For many people, having different handguns for home defense and concealed carry is not a possibility. Whether the restriction is financial, legal, or otherwise, you find yourself needing to make do with one gun. With that in mind, let us take a look at some criteria to consider for a dual-role handgun. Plus, we will look at a few of my recommendations for weapons that fit this role.
The best handgun for concealed carry and home defense is the one you have and shoot well. A home defense pistol should have decent magazine capacity, a barrel length that will allow accurate shot placement, and fire a cartridge of sufficient power to stop a threat.
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The Size Compromise
If you do not already have a handgun, go for a midsized pistol. Mid-sized handguns are, in most cases, essentially a full-size model with both the slide and grip shortened. This class of handgun will provide a decent sight radius and magazine capacity while still being compact enough to conceal. The trade-off here versus a sub-compact is weight. A subcompact like the Springfield XD-E is very light and concealable but is less pleasant to shoot than a larger pistol.
If you can conceal a full-size handgun then, by all means, go that route for a dual-purpose weapon. The home is the castle, and you should leave nothing on the table when it comes to the defense of its occupants.
My criterion for a defensive handgun is a proven weapon in a minimum caliber of 9mm with a 10-round magazine in semi-auto pistols, and .327 Federal or .38 Special with a 6-round capacity in revolvers. Minimum 3” barrel in either. That said, if you have a handgun chambered in .32 Automatic, or a .22, and are proficient with it, then use it. I know of individuals who use smaller calibers because arthritis or other conditions preclude the use of a handgun a larger caliber. Any gun is better than none, so use what you can.
If this handgun is going to be predominantly a home defense weapon, then consider accessorizing it. Slide mounted optics have become very popular in recent years, and many models are factory cut to accept an optic. A good reflex sight will increase your target acquisition speed, and milliseconds can make the difference in a self-defense encounter.
Lasers and flashlights are two other popular add-ons for home defense handguns. Lasers can also work for concealed carry, but flashlights can be balky. Whatever accessories you choose to use, be very familiar with their operation.
Under pressure, people will do what is familiar. A self-defense situation is not the time to learn about your handgun. Spend time at the range regularly. Enough to be confident in your ability to hit the target. Practice loading and unloading, do holster drills (with an empty gun!), be able to retrieve and manipulate your weapon without looking. The habits you ingrain during training will appear under pressure.
A better idea still is to find and attend a defensive pistol training course. These courses are offered by many organizations, including the NRA and Sig-Sauer, and are worth the expense to learn from a professional. As you learn, take the fundamentals developed and create a defensive plan for your home and become intimately familiar with your state’s self-defense laws.
The following weapons all fit the criteria to fill the role of both a concealed carry and home defense handgun. There are many other options available, pick the one that suits you.
The original midsized wonder nine The Glock 19 is probably the number one gun chosen for the dual-purpose role. It is big enough to shoot comfortably and small enough to conceal without too much trouble. The standard capacity is 15 rounds, with higher capacity magazines available. The Gen 5 comes with interchangeable backstraps that allow you to tailor the grip to your hand for a more comfortable fit.
Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact
People seem to either love or hate this pistol. Functionally similar to the Glock 19 and designed with ergonomics in mind, the M&P 2.0 is a tried-and-true weapon. It features a 15-round magazine in 9mm and interchangeable grip inserts. This pistol is also available in .40 S&W .45 ACP. The trigger could be better, but individuals I know who have them speak highly of the weapon.
Canik TP9 Elite SC
Canik is a relatively new face to the pistol market. The guns are built in Turkey and made to last. A friend just bought the full-size model and states that it is a tack-driver. The TP9 Elite SC is a good value at $439 MSRP, coming from the factory with two magazines, interchangeable backstraps, and an inside-the-waistband holster.
Ruger American Compact
The American Compact is a sturdy pistol boasting a seventeen-round magazine in 9mm and ten-round capacity in .45 ACP. Available with or without a manual safety and factory-supplied with Novak low-profile sights, Ruger made sure that this pistol had the best features and no-frills.
The lone wheelgun on the list, the model 65 is a six-round revolver chambered in .357 magnum. Similar in size to the Smith & Wesson K-frame guns, this weapon provides serious horsepower for home defense but is still small enough to carry concealed if need be. The Model 65 will also fire .38 Special ammunition, offering a low-recoil / lower-cost option for target and defense ammunition.
Heckler & Koch USP Compact
Too good to leave off the list, these pistols are expensive and built like a tank. Chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. Incidentally, the USP Compact is also the pistol carried for most of the film Blood Diamond by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character.
Home defense and carrying concealed are not responsibilities to be taken lightly. Choose a good weapon, train with it and get training, practice until proficient, and make a plan. No pistol is perfect for both roles, it will be a compromise, but having one for both is doable. Stay safe out there.