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nightstand guns

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Expert Advice, 8 Best Bets, PCCs & All-Time Best-Sellers, Too

(This content is sponsored by Guns.com)

Full-size semi-automatic pistols, often referred to as “nightstand guns,” are a popular choice for home defense due to their size, capacity, and ease of use. These firearms are designed to provide reliable performance and stopping power in a self-defense scenario, making them a staple for many gun owners.

Semi-Automatic Pistol History

Several semi-automatic “types” exist. John Moses Browning’s Model 1900 single-action pistol isn’t the oldest design. It was first patented in 1897, a year after Mauser introduced the “Broomhandle” C-96, and it came four years after Borchardt’s C-93 appeared on the scene. Over the last 130 years of semi-automatic handgun designs, we’ve seen the advent of double-action/single-action (DA/SA), the double-action-only (DAO), striker-fired hammer-fired and a host of polymer-framed pistols of all sizes. If you are shopping for your first handgun, then add compact, sub-compact, and full-sized as they refer to pistols to your vocabulary.

Best Bets for Nightstand Handguns

Glock 17, Smith & Wesson M&P9, CZ 75, Sig Sauer P320

Let’s delve into the various popular models of full-size semi-automatic pistols well known for their “bedside manner.”

Glock 17

The Glock 17 is a legendary pistol known for its reliability, simplicity, and widespread use by law enforcement and military personnel worldwide. Chambered in 9mm, the Glock 17 offers a standard capacity of 17+1 rounds, providing ample firepower for home defense situations. Its polymer frame and striker-fired mechanism contribute to its durability and ease of operation, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a no-nonsense nightstand gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P9

The Smith & Wesson M&P9 is another popular full-size pistol favored by civilians and professionals alike. Available in 9mm, the M&P9 features a customizable grip, ambidextrous controls, and a low-bore axis for improved recoil management. With a capacity of 17+1 rounds, the M&P9 offers ample firepower while maintaining a comfortable and ergonomic design, making it well-suited for home defense applications.

Sig Sauer P320

The Sig Sauer P320 gained widespread acclaim for its innovative modular design and exceptional reliability. Chambered in various calibers including 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, the P320 offers versatility to suit individual preferences. Its striker-fired mechanism, crisp trigger, and ambidextrous controls make it easy to operate, while its full-size frame provides a stable platform for accurate shooting. With a capacity of up to 17 rounds, the P320 is a formidable choice for a nightstand gun.

CZ 75

The CZ 75 is a classic pistol known for its all-steel construction, exceptional ergonomics, and smooth shooting characteristics. Available in various calibers including 9mm and .40 S&W, the CZ 75 offers a capacity of up to 16 rounds. Its traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger provides versatility for shooters who prefer different trigger pull weights. With its robust construction and proven reliability, the CZ 75 is a trusted choice for home defense.

cz, ruger, springfield, sig sauer handguns

Beretta 92FS

The Beretta 92FS is a renowned pistol with a reputation for accuracy, durability, and ease of use. Chambered in 9mm, the 92FS features a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger, ambidextrous safety/decocker, and a reversible magazine release. Its full-size frame and 15+1 capacity make it well-suited for home defense, while its iconic design and smooth shooting characteristics have made it a favorite among gun enthusiasts for decades.

Springfield Armory XD (And don’t forget the Echelon!)

The Springfield Armory XD series offers a range of full-size pistols known for their reliability, comfort, and value. Available in various calibers including 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, the XD features a grip safety, striker-fired mechanism, and an ergonomic grip angle for enhanced control. With capacities ranging from 16 to 19 rounds, depending on the model and caliber, the XD provides ample firepower for home defense purposes. Newer still from Springfield Armory is their Echelon series of 9mm handguns. Billed as “a new standard for modern, striker-fired duty pistols,” the fully modular 4.5-inch-barreled Echelon is worth a serious look.  

Ruger SR9

The Ruger SR9 is a feature-rich pistol known for its affordability, reliability, and versatility. Chambered in 9mm, the SR9 features a striker-fired mechanism, adjustable three-dot sights, and a reversible backstrap to accommodate different hand sizes. With a capacity of 17+1 rounds, the SR9 offers ample firepower while maintaining a compact and ergonomic design, making it an excellent choice for a nightstand gun.

Ready To Own The Night At Home?

In conclusion, full-size semi-automatic pistols, or “nightstand guns,” offer a balance of size, capacity, and firepower that make them well-suited for home defense. Whether it’s the legendary reliability of a Glock, the modular design of a Sig Sauer, or the classic craftsmanship of a CZ, there are plenty of options available to suit individual preferences and needs. With their ease of operation, proven performance, and wide availability, full-size semi-automatic pistols remain a popular choice for those seeking a reliable and effective firearm for home defense.

home defense ammo

Home Defense Ammo

Selecting the best home-defense handgun ammo is a crucial decision that requires consideration of various factors to ensure effectiveness, safety, and legal compliance. Here are some key considerations when choosing the right ammunition for home defense:


The caliber of the ammunition plays a significant role in its performance. Common calibers for home defense handguns include 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. Each caliber offers a balance of stopping power, recoil management, and ammunition availability. It’s essential to choose a caliber that you can handle comfortably and effectively in high-stress situations.

Projectile Type

Home-defense ammunition is typically available in several projectile types, including hollow points, full metal jackets, and frangible rounds. Hollow point ammunition is often preferred for home defense due to its ability to expand upon impact, creating larger wound channels and reducing the risk of overpenetration. This helps minimize the risk of collateral damage to bystanders or property.


Reliability is paramount in a home defense situation, where every shot counts. Choose ammunition from reputable manufacturers known for producing high-quality, reliable cartridges. Conduct thorough research and consider testing different types of ammunition to ensure proper functioning and consistency in your firearm.

Terminal Performance

Terminal performance refers to how effectively the ammunition incapacitates a threat upon impact. Look for ammunition that offers consistent and reliable terminal performance, delivering sufficient penetration and expansion to neutralize a threat effectively.

Ultimately, the best home-defense handgun ammo is one that you are comfortable and proficient with, that reliably feeds and fires in your firearm, and that offers effective terminal performance while minimizing the risk of collateral damage. Take the time to research and test different options to find the ammunition that best meets your needs and preferences for home defense.

Top Selling Handguns & Pistol-Caliber Carbines at Guns.com

taurus, sig sauer, pcc


Taurus G2C

Glock G43x

Sig P365

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0

Springfield Hellcat


Smith & Wesson FPC

Keltec SUB 2000



Smith & Wesson Response Carbine

For more information, please visit Guns.com

A Helpful Guide To Buying & Selling Used Guns


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