So, what should you get? Well, there are some important questions to ask yourself first.
Are you going to ever carry it concealed? Or will it mainly be in your car and home? How much are you really going to practice?
Ideally, it’s nice to start with something in .22 rimfire that is similar to your bigger centerfire handgun. But, if you don’t have the funds to drop on two pistols it’s not hard to learn with something like a .38 Special with light loads.
I bet it is safe to say that 80 percent of handguns purchased are shot a few times, and then put away and seldom fired again. With that assumption, here is my suggestion: get a small frame revolver in .38Spl.
If you will carry it concealed, stick with a 2 inch barrel. If not, a 3 or 4 inch would be perfect. The Smith&Wesson model 642, the Rossi 88, Taurus 85, and similar models come to mind.
Why no autos? Because if you seldom shoot they aren’t the best choice. A revolver has a heavy trigger pull that needs no safety. It is ready when loaded. Pick it up and aim and fire. Simple enough.
However, if you are going to practice often and maybe compete, an auto is what most people will want. If it will be used mainly for competition, the pistol can be more specialized and as large as you need.
A gun for carry and competition will be a compromise. Talk to local shooters for ideas. For example a Glock 19 or a 4 inch S&W Xd would be good for both. A Glock 34 is better for competition, but you could carry it if needed. It’s the same size as a 1911, but lighter.
If you have questions, reply and I’ll be glad to help.