The OP specified a handgun strictly for home defense, so the handgun should be chambered for a cartridge appropriate for self defense shooting inside a home. This suggests a 9mm, .38, or.38+P. Since the handgun won't be carried in a holster in public, mid-sized handgun with a 4" to 5" barrel would be good, perhaps a 1911, or a revolver chambered for .357 or .38+P. If ammo capacity is a concern, a double stack 9mm semi auto or a revolver with a cylinder holding more than 5 or 6 rounds would be good.
A shotgun is a good home defense firearm, but was not included as an option being considered. In any event, a 12 gauge 3" magnum shooting any 3" magnum bird/turkey load is not right. The recoil from any 12 gauge 3"
magnum shot will make a rapid second shot very difficult. The best shotshell for self defense is a 12 gauge 2 3/4" #1 buckshot; second best is 00 buckshot. Bird/turkey pellets will create a horrible but shallow wound that is much less likely to stop the attacker.
Vietnam Veteran ('69-'70)
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Last edited by lefteye; December 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM.