At 36 years of age, I just fired a gun for the first time a few weeks ago. Much to my surprise, I just absolutely LOVED it. I've got a number of friends that shoot and since have gone to 5 different ranges and fired a plethora of different guns from .17 to .50. I've taken a basic safety class at a local store (Bill Jackson's) and am taking a lengthy concealed carry class at another range (Wyoming Antelope Club) on the 23rd. I've got two kids (10yo boy, 13yo girl) who are taking the NRA marksman classes at the Antelope club (and they've earned several cool patches already!).
So, I'm trying to decide what type of weapon to purchase for my first handgun and I've got a budget of roughly $500. Already ordered a safe (gunvault GV2000C - DLX). I've been thinking 9mm primarily because the bigger sized ammo seems to cost quite a bit more. I have been looking at the Glock 17, and the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm or MAYBE the Glock 34.
So, I'm primarily looking to go fire it at the range (often, hopefully!). I don't think I'll be carrying on a regular basis until I'm much more comfortable with guns, and my ability to use them safely. I'm also not sure how realistic home defense will be for me, since due to the kids I'll have to have things locked up in the safe. Hopefully my alarm system, 3 cop neighbors and the police station 1000 feet from my house will be a sufficient deterrent.
So here's the question(s).
1. Other than a matter of simple personal preference, do one of those two weapons have any major benefits or drawbacks vs the other?
2. Are there any other brands/models I should be considering? The guys in the gun shop keep trying to steer me to HK; is there anything other than personal preference that makes HK superior? I'm kind of thinking they just want to sell a more expensive gun...
3. If I were to go with the longer glock 34, does that eliminate any reasonable possibility of carrying it later, or using it for home defense?
4. I've seen "conversion kits" for the glock guns that would basically allow me to swap the slide/barrel on a glock with one that fires .22 so the kids could use it (My son loves firing the ruger mkIII at the range). Any opinions on these kits, are they a safety concern or are they O.K.?