There are so many good firearms on the market these days that it makes a list like this difficult. Most of the guns made these days by reputable manufactures do exactly what they're supposed to do. They go bang when you pull the trigger, they're accurate, and they will last a lifetime if you take care of them.
But there are a few that stick out as the “Industry Standards” or the “Top Dogs” if you wish.
Our choices are based on sales data here at Guns.com, but also factor in things such as quality, reliability, accuracy, and availability of accessories.
So, without further ado, here's our list of the top semi-automatic handguns for home defense, starting at the top.
At the head of the pack is the Glock 19, or G19. It takes the top spot because it’s incredibly reliable, affordable, there are tons of them out there and there are tons of accessories. Glocks are one of the most customizable guns around.
The story of the G19 began with the Glock 17, or G17. When it hit the market in 1985, it was a smash hit. Within a decade, you saw G17s in use throughout the US, and around the world. It was soon a favorite with consumers as well.
The only real gripe about the G17 was that it was a touch big. So, in 1988, Glock came out with the G19. It is basically a more compact version of the G17. It went triple platinum.
The G19 is chambered in 9mm. It has a magazine capacity of 15-rounds, although higher capacity mags are available. It measures 6.85-inches long, 1.26-inches wide, 5-inches high, and weighs 30.16-ounces unloaded.
The next gun on our list is one of the bestselling handguns on the market. It’s incredibly reliable, accurate, and well balanced. I’m talking about the Smith and Wesson M&P pistol.
When Smith & Wesson, which has been making guns since 1856, released the M&P pistol in 2005, it was targeted more towards law enforcement and the military. Hence the name, M&P, military, and police. But it quickly caught on with consumers who realized just how good it was.
Like the Glock, there are tons of accessories available. You can also find lots of them used on the market. Since they’re so well made, like all of the guns on this list, you should feel comfortable buying one used if it’s in good condition.
The M&P is offered in many variants and calibers, but one of the most popular is the full-sized M&P. It’s chambered in 9mm. It has a magazine capacity of 17-rounds, although higher capacity mags are available. It’s 7.30-inches long, 1.2-inches wide, 5.5-inches high, and weighs 24.7-ounces unloaded.
SIG SAUER 320
When the Sig Sauer 320 hit the scene in 2014, it was well-received. That’s because Sig makes fantastic firearms. But it wasn’t until 2017 that sales of the gun shot into the stratosphere after it won the United States Army's Modular Handgun System competition, replacing the Beretta M9.
In general, when a gun is adopted by the US Military, it does very well on the consumer market. One of the big selling points of the gun was its modularity. The fire control unit is the only serialized part of the gun. This means users can put it in bigger or smaller frames, allowing for greater customization. There are also tons of accessories available to trick out the 320.
The 320 is offered in a variety of configurations and calibers. The full-sized model chambered in 9mm has a magazine capacity of 17-rounds, although higher capacity mags are available. It is 8.2-inches long, 1.3-inches wide, 5.5-inches high, and weighs 29.6-ounces unloaded.
The next gun is one of the most iconic handguns in the world. Not only was it the US military’s go-to sidearm for 29 years, but it was also made famous by blockbuster films like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. It’s the Beretta Model 92.
The gun was developed in 1975 by Italian gun-maker Beretta. The Beretta gun company goes back to 1526. That’s pushing 500 years of making guns.
In 1985, the US military replaced their aging M1911 .45 ACP pistols with the Beretta M9, which is essentially the military name for the Model 92. Although the gun is a bit dated today, it’s still a favorite of hardcore gun enthusiasts because it’s a workhorse.
Since the gun has been around so long, there are tons of them out there along with parts and accessories. Guns.com often has them used on our site.
There are a few variants of the 92 in a variety of calibers. The most common is the full-size model chambered in 9mm. It has a magazine capacity of 17-rounds, although there’re higher capacity mags are available. It is 8.1-inches long, 1.5-inches wide, 5.4-inches high, and weighs 33.3-ounces unloaded.
We simply could not do a list without including the "Two World Wars" classic M1911. After all, it was the go-to-handgun for almost a century before the plastic-fantastics came along.
Although modern 1911s are offered in a variety of chamberings, it’s synonymous with the .45 ACP round.
M1911s first hit the scene in yes, you guessed it, 1911. It was designed by famous American gunmaker John Moses Browning. It served as the standard sidearm of the US military from 1912 until 1985 when it was replaced by the Beretta M9. Some 2.7 million 1911s were ordered by the U.S. military during its service life.
Finding a good used M1911 is fairly easy, and some of the older ones can be highly collectible. New models are available from a variety of manufacturers. A standard Colt 1911 Classic chambered in .45 ACP has a magazine capacity of 7 rounds, although higher capacity mags are available. It’s 8.5-inches long, 1.3-inches wide, 5.7-inches high, and weighs 36-ounces unloaded.
German gunmaker Heckler & Koch has produced some of the most iconic guns of the last century. There’s also something about German engineering and attention to detail that just screams quality.
The HK VP9 is another more recent release. Launched in 2014, it came on the heels of several successful striker-fired pistols by HK. It was a request by the Bavarian State Police, but as soon as hit the market in America, it didn’t take long for orders to roll in.
The top-selling points of the VP9 are quality, ergonomics, ambidextrous controls, and a good trigger. There are plenty of accessories for the VP9, so you can trick it out.
The VP9 has a few variations, but the full-size VP9 is chambered in 9mm. It has a magazine capacity of 17-rounds, although higher capacity mags are available. It’s 7.34-inches long, 1.32-inches wide, 5.4-inches high, and weighs 25.5-ounces unloaded.
Ruger is another heavyweight in the firearms industry. They are known for producing innovative and affordable guns. The budget-friendly Security-9 pistol is their newest addition to their handgun roster. It debuted in 2017 and is getting excellent reviews.
What’s nice about newer model firearms from reputable companies, is that you are almost guaranteed that they have taken the latest technology and features and put them into an exciting new package. This is certainly the case with the Security-9.
The full-sized Security-9 is chambered in 9mm. It has a magazine capacity of 15-rounds, although higher capacity mags are available. It’s 7.24-inches long, a touch over 1-inch wide, 5-inches high, and weighs 23.8-ounces unloaded.
Before you gripe over not including your favorite handgun for home defense, let’s go through our honorable mentions.
Walther has been a household name for generations, making the go-to-gun for 007 agent James Bond for many years. And for good reason. They produce high-quality guns that shoot straight. The Walther PPQ is one of their best.
Czech gun maker CZ has been producing firearms since 1936. They’re often best known for their amazing stock triggers. Their P10 pistol was awarded Pistol of the Year by Guns & Ammo magazine the year it was released in 2017.
FN has produced some of the most battle-proven military firearms the world has ever known. Their attention to detail and quality is second to none. We know because we visited their factory in South Carolina. Their FN 509 line of pistols are highly regarded amongst shooters and come as the final honorable mention on our list.