Most 2nd Amendment and gun related information gets posted in the sub-group - Friends of the Second Amendment, so PLEASE feel free to join and watch, contribute, argue, disagree.....
However I will go on the assumption that this question and my opinions may benefit those outside of the group as well. Let me restate the question that was asked (I will keep the persons name anonymous) to the following: Which handgun would you recommend for Concealed Carry AKA, CC. The easiest, most accurate and truthful answer is NONE. Please read on though. I will give you an answer which will put you on the right path.
Let me explain. My first handgun purchase was a Glock 27 which is a mini-Glock. It shoots a .40 Caliber round and was billed as an excellent sub-compact CC semi-automatic pistol. The reasons (more than 15 years ago) I chose the G27 was that in my opinion - after months of exhaustive research - that particular pistol had the best combination of concealability, stopping power, reliability, positive professional reviews and the list goes on.
I read all the handgun articles, professional reviews, online forums both for and against the G27 that I could get my hands on. I then found a gun shop who stocked a used G27 (I would never hesitate to buy a used gun from a reputable dealer), looked at it in person, and bought it.
After taking my first training class from Randy Smith at http://www.pistoltraining.com/ I joined the "Outdoors Sportsman Club" and shot competitively for my first season. I did really well for a new shooter to pistols. To make a long story short, I sold that pistol years ago.
WHY??? BECAUSE THE GUN DID NOT FIT MY HAND. In a defensive situation, which we all hope never happens, I would be taking extra seconds while drawing the pistol to get the best grip I could. Simply put, this is not good enough. It is not to say I could not shoot the pistol well. I proved in competition that I was OK in that regard. But competition against the clock, yourself and others is not the same as being in a life threatening situation.
I did not know when I bought my first handgun that it should feel at home in my hand. That there is a correct way to hold a handgun properly, a certain spot your trigger finger should hit the trigger (a debatable spot), basically a hand/glove feel. The reason I now know this is through trial and error. You will not know this UNLESS YOU hold many handguns. I can not explain it any better than that. All of our hands are different. Different sizes, shapes, widths.....
You must feel one which is too chunky, one which is too tiny, one which is too heavy. Only then will you know the feel of the one which "is just right."
You will probably find more than 1 which feels good in your hand. What's next? TRY YOUR BEST TO SHOOT EACH AND EVERY ONE! But how?
-There are many folks in your circle of friends and acquaintances who own guns. You just may not know that they do.
-You have a group here on the website who probably :) own a gun or two.
-In one of Randy's classes, you can borrow and shoot a gun if you do not own one already.
-The local chapter of PAFOA http://forum.pafoa.org/centre-50/ is full of members who would be willing to let you shoot their firearms. It is common courtesy to offer to supply your own ammo and be prepared to hear some common sense range rules and safety rules if you are a new shooter.
I currently have an item on Lay-A-Way at a gun shop because I followed these simple rules. Glock has recently come out with a couple new offerings which are aimed at folks like me who have smaller hands. I went to the store expecting to choose one of these but they still didn't feel quite right. I mentioned this out loud and the owner/employee said "Here, try this". It felt right at home in my hand where the G36 and one of the new "SF" models still felt too chunky. BUT - still no sale yet. I then asked on PAFOA if anyone could meet me so I could try this particular gun. I offered to let them shoot mine as well and I supplied the ammo that I would be firing. Someone I have known for a couple years chimed in and we met at the Scotia Range.
-There is no real way to know how a trigger feels by dry firing - pulling the trigger without a live round chambered.
-There is no way to explain the difference in felt recoil - the kick - between a full sized 1911 .45 caliber with a 5" barrel
and a subcompact .45 with a 3.78" barrel.
There is no way to be sure without actually firing the gun or guns that you have narrowed your search to.
So to answer the original question without saying "NONE":
1 - Be flexible. You may have your heart set on a revolver but a semi-automatic pistol just fits your needs
2 - By all means do as much research as you can online, from friends, from the experts in magazines but please,
please Physically hold your short list of choices which hopefully includes different sized grips.
3 - Try to shoot all that remain on your short list. Maybe I should say SHOOT all that remain on your list!
Step 1 should be a given. Step two can be a lot of fun and for me typically takes weeks if not months. Step 3 should never be forgotten or ignored.
Notice how I avoided the: Caliber wars, Stopping Power wars, Concealability vs Size debate, Brand Name debate, Ugly vs Cool Looking debate, Weight debate.....and the list goes on. These are many of the things you need to ponder in steps 1 and 2 before you have a completed short list.
Good luck and have fun shopping if you have made the decision to carry a handgun for self defense. That decision of course is a weighty one and should come long before you decide to go shopping.
As always, these are my opinions from my experiences. Please feel free to add to content, argue points, debate my thought processes, correct my errors or in general, just jump in - the water is warm.