Originally Posted by RichNH
I've in the market for my first handgun. I took my CCW training about 6 months ago but my job has had me traveling pretty much constantly since then so I haven't had a chance to get to the range.
My plan is to get a range gun/home defense weapon with which I can practice my shooting fundamentals until I feel comfortable enough to start carrying. At that point I'll be in the market again, probably for a compact or sub-compact carry gun.
I've been reading and researching for quite a while now and I've decided I'd like my first weapon (and probably my first carry weapon) to be a DA/SA pistol in 9mm, preferably with a decocking lever. I've been putting together a list of possible guns with the intention of going to the range and renting two of them at a time and putting 50 rounds through each in a sort of shoot-off to decide which I prefer, then next trip comparing the winner to another rental from the list.
Here is the list I have compiled as possibilities so far. I am looking for suggestions on any good choices I may have overlooked. If you want to make a strong argument for a gun that doesn't meet all my criteria, feel free. I'm certainly not an expert and am trying to keep an open mind. Here is my current list in no particular order:
Sig Sauer P226
Here's some things I like about your post. You did your homework beforehand and gave us some options. You admit you have limited range time but plan on holding and shooting some before you buy. Essentially you are being an informed buyer, and for that I applaud you sir. Beats the h*ll outta those "what gun should I buy" posts.
The best I can think of is the Beretta Storm. They make all sorts of different models. Full size, compacts, sub compacts. The larger magazines of the full size will work in all of them. They are excellent guns which I rented once or twice. Certainly don't have as much trigger time as others, but I was extremely happy with the shooting. I rented the full size. The gun is inherently accurate and I didn't have any failures. That range keeps their rentals extremely dirty, too. If you get a subcompact, and if you fall in love with it, you won't have to buy another gun strictly for carry later on (unless you want to of course).
My only complaint on the Storm is the safety/decocker is rather sharply edged. I feel like it might hurt after a lot of use in a single range session. YMMV, of course.
There's also the Bersa Thunder 9, and Taurus makes one or two models that fit your parameters. I have zero experience with those specifically but I do own a pistol from each company which makes me not really want to recommend them to anyone. But if you're on a tighter budget they can be made to work. Both companies offer good warranties.