A .22 semi-automatic may be the best first handgun for anyone with little or no prior experience with handguns. In my opinion Ruger offers the best values in such pistols. A Ruger 22/45 offers the grip angle of the Colt 1911, one of the greatest firearm designs of all time, the magazine capacity is 10 rounds, and the retail price should be under $400. The Ruger Mk III is another option. It has a more sharply angled grip and is available in models ranging from less than $400 to about $730. I have a Mk II Stainless Bull Barrel .22 and it is about the only firearm that my wife and two adult daughters like to shoot. It is accurate enough to hunt squirrels and rabbits, and is very nice to shoot. I have about 40 firearms, and I have probably shot more rounds with my Ruger Mk II than all of my other firearms combined. My experience with the Mk II is the foundation of my bias, but I sincerely believe you should at least consider the Ruger .22.
NRA Life Member - RMEF Life Member - Vietnam Vet