I also considered a Taurus Millennium 111(9mm), a Taurus TCP (.380) and a Ruger LCP (also .380). I didn't consider Kel Tec, Sig Sauer, Smith and Wesson, or Glock because of their high (in the case of the Sig, astronomical) cost. These are good guns and to those who own, enjoy and protect themselves with them more power to you. However, I never wore Jordache as a kid and today make things last as long as I can. A gun to someone like me is like any other tool, and I look for attributes more than a name brand. In spite of my literature teacher, here's a list in no order.
1. Made in the United States is a huge plus.
2. A good reputation among users and experts alike. (Beretta has issues lately, including the police officer who I turned my paperwork to had a lot to say).
3. A manual safety is very important, as are passive safeties, a trigger safety, and for the bunny huggers, a magazine disconnect.
4. A striker fired, rather than a hammer fired system (the trigger reset on the PX4, being a SA/DA was terrible and didn't always allow the hammer to fire. This could get you killed in a firefight.)
5. A stainless steel slide and barrel.
6. Easy to field strip and maintain (the PX4 excelled at this).
7. Weighs less than 2 pounds loaded (PX4 was well over two pounds).
8. Easy availability and low price of accessories (this was a huge sticking point with the Beretta, as they only deal with one wholesaler for volume sales.)
9. Easy to find holsters for, and in my case able to use the ones I have
10. Something I don't have to sell my first born to get.
11. Easy to conceal without a shoulder holster, without protrusions or sharp edges (the safety levers on the PX4 are razor sharp at the tip and drew blood when I pulled back the slide to qualify for my CPL).
12. Accurate and durable.(the Beretta was accurate, but the plastic feed ramp raised concerns).
13. Good looks don't hurt either. (the Beretta was a looker)
The Ruger SR9c is made in Prescott Arizona, and though less than 70 years, had a good reputation for low cost firearms of high quality. They've had their issues for sure, but seem to have taken care of them. The SR9c is packed with safety features, including all the passive safeties, a loaded chamber indicator, magazine lockout, trigger safety and a manual safety. It is striker fired with a consistent 5 pound trigger pull and reset. Unlike the Beretta I traded, the SR9c has a stainless steel slide and barrel and a lower center. Field stripping it is a little more complicated and requires a pen or snap cap. I figured it out in about five minutes reading the manual though. With the ten round magazine loaded, it weighs 1 3/4 pounds (I would use this one on the gun) and about 2 pounds with the 17 round one. Even with the 17 round, there are no sharp edges to print through clothes. Magazines are cheap at about $30 to $35 apiece with shipping as is the price of the gun. List price is $500, but I got mine before trade for $430 at Gander Mountain (my final price is none of your business). I'll continue with part 2. Maranatha!