David asked about what kind of weapon is best as a "carry" pistol, and the answer deserves more than a short comment.
My first counsel; fire a few before buying, and the best way to do that is by making friends with gun afficionados (you'll find one anywhere in the USA) and asking them about what they like. Getting one to open up is like asking a newly engaged girl about her left hand--the trouble is getting them to stop talking. Even if it costs you a bit to rent pistols from a range, this is far cheaper than buying the wrong gun.
The next recommendation is to think safety first, just like you would with any other machine. Can you consistently deliver a bullet to its intended target with a particular firearm without getting yourself or others you love hurt? Also, if you should--God forbid--need to shoot a dangerous person or animal, will it stop them?
I personally favor semi-autos over revolvers because of this. You can keep a magazine in a semi-auto without a bullet in the chamber, and most pre-teen children won't be able to hurt anyone. They simply cannot pull the slide back. Semi-autos also have less recoil, generally speaking, than revolvers, due to the slide/spring action. You can fire a bigger caliber with a semi-auto than with a revolver without flinching. Revolvers are often cheaper, but one must be somewhat more careful with them.
I also tend to favor larger calibers (e.g. .45) over smaller ones. The .45 ACP (and 1911) was developed, after all, after a large number of Marine officers were killed by "dead" Filipinos--the .32 caliber Navy just didn't have stopping power. Most accounts I've seen favor the .45 ACP, .40, 10mm, and .357 mag over rounds such as the .38 special and 9mm for this reason.
But keep in mind that you'd rather be missed by a .45ACP or .454 Casull than hit by a .22 LR--and your family would much rather have you hit your target with the smaller round than have a larger round go errant and hit them!
And yes, I like 1911s. They have an extremely light trigger pull, helping accuracy, and a thumb safety, so little hands literally cannot fire the gun--they cannot get a finger on the trigger with the thumb safety depressed. On the other hand, even Kimbers are slightly more likely to jam than Glocks. If you can't keep anything clean as you work, go with the Glock.
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