Taurus 1911 Commander 1-191101COM-9MM 9mm Luger L 770x513
Woody for TTAG
Previous Post
Next Post

Defending your person away from home and defending your castle are two different tasks, and for many people, that suggests different tools. But if you use different guns for home and personal defense, there are some factors to consider to find the best guns for the job.

Regardless of your choices, the most important factor is familiarity and training with a particular weapon.

The provisions for better ammunition capacity, more precision, maneuverability, and ammunition choice won’t matter much if you can’t operate your home-defense gun(s) under stress. So making your choices line up with the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principles is smart, effective, and safer.

The Argument for Using Your Carry Gun At Home

If you have a single firearm as both your carry and primary home-defense firearms, that’s about as flat and simple as it can get. The training you put in to keep competent on your carry gun will pay dividends when things go bump in the night at home.

In a daily cycle, a carry handgun can be available in the house, then it can be moved into an appropriate transport for automotive defense, then carried on the body when out in public. Then it’s back into the car, and then the house for overnight use. Rinse and repeat.

But a lot of folks want more capacity and accessories on their home-defense firearm because they don’t have to carry that extra mass around.

No worries. To get extra capacity with your carry gun at home, simply keep extra magazines at hand. Or, some handgun series will accept larger (longer) magazines where you can pick up extra rounds without needing a magazine change. When you get home, swap a bigger magazine in your concealed carry gun to the higher capacity.

Caveat: Just be sure to shoot the carry gun with the larger mags often, because the extra weight and height can change the handling of the gun.

If you want to add a light, either keep a flashlight with the gun and train to shoot the gun with the light, or add a lightweight gun light to the front rail of your pistol when you go to bed. Putting a Streamlight TLR-3 on your carry gun rail might take 30 seconds.

I have concealed-carried a Smith & Wesson lightweight revolver for nearly 25 years, with a Crimson Trace LaserGrip for much of that time. I’ve also used it as my “what was that noise, honey?” first home firearm much of that time, even though it can’t carry a mounted light. So that meant keeping a handheld light nearby, plus two speedloaders, and a lot of one-handed shooting practice.

Carry Gun Changeout to a Similar Home Model

Another option is to carry a smaller version of your home-defense handgun, so you have a familiar manual of arms in both situations and similar grips and/or grip textures, similar triggers, and similar sights, preferably night sights.

GLOCKs chambered in 9x19mm are an obvious choice in this case, where the self-defense shooter can carry a smaller GLOCK 19, G19X, G26, G43, G43X, or G45 out into the world and come home to a full-size G17 GenX, G17 MOS, or even a G34 at home.

The same can be done with SIG Sauer, Springfield Armory, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Ruger, Colt, Taurus, and other companies’ offerings.

Different Models for Carry and Home

But what about a 9mm pistol that’s great to carry, such as a KelTec PF9, but which holds seven rounds or fewer in the magazine? Or, in my case, my .38 Special has a five-shot capacity, and I’d like more in the gun to start — who has ever complained about having too much ammo during a fight? So I have tried other sidearms in the primary home role.

An FN-USA FNX-45 was a good home solution. Chambered in .45 ACP, the semi-automatic fired rounds with more stopping power than my five-shooter carry gun, holds 15+1, and had a better sighting system — a laser/light, a red dot, and irons. But I couldn’t carry it comfortably, so that meant training with it specifically.

That meant I had to drill with the .45 ACP at least monthly, along with the revolver, which I dry-fire from concealment nearly every day. Having the two very different guns increased my training time since I’m operating two vastly different systems.

The revolver was extract and fire, with no safety step. I left the FNX-45 pistol loaded, with one in the pipe, on Safe, so flicking the lever to Fire wasn’t a big step. But the feel and sequencing were different than the double-action wheelgun, which made me uneasy.

And my wife was never comfortable with the FNX-45 when I was gone.

Those two factors eventually led me back to using my carry Smith & Wesson .38 Special as the first home-defense weapon. It’s dead-simple to operate, and both of us can shoot it pretty well. My wife has a similar Smith & Wesson she carries, so revolvers are all in the family.

Both revolvers have Crimson Trace lasers with points of aim just above the front sight and are zeroed at 10 yards for close-range use.

But I don’t expect the wheelgun to be the only gun in the fight. As Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch has famously said, “The only purpose for a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have laid down.”

Then Something Robust

So, like many other people, for home use my carry gun is simply the first thing I pick up if I’m alerted. But in short order, my wife or I can move to more robust options…long guns if the situation requires it.

I parked my Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 LW carbine in the bedroom for a few years, but there was length and complexity and training we both had to keep up with. Ultimately, I decided to downsize to something that we could both use, that was easy to train on, didn’t have a lot of recoil or the drywall over-penetration worries of the 5.56, but which had enough terminal effectiveness to satisfy me.

What filled the bill as a home-defense gun was a Mossberg 500 Cruiser .410-bore pump-action shotgun loaded with buckshot shotshells. With an 18.5-inch barrel length, it’s small and light enough for my wife to handle in close quarters, even one-handed, but powerful enough to defend the house if it’s just her.

Also, the pump shotgun carries its own light, a TLR-3 in a Beamshot RF9 Picatinny rail mount, and a sling. It’s easy to hide and a blast to shoot at the range, where we usually train with birdshot rounds to save money. And we work on topping-the-shotgun-off reloads when we shoot it.

A loaded rifle bandolier (the shotgun is a .410 caliber, so shotgun bandoliers are far too big) supplies extra rounds if it comes to that.

The point isn’t that a similar set up would be right for you to protect your loved ones. But if you use different guns for home and carry defense, you’ve got to consider which other family member might need to use the home-defense firearm, and it’s got to be suitable for you all.

Youth shotguns in the Remington 870 line are another option, using low-recoil 12- or 20-gauge shotshells. Also, pistol-caliber carbines have larger magazine capacities in 9mm Luger, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 10mm, or .44 Magnum, and can be lighter and shorter than 5.56-chambered ARs.

Your Best Home Protection Gun?

So if you decide to use guns for home defense other than your familiar daily carry options, take into account upper-body strength, firearms familiarity, ergonomics, and willingness to train when you decide what tools you want to defend your castle.


What considerations must you think about if your carry handgun, such as the Taurus Commander above, is different than your home-defense firearm? (Woody for TTAG)


Familiarity is the key to using a home-defense choice that’s different than your carry gun. If you choose a more powerful handgun, such as the Colt Python in .357 Magnum, all the members of your household team should be able to use it. (Woody for TTAG)


The allure of using a different configuration of your carry gun at home is strong. You may like your G21 sans silencer for a carrying-around gun, then doll it up with the tube when you get home. Adding magazines is another way to get capacity without a lot of fuss. (Woody for TTAG)


The AR has a lot of qualifications for a home-defense choice that you don’t carry. It offers power, capacity, and throughput, to name three. But factors such as offset need to be considered, as well as ease of use for people in your home who don’t shoot as much as you do. (Woody for TTAG)


The Mossberg Cruiser .410-bore pumpgun has light enough weight and enough power for smaller-statured shooters to handle. It lacks capacity at 5+1, so top-off loading must be part of the training for its use as a home-defense choice. (Woody for TTAG)

Previous Post
Next Post


    • I carry a non-suppressed G19X as my daily concealed. My nightstand gun is a G19 with a SilencerCo Omega9K. Not the exact same guns, but close enough to retain the familiarity addressed in this article. I support the use of suppressors for home defense but their use for daily carry is obviously not feasible.

  1. The main point laid out in this article (regarding handguns) is exactly why I streamlined my “duty-intended” collection to 9mm Glocks. Larger model with mounted light and extended mag for home/nightstand, and compact model for travel & EDC. While being two different sizes, they nevertheless share the same platform and allow me to more reliably fall back on my training.

    I save the wheelguns, plinkers, and 1911s for the range and desert. I train with the Glocks because those are the ones I keep at the ready.

    Kudos to anyone else who does the same, regardless of what type of platform chosen. They’re all good if you’re good. Just keep yourself trained and alert.

      • Our family all trains with S&W M&P’s which we use for both CC and home defense. I have the full size 40 since I am 6’ 2” and my wife and daughters have the 9mm compacts. We train regularly for night and day home intrusion with situational awareness for wall penetration for each other and neighbors. We know our local LEO’s and have a mutual plan if they need to respond to our house in case of a home intrusion call. In the age of cell phones use of deadly force is the last resort so calling 911 and waiting for the calvary to arrive is plan A. We do have plan B and C. Also having two trained German Sheppards that sleep downstairs at night adds to issues that any poor fool should have if they decided to pick our home for a target. Some friends and family used to call me paranoid now they call me for advice and ammo after Covid 19.

  2. I subscribe to the similar function. I have two different carry guns and a nightstand gun and all three:

    Manual frame mounted safety
    SA/DA action

    The bedside gun has a light but that is more of a backup to the hand held light.

  3. 410 Rounds Taurus or S&W Governor ( S&W my choice ) for home , then S&W 38 air weight for concealed carry . works for me .

    With PDX 1 ( 410 rounds ) Winchester in Governor , ( no name just know address ) point in spray , maybe have redo inside house , however want to survive , hope never have to , GonA be loud , each to their own .

    • I have the Taurus Judge as a nightstand gun. Mine is loaded with hornady 410 triple defense shells. They kick less than the PDX1’s.

      • The PDX .410 discs do not penetrate enough which is why I have the Hornaday load in mine also. PDX did not do well in gel tests.

  4. I have a Springfield Armory-No Model Number,4-inch barrel(45acp)10+1 Carry,basically a Glock-30,and a Colt Combat Commander,as my night stand(Home Defense)handgun.If I can’t get to my Mossberg-590.

  5. A 5.56 is not too much gun for anyone to shoot absent some severe handicap. Plenty of dainty ass women shooting .44 mags, 45-70s etc. Probably the biggest drawback is if you don’t have a suppressor you can be looking at some hearing damage. Also, 5.56 tends to break up and fragment pretty quick after hitting drywall so over-penetration is less of a concern.

    • Not a bad choice,I am not really a fan of high velocity light weight grain bullets in a firearm-Being a rifle caliber,not handgun cartridge,fired many versions of the M-16 in the service,but if I did own an AR-15,I would stick with an A-1Model 20-inch barrel because of the cartridge,not a fan of the pistol versions(7/10-inch barrels).But that’s me,especially since my SHTF-Rifle is an M1A1-Scout.But can’t argue the selection,basically I believe a rifle cartridge should be in a rifle.So 16-20 inch barrel.

    • “5.56 tends to break up and fragment pretty quick after hitting drywall”

      Yes, after it goes through a few walls and the exterior siding it’ll barely have any energy left at all. Totally safe. /s

      • Everything from 9mm on up zips right through drywall: https://www.theboxotruth.com/tag/original-chapters/
        5.56 start tumbling after about three walls, so do with that what you will.

        The upshot is Rule 4 is the most difficult to follow, especially in a self-defense situation. Best to keep that in mind in any situation, and learn some deescalation skills. If you can resolve a situation without having to risk sending rounds downrange, all the better.

        • Thanks for that link, very interesting! I wouldn’t have ever guessed that buckshot could do that.

        • Rule 4 is much easier to follow if you PLAN your home defense.

          The notion of getting up from bed, grabbing a gun and a light, then wandering around looking for some intruder is a recipe for disaster.

          Probably the only thing worse would be getting up from bed, grabbing a gun, then wandering around looking for an intruder without a light, (but I know too many people who advocate exactly this — and some of them call themselves trainers).

        • Not very realistic. You might want to check out Paul Harrell’s recent video where he uses a more typical house structure made up of 1/2″ drywall interior and clapboard/siding exterior. The .223 rounds tumble but they tumble through multiple walls and exit the house. Unless you live in a brick house pretty much everything is going to exist the exterior unless it hits a stud.

        • I’ve seen both of the house design wall structure,I use like he showed in one of the videos,Number-4 Buck,I agree,and most handgun cartridges will if you miss go through to the outside,depending on how many walls you shoot through,in the home defense situation,especially if you(for what ever reason are using FMJ)Or those fmj type bullets that are supposed to expand on impact,if hollow points are illegal in your area.

  6. Thought provoking essay. Thanks!

    I kinda-sorta follow the advice:

    Glock 43 (+2 mag extension) for daily carry. I used to keep this on the nightstand, but decided the G17 would be a better choice.

    HOWEVER, I also keep my Ruger LCP 2 (7 round) on the nightstand. I slide that into my pajama pocket when insomnia motivates me to go on patrol.

    Flashlights staged throughout the house, although my women-folk do not have a concept of putting them back where they belong. So, finding the lights and re-deploying them has become a new form of entertainment. 🙂

  7. I guess I’m the odd duck so to speak. I carry 2 total different handguns for EDC. Started carrying a Ruger P89 in the early 90’s. Up until about 4 years ago when a purchased a Shield 9mm. Now I switch back and forth depending on circumstances. Never had an issue with the switch as I continue to train with both. I carry both OWB in kydex in the same location. Knowing which one is there is all I need. Muscle memory takes care of the rest. The key regardless of what you carry is Practice Practice Practice. Be Safe Out There.

  8. I sorta gave my Taurus 709 to the wife unless I’m pocket carrying. Taurus G2 is the bump in the night gun with a flashlight. Can’t get a mounted light small enough. Honestly my AR is ready with light,red dot & 3x magnifier if if needed. Everything cleaned,lubed and GTG…may get something with my Trumpbux if it ever comes!

  9. If you carry a Glock with one in the tube it is wise to keep a plug behind the trigger. Any object that accidentally finds its way into the trigger guard can defeat the so called safety in the middle of the trigger. Holsters for Glocks are only good while the weapon is holstered and not in real world use.
    Where an out of control projectile lands is the responsibility of the individual who was supposed to be in full control of the weapon at all times.
    A lot of people rush to talk Glocks however if they don’t note the aforementioned warning they clearly don’t know Glocks.
    There are good reasons why someone made a trigger plug for Glocks. Plugs are available online and can be removed faster than most safetys can be operated.

    • Debbie,

      Not quite understanding. The nightstand Glock 17 (with one in the chamber) is in a Sticky holster, the trigger is not exposed. Are you suggesting the trigger plugs for those that deploy their nightstand Glock outside of a holster?

    • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, Debbie. Get more training, stop relying on gimmicky bullshit to keep you safe.

    • “Holsters for Glocks are only good while the weapon is holstered”

      Yeah no shit. And slings on rifles are only good while the rifle is slung, and rounds for a gun are only good when they’re in the gun. What an incredibly incisive observation /sarc

    • Shockingly, there are MANY guns, or so I’m told, that have triggers which, if depressed sufficiently, WILL FIRE THE GUN!

      Surely we should alert everyone to this hazard! “Folks, if you press the trigger on your gun, and there is a round in the chamber, and there is no manual lock on the trigger OR you haven’t engaged said manual lock, THE GUN WILL FIRE!”

      It’s a wonder that MORE people aren’t cruelly slain by guns that have triggers that, when pressed, FIRE THE GUN.

      THANK you for pointing out this one weird gun safety trick!

    • Debbie your understanding of glocks is why the military was forced to use DA/SA Beretta 92F’s for 30 years, a lack of training, competency, proficiency and trust with those carrying them. You ask what changed now that they are using Sig’s? Nothing, likely politics, special interest and some former-general that lobbied for Sig to be the Army’s and Air Force’s pistol, who knows.

      I trained multi-services on firearms for years. Part of the speech to the new users and poorly trained was specifically geared around explaining the long and tough pull of the first shot of a 92F in DA condition and the fact its design makes pulling it very intentional, hence explaining its tough to do accidentally when most of the poorly trained just cant seem to keep their finger off the trigger. Yet, those who train, and are competent have no problem with the glock trigger design and have little fear of it going off when its not in a holster. In fact having something in the trigger space that was not part of the original design makes it more dangerous as removing it is action that is not part of the designed purpose of the firearm and how the hand normally engages and interacts with the trigger.

      Explain your view to the SF operators that use glocks or a SFAUC instructor. Insert eye roll here. I have carried glocks for 20 plus years, and can say your proposed event has never surfaced. Unless your the cop that again cant keep his finger off the trigger upon drawing and shoots himself in the leg in front of a classroom of kids. In fact, I keep a glock 23 unholstered, stuck to a gun magnet under my bedroom nightstand, with only the butt/grip expose. I practice withdrawing it regularly. Maybe after 30 years of training myself and others I have enough muscle memory to keep my finger off the trigger, yes, even under stress, and yes even when awoke in the middle of the night. It all comes down to training, competency and proficiency regardless of the weapon system and how it operates. As far as snagging the trigger in the holster nothing is impossible but it is very unlikely unless you have no trigger awareness, use a dangerous holster or some other unforeseen one in a million scenario. If the glock trigger scares you then I recommend you don’t use it. But, to your point in general with regard to any negligent discharge, as there is no such thing as an accidental discharge, even if the weapon malfunctions or is broke, it is one of many reasons why I will never appendix carry, and that it is so damn uncomfortable.

      As an aside, using 40g v-max in most homes for defense is not a bad idea when using an AR-15 pattern rifle. These rounds are very thin jacket, higher velocity and fragment quite easily, but are very devastating on soft targets. There are tests on youtube, Tactical Rifleman did some good tests, I think they used 50 or 55g v-max, cant remember. In doing my own tests, I settled on hornady tap 55g V-max and 55g barrier otherwise. In doing close personal security with PDW’s we ran 55g v-max as they have little collateral damage, meaning they don’t over penetrate, and ran 62g green tip for barriers and such as they do penetrate. Yes, its an easy mag swap, and yes the mags are marked, and no not everyone doing CPS does this. 40 and 55g v-max rounds in short barrel AR’s gave similar ballistics to, or even a little better than 5.7×28 in a P/PS 90. The benefit of the AR platform is the ability to use heavier rounds like green tip, or 75g bthp and commonality with other AR’s where mission dependent you could swap the upper for a longer barrel if needed, and yes everything is a mission.

  10. I don’t really get any of the “issues” with swapping guns around, but whatever. I really think people tend to overcomplicate this.

    The only problem I see is training constantly without a manual safety and then carrying a gun that has one and failing to train with the safety.

    Personally I roll with the safety off, but it can be inadvertently switched on during carry, so training to swipe it off even if you didn’t engage it on purpose is a good idea.

    • A side note on training: I also think we overhype that because we like shooting so training is fun.

      The reality though is that it’s not really necessary. We’ve tried to hard to counter two mutually exclusive arguments from the antis and ended up contradicting ourselves.

    • Agreed. Granted I’ve been shooting numerous guns all my life, but I have zero problem transitioning between different types of firearms, and do so regularly.

    • I too agree. I pick the tool based on the circumstances, mostly based on what I will be wearing. Could be a P99, 1911, PPS, or P3AT.

  11. If you own only one firearm, your starting off with a handicap.

    It is often said that people should use a handgun for personal defense, a shotgun for home defense, and a rifle for defending the property. Where as this might make sense, not everyone agrees. Good arguments can be made either way. You can spend a grand on one handgun, just a rifle, or spend just as much on getting all three.

    Time at the range practicing is important. That’s going to take time and money too. Every habit and hobby does. One thing is absolutely for sure though. When your life hangs in the balance, that is not the time to make it the first time firing the gun.

  12. The backbone of my utility ordinance is three Walthers: a P22, a PK380 and a P99. The P99 is physically the largest, the PK380 is about a 90% sized duplicate of the P99, and the P22 is about 80% of the P99. Controls vary slightly, but the ergonomics of all three is virtually identical, so whatever is learned using any one of them automatically transfers to the other two. The P99 stays home, at the ready, and is sometimes a carry piece. The PK380 is mostly a carry piece. The P22 provides a lot of inexpensive practice. There is virtually no difference (except, obviously, weight and recoil) in the feel and handling from one to the other.

  13. I only have the one (.22 plinker), but if there were others, they would all be very similar in operation so as to not have to think about how to use them.

      • ” Sam,

        “I only have a .22 plinker…”

        Somehow, I am doubting that.”

        Actually true, a .22 Beretta Neos. The Colonel sets a $500yr entertainment/hobby budget for me, with no roll-over. The budget buys ammo, targets and range time. Have spent a bunch of hours looking at all the good equipment out there, even trying to figure out how to fund a real carry piece (the Neos looks really, really ridiculous stuffed inside my belt). Can’t settle on which caliber, or plastic vs. metal. And there is the $500 ceiling.

        Spending a lot of time on pawn shop sites. Once found a small Luger, .380, at a shop. Made an offer that would allow for the purchase and a coupla boxes of practice ammo. Then I found out that those little Lugers are a bear to operate reliably (like, at all).

        Recently gave up even looking at pistol reviews on TTAG (rifles are OK, because I am not a rifle person). There have been way too many appealing pistols reviewed, and all hopelessly unaffordable. Which makes the legal discussions as the most viewed and read, for me.

        • Admirable budgetary discipline!
          Considering your contributions here on TTAG, I figured you have a small arsenal.
          I always read your posts.

        • “I always read your posts.”

          With all the great commentary to follow, it is an honor that you take time to read mine.

  14. I was following along through the article, nodding in agreement until I got to the author’s current home defense gun and particularly his comment about choosing a shotgun loaded with buckshot to avoid the “over-penetration worries” of 5.56 —

    Of all the choices discussed in this article, the 5.56 round has the LEAST danger of over-penetration.

    Now I am not claiming that 5.56 isn’t going to a wall or that it will magically become harmless after penetrating the two sheets of drywall that make up a standard interior wall — but I will say, without fear of contradiction, that the 5.56mm presents LESS danger on the other side of a wall than any of the other choices offered in the article including .410 buckshot from his Mossberg Cruiser.

    • Or turn off the TV, reach down deep in your pants, find a pair of balls* and carry on with life while carrying on.

      May not anatomically apply to all. Substitutions permitted. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

  15. Good report.

    For my home defense gun I have a self loading shotgun, either a Remington V3 or the Benelli M4. 7 12 gauge buckshot rounds equals 8 x 7 56 holes.
    Beats the AR , and doesn’t keep going for several hundred yards.
    Also have a Beretta 1201 FP, it is light and kicks a bit but is very reliable.
    The pistol is whatever I carried during the day, either a Commander .45 or a SW J frame .38.

  16. I’ve just installed trap floors in the castles, with the kings approval, got a croc / allie license from the crown so I can just dump the tyrants into the moat if they make it over the loose stone wall.

  17. Mine are all 1911 type. I usually carry a sig 938 or a 238 if I need to pocket carry.
    If clothing will allow I go with a Kimber Ultra Carry II. Kimber Custom II with a couple of Clinton magazines on the nightstand.

  18. For all of the reasons above, my carry and home defense are the same model handgun in the same caliber. SA/DA Sig P229 in .40S&W. The home defense unit has a rail and therefore a light attached. Same manual of arms, same magazines, trigger pull in DA and SA almost identical. I switch out for range day since the sights are slightly different but the results are almost identical each time regardless of which pistol I use……


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here