The Top 3 Handguns For Self-Defense, Conceal Carry, and Home Defense


I recently got a question through the blog:

“Could you name the top 3 hand guns you would recommend?”

And I thought I had already answered this clearly.

I guess not, so let me do it today.


The Top 3 Handguns I Recommend:

This is my answer to this (common) question.

In order of preference, from best to worst option …

#1: Glock 19

#2: M&P 9

#3: Everything Else …

Number 3, aka everything else, is a somewhat longer list, but it includes these choices:

1. Sig P320 9mm
2. HK VP9
3. Springfield XD-9
4. Walther PPQ 9mm
5. Beretta PX4 compact 9mm

And that’s about it …

The Best Handgun For Self-Defense

The point is that there is a CLEAR trend in the modern combat pistol choices of today’s experts.

The short and long of it is that you can’t go wrong with a 9mm Glock or 9mm Smith and Wesson M&P.

If you want a full-size “service pistol” then choose the Glock 17 9mm or the Smith & Wesson M&P 9.

If you want a slightly smaller, usually easier to conceal option, then go with a “compact” model of one of the above. The Glock 19 or the M&P Compact 9mm (For the record, I carry the Glock 19 Gen 4).

The reason I recommend the Glock 19 over the Glock 17 is simply because the 19 is the slightly smaller version that can do most all the larger model 17 can — but it is easier to conceal. That means you can use it for conceal carry, home defense, direct action raids, duty use, etc.

It’s the “do all” gun.

To quote …

“It’s Over. Glock Won.”

Weaponsman is a blog about (you guessed it) weapons. The owner is a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified.

They wrote a short article the other day that further explains the reasoning behind choosing the Glock 19.

“… We’re talking about the pistol of choice in American special operations, where SOF has, to some extent, their own procurement money (Major Force Program 11 budgetary funds) and channels. And pretty much everybody’s running a Glock now.

They’re still maintaining their old service pistols, but they’re carrying Glocks, and specifically, Glock 19s like the gun in the file photo here. While older Glocks are on hand, now the military’s buying G4s, and sometimes uses the ability to convert the mag release for a left-handed shooter, which requires G4 gun and G4 mags.

This has been in the news lately because the Marine Raiders (MARSOC) have publicly announced ditching their unique M45 .45 ACP pistols for bog-standard Glock 19s in 9mm.

But the Marines were not just the last guys to cling to their treasured 1911 platform, they were the last to pick up the Glock. Army SF has been using Glocks for a while — sure, they still have M9s, but the go-to-war gun is the G19. The SEALs, who stuck to their SIG 226 for quite some time, and still have them in their arms lockers, are running Glock — namely, the G19.

We don’t know if Tier One units are still running .40s, and we are not 100% certain the Rangers are on the Glock bandwagon, but if they are, it’s over, because that’s where the top leaders of the Army come from these days. SF is on its way back to being a backwater of somewhat irregular irregular-war enthusiasts (thank a merciful God), and the lamprey-lipped careerists are all trying to get their tickets punched with the Ragnars and/or They Who Shall Not Be Named. (Careerists should be careful what they ask for. These assignments can make careers, but they can also break them beyond repair).

Why the Glock 19? This is strictly our own opinion, but there are a number of reasons that make it attractive.

1. It’s a very good size for both uniformed and undercover work. Not too small to shoot well, not so big as to be hard for average-build guys to conceal. (Some of your Belgian horse SEALs could conceal a Barrett, but that’s another story).

2. It’s as reliable as a hammer. Like any gun, Joe can (and does) break it, but the breaks and stoppages are fewer and further between. It’s more reliable than its in-service competitors, the 1911 (M45), M9, and P226 (and the P228/M11 used in some undercover roles).

3. It’s durable and tolerant of abuse, neglect, and environmental stress throughout the SOF operating environment, from 0º to 90º N/S and sea level to Himalayan terrain. It might get fugly but it won’t lock up.

4. It’s easy to learn. Makes a difference when you need to be able to shoot it, but are in a job where shooting pistol is only one of hundreds of tasks you have to master.

5. It’s easy to shoot well. Most shooters do better on a Glock than on a DA/SA pistol.

6. It’s cheap. Sure, Uncle doesn’t pay what you do for a Beretta or a SIG, but Uncle doesn’t pay what you do for a Glock, either.

Some of the other Glock-offs, like the Smith & Wesson M&P, can match some or all of these Glock advantages, but it’s hard to beat the whole package, as the dismissal of S&W from the Modular Handgun competition suggests.”

As a point of fact, after they wrote that article, it was confirmed the Rangers have also adopted the Glock 19.

That Means Almost All Special Operations Now Use The Glock 19 …

The FBI, again, chose Glock as their new handgun.

Over 60% of Law Enforcement use Glock handguns.

Big ARMY is the in the middle of their “Modular Handgun System” procurement program (where they’re supposed to be “finding” the best new handgun)… but the Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley basically just wants to buy a bunch of Glock 19’s and call it a day.

Lastly, if you still think 9mm is not a good enough self-protection round, then you’re wrong. See here, here and here for more on why 9mm is a great choice for self-defense.

Lastly, if you want a more “in your face” reason to choose the Glock 19, see the video below by James Yeager

“All Guns Should Be Glocks, All Glocks Should Be 9mm’s And All Glock 9mms Should Be 19’s

The Other Top 2 Choices …

You "can't" or "won't" get a Glock 19? In the words of Archer, "either?"
You “can’t” or “won’t” get a Glock 19? In the words of Archer, “either?”

The other top 2 choices are really just “stand ins” for if you can’t … or won’t … get a Glock 19 for some reason.

(The fact is, for whatever reason, some people just hate Glocks and won’t get one. This ranges from just hate for the platform to thinking they’re a “special snowflake”. I get it, I used to hate Glocks. That was until I tried the new 4th generation of the Glock 19. I’ve switched and never looked back. No they’re not “perfection” but they’re good enough.)

Notice the M&P is very similar to the Glock 19. It’s the other really popular handgun used by law enforcement.

Then there’s “everything else” and I listed some other handguns that were modeled after the Glock but in some form or fashion are not as “good” as the Glock for most people.

So that’s my answer to the top 3 handguns.

What Do You Think?

I think that covers pretty well why I think the top 3 handgun choices are led by the Glock 19.

Really, if you’re confused about what handgun to buy — you don’t know enough to make a choice — just choose the Glock 19.

If you’re more experienced, then you can start looking around …

You could do a LOT worse than buying a Glock 19, getting really good (see here on how to judge your handgun skill levels) and THEN deciding what handgun you think is better.

What do you think? Do you like the Glock 19? What would you choose instead and why?

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Caleb Lee is the #1 best-selling author of "Concealed Carry 101" and founder of He is a civilian (no law enforcement or military experience) who shares information about self-defense and becoming more self-reliant. He's a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo, NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor, Concealed Carry Academy Instructor certified & also a graduate of the Rangermaster firearms instructor course. He's also the author of numerous online courses including the course.


  1. HEY!!! What about Rugers? I have a Ruger SR9C with a Crimson Trace Laser and a 17 round magazine. Easy to carry concealed and comfortable to boot, and shoots very good. Check it out!

    • I have a Springfield 1911 AND a Ruger SR40c both with lasers … What else does a guy NEED ?

  2. sorry but I carry a Taurus Titanium 7 shot 357, will upt that round up against 9MM any day , Plus it does not stove pipe no matter what you feed it.

  3. I have 35 years exp. both professionally and personally carrying a pistol. Started out with a revolver for work and personally carried a full size 1911. About 20 years ago worked and was trained with a issued glock and have switched and not looked back. Now my only handguns are a G19 and a G43. I have traded in my others and have no regrets .

  4. Also, the Glock 27 in 40 cal and the MP in 40 cal- I carry both and they are easy to carry and great stopping power.

  5. WHY always 9mm? The state police and local depts I contacted said they switched to 40 cal. So I have 40s,45s,and 380’s My 59th birthday in a few months there will be another 45 unless the ##$%^&##!!!*& wins next week. In that case the new 45 will be this month. Everyone has their own favorites.And the Glock name is not worth the couple hundred extra you pay for the same handgun like S&W, Ruger,Colt,etc.They never let me down and they all have very good track records.But again you like what you like and i like what i like. And last but not least,my inner circle of armed service friends have Glocks but I asked them if that is their favorite and a little better than half said no. Keep up the good work/writing.

    • I agree, although I have a big variety of guns including a Glock 17 and Beretta 92FS in 9mm my primary carry guns are a S&W Shield in 40 in warm months and a M&P 40 in colder months. I just feel the 40 has superior power over the 9. Other cool weather carry guns are my 1911 and my Beretta PX4 in 45 ACP, again I just prefer the bigger bullet.

  6. Springfield Armory XD Mod.2, .45 should be at the top of the list. In addition to the fact that it’s made in America it is a potent pistol.
    I recently shopped for another concealed carry pistol and after lengthy comparison, evaluation and shooting of dozens of quality weapons, the XD Mod.2, 3.3″ .45 subcompact was clearly the best pistol due to the following reasons:

    .45 caliber

    Capacity 9 + 1 of .45 for the 3.3″ subcompact,
    (13 + 1 with extended mag).

    Unbelievably accurate (especially for a 3.3″ subcompact) – in fact, 25 yard groups were comparable to full-sized pistols. [I also had the Glock 30/s on my list but it clearly was not as accurate and I also did not care for the Glock difference in grip and sight-line-up].

    Quality components, beavertail and trigger safeties, accessory rail, fiber optic front sight and thin profile.

    Traditional grip and sight-line (Glocks as I found, have a differently angled platform, necessitating altering customary target sighting to accommodate the Glock). Basically, if you learned to shoot with a 1911, Beretta, Browning, HK, Sig, S&W, etc., the Glock will not “shoot right” for you, (I had to come over the front sight and adjust down about five inches at 25 yards). Like anything, you can modify and learn, but, “If it ain’t broke…”.

    Made in the U.S.A.

    Happy shooting.

  7. My current choice, as a California resident is any of several Ruger revolvers, why, because they completely avoid the nonsense 10 round max rule. For semi-auto I still use a 1911 Remington Rand WW II manufacture. It still functions perfectly and I prefer to aim and shoot rather than spray and pray. I do NOT expect to face a mob of hundreds nor raging zombies. 9mm is all right but does not fit my preferences as well.
    Just my personal opinion and choices. Carried a long slide 45 for over twenty years concealed, never a failure. Then I also religiously maintain my firearms and custom load my ammo.

    • As a Cal. resident how do you get a CC Permit? I carry a M 1911 Colt. No mater where you hit they will go down.

  8. I have a Glock 19 and 2 Berettas .9 & .40. The PX 4 is twice the gun the Glock is and I carry the PX 4 .9 with 15 round double stack clips. If I can’t get the job done with 45 rounds of Tango ammo I’m in deep kimchee.

  9. At/In home for most folks I consider a 16″ shotgun loaded with 00 or smaller to be a good choice. Hard to miss the target.
    I always had a shotgun on my entry team back in the 70 & 80’s, but I’ve been retired for 30 years now and things do change.

  10. Walther CCP 9 mm. Is a phenomenal CC gun. No recoil with its blowback system. Unbelievable accurate. Light and hides great. My first choice over all. I own a PPQ as well but the CCP is so perfect I bought two. Takes any kind of ammo with flawless performance.

  11. The choice IS CLEAR it’s the handgun YOU can shoot the best.
    I personally cut my teeth on a 1911 and have been shooting them in one form or another, my current concealed carry pistol is a Kimber Ultra CDP II and has been for ten years.
    You writers are always trying to make apples into oranges just give constructive advice and stop the hypothetical drivel.

  12. Good choice – what makes me madder than hell is the trend of “expert journalists” to recommend low capacity (6 round magazine) progressive socialist gun control law compliant personal defense firearms to American citizens. You would think Obama, Clinton, and the UN are paying them off. (Know why cops don’t carry six-guns any more? NOT ENOUGH BULLETS!) YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH THE G19!
    If you live behind the “NEW IRON CURTAIN” in NY or other states where you are limited to 10 rounds – a G26 is a viable alternative and smuggle yourself a G19 mag & sleeve for home defense – out in the world a 10 round mag is probably safer being that the GESTAPO IS AS MUCH OF A THREAT TO YOUR FUTURE AS THE CRIMINALS – if you do not comply with socialist citizen disarmament laws. (The gestapo AND the criminals BOTH have high capacity magazines)
    Once they disarm us, we will be like the Vietnamese villagers, caught between the government that does not trust us and ransacks our homes to be sure we are disarmed – and the VC Criminals that rape and pillage.

  13. I want a Glock 19 but I have a S&W M&P 9C with CT laser grips, night sights, 6 magazines two that hold 17 rounds 4 holsters that fit the gun & 3,00+ rounds through it with no failures! Plus 7 other hand guns in caliber’s :22,380, 357 mag. 45acp, &44 mag. in the safe now.
    I served in the US Navy 7years. Have had a CWP from 1969 to 2016 & never had to shoot anyone yet,
    lots of paper& steel targets have had lead shot at them.

  14. I’ve carried the M-9, Px-4, and others. The Glock 23 40 cal. is the compact 4.01″ barrel, same gun with the option of 9mm which I have the barrel and spring for with the 9mm mags. Then you can decide between 9mm and 40. I like 40 as do many others. If you prefer 9mm change the the barrel and spring.

  15. There are too many variables both personal and tactical to say categorically that any one type of handgun let alone a specific make and model is the top choice for self defense!

  16. I must be a dummy because my gun list includes several S&W revolvers both 38 and 357, a model 39,5906 and 1911 all in 9 mm including a shield and micro 9 by Kimber. Even 380 comes into play with a tiny LCP and p238 or micro 380. I trust my ability and life with these choices and nowhere is there a Glock to be found.Don’t want one or need one. Just to be sure, my 5906 S&W has 15 round capacity and very reliable for an older gun.

  17. I carry a Browning Hi-Power 9mm every day, , go to the range semi weekly and it never fails. No matter what ammo or what mags I use. Polished the feed ramp when I first got it and it proves to be a very reliable gun, easily concealed. Had a Govt. issue 45 in the military, 1970 -74 it was also reliable, only problem, 8 round mags. Have a Ramlite magnetic red laser sight by Ariete, works ok but just good for getting in the ballpark, not for precision shooting. LOL

  18. I wil be happy to put my FNX-45 against any 9mm ever made! Glocks are Junk in Comparison!

  19. I carry a RUGER AMERICAN COMPACT in 9mm and 17 round mag. I will take it anyday over any Glock!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. I carried a 1911 during my time in the USAF while flying,I loved it. when I got out I loaded my own rounds,cast my own target rounds,and shot in contests , that 1911 45ACP is my weapon.In our home I have a twenty Gage shot gun for home defense my Uncle was a police officer and he said their is nothing more terrifying to aperson who broke in,than running into scared women with a shot gun pointed at him.

  21. If you are poor like ole retired me, a super high quality automatic, reliable handgun that is very cheap compared to others on the list is the Makarov. Some were made in Germany, Austria and Belgium and were carried by the police forces in those and other countries. They were imported and sell for about $250 now. They are getting scarce but still available in lots of gun shops. Mine is small enough to put in my pocket, never has jammed, fires 9MM (9×18) Hornady Critical Defense ammo with lots of knock down power. It has 3 safety features I like. It has a hammer, if dropped on the hammer it will not fire unless the trigger is pulled, and a safety lever. Its a double action and I don’t have to worry about it accidentally firing when its in my pocket. A pocket holster costs about $2-$3 and will let it slide out faster and conceal the outline in thin pants. Mine is the German manufactured one but all 3 are good. Cheap jacketed ammo is available for target practice.

  22. I have both a Glock19 w/ Red laser and a Taurus Millennium G2 w/a TruGlo micro-tac green laser and I love both but keep my Glock for Home Defense and use my Millennium for my CCW weapon because it’s so much more comfortable to carry and has almost as much ammo.

  23. I have a Glock19 and a Taurus Taurus Millennium G2. both have lasers because my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be. I keep the G19 at home as part of my home-defense and I carry my Millennium because it’s so much more comfortable to carry. I love them both.

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