I share your admiration of metal-framed guns, but all of mine are polymer. They are simply lighter, usually more ergonomic, and lower maintenance. I am not trying to sell you on polymer, but make sure you at least consider it. Did you handle any polymer guns when going to stores at least?Ok, I want to start off by saying that I have nothing against poly frames and know that many of them are very reliable and accurate. I seem to be drawn towards metal framed handguns more than poly frames. They seem to have more character and look "better" to me. Now that that's out of the way, onto my dilemma.
My goal is to have a gun for the range with the possibility to carry in the near future when I get my ccw permit approved. I would like a 9mm as ammo is cheaper and I can carry more rounds in the firearm and/or my person. This will be my "first" handgun even though I have used my father's Beretta 92f for years and am very accurate with it. I've shot an M&P .40 once before and was not very good but I was told I may have had the target a bit too far out, especially for a beginner.
I originally fell in love with a black Sig P229 Elite with the rosewood handle but it seems to be a bit too large to carry. As I was going from shop to shop looking at handguns, I came across the Sig 1911 Nightmare and fell in love with that thing. Even though it was a .45, it felt perfect in my hands. However, the more gun folks I talk to, the more they tell me not to get a 1911 as a "main" or "first" handgun. Some have even sent me videos of Rob Pincus challenging anyone to take his course and complete it with a 1911 and he will cover all expenses. The Nightmare, due to being a single stack, seemed like it would be easier to carry than the Elite. However, the Elite offers the option to swap out barrels between .357, .40 and 9mm so I could buy the .40 and later swap out to a 9mm barrel if I plan on shooting a lot of rounds.
A forum member on another site posted pics of his H&K P30 and it looked AMAZING but again, many people tell me to stay away from H&K due to the cost of the firearm and parts.
So, after 3 weeks of reading articles, forums and reviews I'm still at square one. Can any of you suggest some steel framed firearms in 9mm?
H&Ks are polymer-framed guns (at least the current production ones like the P30 you mentioned). The P30 has probably the most customizable and ergonomic grip on any gun today, but it is polymer framed.
Additionally, the Sigs you mentioned are aluminum-framed, not steel. I don't know if you meant steel when you said it, or just any kind of metal, but those Sigs are not steel-framed.
All that said, I get from your post that you want an all-around gun, for range use, carry, and learning. Any time someone asks for a suggestion for a first gun, I think .22, because that is the best way to learn the basics. Many manufacturers produce .22s that are identical to centerfire pistols they produce. One example is Sig, another is the S&W M&P line. Some also sell a .22 conversion kit (again, Sig has these for some of their models).
If you do go with a centerfire model, I can't stress enough that it should be a 9mm. Bigger than that, and you have to deal with additional recoil, which is not productive when trying to learn the fundamentals. 9mm is also the least expensive of the common centerfire cartridges. You could do just fine only shooting 9mm for all purposes, but thats another conversation.
Now on to the good part. For an all-metal, all around gun, I think you did well with the idea for the Sig P229. Pre-bans are available which is another bonus in New York. It may be a challenge to carry, but lots of people do. A smaller but just as nice choice would be the Sig P239. I consider that to be a good size for carry, but I think it is still big enough to shoot well. Sig has quite a few models to choose from; I'm sure one of them is the right combination for you. I would echo the advice not to start with a 1911, and I personally wouldn't want to carry a 1911 until I had shot it a LOT without any problems, but that is my opinion and I may be in the minority. I have also heard the stories from trainers that 1911s seldom make it through a course without a malfunction. One trainer I saw on YouTube said he keeps some Glock 21s on hand for students who bring 1911s and get tired of clearing the malfunctions.
I've not had any experience with CZs, but I see them thrown in with the likes of HK and Sig online, so they have a good reputation, and they are also metal-framed guns. Other than those, most of the primary manufacturers have gone to polymer for the reasons I listed above (and also because its cheaper to produce, but those savings are rarely passed along to us The Sig SP2022 is an example where it is passed along).
In a way, limiting it to metal makes recommending guns pretty easy, because there just aren't that many of them anymore. Normally I would advise you to further narrow the playing field by deciding on things like double stack or single stack, trigger variant (DA/SA, SAO, Striker-fired constant action, etc). But you are pretty much going to end up with a DA/SA like a Sig, CZ, or Beretta, or a 1911. You are narrowing out 85% of the market by ignoring polymer. That's fine, but just make sure you have good justification for filtering out such a large part of the market before you make your decision. I too find them to have more character and to look better, but like I said, I went with polymer guns.
Oh, and one more thing. If you do go with something polymer, I would give you the opposite advice regarding Heckler & Koch. I have found them to be the best choices for myself. They are expensive, but when you consider how long you will own it and how much ammo you will put through it, the cost of the gun is fairly irrelevant to the discussion. You will put many times that cost through it in ammo alone. I love my HKs and I owned a fair number of brands on my journey of buying and selling to try stuff before I finally found HK.