Smith & Wesson J-Frame

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The sleek, lightweight, easy-to-carry J-Frame line from Smith & Wesson is without a doubt one of the greatest personal defense firearms of all time, and today there are so many J-Frame configurations it’s hard to keep track of everything S&W has on the table. There are options for lasers, exposed and internal hammers, various finishes and frame materials, and lots and lots of grip designs. You want a light gun? How about the svelte 340PD, which weighs in at less than 12 ounces? Most of the J-Frame line is chambered in .38, .38+P or .357 Magnum, the most popular of all defensive revolver cartridges. And if you’re looking for a bargain, this gun is a good option, too; there are lots of J-Frame models with MSRPs of $469, which means street prices will be under $400. That’s an excellent price for such an iconic defensive firearm. ($469;

There are a wide variety of defensive guns designed for personal protection, but which ones are the best? We chose 10 standout firearms that you’ll want in your corner when trouble arrives.

The concealed carry movement and the recent rise in the number of AR sales have created an ongoing dialogue in the gun universe about which defensive guns are best for personal protection and home defense. And with so many good options out there, it’s difficult to choose the top 50 defensive firearms, let alone the top 10. These guns had to be the very best of the bunch, personal protection firearms that could be relied upon to perform flawlessly when needed. A variety of guns made the list—ARs, shotguns, revolvers and semi-automatic pistols—all of which have the goods required to keep you alive during the worst of times.

There’s a good chance you won’t agree with all of these choices, or you may feel one gun or another has been slighted. That’s fine. The important thing is that we keep that defensive firearm dialogue going, because as more and more shooters exercise their Second Amendment rights of personal protection, the evolution of the personal protection firearm will continue, prompting manufacturers to improve upon existing designs and introduce brand-new guns to market. The competition to produce the best personal defense weapon is fierce, but it’s ultimately the American shooter who wins.

Here’s our selection of the 10 best defensive guns available today.

Handgun Training

The Confidence to Defend Yourself

Self defense can be a matter of life and death for your family. Keeping your shooting skills sharp is important to using the best home defense weapon possible when the unexpected occurs. Turn your handgun into the best handgun for home defense with the drills outlined in Handgun Training – Practice Drills for Defensive Shooting. Nothing will give you more peace and security in your own home than the confidence you will hit your target. Learn More


  1. When considering defensive firearms, I think of the problem as a continuum, with a ‘bump in the night’ at one end, and the melt-down of Western Civilization at the other. As those varied events pose different challenges, no single weapon will be ideal for all. I keep a Glock in a safe by the bed, and various other firearms, up to and including rifles in strategic, secure locations around the house.

    I think it’s important to be mindful of the fact that a rifle round, which has completed its intended task of stopping a threat withing ones home, may have enough energy left to continue on through several walls, possibly those of your neighbors house, before coming to a halt in a place you did not intend. Having a rifle available for defense is appropriate, but at home I tend to reach for my pistol first.