These "what should I buy" threads are all over the board (I know, I read many of them before posting), but as the choice in firearms is often very specific to a person and his or her needs, I thought it would be important to ask you all specifically about my situation/needs. Some of you may have advice or see something that is obvious to you that I could never recognize in regards to deciding on a particular firearm because I have very little experience.
First, a little bit about myself. I'm a college student going to Auburn University, 20 years old (turn 21 in May), 5'11", 150 lbs, my family has never owned a gun and my experience is limited to an afternoon of shooting clays with a 12 guage. Until recently I have always thought it was a rediculous idea for average citizens to carry concealed weapons. However, as I get closer and closer to living on my own and having a family I have begun not only change my mind but to seriously consider doing exactly what I once saw as rediculous. I think it took a little while of being on my own and moving outside of the bubble of security that I lived in throughout high school for me to realize the importance of ensuring my safety as well as the safety of my family and those around me. That being said, I am bouncing all over the place when it comes to deciding on a first CCW.
Being that I live in Alabama I have to deal with hot weather 8 or 9 months out of the year. Ideally I could have a smaller weapon to carry in the hot months when cloths require it and a larger weapon that to carry during the colder months when I wear more cloths. However, I am a college student and as such I can't afford two quality guns. Additionally, I would rather learn to fire one gun well than attempt to become proficient with two guns while still new to it all. My first choice would be a J-Frame S&W due to their fairly small size, ease of use and ballistic power. As it is, though, I don't think I could comfortably carry a gun of this size (especially a revolver) during the summer months when I prefer to wear shorts.
I began looking at pocket (mouse) guns as a compromise between power and size. I first came across the Kel-Tek P32 and went from there. The 6.6 oz. weight is extremely attractive, but I don't know if a .32 ACP would be a good choice for my primary weapon. The P-3at seems more well suited for a primary CCW due to the larger caliber, which leads to the Ruger LCP as it seems to be a slightly upgraded P-3at. The Beretta .25 Bobcat cought my eye with a 8 round clip, single-action design and safety lock. Like I said, I'm new to guns and I would feel better knowing that the gun in my pocket/waist band has a safety lock on and will not fire unexpectedly (a rediculous worry as I know that it is pretty much impossible to accidentally fire a DAO pistol, but I've never carried a gun and the worry would be there at first none-the-less). The Kahr P380 also grabbed my attention, but I don't know if it is worth the extra cash compared to the Ruger.
All of these guns have fairly small calibers, which I know is not exactly ideal. A gun is only as good as it's ability to sotp an attacker should the need arise. While a .25 may make me feel safer, it could do nothing more than make me a prime target for a better-armed criminal. On the other hand, a gun is useless if I don't feel comfortable with it or can not physically control it well enough to quickly and accurately put rounds into a moving target. The Rohrbaugh R9s seems like it would be the best choice when power is concerned since it is a full 9mm pistol in virtually the same size of a P32. But could I really handle a weapon like this? I have limited experience with firearms and no experience shooting pistols, and I'm worried that a 9mm packed into such a small frame could be too powerful for me to quickly and accurately fire. The R9s is more expensive than what I would like to spend, however if I hear overwhelmingly that it is the gun to get and the others would not be suitable for a main CCW then I will give it serious consideration and search for a deal on a pre-owned gun.
In summary (in case someone is as lazy as I am when it comes to reading threads)...
I do plan on taking classes for gun safety and gun skills before carrying a pistol on me as I MUST have the skills necissary to use it before carrying. I do not want to get over my head and cause myself to either be unsafe or dissuade myself from buying/carrying guns in the future as I think it is important to ensure safety. On other hand I do not want to jeopardize my safety or the safety of those around me by carrying a gun too weak to take down a threat or too powerful to accurately control. I am looking at the Kal-Tek P32 and P-3at, Ruger LCP, Kahr P380, Beretta .25 Bobcat, and (pre-owned) Rohrbaugh R9s but am willing to any and all suggestions.
Personally, I keep going back to either the Ruger LCP or the Kel-Tek P32. The extremely small size of both guns is perfect for my carry needs, and the 6.6 oz. weight of the P32 is too amazing to not give serious consideration. In addiction, I feel confident that neither gun would be too powerful for me to learn to shoot with (not to say that any of the other guns would be too powerful).
Thanks in advance for all the suggestions and help!
P.s. Next summer I will be in Houston, TX for an internship. My girlfriend will be joining me for most/all of the summer, which is part of the reason I am now seriously considering purchasing a personal safety weapon (beyond the fact that I won't be 21 until May and that is the age requirment in my county). Texas will recognize and honor pistol permits given in Alabama and, as I will be in a completely new city/state and on my own, I would like to have the knowlege that, should the need arise, I will be able to protect myself and my girlfriend.