I just wanted to respond to the article by Chief B., and take the process of choosing a handgun a little farther. I've been shooting pistols for at least 30 years and teaching approximately for 15 years. I teach from the philosophy that training/practice beats Everything; it beats the caliber size argument, number of rounds etc...
There are several things I have learned over the years. If a person (particularly ladies) doesn't like the feel of a pistol they will not shoot it enough to become proficient. Over the past four years I have found that ladies are doing better with semi-autos then revolvers. Generally speaking a semi-auto is going to have the feeling of less recoil, be lighter in weight, point more naturally, have a more ergonomic grip, better factory sights and a lighter trigger pull. When a student is having a hard time, I've switched them to using either a Springfield XD or Glock. After a few rounds to get used to it, their groups have gotten tighter, and their confidence level goes up then they start to enjoy it more which means they will shoot more on their own and they come back for more training. All this translates into a better shooting/training experience which will result in them being better prepared in the case of a violent confrontation.
Also, properly fitting a pistol to the individual is important. The size of the grip is important in that it effects the ability to control recoil particularly shooting one handed. With a proper high handed grip where the bones of the forearm are aligned with the barrel this affects the placement of the index finger on the trigger which in turn effects trigger control. Size of the trigger guard may be an issue for those with meaty fingers. The grip angle for natural pointing of the pistol is a big issue and can really make a difference in getting back on target for those follow up shots. Barrel length is a factor for a balanced feel to the shooter (especially after long training sessions) and I have found may make a difference in follow up shots for the new or untrained shooter. All of these factors when considered will make the shooting experience and training more enjoyable. This is especially true for new shooters and will even help a more experienced person that hasn't considered these aspects.
My long term students and others that I train with, have found that having a .22 caliber rimfire version of our regular pistols/battle rifles is an invaluable to our training. It allows us to train into and gain the muscle memory needed at a much less expense and with out the effect of recoil, then we cam move up to full power ammo with a much better success rate.
Sincerely - Rgrey