After a month of so of educating myself about guns and talking to several friends, I have narrowed down my search to three guns (stoeger, beretta, or CZ). I really like the feel and look of the Cougar as well as that of the CZ75. My problem is making the final decision.
I'm aware that the Beretta and Stoeger cougar are basically the same gun (made from the exact same machinery), but i've heard that the finish is of lesser quality on the stoeger. Is this where their differences end? If so, then I'd probably go for the Stoeger since it's cheaper, but if I wanted a Beretta Cougar 8000, where would I find one? The beretta Cheetah was in the running for awhile but seeing as i'll use it for both self defense and range shooting i was thinking 9mm or .40. If the Cheetah didn't only come in .38 I would definitely consider it.
I've also heard great things about the C75. Basically the same as the two before it.
All in all, I'm asking for each of your opinions and experiences with all of these guns. Which do you prefer? Which do you think i should get as a relatively new shooter? I want to get a lot of practice in and i'm not that rich so i was leaning 9mm over 40. but is 40 better enough to take the extra cost hit?
Any help would greatly be appreciated.