Originally Posted by rideco
ok I will bite on the caliber war. I own:
glock 17 9mm
H&K USP compact .40
Sig p220 ST .45
Remington 870 12 gauge
an AK and a few others.
Since this is your first gun I would vote 9mm. Mostly because ammo is cheaper and you are going to want to practice as much as you can. Shot placement is the key no matter what major caliber in a handgun. That said when I carry I dont carry my 9mm and choose the .40 and .45. I have been shooting since I was a child and 100% confident I am going to hit what I am aiming at no matter which of my platforms I am carrying at the time.
The reason I recommended the FN's FNX (perfered) is because you are left handed, gun has a decocker, and they have a safety. Also its in your price range. As much as I love my Glock I cant recommend it to a new gun owner for the simple fact it does not have a safety. Same thing with my p220. I am not saying they are bad guns far from it, I am saying the features dont lend themselves to new gun owners. Feel free to flame me here but I dont care and stand by my opinions. Sig, Glock, S&W, H&K, FN, and Ruger make wonderful guns. As I read in another post stay away from Taurus and kel-tec.
The real question is: Is the main duty for this gun home defense or range gun. If you are serious about the HD thing skip handguns and go get a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500 or 590. Done. If you want a range gun get a good solid 9mm shoot the piss out of it and enjoy.
I'm mixed on the safety thing. I think in many ways people learning with a DAO is the best choice, because the must learn that you never put your finger on the trigger unless you want it to go bang. A number of people in here have recommended revolvers, which are double action and don't have safeties -- but, granted the trigger pull on revolvers is typically quite a bit higher than on Glocks.
A lot depends on how much you are going to practice and train for your eventual use of a gun in self defense. There have been far too many cases of people pulling on the trigger in vain, not knowing why the gun didn't go bang, and it was because with the adrenaline pumping in that critical moment, they didn't take the safety off. Because they didn't train enough, to have that safety come off after the gun cleared the holster and rotated forward. Using a gun with a safety, especially the 1911 platform, requires a lot more practice to ensure that when your life depends on it you will be able to defend yourself.
While I love shooting 1911's on the range, I have standardized on DAO's for self defense guns.