It’s three in the morning and you hear the sound of breaking glass. For a split second you wonder if your ears woke before your brain. Did you simply catch the end of a dream? A nightmare, maybe? Muffled voices break the deafening silence. As your wife calls 911 your grip tightens, front sight lazily raising and falling, but otherwise fixed on your bedroom door. You try to stay calm, yet ready as you prepare to cross no-man’s land to secure your eight-year-old daughter, still sleeping soundly in her room across the hall. In these brief, endless moments, the last thing on your mind should be if your bedside gun will do the job.
Bed-side guns need to be powerful, idiot-proof and, above all, reliable. Adrenaline does bad things to motor-functions and so does grogginess. Combined, the average gun-owner will be in piss-poor condition for a gunfight. Want to hedge your bets with hard-hitting, reliable magnums and change the odds in your favor, but don’t want to sacrifice capacity? These three magnums are your best bet to defend against home-invaders, humans and boar alike.
1. Desert Eagle MB44 – .44 Magnum – $1,772
The Desert Eagle might not be the first pistol to come to mind when home-defense guns are mentioned, but it’s a viable option nonetheless. The Desert Eagle, in any of its powerful calibers, is more than a handful due to its all-steel construction and colossal grip-size. Nevertheless, the hefty weight coupled with an aggressive muzzle brake makes for a controllable, hard-hitting hand cannon. While it only holds 7+1 rounds of ammunition, you can easily insert fresh magazines to refresh its supply.
Youtube videos may characterize the pistol as an uncontrollable force of nature, but the reality of the gun is quite different. When chambered in .44 Mag and equipped with a muzzle brake, my hundred-pound wife can fire hammered-pairs with minimal muzzle-rise.
The same characteristics that make the gun unsuitable for carry, make it incredible for home defense: its size and weight. The Desert Eagle’s sight rail also allows shooters to mount a holo-sight on their pistol, so engaging moving targets is easier. If nothing else, you can reference this article to your wife or husband as justification for finally buying that gold, tiger-stripe model you’ve always dreamed of.
2. Smith & Wesson TRR8 / R8 – .357 Magnum – $1,329
This might sound like it clashes with my initial statement of more is more when it comes to home defense guns and capacity, but there is always a trade-off. Having a lever-action Henry Goldenboy loaded with 21 rounds of .22 Short does not trump a magazine-fed shotgun with 10 rounds of double-ought buckshot. While much of the Internet’s theories on stopping power are a based on eighth-hand accounts, there is a point of diminishing returns in the power vs capacity battle. The TRR8 holds eight rounds of .357 Magnum ammunition, which is significantly more powerful than standard 9mm parabellum. Furthermore, when fired in single-action in an ambush scenario it’s easier to shoot and more accurate than most semi-automatic pistols.
The TRR8 is Smith’s attempt to modernize the revolver into the perfect shield-gun for SWAT teams. Semi-automatic pistols have moving parts that can impact the shield and arrest the recoil operation mid-cycle, jamming the gun. The shield-man is normally the first person through a door in a raid, having his pistol jam during a breech could be a death sentence. While a revolver is a somewhat obvious choice, they are difficult to aim through the small-window of a shield and most couldn’t mount a tactical light, so the shield-bearer would have to go in dark or have someone else light the way.
Smith & Wesson addressed this issue by installing a sight and accessory rail on the TRR8. Now SWAT members have the ability to mount a red-dot and a tactical light on the revolver. Additionally, Smith increased the capacity to eight rounds to put it on par with higher-capacity semi-automatics. You don’t have to be a genius to see how this tactical revolver’s improvements can be of great use to someone defending their home. The platform’s inability to jam and capability to deliver hard-hitting magnum rounds from a superb accurate platform and elevates it above all other revolvers for home-defense use. Also, the TRR8’s ability to use .38 Special rounds, means you won’t have to spend a fortune to become proficient with it.
The gun’s downsides are capacity, availability and price; eight rounds is good, but 17+1 rounds is better, there are moon-clips to aid with reloading, but it’s still sluggish when compared to changing a pistol magazine. The TRR8 is the best choice for those more familiar with six-guns than pistols and for folks who wish to use one pistol for hog-hunting and home-defense.
3. STI Perfect 10 – 10mm Auto – $2,621
STI makes some of the coolest 1911 race-guns on the planet, most require tuning to run reliably, but once tuned run all day. The Perfect 10 makes for one hell of a home-defense pistol and with an MSRP well north of $2,000, it should.
The Perfect 10 takes my two favorite things, 10mm Auto and the 1911, and mates them in an unholy union of fire and steel. The result is an ultra-ergonomic, hard-hitting package that holds a whopping 17+1 rounds of 10mm! Featuring Bomar sights and a funneled magazine well, the Perfect 10 is clearly designed with competition shooters in mind, but these improvements are a tremendous boon to defense-minded shooters looking for a technological edge against their aggressors.
Why opt for the Perfect 10 and not a Colt Delta Elite or Glock 20? Ergonomics, capacity and modularity. The Glock meets some of the requirements of the Perfect 10 at a much lower price point, but lacks the ergonomics and modularity. Yes, the Glock supports an accessory rail, but lacks one for electronic sights. Additionally, the Glock fits a smaller range of people, so unless your wife plays for the WNBA, she will likely find the G20 slightly more comfortable than a two-by-four.
The Colt has better ergonomics at a more affordable price (and that cool red delta grip) than the Perfect 10, but only holds 8+1 rounds of 10mm Auto. Only, being a relative term, as not many creatures on two or four legs will survive that payload, but with a home-defense gun you never want to question if you brought enough gun. Especially since the only thing that has to carry it is that chunk of wood next to your bed.
Magnum’s aren’t for everyone, gun-shy shooters will find the noise and power intimidating which makes it a poor choice for them. Also, initial cost or cost of ammo to feed them might scare off new shooters. They might not be as fast-shooting as their 9mm or .38 Special brethren, but when it comes to fight-stopping ability Magnum rounds are where it’s at. Just be sure of your target and what’s beyond. All of these guns make a poor defense gun if you live in an apartment complex.