Sorry, I was unclear, my dad plans to carry pretty often, I probably almost never will. Weight and size aren't big factors for me. I was just asking if a .45 would be too much to handle as far as recoil.
The classes we're looking into have range instruction components, but I'll keep the private lessons in mind. As far as renting a few different guns before buying anything, that's a great idea, there are alot of ranges around me.
It sounds like he should be looking into 9mm's, and for me a .357 is an interesting idea, being able to shoot .38's too. I'm still leaning towards a .45, but you guys are right, I've never even held one, I need to do some hands on research. I would be looking for a longer barrel though, 4 inches minimum, I'd been thinking 5.5". The 7.5's are cool looking, but I'd think they'd get heavy and unwieldy pretty quick.
Thanks for all the tips, I'll pass everything along, and start getting a tangible feel for some of the options I'm considering. Alex