Unless you have no other options do not use tiny guns - they have significantly more recoil due to the laws of physics. If concealment and weight is not a factor for you in pistol choice it is better to use a full-bodied pistol. They have more ammunition, have less felt-recoil, a better sight radius and carry more ammunition. Additional ammunition in itself reduces felt recoil because of its mass.
Use automatic pistols - preferably double-action automatics. They can be fired more quickly, and reduced trigger pull results in better accuracy. There is no earthly reason to use a revolver. If that's what you have - practice with it. A .357 revolver can still be an effective handgun, and is cheaper to shoot than the equivalent 10mm Auto. But if you have the budget, hand-size and option it is always better to choose an automatic pistol (unless the automatic is in very poor condition or a very poor design in general).
Do not use tiny rounds - they are less effective at penetration and leave smaller holes, which is the main kill factor of a firearm. Do not use gigantic rounds, either - a .44 Magnum may be more dangerous than a 9mm auto round-for-round, but if you can't carry it, can't aim it and can't control the recoil it isn't going to matter. And if you do have the option and ability to use a big hulking magnum you'd be better off using a smaller caliber with a lot of rounds that is easier to shoot and shoot rapidly with. If you truly have no restrictions on the size and recoil - maybe you're on a farm field, or maybe you're just a strong dude with good coordination - then use a long gun. Almost all long guns are superior in almost all ways to any pistol. A .44 rifle beats a .44 revolver.
When you practice, don't just do target shooting. Target shooting is fine, but many of the habits you develop from target shooting are actually counter-productive to real-life self defense. You will probably not have good lighting and the time to aim your pistol down the sights. Instead, practice point shooting and shoot-and-move excercises. Point shooting is where one quickly draws a weapon and aims it as though you were pointing your finger. You ought to practice drawing, pointing and shooting as quickly as you can - over and over. Eventually you will develop the ability to hit a man-sized target at close range in short order. The failure to practice point shooting is one of the reasons cops can't hit shit. While there are other factors (slack enforcement of practice requirements, stress) that factor into the inaccuracy of the police a very important factor is that they are taught to shoot wrong. Police largely practice firing in a low-stress environment, with good lighting, aiming down the sights in a range. This is excellent if you intend to be a competitive target shooter. When you're in a cluttered hallway at 3am firing at someone who's ten feet away it is too slow, your coordination will be hampered and you may not even be able to see your sights. Point shooting from the hip or chest level is much more practical for most pistol self-defense situations.
Practice with the weapon and ammunition you will actually be carrying. It may be cheaper and easier to practice with light FMJ slugs, but it's going to throw off your shooting when it really matters. Being a great shot with 115g rounds at the range is cool, but if you're using 135g +P+ hollowpoints you're not practicing the right way.
Not that using the sights is a bad idea - if you have the time. There may be a situation where a hostile is at a range of several yards but is threatening you or someone else. In this case - especially in an environment with non-hostiles - you want to be as accurate as you can. At longer ranges point-shooting may lack the accuracy you need to effectively and safely dispatch a target. You absolutely should practice firing your weapon using good form and sights. But even here you shouldn't get all your practice on stationary paper targets in a shooting range.
What you need to practice is the shoot-and-move exercise. Practice running, leaping, ducking and firing rapidly in cluttered, low-light environments against moving targets which appear suddenly from varying locations and at varying times. Do this both with point-shooting and aimed shots. Within this context try to keep cover - even if it wont stop a bullet it will slow or deflect it, and make it harder for the hostile to accurately target you. But I must emphasize that you must practice doing all these things quickly. Whether you are aiming down the sights or firing from the hip you need to be able to get into the appropriate posture and take your shot quickly while dealing with unexpected targets and unexpected obstacles. Practice firing after running yourself ragged - you may not be perfectly awake, rested and relaxed when you have to defend yourself. I can almost guarantee that you will not be.
It is a good idea to practice with the use of long guns, too. A shotgun is by far the most important self-defense long gun. Shotguns are very powerful and fairly easy to aim and control. But don't practice skeet shooting - your assailant will not be a bird or a frisbee flying through the sky on a sunny day. Apply all the above advice for shoot-and-move with a pistol to practicing with a shotgun. Practice using your shotgun in close quarters, while moving, against unexpected targets, from behind cover.
The rifle can also be important. You may face an opponent who is at range, and if you have to shoot someone at range a long gun is always better than a pistol. Rifles have very good sights and superb accuracy, but make sure to practice rapid shooting and point-shooting with the rifle as well - if you take a rifle out to deal with an intruder on your farm you may be unexpectedly confronted at a closer range than you expected. You need to be able to use your rifle not only for precision shooting against a person hidden in brush, but also at close range in your barn next to a haystack that doesn't give you the time or room to do a well-heeled, braced shot.
Practice switching between weapons. If you are concerned about encountering a hostile, however he is armed, you may find yourself in a situation where the long gun or pistol are not appropriate. If you are outside and may be facing an armed thief at a range of a dozen or more yards you want to bring your long gun. But if that opponent is hiding in your tool shop you may be forced to switch to the pistol quickly. The same applies in reverse. It is also important to practice this because you may find yourself deprived of ammunition. If your gun runs of ammunition before you are certain all your threats are down it is faster to switch from one to the other to reload.
When you do get into a life-or-death situation do not afraid to fire, fire, fire until your opponent goes down. You don't want to 'spray-and-pray', but with consistent and rigorous practice you can learn to aim and control your guns in the two ways I've outlined here. An opponent may be armored, especially tough, or you may just miss. It happens to the best commandos, and it could happen to you. You want a gun with a large a magazine as is practical (for weight and size concerns) in case you miss, or run into multiple bad guys. When you run into a deadly threat you want to aim as best you can, but do not hesitate to pump extra rounds into the target until you are certain he is out of the fight. Do not shoot to wound, to scare, etc. Shoot to kill, every time. If you are not willing to kill someone you should not be shooting at them - end of story. Whatever your uncle or libtard friend thinks about 'knee-capping' people or other such fantasy tactics, they are full of shit and should be ignored. The only proven way to get rid of a lethal threat is to kill him as quickly and effectively as possible, and that should always be your goal when discharging a firearm against another person.
SummaryObtain pistols, shotguns, and rifles you are comfortable with. Use weapons which are designed for defense and combat, not target shooting (if you have the option - a poorly optimized gun is better than no gun). Guns that you can shoot accurately, with as much mass and velocity as you can handle, and with as much ammunition as you can handle, are the guns you want to practice with and keep at hand.
Practice in difficult environments, practice for speed, practice for accuracy, and practice some more. No matter how good you are you are never good enough.
When you suspect a deadly threat shoot quickly, shoot often, and never put yourself into more danger - by exposing yourself or spending a lot of time trying to be a dead-eye - than you have to. If it is possible to escape and assailant rather than get into a gunfight with him you ought to. But no one can outrun bullets - it is important to assess whether it is better to run around the corner or unleash a fusillade of lead in his direction. If possible, do both. The fact that you may have to be running and weaving - toward or away from your assailant - means that you need to practice shooting in both conditions.
SuggestionsThere are many quality firearms of varying caliber, pricing and size. I strongly recommend against getting cheap-ass Norinco pistols and that sort of thing. However, if you do not have the money or legal access to get superior weapons it's better than nothing.
Pistols with decent ammunition capacity, a moderate caliber and a size that fits your hand and strength are what is to be desired. For most people this is somewhere between .380ACP and 10mm Norma. Economic considerations being what they are a 9mm Auto is the best bang for your buck - they have large capacity magazines, controllable recoil, cheap ammunition and a huge variety of pistols can be tried before deciding upon a particular model. I personally favor somewhat larger pistols in the range of the 10mm auto, but this depends on you, not me.
If cost and weapon size are not significant obstacles I strongly recommend getting full-sized semi-automatic weapons in all cases - whether a pistol, shotgun or rifle. They are simply superior for purposes of killing other human beings, which is the entire purpose of self-defense pistols.
Glock, Heckler & Koch, Beretta, Smith & Wesson and Sig all produce excellent full body pistols. There are many more beside, but this is a good place to start. A laser sight may be desirable - but always practice with it if you intend to use it. Also, practice without it. You never know if it may break, or the batteries may run out. You need to be able to fire it with the laser, with the sights, and from the hip with as much speed and accuracy as possible - all while tired, moving and in the dark. A flashlight may also be desirable, but again practice both with and without the flashlight on.
Short, high-capacity semi-automatic shotguns are ideal for self-defense in most circumstances. Heckler & Koch produces excellent, reliable semi-automatic shotguns. Other companies doubtless do, as well. If you cannot afford a semiautomatic military-style shotgun then a slide-action shotgun can be obtained at low prices. Though the recoil is worse and the firing speed is inferior such weapons can be very effective and easy to use (but ALWAYS practice!). Among the cheapest is the Mossberg 500 series of shotguns. Some exotice pump shotguns - such as the Serbu Super Shorty or Neostead 2000 - have much to recommend them because of their small size. They may be difficult to obtain or use for some people, however.
The shotgun should have a pistol grip as this is more comfortable and natural - it also helps to control muzzle flip while firing. An adjustable or short stock is to be desired (such as an 'M4' style collapsible stock). Because you will may shooting a close range, in close quarters you need your shotgun to have as small a profile as possible, and do not require the added weight and bracing of a hunting-style stock.I recommend equipping them with ghost-ring or holographic sights because these are easier to aim quickly and at short ranges than the bead-sight. A scope is not to be considered. If you are expecting to engage threats at a range where a scope would be practical you ought to be using a rifle, not a shotgun. A laser sight or flashlight may be desired for the reasons detailed above.
The ideal self-defense rifle is a military-style gun - with at least 20 rounds of ammunition (preferably 30-40), of a moderate caliber (at least 5.56mm, but not larger than .308). The AK47 style rifle has much to recommend it - powerful caliber, easy to attain the weapon and ammunition, and ease of maintenance. But it has a bit of a kick, and you will want to replace the sights and probably the furniture due to the general inferiority of the standard equipment it comes with. AR15s are quite common and easy to get accessories and ammunition for. The Sig 550 model of rifle is also quite good, very similar to the AR15 in many ways but superior in others.
The rifle of choice should be of similar furniture and sights to the shotgun, for ease and speed of aim. As you almost certainly will not be sniping your target a scope or 200 yard iron sights is simply in the way. As with the pistol and shotgun practice firing with your sights and without them. Avoid excessive accessories, as this will increase the weight and profile of the weapon.
If you have a firearm but are not in a position to obtain or accessorize it into these specifications then practice with what you have. If your libtard state makes it difficult to obtain certain weapons, or you cannot afford it, then you need to be good with what you have. Though it is far from ideal your grandfather's Mauser 98 or your hunting shotgun is better than nothing. Make sure to practice its use in all of the above ways - in close quarters, at long range, with and without the sights, in the dark and in the glare of the sun, while sleepy, tired, winded, and running.
This may sound like a lot of work. It may sound exhausting, tedious, and difficult. It is. But your other option is to die.