamb-omatic)

#3. Then all of the "Normal" selection criterea that you may use to select any gun.

February 13, 2010, 11:07 PM
Reliable, simple to operate, no external safety levers, night sights, picatinny rail mounted flashlight, heaviest caliber YOU can shoot well. Seems to favor the Glock or Sig from your list.

February 13, 2010, 11:09 PM
1) reliable
2) reliable
3) reliable
4) simple

A 4" barreled .38 special with fixed sights shooting 158 gr LSWCHP (+P if you can, regular pressure if you can't). S&W Model 10 or 64 are inexpensive & easy to find examples. In your case, the 442 will suffice.


February 13, 2010, 11:14 PM
Double action revolver. 4 or 5 inch barrel.

Caliber: .44 Special or .45 Colt. No +P hot rod stuff, please.

Ammunition: 240-250 soft lead SWC...respectively...solid or HP...with a muzzle velocity in the 750-800 fps range.

Make: Smith & Wesson. A pre-war .44 Hand ejctor model woud be a plus. A Taurus 5-shooter would suffice. A Charter Bulldog would do in a pinch. A case could be made for a single-action revolver as well. Of course, any handgun would rightly be a backup for a short-coupled 12 gauge shotgun. 20 gauge for the arthritic or small statured folks would be fine.

February 13, 2010, 11:15 PM
Key questions for me: does it need to be used by someone else too, e.g. your wife? Or does your family situation dictate that you unload/reload it frequently, e.g. small children in the house? The former could mean revolver if wife doesn't want to practice much. The latter could make an auto your choice.

Another Q is perceived threat. If low, revolver could be fine, or simply pick whichever you like most & want to own. If high, auto for firepower, ability to attach lights, etc. Also, do you have a longarm available or is the handgun all you've got? If the latter, I'd lean heavily towards auto.

The older I get, the more I lean towards getting guns I like, rather than the ultimate defensive machine. My lifestyle, life history, and location are "vanilla," so I feel I can afford to make that choice, since I can hardly imagine a situation where armed, aggressive resistance won't suffice. (But I also have a pump shotgun loaded with buckshot under the bed--the sidearms are to go check out the bump in the night, the shotgun is first choice if I hear the front door getting kicked in.)

When I lived in Houston 1990-92, the so-called "kick robbers" were terrorizing the area around my home--about 1-mile radius. M.O. was 3-man assault on house at zero-dark thirty, overwhelming the family. There, I chose a loaded AR-15 AND a Beretta M92FS, and my wife was "qualified" with a .38SPL snubbie. Reloads on hand for all guns.

I'm Neanderthal about sights. I figure at night I'm shooting the way I trained in the Army--over the sights, not through them. Were I back in Houston, I'd have a flashlight on an auto anyway, and would shoot to the light, not thru the sights. My 2 cents.

February 13, 2010, 11:18 PM
The gun you use for home protection should be accurate,and make the bad guy fly backwards like in the movies.;)

February 14, 2010, 12:57 AM
Forgive me if I derail this, but I think you might be asking the wrong question. Handguns are marginally effective as best.

Handguns are what we use because we can't have a long gun nearby.

In your house, you can have a long gun. Handguns are much more difficult to shoot well than a long gun. Long guns are much more effective fight-stoppers than handguns.

Handguns are handy. But in my house, I want to have long gun to deal with a problem. If I found myself dealing with a problem at home with a handgun, it was because it happened too quickly for me to physically go get a long gun.

But chose whatever you want. As long as it's reliable, and you can handle it well, make it work to solve the problem. It's not the tool, it's the man behind it that solves problems. Get some training and find what works best for you. It doesn't revolve around capacity, or trigger type, or any of those other things you mentioned. It matters what you can make work. And only you can answer that question, not any of us.

February 14, 2010, 01:27 AM
I keep a handgun and shotgun ready for home defense, situation would dictate what is chosen.
I personally wanted a handgun with a good capacity for caliber, night sights as well as a full size grip. It goes without saying that it must be accurate and reliable. From there I chose whatever fit these requirements and I shot the best with regards to speed and accuracy.

February 14, 2010, 03:36 AM
1917 S&W .45 acp might be a good choice,or...a BHP.

February 14, 2010, 03:52 AM
1. Reliable
2. I shoot it well
3. Night Sights
4. rail for a light
5. prefer 5" or longer barrel, for sure not shorter than 4". (for longer sight radius and bullet performance.)
6. magazine capacity
7. I prefer a SA trigger but dont mind any other besides a DA/SA trigger. Just never like them

February 14, 2010, 04:05 AM
"Reliable, simple to operate, no external safety levers, night sights, picatinny rail mounted flashlight, heaviest caliber YOU can shoot well. Seems to favor the Glock or Sig from your list."

I have to agree with this. A pistol mounted light can give you a big advantage if you are going to check out a strange noise in the dark of night. Keeping your weak hand on the gun instead of holding the light, and a really bright light to stun/disorient a BG for a split second.

February 14, 2010, 04:29 AM
Mine is my beretta px4 9mm with trijicon night sights, 18+1 capacity. DA/SA with decocking function. Good for keeping under the bed. just my preference. I have had plenty o practice with that pistol. However, from your choices. I would go with the sig. I find their triggers are a bit better, plus i believe most of the better models come with night sights. good capacity. not a fan of the field goal sights most glocks come with. sig may be more expensive, but i have had nothing but good experiences with them. the triggers are fanfrikkintastic!

February 14, 2010, 07:46 AM
Remember the KISS principal. In a high stress situation you want to have to remember as little as possible. A good revolver or a Glock, in my case a G23, is just about perfect.

February 14, 2010, 12:24 PM
Read post 13 a dozen times, because BullfrogKen hit the nail perfectly on the head.

We can't answer this question for your. All we can do is tell you what we choose and our rationale.

I frequently carry a handgun even while around the house. As Bullfrog points out, the only way I'll be using it as a primary is if I can't get to a long gun in time.

When I sleep, I keep a gunvault beside my bed (I have a 3 yr old) with a 4" S&W 686 Plus loaded with .38 +P. It is my dedicated HD handgun (it doesn't get carried), so it just stays loaded in the gunvault. I chose it because there are no manual safeties to mess with, no slide to rack and the DA trigger is long and heavy enough that I don't worry about clutching it half asleep at o'dark thirty and firing off a shot by accident. Plus I shoot it pretty well, and 38 +P out of a big heavy 686 has very little recoil and blast, making follow up shots VERY quick and easy (I am a 38 guy at heart). But YMMV.

Actually, in the last week or two I've been considering switching out the 686+ for my 4" S&W Model 15. The 15 has a lighter, no-lug barrel that swings much easier between targets than the big, comparatively clumsy feeling 686.

If I can safely get to my closet, I'm retrieving my 12 gauge pump from a high closet shelf, out of my son's reach, (it, along with my gunvault, gets locked in the big safe during the day) and handing the 686 off to my wife.

Our "safe room" is my 3 year old's room, which is a fairly open / straight shot from our room, so the 12 gauge works great for me. I won't be room clearing, just making a straight shot to his room where we'll hunker down until the cops arrive.

Again, YMMV, but you have seen my rationale for the choices I have made. Your rationale and resulting choice may vary, but it is something you should think through carefully for yourself.

February 14, 2010, 08:29 PM
Pump 12 gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot and ready to pump, S&W model 64 loaded with .38 spl hp and one of of my pistols with loaded mag (12 to 17 rounds) ready to rack.

M2 Carbine
February 14, 2010, 09:53 PM
Attributes of a home defense handgun?
A reliable high capacity semi auto equipped with a Streamlight TLR-2 laser/light.

February 15, 2010, 11:26 AM
Fortify. (make it more difficult to get in, reduce your "target" potential)
Time advantage. (give yourself as much warning as possible, alarm, dog, etc.)
Train. Plan. Train to your plan.
Have a backup plan. Or two. (the backup plan should include a friend with a gun, the more friends the better)
Communicate the plan. Practice the plan(s).

Now on to the gun...

1. Reliable. (goes bang every time, ammo is included in "reliable")
2. Simple. (anyone who needs it should be able to use it)
3. Full Size. (you don't have to conceal it, so don't paint yourself into that corner - implies ~4"+ barrel length, and standard capacity magazine/cylinder, adequate caliber)

February 15, 2010, 12:22 PM
A reliable gun that can hold the most amount of the largest bullets you can shoot well.

February 15, 2010, 04:14 PM
I use an S&W Model 19-4 2 1/2" snubbie revolver. My reasons and opinions:

1. Reliable - I keep it taken care of, there's no "ammo feed" potential for problems, no springs to not function, etc. It stays put and is ready for action whenever I've asked anything of it.

2. Accessible - a firearm doesn't do much if you can't get to it when you need it. I keep mine in a little gun vault safe, key operated (took out the batteries in the keypad as i didn't want a failure when i needed it). In this regard, I'm looking to buy a few well-used, but reliable, older revolvers after I devise some secure ways to place them around the house. They don't need to be pretty, they just need to work if i need them.

3. Long trigger pull - I'm of the opinion that i should really have to work a little to discharge my weapon. I'll take a little hit in accuracy to prevent an accident. At the range where i'd need to fire (huddled in a bathroom waiting for the cops), an inch or two off won't matter, but as i've gotten used to double action (and really the Sigma is what i'm talking about here, the Model 19 isn't bad for DA trigger pull, but enough to make me feel safer).

4. Sights - indifferent to night sights. I should be able to see what i'm firing at, if i'm going to fire. Standard revolver sights are fine by me.

5. Capacity - 6 will do, more is better, but then you get into pistol territory. I do have an S&W Sigma 9mm i would trust my life with, but it had a magazine go weird after sitting too long while loaded (slide wouldn't stay locked back with no rounds in mag).

February 16, 2010, 12:50 AM
I know a fella who still has nightmares about the fight-to-the-death he endured. It has relevance in this thread.

He awoke from a deep sleep to discover an intruder in his bedroom. Barely having time to grab his S&W .357, the thug pounced on him and for about 15 bloody minutes, it was truly a fight to the death to gain control of the revolver.

During that brutal fight, the wood stocks were even broken off the revolver as the men fought . . . knowing that the loser would die. In the end, the homeowner DID manage to get the gun turned on the intruder and kill him . . . but needless to say it screwed up the homeowner's head pretty good . . . but he survived!!!


1. Nightsights? Yep, I've got 'em on a 1911. It is in the safe usually. Nightsights glow like "lightning bugs" at night . . . and can draw the eyes of an intruder to find your gun in the pitch black house. No, I want a gun that I can point and hit the spot I'm aiming at WITHOUT needing sights at a reasonable distance. For me, this is the grip angle of a S&W revolver! I can reliably knock bowling pins off the table at the standard 10 yards without aiming with sights. Lots of competitions honed that skill.

2. Barrel length? SHORT! You don't want a BG to have much to grab onto, or you may lose that gun in a fight!!!

3. Front sight? Patridge design . . . squared off back, polished VERY SHARP via a file, then spot blued. If someone tries to grab the barrel, you rip it out of his hands and cut his fingers to the bone! (Photo below)

4. Grips? Elk Stag . . . hard and tough. If the gun turns into a hammer they can help you win.

5. Caliber? .45ACP hollowpoints. I prefer 200 gn. or 185 gn. to reduce penetration in case a round misses and keeps going through the house . . . hard hitting too.

6. Revolver? N frame . . . heavy, sturdy, super-reliable . . . and simply point and shoot.

Here she is . . . a custom, short barreled (3 1/2") Model 25-2 in .45ACP . . . usually stoked with Speer "Flying Ashtrays" . . . and yep . . . that front sight is SHARP!!! No rounded edges there. The gun is a "fighting revolver" from front to back . . . big, heavy, stout, short-barreled . . . and packing quite a punch!

Formidable looking from the front side also . . .

February 16, 2010, 03:51 AM
I am very opinionated about home defense handguns. After going to a tactical school and having one of the first lessons be learning how much I don't know, my choice is even more solidified.

Revolver. Period. There are orders of magnitude in the difference between the tactical drill for revolver and auto. Someone mentioned K.I.S.S. and I think it is very applicable. Pull trigger, gun go boom. End of story.

Caliber, .38SPL and up, your choice. Barrel no longer than 4", longer gives a leverage advantage to someone grabbing it away from you. I have a nice smooooth action S&W 19, the wife bought herself a stainless Pro Series 627 (8 shot).

February 16, 2010, 11:05 AM
I just want to chime in that the "long gun" is not always the answer in every situation and I don't think that such should be proffered as one size fits all advice.

Anyone who "has to" be on the move for the bump in the night is going to be better served by a modern service sized semiautomatic pistol, especially if it can hang a light.

It has become obvious to me that I didn't pick my current house in a tactical frame of mind. The master suite is all of the way across the house from the bedrooms of my children. Theirs are closer to the garage, which while not a soft point, is the likeliest point of the house to attract a break in attempt.

Therefore, if the dog goes off or I hear something amiss, I have to check it out before calling 911.

I have a good amount of experience clearing ships with a shotgun as my primary from my days serving aboard a destroyer in the Persian Gulf. I know how to get around in tight spots at low ready with a long arm. However, I have elected to use instead a Beretta PX-4 9mm pistol though I can handle combat shotguns and .45 ACP autos just fine.

Cell phones changed my reasoning. The Beretta hangs a Streamlight and is equipped with yellow/green Trijicon night sights. I also have it stoked with the factory +3 magazine extension. It frees up my off hand for work.

Now I can roam about one handed with my cell phone in the other in case my investigation uncovers that I have to call the cavalry. It is a much simpler proposition with a handgun to open doors, flick light switches, etcetera, than with any long gun. I just free up my off hand by biting the cell phone in my mouth. It might look silly when I do that, but no one is watching and I can still talk around it because it is thin. The other thing is, that if something is actually happening, my toddler doesn't have a grasp of the family defense plan and might have to be "footballed" back to the master suite, where my wife will be holding sway with a shotgun herself. Carrying another person along with a long arm is a major pain, especially if one requires effective return fire while doing so.

Sorry about the length, but not everyone faces the same home defense problems that make the extra lethality of the long gun a "no brainer."

I have a high confidence level that 20+1 147 gr Gold Dots can get an evacuation of the far side of the house going if necessary.

February 16, 2010, 02:47 PM
I really wanted my G23 to be my HD handgun. But, it is a jam-o-matic with a Streamlight TLR-1 light on it. I'm thinking of getting a G17 or G21SF. Currently either use my 1911 Commander with night sights or my G19 with light attached.

when i was a kid, like most of us we used to play cops and robbers. my next door neighbors grandpa was a retired NYC cop. he was getting a beer out of the basement one day and caught us in mid "battle" in the dark basement. he told me never to have my light in front of my body or face. the idea being the light is a target and gives away your position. makes sense too when you think about where your gun is in perspective to your body while aiming. not to mention most people, untrained, tend to one hand the gun during gunfights. this is also true against charging animals. added bulk of a weapon light could make you less accurate when and if you're force to fight it out.

home defense isn't about going around the house room to room, even thunder ranch will tell you that. unless you absolutely have too you should stay put. call the cops and defend your position.

February 16, 2010, 02:50 PM
4. Grips? Elk Stag . . . hard and tough. If the gun turns into a hammer they can help you win.

if anything they look great!:D

February 17, 2010, 01:29 PM
My choice for home defense was the Beretta 92FS (9mm).

It's a big heavy pistol but that makes it easy to shoot, and weight and size is not a drawback for a gun used only for home defense.

I have read about the caliber controversy but my personal assessment is that 9mm is just fine even with standard JHP and as good as any other caliber with certain Cor Bon rounds. I don't want to reignite the caliber controversy, just to say that I think there is no definitive answer on that, and I feel comfortable with the 9mm round.

As far as I can make out, the 92FS is also the most reliable and durable semi-automatic ever made -- hence I understand it's the most widely used semi-auto worldwide -- but I'm a newbie so if anyone knows different I won't be offended if you correct me on this or on any other points. (Your advice will contribute to my rapidly expanding collection! I bought my first gun only about a month ago but already I've got three -- excited but apprehensive financially about how many I might have in a year's time!)

February 17, 2010, 02:31 PM
My Colt defender since I caryy that one most. Or my Charter arms 44 spl if a revolver 200gr gold dot blazer loaded Was surprised wife likes shooting that and hates a 45 auto.
I don't want a rail light or laser . I want basic pistol and relieabilty. I light my home with night lights cheap and remove darkness . You also don't fall over things going to library in middle of night . You can always be Ninja tac cool and toss those light sticks into room before entering

February 19, 2010, 07:48 PM
I'm totally into the small Glocks, 26, 27, and 36. They hide extremely well for CCW purposes, and they have never been a problem based on experience and general opinion. Good enough for the street, good enough for the house.

Ohio Gun Guy
February 20, 2010, 06:27 AM
S&Wfan - Looks serious in that photo........ ;)

I droped my mouse and nearly lost my lap top throwing my hands in the air. :evil:

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