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home defense vs ccw

How Choosing A Home Defense Pistol Can Differ From Picking A CCW

Guns, in the end, are tools, and there is a right tool for every task - which is why a lot of people will tell you that picking a home defense handgun is different than choosing a concealed carry gun. Granted, there are some pistols that are equally suited to both roles, but a lot of guns may be better at the one than at the other.

There are also some attributes that are a positive in one area but a negative in others, and some attributes that are neutral for home defense but a negative for concealed carry.

If you're going to choose a handgun for home defense, here are a few of the things you should look for.

House Gun Size Matters A Little Less

handgun size matters

Often enough, people will keep a full-size pistol as an open carry, range and nightstand gun but won't often - if at all - concealed carry it due to handgun size making it prohibitive. Full-size pistols can be difficult to conceal for many people and not always the most pleasant to carry. After all an extra three pounds on the hip from a Government-frame 1911, Smith and Wesson N-frame or Sig P226 can become a drag, which is why smaller pistols like the M&P Shield, Glock 26, Ruger LCP and snubbie revolvers are more popular for everyday carry.

Dimensions matter a lot in concealment, too. A longer grip, frame and barrel make more demands for effective concealment; some pistols can't be effectively concealed without a jacket, which not everyone is going to wear all the time.

That's why some people have a winter carry gun and a warm weather carry gun.

For a home defense pistol, however, it really doesn't matter as much. You aren't going to be tucking it inside the waistband, so you can get as large a handgun as you want.

Accuracy and Shootability Matter


A home defense handgun has to be shootable, has to be capable of sufficient accuracy and has to be reliable first, second and last. In other words, you have to shoot well with it. Since you don't have to balance this aspect with….basically anything...you're free to choose any gun you wish.

Want one of the full-size Glocks? Feel free. Don't want to carry an aircraft carrier-sized Sig Sauer P220 on a daily basis? Make it a home defense gun. Prefer a 1911? Hard to find a sidearm with a better pedigree. Think you'd rather have a .45 Colt or a .44 Magnum because you want bear-stopping capability as well as man-stopping power? Go ahead - make your gun store's day.

For a home-defense gun, there should be no compromise on the shooting function front, as you don't have to give an inch to concealability. Same goes for ammunition capacity; feel free to stock up on extended magazines.

As a bonus, you also get to start adding goodies that would otherwise be impractical.

In Home Defense, Handgun Accessories Begin To Help

pistol accessories

There are certain handgun accessories and handgun mods that are something of a hindrance for concealed carry. For instance, adjustable target sights snag on holsters easily, extended magazines print while carrying and some lasers and lights aren't easy to find holsters for.

However, do these things get in the way of a home defense pistol? They certainly do not. In fact, they actually become a serious benefit.

Say you have a full-size pistol that has an accessory rail - some examples being a Glock 17, Canik TP9, Ruger American or a CZ SP-01. These are all service pistols, featuring full-length railed dust covers, high-capacity double-stack magazines and barrel lengths in excess of 4 inches. In other words, these aren't easy guns for concealment. Some would say near impossible.

However, you can add a flashlight/laser combo such as the Streamlight TLR-2 or TLR-6 to any of them. Perfect for operating in the middle of the night, should an intruder come prowling. There aren't too many holsters out there for subcompacts with TLR attachments or similar laser/light combos and it isn't as if you're going to want to attach your light every time you get home and take it off every morning before you leave the house.

In short, the things you normally have to compromise on for some concealed carry pistols - such as size, recoil mitigation, accessorization - don't have to be compromised on. All you need worry about is something you can shoot well with, operate and store safely.

Sam Hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.