I am a newbie who started shooting only earlier this year and I find the thread of this conversation very interesting and educational - having gone through the same process myself. I totally commiserate with you since I also like to do a lot of research myself about any item that I'd like to acquire. For a number of good reasons (read my lips - "Navy Seal"), I acquired a Sig Sauer P226 Enhanced Elite chambered in 9 mm Luger for my first pistol, did some serious plinking at the local target range in the company of an experienced shooter with emphasis on safe gun handling, took some formal lessons in competitive shooting, participated in some local USPS/IDPA practice matches and then onto the real thing. I like to think that my CFE (continuing firearm education) has made me a better person in more ways than one. More importantly, I am having the time of my life. Whatever pistol you end up purchasing, rest assured it won't be the last. I have since acquired a G34, HK45 (the "modern 1911"), XDM 5.25" (40SW) and a few SW revolvers to boot and just recently, a Colt AR15 and a Remington 870 Marine Magnum - dreaming of participating in multigun matches. I am aso modifying the latter for occasional trap shooting. Based on my limited experience, these are all excellent firearms. However, for whatever it is worth, there seem to be more after market parts for Glocks, XD/XDM and Smith & Wesson MP's.
Oh BTW I almost forgot, I also have a 0.22LR pistol for cheap practice - a Hammeli Xesse. The problem with most 0.22LR pistols is that the disassembly and assembly are challenging for most beginners. The Hammerli does not have this problem. Good luck.
Last edited by NuGunner01; November 18, 2012 at 05:00 PM.