The subject of handguns, and more specifically, concealed carry handguns, is as subject to the whims of popularity as anything else in this world of ours. Nothing wrong or even unusual about this, but you should be aware of it if you are new to the world of self-defense handguns. Why should this matter? Because everyone is going to offer his or her opinion--experienced friends, gun store clerks, and certainly the people who write for gun magazines. Gun writers are in the business to make money, and they make money by selling articles to magazines. Magazines make money not by selling magazines to you, which earns them a pittance, but by selling advertising in their magazine to gun businesses. They won't succeed by making their advertisers unhappy, so they tend to focus on selling you on whatever they are writing about. Gun shop clerks are there to sell products as well, and it it is a far better thing to sell you something they have on the shelf instead of something they would have to order. As to individuals, well, it is human nature to seek validation from others--whether you want them to like your new shirt or your new gun.
Keep all of this in mind when you are shopping for a new gun, because what is popular is not necessarily what is best for you. Spend as much or more time researching the topic as you would if getting ready to buy a new car. The total price may be lower, but the importance of the item is no less important to your life. Only through research can you determine what is best for your needs. Ideally I recommend a multi-pronged approach. Read the gun magazines, because they do have nice pictures and are full of data. Pay more attention to the data however and less attention to the hyperbole. Do visit your local gun shops and shooting ranges. Only by handling the gun(s) that interest you will you really get a good idea of what you like and don't like. If you have a shooting range in your area that rents guns, all the better because the BEST way to learn about guns is to shoot them. Also, I recommend spending time on the Internet like you're doing now. All manufacturers have web sites and most are full of data and photos. Take advantage of them.
Right now the semi-automatic pistol is by far the most popular self-defense handgun. The police have gone to the pistol almost entirely, and private citizens tend to follow what the police do, right or wrong. Service-size revolvers are not nearly as popular as they were only a few years back, but they are still available so if you like a revolver, look at and shoot some. Small revolvers are the most popular of the type, and get more press than any other revolver made today, yet in my opinion they are not nearly as good a choice as some would have you believe, for reasons I go into elsewhere on this web site.
Whether you want a pistol or a revolver, a full-size or a compact, a gun made of steel or aluminum or titanium or polymer, one that weighs six ounces or 43 ounces, you can find it in today's marketplace. Just decide what you really need, not what someone else thinks you need. (23 March 06)