You're right. Opinion is all over the map on first handguns, including the opinion that your first handgun should be a shotgun (I believe CD is a big exponent of this notion - I'm not, however).
That said, the best approach to any gun purchase, at least from a prepping POV, is to take the usual approach: hope for the best, plan for the worst.
In this case, "the best" would be that you'd never use your handgun for any critical self or home defense scenario (or even hunting) but would simply have lots of fun with it at the range. The worst scenario would be either deadly self defense, or various SHTF situations.
The two need not be mutually exclusionary, but many might find them so. A good target shooter may not be the best self defense weapons. In extended SHTF, simplicity and ruggedness may count for more than beauty and fun.
Finally, many people think that different calibers are suitable for different situations. I do know that if I had to shoot somebody in order to preserve my own safety, I'd prefer to shoot them with as heavy a handgun caliber as I can use effectively - in my case, either .357 magnum or .45 ACP. I have both.
However, in stressful times, it might be better to have something more concealable that might still offer some effectiveness - I have .32 and .25 caliber pistols for that purpose.
Again, it boils down to how you view your own situation. In general, though, I'd go for ruggedness, easily obtained ammo, and ease of maintenance, coupled with the most power that I'm comfortable and effective with.