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