: I'm glad my post was exciting to see. In a sense, I can relate to you as I'm the Super Moderator on CruzeTalk.com forums, and we like seeing people come in and ask questions to get well informed to make an educated decision.
Thank you for pointing out those brand names. I will send those to my phone so I can memorize them and know what I'm looking for when I go shopping. Admittedly, I know a heck of a lot more about things like home theater speaker design and general automotive topics than I do about guns. That's why I'm here. Forums like this are really quite wonderful.
: What handgun is that in your picture? I noticed the barrel is a bit shorter. What are the advantages of a shorter barrel? It is certainly visually appealing.
: It seems that 9mm 1911s are rather hit or miss. I had been looking at Kimber and Springfield Armory so far. The Glock really does seem to be a great handgun, but the sight of it doesn't excite me at all. Not that I wish to come off as superficial, but if I'm going to drop up to $800 on a handgun, I at least want to like it for more than its simple reliability and quality. Nonetheless, it is still an option. For some reason, I'm still drawn to the 1911. I will have to give this some thought. Is there anyone here who has used other brands of 9mm 1911?
: Illinois is one of those states where you are not allowed to carry a concealed weapon, or I would have looked into this a long time ago when I was living in Chicago. Currently, I'm in Will county; outside of Chicago's Cook county, but the same laws still apply. I may find myself getting into this as a hobby. God knows, I've had more expensive hobbies than this before. Home theater speaker design is one, and I even took on a project to rebuild a Jaguar V12 once. If I do start doing this more often, I will certainly look into reloading, but at least to start, the $0.50/round cost would psychologically prohibit me from getting as good at shooting it as I'd want to.
: I looked up the nearby ranges a couple of days ago, and there's a fairly nice one here.
They have what appears to be a large variety of rental guns to choose from, so I will head over there soon, hold the ones I'm interested in, and try a few out to see how they feel while shooting. I'm at least a month or two away from actually pulling the trigger on (buying, lol) one, but I want to feel like I made the right choice and not look back a few months later and wish I had done something different.
I also spoke to a family friend who works as a police officer, and got some good advice from him. He recommended I take a course if it's offered as well as trying out as many guns as I can. I like to do as much research as possible.
If anyone has any other advice they offer, I would appreciate it. I understand that there's only so much advice one can give (especially in light of the great advice that's already been given) when the choice will ultimately come down to what's most comfortable in my own hands, but I will take all advice and factor it into my final decision.
Thanks to everyone who has posted so far. This forum has been an enormous help already.