If someone who has handled a pistol very little, is looking for one for self protection, I recommend a double action revolver. While that may not sound as cool as a Lock or 1911 or such, they are reliable. Shoot it, get familiar with it. While it may not hold 17 plus rounds, if you haven't stopped the situation in 5 or 6 shots, you have not shot it enough to be able to hit with it, or you put yourself in a position that you never should have gotten yourself into. Plus, if you have a FTF or FTE would you know how to clear it in a stressful situation? If you have to look FTF or FTE up, stick with a double action revolver for now. A .38 special has manageable recoil and will do about anything you need to do with proper shot placement.
When purchasing a pistol, handle as many as you can before purchase. When you pick it up, it should be like an extension of your arm - follow in a straight line from the elbow thru the wrist, and down the barrel WITHOUT having to shift it or adjust it. If it does not naturally form that straight line, it does not fit you.
In shotguns, I recommend against buying a single shot. In a stressful situation, will you be able to reload it after one shot? On pumps and autos, I do not feel you need a magazine extension. As above, without a plug, most can hold 4 in the magazine, and if you keep one in the chamber, 5 rounds, so again, if you haven't taken care of the situation in 4-5 rds you are not familiar enough with the weapon.
I feel red dot sights, lasers, etc are a waste of money in a self defense weapon. If you learn proper handling, all you will have to check is the front sight.
Rifles, if anyone is interested, I can do in another post.
Edited by vr1967 - 6/7/16 at 4:23pm