Man at an outdoor shooting range is aiming a custom-built pistol with a Gideon Optics red dot sight mounted

How to Choose the Best Handgun for Home Defense

Choosing the best handgun for home defense means finding the right home defense pistol and adding the pistol parts and accessories that give you reliability, accuracy, and tactical flexibility when you need it the most. Handguns make excellent defensive weapons in the close confines of a home, where you’re less likely to need the extended range of a long gun but have an increased need for maneuverability. Knowing what to consider before paying your hard-earned money for a firearm leaves more money in your pocket for practice ammo and pistol customizations and ensures you get the best handgun for home defense to keep your loved ones safe.

Home-Defense Pistol Vs. Self-Defense Carry

While some gun owners use their carry weapon as a home defense gun, you may encounter far different circumstances when self-defense is needed in your own home rather than out in public. Some jurisdictions also have overly restrictive carry laws, meaning you’d be putting a lot of focus on finding features you don’t need. When choosing the best handgun for home defense, remember these differences:

  • You Have More Leeway in Size and Weight of Your Weapon – When choosing a carry weapon, you’re limited by the size of the gun you can carry unobtrusively if you have a concealed carry permit, but the bigger factor is often the weight of your sidearm. No one wants to lug around a brick on their back all day. Home defense pistols, however, can be secured in a safe, locked drawer, or trigger locked on a shelf when not in use.
  • Most Contact Will Be Ultra-Short Range – While you can choose a fuller-sized firearm than what you may be able to comfortably wear for eight hours a day, remember that even spacious homes often don’t have unobstructed spaces of greater than 10-15 yards. However, if you’re in a rural area and need your handgun to double as a varmint gun, short-to-mid-range outdoor capabilities may become a factor.
  • Accessorize for Real-World Flexibility – When choosing pistol parts and accessories to upgrade your gun, think about the capabilities you need. A light for investigating nighttime noises, extended magazines, and illuminated optics can all come in handy, and when building the best home defense gun, it bears repeating that you aren’t as limited by concealability.

Comparing Features to Find the Best Handgun for Home Defense

Man wearing protective ear muffs shooting his pistol at an outdoor shooting range

When looking at home defense pistols, you have many options to consider. While there’s no such thing as a “perfect” home defense handgun, with a little thought and research, you can find the best handgun for your home defense needs.

Stopping Power

You want to choose a weapon that has enough power to stop a threat immediately. You need good penetration without over-penetrating the target and putting your loved ones at risk with a stray bullet, so avoid higher velocity loads and full jackets. Look for a gun that works well with hollow points in a proven self-defense caliber, such as a 9mm, .38Spl, .357, .40S&W, or even a .45 Auto or Long Colt. These offer adequate stopping power thanks to the larger bullet size and hollow nose that lets them expand quickly and transfer energy into a target faster. Pistols in these calibers are also available from most major gunmakers, helping keep your cost down.


If your gun won’t load or feed, it isn’t much use as a home defense pistol. Choose a brand known for its consistency or take matters into your own hands, learning about your gun by making it in the comfort of your own home or garage. The best handguns for self-defense will cycle reliably round after round.


You need to make sure you can hit what you’re aiming at with your handgun. Due to the short ranges, however, accuracy means you need not only the precision to put out tight groups but also the rapid acquisition of a clear sight picture. This often takes more than the traditional iron sights most handguns start with, but that’s where aftermarket pistol parts and accessories come in. Upgraded sights that allow for greater low-light visibility or reflex optics can help you aim better in a range of lighting conditions.


The experiences of Mr. Wick and Mr. Bourne are not representative of most home defense situations, which see far fewer shots fired, if any. That being said, the best handgun for your home defense will have enough rounds to give you a reasonable amount of tactical flexibility. Most revolvers carry between five and six rounds, and pistols generally offer magazine capacities ranging from 6 on a classic 1911 Officer model to 17 or more on modern double-stack pistols. This largely falls to your comfort level with the ammunition capacity of your weapon fully loaded. Bear in mind that revolvers have a cylinder that fixes their capacity, while extended magazines and magazine extensions can let you adjust your pistol loadout to fit your needs.

Customization Options

If you can’t find a home defense pistol that checks all your boxes, you can always use quality pistol parts and accessories to build the best home defense handgun for you. Precision barrels, extended magazines, compensators, high-performance optics, and advanced trigger systems can all give you a gun that’s fun to practice with and meets your defensive needs.

Commercial or Homemade

While there are plenty of decent home defense firearms on the market, you also have the right to build your own gun for private use. Whether you choose to use an 80% lower frame manufactured by a third party and finish it yourself or use a 3D printer to create your own frame, we offer the pistol parts you need to finish your build with professional-grade results you can count on at the range or in home defense situations. The best part about a handgun for home defense you made yourself is that you assembled each component with your own two hands, giving you greater insight into customization opportunities.

Getting the Most From Your Home Defense Pistol

Handgun, magazine, protective eyewear and glasses sit on a booth at an indoor shooting range

Once you’ve chosen and purchased or built your weapon, it’s time to make sure you’re ready to use it. You should always get some practice time in with any gun you’re potentially going to be counting on to save your life or put food on your table. Here are a few training and safety ideas to keep in mind:

  • Run Some Rounds at the Range – Get comfortable with how your gun shoots, learn to manage its recoil, and make sure to zero in its sights. It’s okay to practice at all ranges, but keep in mind the common potential engagement distances your home offers and spend plenty of time finding the target and putting out tight groups at that distance.
  • Talk to Other Household Members About Gun Safety – Even if they’ve heard it before, a refresher in gun safety can save a life. Make sure they know how to make themselves safely known and avoid sounding like an intruder in the dark.
  • Dry-Fire Practice at Home – Dry-fire training–squeezing the trigger to release the hammer while the gun is unloaded–can help you fine-tune your trigger pull fundamentals. It can also help you get used to handling the best home defense guns in the setting and lighting you’re most likely to encounter in a real-world home defense scenario.
  • Keep It Secured – Whether you choose a gun safe, lock box, or trigger lock device, ensure that your gun is made safe and kept secured when not in use. Ensure children know to leave any firearm alone and find an adult if they see it unsecured.

Order Your Home Defense Pistol Parts and Accessories

We have the top parts and accessories from leading manufacturers so you can build the best handgun for your home’s defense. Don’t forget to sign up for our email list to get the latest deals delivered to your inbox. Order your parts and accessories from JSD Supply today.