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Depends on your primary application... I assume you are talking a handgun and for self defense? Understand that this is only my opinion and as you know that means everyone will have a different one lol. In my personal case my carry gun / defense gun is a Glock model 19 if I am going only with a handgun. The debate you will find starts with the best caliber choice - .22, 380, 9mm, 38, 357, 40, 45 Etc. and the common false belief that as a female you can't handle a large caliber weapon... This is not true - I can shoot any of these well and I am not a super amazon by any stretch - (5'4", 130 Lbs) The key is to find something that you are comfortable shooting and therefore willing to take to the range and practice with often! Practice and proficiency, just like learning to drive in all kinds of weather, are needed for anything you are trusting to help save your life. Another word of advice - no handgun no matter what someone may tell you is the best personal defense weapon - and capable of stopping an attacker by turning them into a mist - just not true. A handgun however is of a manageable size and more likely to be with you in your home or your luggage (Get a concealed weapons permit if you plan to carry it ) and no matter what take as many classes from reputable instructors as you can. It will also do the job but just understand that an attacker can still be a threat even after they have been shot so don't assume your in the clear just because you hit them once or they went down with the first shot. Again train, train train and know how it works and what it will do inside and out. Go to a range that has a rangemaster and where they will rent firearms for use in their facility and try several types - revolver and semi auto, and of several varied calibers. Find a good fit for you. A realistic investment is around $450.00 to about $1000.00 More is not necessarily better - its just based on who made it - but anything in that range will put you in the direction of a safe and reliable firearm. We can talk shotguns and rifles later on - but feel free to send me an email or IM is you have any questions - I can point you to folks who are a lot smarter then me - and I carry one for a living and basically 24/7 lol.