I owned a Sig 226 in 9 mm, always wanted it in .40 Also Kimber is a solid choice!
I carry a variety of firearms. Summer carry is a Glock 26, 9mm with 124 +p Speer Gold dots. I also have a Glock 19 I shoot the same ammo in. I can shoot the glock 9mm's quickly and accurately and I used to compete in IDPA with a Glock 17 and 34. Every other season is my VBOB in .45 acp. I have a small S&W Bodyguard .380, but I don't have much faith in that caliber. Sig P239 in .40 or 9mm is an awesome piece. It is a single stack, so the grip fits people very well and is soft to shoot, but still small enough to CCW easily; about the same size as the glock 26. My mom used to shoot my P239 in .40 a lot. My mom now likes shooting her CBOB or Les Baer Commanche in .45acp. Lots of people recommend a small .38 special revolver for women, but the long trigger pull is what most women hate because it is harder to shoot accurately. Look for something like a Glock, Springfield XD, S&W M&P in 9mm or 40. These have fairly short trigger pulls and can fit many people's hands well. A 1911 is also good, and they can be found in 9mm or .40. In the police shootings I have read about with 9mm or larger ammo, shot placement was the key vs caliber used. Modern bullets generally do well ballistically, so pick a caliber that you can handle and shoot well. 40 and 45 almost cost the same ammo wise, and the 9mm is a bit less expensive. I would also do similar guns between you and your SO so that you can shoot hers and vice versa. Glocks I like in 9mm, but the 40 is a bit snappy and has had issues in the LEO community with lights and stuff. S&W M&P full size in .40 shoots much softer than the glock 23 in .40, very accurate, too and the backstrap is interchangeable to fit more people's hands well. Great pistol! The Compact M&P in .40 is a bit jumpy.
Best advice is to go to a range and rent a few guns/calibers and see what you both like. When my parents started shooting, they both liked the SigPro 9mm, so that is what they got. Then my Dad got a CZ-75 Stainless in 9mm, and my mom got a HK USP 9mm. They much prefered the SA shooting vs a longer DA trigger pull and both of those pistols can be carried in SA mode with a safety on. My dad also has my Sig P239 in .40 now and my mom also has 2 Commander sized 1911's in .45. Go figure!
9mm, even plus P's, in most guns that can handle them shoot accurately and without a ton of recoil. .40's tend to be more snappy recoil wise than the 9mm's, but in some guns, the recoil is well controlled like in the M&P 40, which is a very soft shooter for a .40 pistol. 45 recoil tends to be a slower push, rather than the sharp snap of the 40, but you usually get a single stack or a fatter grip, which may be hard for some to hold. I had a Sig 226ST in .40 that was awesome to shoot, but the grip was just too fat for me. Same with the Beretta 92, but the newer versions have slimmer grips.
Go out and shoot some pistols or at least fondle them at the store, then figure out what you want to buy! 9mm (nod goes to the Plus P), 40 or 45 are all effective for self defense, around the same cost ammo wise and can all be shot well by most people with practice.
I used to be a fan of Glock 9mm.....until I took care of a guy who was shot 9 times with a 9mm, and he walked out of he hospital 4 days later. So, 45 until you can fight your way to a shotgun or a rifle.......
I might know more about CCW than I do about knives.
Depends on the situation. If I'm walking to the corner store (What kinds of neighborhoods have corner stores?) I'll put my hammerless snub .38 in my front right pocket. Pants or jacket depending on the season. (I won't get into the details why)
For every day around town carry, I used to pack a 3in .45 IWB, I found it cumbersome. I have since switched to a Walther PPS in 9mm. It's a slim model and is very comfortable and very concealable. Because I spend at least two days at the range a week I am very comfortable carrying a 9mm with good self defense ammo.
At home, I don't believe in shotguns. (For a number of reasons. One being the mess they make. Ever see someone eviserated by a shotgun at close range? Who's responsible for cleaning that up?) .357 mag Colt King Cobra, 6 inch barrel. No questions about safeties, chambers or mags. Boom.
Great info guys!
How about ammo availability locally - any issues?
I'm a revolver fan all the way. Ive had varous 1911 configs from Detonics to full sized GI issues and if I had to carry an auto it would be a 1911 in 45. I like big slow bullets.
But much of this is personal prefference, some like the "crack" of the fast 9's and 40's. I can atest with all heart that I do NOT like the Sig ultra compacts in a 40... so sir I don't, big hands don't mesh with these power sub compacts. But that is me.
Years ago I realized that if it didn't have a cylinder I was just not going to be happy. With my hands and shooting "style" a revolver fit my methods just purfectly. I'm looking at a S&W 5shot 44 spcl for my CCW. My last one was a full sized S&W29 with spc loads and I was very happy with it. So a slightly smaller and easier to cary 5shot should be purfect for me.
Dave what you need to do is get your hands on all of the choices, like at an indoor range that rents, or a bunch of knife knuts you may know that have a few to many and see what fits you. Trust me by the time you find the purfect fit it may well be the last thing on the first listing you chose to get. It really comes down to fit and feel, as stated earlier even a pipsqueek in hand is better than the brick thats left at home.