The only .40 caliber handguns I have owned were an older Sig p226, Kahr K40, and the S&W Sigma 40VE. Have shot many .40's in varying sizes over the years and none of them really made me want one again. I certainly would trust the round to stop a threat but I don't shoot competition so can't add anything on that front. Not recoil sensitive but found them a little snappy.
The .45 is a great round. There will always be a debate on the pros and cons of different calibers so in the end your needs and preferences take precedent.
Personally,.45 is the most accurate for me. I would recommend a 1911- you can still find .45 in stores many places and as stated you can get the 8+1 magazines. They are highly customizable, classic, reliable, and the knowledge base here alone is enough to get just about any question answered.
For the record, I think your interest in the Beretta is valid also.
Also, the Sig 220 is a solid .45 platform (mine was "lost" during a divorce - turned it into a tattoo that the beast couldn't get half of lol)