I saw them all and held many of them. HKs, Beretta/Tauruses, Glocks, Sigs, Steyers, Paras, Llamas, Ballester Molinas, Astras, Delta Elites, and the wide variety of standard 1911s.
I was amazed at how much larger some of these seemed in person than I had imagined, but even more so how different some were from others of similar specs, like how the Berettas seemed much larger than the 1911s. Also interesting how the shape affected my perception of carryability, where the 1911s seemed like one of the easiest to carry but the presumably smaller Sig 220 seemed bigger.
What I took a leap of faith in considering now seems like a candidate. I got to handle a Steyer M40, and with a rubber grip, the polymer frame didn't seem to be a problem, though I'm still not so hot on it. The best feature was the low profile of the barrel over the grip, which would drastically reduce "bucking". Sure, the 4" barrel is less than I was insisting I wanted, but I'm sure you all thought I was kind of silly for not wanting a compact, and this seems like it's big enough but small enough for comfortable carry. Very light as well, though that's not always great. The wierdest thing about it was the sites, which were triangular. Maybe I could get used to them, but I may opt for more standard ones.
I'm a little hesitant about Beretta/Taurus for a few reasons. One, they seemed much larger than I expected. Not bad, fine for shooting, but for carrying I was surprised to find them much larger than 1911s, at least in the specs that I noticed. Secondly, a friend of mine told me that if you pull the slide the right way from the front, the slide will come right of, ie pulling it off of a gun that's pointed at you, which he says is why police turned from Berettas to Glocks.
Apparently Llamas aren't the most popular, but I found what appeared to be a full size model with a 13rd Hi-Cap, which they said may be interchangeable with Para Ordnance. It's called the Omni, and felt pretty nice and looked fine besides being substantially used. What is it that people don't like about Llamas? I'm sure it's not nothing, but the Omni was $290. For hi-cap, that's pretty nice.
In the midst of all the new discoveries, the 1911s seemed like very good options, as they compensated in their thinness for their large size in other dimensions. I looked at some of the parts and understand a little better how they're put together. I saw replacement barrels in 5", 6", 7", and 16.25", which would provide for that inexplicable desire I have for longer barrels. Not incredibly sure it's a good choice for being taken down as I had hoped. Steyer seems to be much better for that.
No, I didn't get any, for two reasons, such as being a poor college bum and 20 years old till May 2003.
Right now I'm floating around between 1911 style (including hi-cap and variants), Beretta/Taurus (pending explanation of slide yoinking), and Steyer, with possible consideration of Browning Hi Power.
Anyone use Steyer in 40?
Or know about the slide yoinking of Berettas?
Or why exactly everyone hates Llamas? On the old forum, people were singing its praises.