The Best Personal Defense Weapons (PDWs)

Knock knock, who’s there?

What do you think is the best weapon to use for personal defense in a home defense scenario?

A rifle or carbine? Shotgun? Handgun?

Any of those options would certainly work, but arguably the best choice for a close quarters home defense weapon will be a Personal Defense Weapon, or PDW.

A PDW is admittedly a rather loose term, but basically I refers to a very compact short barreled shoulder fired rifle that fires rifle ammunition and therefore has more range and stopping power than a handgun or pistol caliber carbine. However, sometimes people will use the term PDW to also refer to a close quarters, compact, shoulder fired rifle that fires handgun ammunition. Like we said, the definition is rather loose.

Nonetheless, there are many reasons to use a PDW as your primary home defense weapon: it is incredibly small and easy to maneuver in tight corners, it has plenty of stopping power to bring down an attacker, has a large magazine size, and is relatively easy to shoot as well.

With that in mind, here are the best personal defense weapons on the market today:

#1 KRISS Vector

The KRISS Vector is a pistol caliber PDW that is built by KRISS USA, which was formerly known as Transformational Defense Industries or TDI. The Vector is unique not only for its appearance, but also for the fact that it uses a more unconventional delayed blowback system, which greatly reduces recoil. Available in .22 LR, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, the Vector is also fully compatible with Glock magazines. 

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#2 SIG Sauer MCX SBR

The SIG Sauer MCX SBR is easily one of the most unique PDW's on this list because it was designed from the ground up to accept stocks, fronds, and calibers. On top of that, it's also very lightweight and compact, and comes suppressor ready from the factor. The two position, short stroke piston system is also built by SIG Sauer to help aid in reliably. The upper receiver is steel with a feed ramp insert, charging handle latch point, replaceable forward assist housing, and a camp path plate. Let's put it this way, the MCX is essentially the ultimate PDW that can do anything any other PDW can and then some.

#3 Daniel Defense MK18

Daniel Defense is well known for making some of the best AR-15s in the industry, and the MK18 pistol or PDW from them is no exception. This compact and lightweight personal defense weapon weighs under six pounds. The 10.3 inch barrel is cold hammer forged for superior durability than many competing PDWs on the market. Meanwhile, the adjustable stock is overloaded and brings the overall length down to just 26.76 inches when it is collapsed. The barrel has more phosphate coating over it to help improve rust and corrosion resistant. Plain and simple, this is a PDW designed for a long service life, and it's one that you'll get many years of use out of before passing on down to future generations.


The FN SCAR PDW essentially takes the 5.56x45mm NATO SCAR platform and shrinks it down into a very compact package made specifically for home defense. This weapon has a very short 6.75 inch barrel with a short stroke piston system, a non-reprirocating charging handle, a quad rail frond, and a collapsible stock. As all FN SCAR's come with, it's designed to be used in rough conditions and inclement weather, so you should encounter no issues when it comes to reliability or durability.

#5 Advanced Armament Corporation MPW

The Advanced Armament Corporation MPW is a very compact shoulder fired rifle that fires the powerful .300 Blackout round. Available with b both nine inch and twelve and a half inch barrels, the MPW has a nitride finish for superior rust and corrosion resistant, a free floating Knight's Armament rail, flash suppressor, and a nickel boron coated bolt carrier group. The .300 Blackout round offers much superior ballistics to the more common 5.56x45mm NATO round. 

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The DPMS PDW is designed to be an incredibly short barreled AR-15 with a seven inch, heavy barrel. The overall length of the weapon is just under twenty four inches when the stock is collapsed, and the weight is just five and a half pounds. Despite being lightweight, the PDW is very durable thanks to its forged upper and lower receivers. It comes equipped with Magpul flip up sights (many PDWs will not come with open sights at all), and the muzzle device attached to the end of the barrel helps to reduce muzzle flash. It can also serve as an adapter for adding a sound suppressor if you so choose. 

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#7 LMT CQB MRP Defender Piston 12

Lewis Machine & Tool LMT is well known for making very high quality rifles and carbines, and the CQB MRP Defender Piston 12 is no exception. As the name clearly suggests, this is a firearm designed specifically for home defense and close quarters defense. It's a piston driven, short barreled rifle that is essentially an AR-15 cut down into a more compact package/ The barrel has been cryogenically treated for superior rust and corrosion resistant, and as with any LMT AR-15, it comes standard with the adjustable SOPMOD stock. 

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#8 Rock River Arms LAR-15 PDW A4 SBR

The Rock River Arms LAR-15 PDW A4 SBR is a more recent introduction to Rock River Arms lineup of rifles. This rifle comes with a 10.5 inch barrel and an overall length of only twenty four inches when the stock is collapsed. Chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO round, this rifle also accepts standard AR-15 magazines. The hand guard comes with a standards built-in folding fore grip and rails for accessories in the three, nine, and twelve o'clock positions. 

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#9 Wilson Combat SBR Tactical

Most people associate Wilson Combat with the 1911 platform. While it is true that Wilson Combat makes some of the best 1911s on the market, it's also true that they make some of the best AR-15s on the market as well. The SBR Tactical is essentially Wilson Combat's PDW version of the AR-15. The Wilson Combat SBR Tactical comes with a standard barrel length of eleven inches with an overall weight of twenty eight inches. The total weight is just six and a half pounds. But perhaps the real standout is the fact that it is available in four different calibers: .300 HAM'R, .300 Blackout, 6.8 SPC, and 5.56x45mm NATO.

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#10 CMMG Mk4 PDW

Another option for a .300 Blackout PDW is the CMMG Mk4 PDW. This PDW is even smaller than the MPW with a barrel length of eight inches and an overall weight of just five and a half pounds. The Mk4 comes with a very lightweight RKm7 hand guard complete with KeyMod slots and a flattop upper. This makes it very easy for the operator to add light, lasers, and optics to the weapon as he or she sees fit. All of the furniture on the weapon is Magpul's ergonomic MOE gear, including the adjustable butt stock, trigger guard, and pistol grip. 

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