The question, “What’s the best handgun,” comes up a lot in the shooting world. The honest answer is that it depends on a lot of factors, including your experience level and what you’re looking to do with this new gun. The truth is, there is no single gun that will perfectly cover all the needs that someone might want a handgun to do across all the various purposes. But there are some top pics and proven favorites. That’s why we’re going to take a look at a variety of use cases and guns that are top picks for each case. 

I’ve broken down the best first handguns for categories that include: home defense, concealed carry, revolvers, plinkers, competition, hunting, and even PDW/AR pistols. There are many great handguns that could fit within these categories. But these choices are so solid, you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a great handgun in any of these categories. 

Home Defense: Glock 19

Why It’s Our Top Pick: Tried and true, the Glock 19 will go bang when you need it to. Reliability and ease of use are two of the reasons it’s a perfect choice for the best first home defense handgun. With good capacity for its size at 15+1 rounds, the G19 is widely used by both private and public security agencies across the world. The integrated accessory rail is perfect for adding a light or laser, both great choices on a home defense gun. Plus, there are tons of options for night sights to give you an advantage in the dark. In addition, there are tons of self-defense rounds in 9mm.

Caliber: 9mm
Standard Magazine Capacity: 15 rounds

Concealed Carry: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

Why It’s Our Top Pick: The original Smith & Wesson M&P Shield was – and still is – a great concealed carry gun. Improving on that platform, the Shield Plus makes some major enhancements. The standard round count is 10, but it can move up to 13 with the extended magazine. The new flat-faced trigger helps your finger find the right spot, shot after shot. Models are available with fiber-optic sights or optics-ready cuts should you want upgraded sight options. Thin and lightweight, you’ll hardly notice you’re carrying, even at the end of the day.

Caliber: 9mm
Standard Magazine Capacity: 10 rounds

Revolver: Colt Python

Why It’s Our Top Pick: Alright, we may be stepping a little outside of the norm with this revolver pick, but go big or go home, right? The Colt Python packs a punch with its six rounds of .357 Magnum. But if you want to take it to the range for easy plinking, it also takes .38 Special, perfect for beginners, while the .357 makes it ideal for self-defense. The Python also offers easy-to-acquire target sights and is available in a variety of barrel lengths from 2.5 to 8 inches. While the new Pythons debuted to mixed reviews, the older models have been revered as the Cadillac of revolvers for being easy and smooth shooters, not to mention head turners at the range. 

Caliber: .357 Mag/.38 Spl
Cylinder Capacity: 6 rounds

Plinker: Taurus TX 22 Competition

Why It’s Our Top Pick: If you’re looking to plink, look no further than the affordable Taurus TX 22 Competition. This member of the well-received TX 22 series boasts a Taurus’ Performance Trigger System that makes the trigger pull short and smooth. The Competition model also comes with a threaded bull barrel, adjustable rear sights, and a mil-std 1913 Pic rail on top for mounting optics. The gun ships with three magazines and two adjuster plates for whatever optic you might have. Pair all those features with magazines that hold 16 rounds of .22 LR and you’ll have plinking fun at the range all day. 

Caliber: .22 LR
Standard Magazine Capacity: 16 rounds

Competition: CZ 75

Why It’s Our Top Pick: CZ pistols are currently used by twice as many top-level competitors in USPSA Production Division. The CZ 75 has a high beavertail and undercut trigger guard, allowing the shooter’s hand to be as close to the bore axis as possible for an accurate and stable shot. This gun also has an extremely low bore axis, making it ideal for competition. CZ offers three lineups that are specifically geared toward competition shooters; the CZ Shadow II, CZ SP-01 Competition, and the CZ Czechmate. With lots of aftermarket parts and holsters available to customize your gun, it’s no wonder why this has become such a popular competition pistol.

Caliber: 9mm
Standard Magazine Capacity: Varies between 16 and 26 depending on model.

Hunting: Magnum Research’s BFR

Why It’s Our Top Pick: The name itself exudes excellence. If you didn’t already know, BFR stands for Biggest Finest Revolver. The BFR was born out of a need to fire rifle calibers out of a handgun, making it the perfect hunting companion. It’s all stainless and has a precision-grade barrel that delivers unmatched accuracy. It’s the most powerful production single-action revolver made, and it’s available in 10 calibers and two barrel lengths, making it perfect for hunting. There are few animals in North America that the BFR couldn’t drop.


  • Long barrel: .30/30 WIN., .444 Marlin, .450 Marlin, .45 LC/.410, .45-70 Gov't., .460 S&W, .500 S&W. 
  • Short barrel: .375 Magnum, .454 Casull, .44 Magnum, .50 AE, .500 Linebaugh, .475 Linebaugh

Cylinder Capacity: 5 rounds

Honorable Mention: PDW/AR Pistol - Maxim Defense PDX

Why It’s Our Top Pick: Sure, this isn’t a traditional handgun, but it offers some serious advantages. The PDX was made to dominate close-quarter encounters. With an overall length of 18.75 inches, it delivers incredible power and performance in a subcompact platform. It’s integrated with interchangeable buffer weights to give you maximum performance and versatility without sacrificing form and functionality. The patent-pending HATEBRAKE muzzle booster significantly reduces recoil, pushes gasses and concussion downrange, and improves overall performance, making this an easy choice if you’re looking for the best PDW/AR pistol.

Caliber: Available in 5.56 NATO, .300 BLK, and 7.62x39mm
Standard Magazine Capacity: 20 or 30 rounds


Whether you’re looking for a first handgun to carry or one to hunt with, the choices laid out here won’t steer you wrong. The important thing to do after buying the gun is to go get some ammo and practice, practice, practice. And don’t forget to have some fun!

Read More On:
revolver barrel loading graphic