Your dilemma is compounded by a lot of well-meaning people offering a mixture of good and not-so-good advice.
Good advice so far -- you need training. And practice should certainly exceed twice a year.
Get a reliable handgun. After all, if you end up needing a gun, you're really gonna need a gun. Every other attribute ("grip angle" ..... "looks sexy"..... "sghts", ...... "get the one that feels best", etc. etc.) are tertiary at best, and in some cases are just downright asinine..
Unfortunately, a lot of the criticism about specific brands or models is posted by folks apparently seeking to pad their post count, or elevate themselves to the status of gunboard guru. And a lot of the recommendations come from "fanboys" who have some emotional attachment to a particular brand or style.
But some members here have training that exceeds a CHP class (or shooting in the pasture with Uncle Fudd), and some actually carry more than once a month (and use something other than a floppy nylon holster). And therein is the root of a dilemma ...... whom should you believe.
I'd suggest believing none
of us. I'd suggest doing some simple, but important, research.
It's not hard to develop a "short list" of the country's top defensive handgun trainers. And it's not hard to review their books, magazine articles, videos. It's not really that hard to call or send them an email. What you're looking for are some important "clues."
A simple inquiry might be "What gun do you carry?"
or "What gun does your wife carry?"
or "What guns do you see in your classes that are the most reliable ?"
or "What guns do you see in your classes that are the least reliable ?"
Most of these immersion-level classes require students to shoot 800-1200 rounds. And most of these trainers teach 1000 students/year, or more. So they have a "clue").
Other than one or two who are paid by gun magazines to evaluate handguns, most of these highly regarded trainers consistently carry the gun that they have determined to be best suited for defensive uses. These guys know some "stuff" -- and it's probably worth listening to them.
Another source of "learned opinions" might be law enforcement agencies.
It's not a coincidence that very few (if any) major agencies issue The Judge (or any other Taurus, for that matter). Few, if any issue Kel-Tecs, or Rossi's, or "Hi-Pernts" .... Maybe a reasonable "short list" would consist of the 5 or 6 most-issued handguns among LEO's.
Maybe evaluation of desirable, or undesirable features (external safeties, consistent triggers) could be approached in the same manner. Fewer and fewer major agencies issue handguns with DA/SA triggers, and most issue handguns that don't have external safeties. You'll find most of the top instructors to be "on board" with these preferences as well.
The foregoing will require a bit more effort than posting a query on a gunboard. But if you're gonna rely on a handgun for protection, I think it's worth the effort to gather some solid data upon which to base a decision.
Oops -- forgot to include the obligatory, "That's just my $.02 worth,".....and YMMV.
This post was edited on 12/12 at 1:16 pm