First, thank you your service to our country. I know that never can thank veterans and active service enough for what their service - but I try!
Like you, I am looking for a concealed carry weapon. The .380 I have is WWII vintage and not something upon which I want my life to depend. If you saw it and used it, you'd understand.
Like you, I sought and continue to seek advice and acquire experience actually shooting those weapons I'm considering. Unfortunately, what finds it's way onto our spread sheets and paper lists doesn't measure up when shot. Here's how I found out:
I had narrowed down my choices to three guns. Generous friends allowed me to try their personal weapons at a range. Much to my surprise, the one that was at the top of my list felt and shot the worst in my hands. Works great for other folks and has a great reputation. The one that felt best in my hands was a big surprise. And I shot most accurately with it. I settled on that as THE best gun for me. It was a DA/SA. Some time later, after reading the difference between the first DA shot and the following SA shots, I went to a range and rented that gun. I shot it in DA as much as possible to see how it worked out. Bad news! Although my abilities allowed me to shoot it with reasonable practical accuracy in SA, I could not even hit the paper in DA. Yes, I know that one can conquer the first DA with sound instruction and amlot of practice - but I am not now inclined to go that route for a number of reasons.
My next test at the range will be with a striker fired gun. They have the same trigger pull from first shot to last. Some can even be had with a safety, which at first was important to me - but now I don't want one