I have the Hi-Point 995TS carbine. They are running about $350 right now in California with the California Button installed. You can add the Hi-Point laser for about $60 and get two spare magazines for about $20. All in all, a good 9mm carbine fully equipped for under $500.
The only problem for me is the California Button which requires a tool to remove the magazine; not very good for quick defensive reloads but then again this is the nonsense of gun control in California.
I also have the Hi-Point C9 pistol (no California button required so reloads are quick). This 9mm pistol with three 8 round magazines cost me less than $200. The great thing about the C9 is it can use the 10 round magazines from the carbine. However, the 8 round pistol magazines are too short to use in the carbine.
I added an UpLuLa speed loader to make loading the magazines easier. The last time I was at the range with these two guns I spent less time loading magazines and more time burning up ammo. I was using the range supplied reloaded 9mm loads which seemed a bit soft; perhaps they were loading lighter powder charges to save on cost? Both guns worked fine with this range ammo and any other ammo I have fed them. They are easy to mount and easy to fire. The recoil of the carbine is very light. The pistol is a bit rougher but what do expect from a blowback design? I fire rifles left handed due to a bad shoulder and have no problems with the 995TS shooting left handed or right handed.
The only caveat is that you need to clean and oil these guns at least annually. I am putting my C9 Pistol through a long term 1,200 round torture test to see if the “1,200 rounds before cleaning” advice from the owner’s manual is okay. My findings after 500 rounds and a year and a half sitting in the safe without being touched is that if you keep the guns oiled they work flawlessly. If you let them get dry you will suffer misfeeds.
Go with the 995TS and C9 combination and you should have the bases covered. Get some basic training on their use and on legal self-defense usage of lethal force and put in some range time once a month so you can stay proficient with the arms.
Also, I STRONGLY recommending reading EVERYTHING on Pax’s website “Cornered Cat” at http://www.corneredcat.com/
as it is a GREAT guide for women planning on arming themselves. Guys, you should study every word on her site as well!