If I was just starting out today in 2012, the S&W M&P and Glock would be my top choices. Most likely in 9mm.
Back when I switched from a 4" S&W Model 66, to a 1911, it was though to be the best thing around. As well, the then available 9mm hollow point ammo wasn't very good either. So a 1911 with hardball, or SWC was about as mean as you could get. Or at least that was the belief, given the knowledge at the time. In reality a High Power, the then very new and untried Glock, etc in 9mm were probably just as good.
Maintenance and malfunction clearance of the 1911 were just seen as facts of life and all the serious users were well versed in both. Times change, technology changes. For all its mystique, actual usefulness and whatever one wishes to add, its had its hey day.
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."- Thomas Jefferson