re: Good .40 pistol?
It's time to educate the youngin'. Being able to defend yourself decreases the risk. Why? Bad Guys seem to prefer an easy job. If they see a decent-sized guy walking down the street that looks confident in his ability to walk down the street unmolested, chances are pretty good he'll be left alone. A small woman jogging down the street with no place to conceal anything would be the preferred way to go. Think of it like this: if you were gonna rob a house, would you pick the one that has spent shotgun shells scattered around the front porch, or the one with a big "Gun Free Home" sign in the window?
As for guns, .40 S&W is quite acceptable as a defensive round. So is 9mm Luger, .45ACP, .38Spl, .357 magnum, etc. Use proper ammunition in just about any gun, and it'll be just fine. Knowing how to shoot the thing and being intimately familiar with it are much more important than what you're carrying. As the old saying goes, "It ain't the arrow, it's the indian". Spend a lot of time at the range with it. Also, know as much about concealed carry in your state as you can. The legal issues are serious. There are a lot of guns out there in .40. HK, Beretta, SIG, Glock (bleh), S&W, Kimber, and just about every other pistol manufacturer carries one.
Go do some homework.