Best 9mm for the Money
I have carried 38s in the past in my jobs. Why does everyone need to use an automatic? A 38 snub nose with an alloy frame and a covered hammer is just fine. S&W, Colt, and Taurus are some good names.
Now you want a smaller auto instead. Remember, because of fear tactics (see the NRA), prices have sky-rocketed (both the gun and the 9mm ammo).
Try out these small guns first if you can. First, does the gun hold enough ammo? Most don't. Next, is the grip so crappy that the second shot goes wild (always fire in 3 shot patterns)? Many have this problem. Do you want to remortgage your home to pay for this gun? Some are approaching $800. Is it light enough not to weigh you down? How about a 15 oz. weapon.
Try the recently made SCCY CPX 2 (see the Youtube). Its made in Florida from high quality stainless and polymer parts. It fits nicely in your hand (grip close to a Glock). The magazines are made by the company and hold 10 rounds (comes with 2). It's light, balanced, and the trigger pull is smooth. It has a life time warranty. Many manufacturers and gun shops don't want you to know about this gun because it costs only $300.
Only one problem here....no safety. Have you ever had to draw your weapon and quickly shoot? I have. Try remembering to release the safety under this kind of pressure! Not an easy task. I like a safety but most were designed in the past to keep the gun from firing if dropped. Modern weapons seldom have this problem. Just keep your finger off the trigger until you need it.