Welcome! What part of Georgia are you from?
I have 4 Glocks, two with the 5.5 lb. connectors (G 17 and G 21) and two with the 3.5 lb. connectors - the Glock models 34 and 35. For me, the 3.5 lb. connector is a good deal easier to shoot accurately. This isn't just an opinion I pulled out of the air. I have compared my G 34 with my G 21 in timed and scored tests and my 34 almost always wins out over the 21. Part of the reason may be the difference in calibers since the 21 (.45 cal.)obviously has more recoil. But when I have used IPSC scoring, giving the higher caliber gun more points for less than center hits on target, I still come out on top with the 34 nearly always. If you decide to go with a 3.5 connector, you can purchase one for about $25 and it is fairly easy to install yourself.
3.5# for carry and competition is legal. If concerned, just stay with the Glock manufactured connector when you buy one. Most 1911 models already have much lighter triggers than Glocks.
As for compensated models, you mentioned carrying for protection. Most self-defense shootings take place in low-light situations. The twin upward flashes from the barrel ports will ruin your night vision and that is a factor that you must take into consideration. Also remember that all defensive shootings may not be at arms length. You may have to shoot while holding the weapon close to your body or maybe your face and in those situations, you will will wish that you did not have a compensated barrel and even worse, you may hesitate to shoot and that hesitation might not be to your advantage.
As for recoil, I shoot 9mm, .40, and 357SIG and have never considered having a compensated barrel. You probably won't either once you get your pistol and get comfortable shooting.
The Glock 3.5 connector is inexpensive and easily installed. Makes for a much more accurate trigger, in my view. The trigger pull is still hard enough that I would not worry about an AD. In my experience, most AD's with Glocks tend to occur when competitors use the Glock reset point (well short of having the trigger go back to its original cocked position) and slightly misjudge where that point is. If you let the trigger go all the way back to its battery position, there should be no AD possibility.
However, the liability issue is everpresent if you use this connector in a home defense gun in which this is not the stock part. People have different views on this but I decided to reinstall the Glock factory 5.5 connector in my home defense G 21 because of my concern over this.
So far, I think all the concern over a commercially available (even from the original manufacture) modification is unfounded.
Not that some modifications are not truly illegal but specifically the trigger pull mod., on a glock.
I havenít seen anyone that seems to be paranoid about it post a link to a legal case yet that shows there should be any concern.
Anyone know of any you can link to?