IMO, if you are looking for a range/self defense handgun stay with the 4"+ barrel models. As stated, the compacts will probably not make you happy with the lesser accuracy due to the short barrel. Few auto's have a "safety" per say. Many have a "decocker", which is what you may be referring to in your description. When you jack a round into the chamber (loaded and ready to fire), you can engage the decocker which will safely drop the hammer. It will not go "BANG" until you pull the trigger. Hence the first pull is DA (long and somewhat hard).