Start Here: 5 Versatile Carry Guns That Also Work for Home Defense

glock 43x with target
There are a lot of carry guns out there, so finding the right one for you takes a lot of time and effort. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Carry gun selection is as individual a process as your fingerprint. There’s no such gun as a “best” carry gun or a one-size-fits-all pistol. Anyone who claims there is immediately discredits themselves.

However, it’s true that some handguns are more ideal than others, and sometimes being steered in the right direction can help you find the ideal gun for your needs. We’ve put together this list of five excellent self-defense handgun choices with an eye for both concealed carry and home defense.

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s a solid starting point. It’s also diverse and offers different platforms so you can branch off from here in your search for just the right gun for you.

glock 43x
The GLOCK 43X is a subcompact designed for ease of concealment. (Photo credit: Glock)


If you’re going to go for a GLOCK, the 43X is a fantastic choice. It’s slightly shorter than the G48 which might not sound important, but that tiny difference makes it easier to conceal. The G43 is chambered in 9mm, has a capacity of 10 +1 rounds with a flush-fit magazine. It weighs in at 18.70 ounces, empty.

This is one of GLOCK’s Slimline guns meaning it’s not a double-stack but it also isn’t technically a single stack, so they manage to fit in a bit more ammo without getting crazy with the gun’s dimensions.

The GLOCK 43X has a 3.41-inch barrel length and if you’re thinking that means less accuracy, in this case you’d be wrong. This is a handgun capable of excellent accuracy. It boasts the Gen 5 GLOCK Marksman Barrel, an improved trigger, and slide serrations fore and aft for easier manipulation. All controls can be operated without overly adjusting your grip. If you’re a leftie, you’re in luck because the magazine release is reversible. Other useful features include GLOCK’s S.A.F.E. Action, a safety blade trigger, and a nicely textured grip.

Why the GLOCK 43X over the GLOCK 48? It’s really a matter of personal preference. The G48 has a barrel length of 4.17 inches which keeps the overall dimensions small enough to remain highly concealable, but can be a bit tougher for some people to conceal when carrying. Both are great guns and aside from barrel length they’re basically identical.

colt king cobra
The Colt King Cobra is a classicly designed, quality revolver that’s a great fit for carry. (Photo credit: Colt)

Colt King Cobra

If revolvers are your preference for concealed carry — and we know you’re still out there — the Colt King Cobra is a well-made, accurate gun that’s well worth your consideration. The King Cobra is chambered in .357 Magnum, meaning you can also run softer shooting .38 Special, and it has a six-shot capacity.

There’s a carry model with an even shorter barrel, but for reasons like felt recoil and accuracy, the model with a 3.0-inch barrel may well fit the bill for more people. The King Cobra has a stainless steel frame and comfortable rubberized grips making it both heavy enough to felt recoil and muzzle rise and more comfortable to shoot.

The Colt King Cobra we refer to is, of course, one of the latest incarnation of Colt’s snake guns. If you can find and want to carry an original Colt snake gun, go for it—we firmly believe there’s really no such thing as a safe queen. But this new generation of Colt revolvers is very well-made and reliable and the Colt King Cobra holds a special place in this writer’s heart as a great all-around gun.

ruger sr1911
If you prefer a 1911 platform gun for carry purposes, check out the Ruger SR1911 which includes this 9mm model. (Photo credit: Ruger)

Ruger SR1911

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in all the expected 1911 platform sizes as well as a few different caliber choices. This particular model is a Government — meaning full — size with a 5-inch barrel. It isn’t chambered in .45 ACP, but in 9mm. Yes, you can conceal a full-size handgun. Lots of people do it every day. Almost anything is possible to carry and conceal with the correct holster and belt.

This is a classic 1911 meaning it’s a single-stack pistol and, since it’s chambered in 9mm, has a capacity of 9 +1 rounds. Ruger’s SR1911 line of pistols is based on the Series 70 design, albeit with modern tweaks. Many shooters will tell you that means a better trigger and I believe it does make a difference. The entire SR1911 lineup is surprisingly nice, particularly for the price point.

Despite being a full-sized 1911 the SR1911 isn’t excessively hefty. It weighs in at 32.2 ounces which helps cut down on felt recoil and muzzle rise (which is already pretty minimized given that it’s the 9mm version of the gun).

Features include a serrated, rounded hammer and rounded off edges overall that reduce risk of snags on the draw. The Ruger SR1911 Government-size gun makes a great home defense choice, too. And if you’d like one of these relatively affordably priced 1911s, but want a smaller one, Ruger makes SR1911 Commander and Officer sized models, too that you’ll find easier to conceal.

walther pdp compact
The Walther PDP Compact is a fantastic carry option that’s both reliable and accurate. (Photo credit: Walther)

Walther PDP Compact

If there’s a handgun maker that doesn’t seem to get nearly the credit they deserve for high-quality designs and impressive performance, it’s Walther. No, their guns aren’t the prettiest or the most tacticool on the market, but they’re exceptional, especially considering their price point. The Walther PDP Compact is a versatile handgun that’s perfect for concealed carry and home defense use. It has the right size to hit that sweet spot and that makes it a really good option if you want one gun that does it all.

The PDP Compact has a 4.0-inch barrel, overall length of 7.5 inches, and height of 5.4 inches. It weighs 24.4 ounces empty and is relatively thin with a width of 1.34 inches. This gun is chambered in 9mm and has a 10 +1 capacity.

The grip is shaped with a palmswell that fits well into the shooters hand and it’s also textured on all sides to improve the shooter’s hold even with wet or sweaty hands. Wide, angled serrations are located at the front and back of the slide to make racking it easier.

This gun has a lot to recommend it, including reliable cycling and precision. It has an accessory rail in front of the trigger guard that’s fantastic for adding a light or laser. It has a polymer frame that cuts its weight a bit while remaining balanced. Your self-defense handgun should be reliable, durable, and fit well in your hands. The Walther PDP Compact does all that really well.

taurus th10
The Taurus TH10 is a DA/SA model chambered in 10mm. (Photo credit: Taurus)

Taurus TH10

Interested in a bigger bore handgun without a correspondingly larger price tag? The Taurus TH10 is chambered in 10mm and has proven reliable so far in testing. This pistol is, as its name suggests, part of Taurus’s TH line of handguns and is double-action/single-action. One of the great things about this gun is its 15 +1 capacity because while that means it’s heavier, it also means you have an impressive amount of 10mm ammo on board.

If you’re wondering, yes, people can and do successfully carry 10mm handguns on a regular basis. The TH10 has a 4.25 inch barrel which is sufficient to give you solid ballistics. Empty, it weighs in at 28.50 ounces. It has a full-size frame, but thanks to the barrel length it can be concealed. This is a handgun that’s a great choice for home defense and can also be open carried for self-defense while out and about.

Aggressive texturing on the grip of the gun helps the shooter maintain a firm hold during live fire and serrations at the rear of the slide facilitate smooth manipulation. Controls can all be operated without needing to adjust your grip—depending on your hand size—and interestingly, the safety doubles as a de-cocker. While this isn’t a high-end 10mm it’s a good entree into the big bore handgun world.

Some of these guns are likely to appeal to you while others may leave you questioning why they’re on the list. Remember that everyone’s skill level, needs, and preferences vary. What you value and need isn’t the same the guy down the street. That’s why it’s a good thing we have such a wide variety of choices available. Find the one that suits you best and go from there. Just because a pistol is perfect for a friend, instructor, or industry “influencer” doesn’t mean it’s best for you.

11 Responses

  1. The weight listed for the Ruger is for the aluminum frame model, which I have. They can be found for much less than MSRP. I’d want a light mount for a HD gun. Know your target and beyond.

      1. That might be fine if you don’t have kids living with you. There’s at least one documented case of a father taking a shot at a shadowy figure coming into his house in the middle of the night. It was his teen daughter who sneaked out earlier. She got shot, but survived.

        I keep a small light on in the middle of the house at night, but I still feel better with a WML on the HD pistol and carbine.

  2. A worthless “filler” article…

    Excludes the G48 because it’s 0.75 in longer making it more difficult to conceal that a 43x….then turns around and recommend a full sized 1911 that is 2.17 in longer, 0.25 in wider, and weighs 20 oz more than the 43x….and adds “Yes, you can conceal a full-size handgun. Lots of people do it every day…”

    This whole damn thing could have been done in one sentence.

    “Any compact handgun used for CCW will also serve well for home defense. As will many shotguns, ARs, and PPCs.”

    1. You’re missing the point of the whole article. Ms. Ainsworth is receiving money from the manufacturers of the described weapons. This article is nothing more than an advertisement.

      1. “Ms. Ainsworth is receiving money from the manufacturers of the described weapons.”

        That’s kinda rude. 🙁

        Besides, that Glock looks like it has had some serious use on it…

        1. If I were you, I’d teach SNW a lesson and no longer read the site…

          1. I find the level stupidity, from both the writers and the commenters, entertaining.

  3. There are many choices.
    Use what fits you best for your situation. Use what you shot the best with. Use what you like.
    As for HD, dark and flashlights, we have nightlights in various parts of the house. Not too bright, but enough I can identify everything in the room, kitchen and bath.

  4. I agree it is a worthless filler article. The range of guns covered is just so broad it could have included almost any handgun.

    There is nothing linking these guns or rational to suggest using them over any others.

    The article could have just as well said:
    Glock 22, 19, 30, GP100, LCP Max, CZ75, M&P Shield

    SP101, Taurus G3C/G3/G3X, Glock 20sf, XD9’s, Ruger Redhawk Alaskan

    Bersa Thunder, Makarov, S&W 686, SR22, Sig P365

    Max-9, LCRx, Security 9 compact, Security six, Blackhawk (the Ruger fans)

    Hi-Point 9, SCCY 9, Heritage barkeep, Kel-Tec P17, Lorcin .380 (for poor people)

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