I did a fair amount of homework (reviews, Youtube vids, general "Googling" and handled (well fondled) a bunch before choosing. They included a Glock 19, Beretta Storm, M&P9, XD9, Sig 2022, and one maybe 2 others I don't recall. I did not shoot any of them.
I wanted a 9mm due to ammo availability and price. I preferred a compact (4in barrel). I focused on models that were relatively cheap back in December (under $500).
Ended up with the Sig 2022. Price was $389 plus back then. 500 rounds later, no regrets, just a big and growing smile every time I shoot it.
Well except the ammo availability and price part.