I have hunted and shot rifles all my life and I'm finally buying my first handgun and I have narrowed it down to three choices. I'm looking for a 9mm just for target shooting and general home defense if needed. I'm looking at the Ruger SR 9, S&W M&P 9mm, and the Springfield XD 9mm. Any suggestions or preferences from experienced gun owners?
Both the Ruger and S&W have excellent customer service and offer a lifetime warranty and made in USA, which still counts for something ....Rent any or all of them and find out which works best for you.......JJ
They are all very good handguns. The Springfield is made in Croatia, but is the only one of the three that offers a grip safety. I've shot my dad's 9mm XDm, and it is nails-on accurate. It's a breeze to field strip and a pleasure to shoot. The Ruger is nice too. It has a fantastic grip and is very accurate. The M&P also has a beautiful grip, with 3 interchangeable back straps. M&Ps are tough and fun-to-shoot.
I'm with Chessail77, find a gun range that rents the guns you're interested in and see which gun works best for you.
I'd like to suggest two other guns for range/HD duty. The CZ 75B and the CZ 75 SP-01. Both are heavy, steel-framed guns - the weight helps soak up felt recoil, making for quicker follow-up shots. They also sport the best grip of practically any handgun made today.
And lastly, the Sig Sauer SP2022 is a superb weapon too. They can be had for $400-$500, depending on if you want the Sig night sights or not. Mine has night sights and is my wife's HD gun. We've shot about 3,000 rounds through it with not a single FTF/FTE issue. It eats any ammo you feed it and has an excellent trigger.
Personally, I would go with the full sized M&P in 9mm. It sounds like you really do not want it for CC purposes, so go with the larger gun that has a great reputation for comfortable and accurate shooting.