You've asked two very big questions... the first is a very personal matter, and no one can make that decision for you. I would argue that the second is similar. You will get a variety of opinions from all of the members here about what to carry and why, but a common theme in all of the responses will be that you have to carry what is right for you.
Do yourself a favor and browse the forums. There are many excellent threads that should be helpful in providing some guidance for you to be able to come to a decision regarding both questions.
As far as a ccw it depends in the state you live in. In the state I live you Really do not need a ccw. But the only reason I applied for one is when I go to other states. That do not have the same laws my state does. The only two states that are very close are Alaska and Arizona. And Arizona is better. Now my eldest son lives in a southern state where it is legal to "carry" a firearm in the glove box of your car. Which does not do Any good if you are away from your car. So he received his last week. And that is another reason why I applied for my ccw when I go visit him and my other children in that state.
As far as a personal carry it is what you may think you are comfortable with. Typically some gun stores will rent you different guns so you can try them. I carry a Springfield Amory XD-357 SIG Full size service pistol with a 4" barrel. Have so for years. The wife on the other hand carries a XD Sub-Compact 9mm. My eldest son carries a firearm like mine but in a 40 cal. One of my cousin in laws carries a five shot revolver 357 in the summer but loaded with 38 special and a Glock 9mm in the winter. So my person belief is carry the largest firearm you are comfortable with. If I had the money I would move up to a full size 10mm like a Glock 20. Or a EAA Witness 10mm. But I like and I am used to a full size firearm on my hip and I do carry it in the summer with shorts and a t-shirt. So good luck and read/learn the laws in your state.
I absolutely agree with BUmmedic, only you can decide if you should carry a weapon. Think about it very seriously, not just "yeah, I think it would be a good idea" (you didn't say that was your reason, I'm just saying that it needs more thought than that). Make sure you understand ALL that carrying a weapon means. I truly, truly hope that I never have to use my weapon, but I am prepared to do so if necessary, and I am aware of the repercussions if I do.
As for what to carry, if there was agreement on that there'd be a whole lot fewer gun options offered! My son-in-law carries a full size 1911 in an inside the waistband holster, I carry a "mouse gun" in a pocket holster, or occasionally open carry a larger gun. You have to consider how you dress and a bunch of other things. I'm a pretty new member here but I've been reading a lot of the older posts; there's lots of good information here in the forums.
Personally, I usually ignore any 'advice' from anyone who basically says "You have to do it my way or you're an idiot". But that's just my free opinion, and no doubt worth every cent.
Getting your CWP is not a decision for your cousin or anyone else. It is yours alone. The correct firearm to carry is the one you are comfortable using. Now the allure is gone. You've made the choice to carry. If you are not willing to use that weapon, leave it at home! Advertising that you are carrying without the predetermined decision to defend yourself and fellow citizens will get you a large can of whup ass dumped all over you.
Are you ready and confident that you will use your firearm in a safe and lawful manner to defend yourself and your fellow citizens. If not forget about it.
I would take the class, Submit the paperwork and get that plastic. Doesn't mean you have to carry all the time. None of the time if you wish is fine but your decision. I would invest the money and get it anyway. If your cousin is an experienced shooter ask him to show you what you need to know and tryout his firearms. I am sure he would be flattered.
I always recommend people to get their permit when asked. Having a permit does not mean that you have to carry, but it does give you the option should you decide to. Of course this assumes that you are in a state that requires you to have a permit to carry concealed, or visiting a state that recognizes the permit from your home state or whatever state you are planning on getting a permit from.
Having the permit gives you options that you would not otherwise have. I like options.
As to your question regarding the best concealed carry weapon... That is a much more personal, and difficult, question to me. It depends on what you shoot best, what you are most comfortable with, what you will carry and not just leave at home because it is too big, too heavy, too small, too light, wrong color or whatever. A Concealed Carry Weapon does you no good if you do not have it with you, or if you can not hit what you are aiming at, when you need it.
In any case, whatever you decide, I strongly recommend training and practice regardless of how much you do, or don't, carry. If you are not well versed with firearms, start with basic safety and familiarization. The NRA Pistol course is a good one for this. But, don't stop there. There are many good training facilities and instructors out there and the more training and practice you get the better you will be at handling yourself and your firearm whether it be at the range or in an emergency situation.
Definitely a personal decision. If you decide to go ahead then I recommend a small class with an instructor who really knows what they are doing. I was fortunate enough to find one that was professionally done and really went the extra mile to train the class. My priority was learning more about gun safety, a summary of relevant laws, and ultimately to be more confident. The CCL was a bonus.
I believe everyone who is able should take responsibility for their personal safety and have a carry permit where applicable. Carry concealed is a decision that should be taken with some serious forethought, though, as the implications of actually using a gun for protection are weighty. Not everyone is prepared to use potentially deadly force - you should have that issue settled before you carry.
As for carry guns... well, that is a very personal decision but some general advice is to start your search with a compact 9mm - larger guns are generally more difficult to conceal, smaller guns are more difficult to shoot well. Whatever you choose, please practice regularly! Pistol skills are especially perishable...
:help: Ha ha ha, another person asking what is the best carry weapon. What is the best house to buy? What is the best Bowling ball?
ONLY YOU can decide what is the best carry gun, we can suggest some to look at but you need to shoot some, and hold them to see how it feels in your hand. I use a Bersa Thunder .380 and sometimes a Thunder .32 for carry. You might look at Bersa guns. Also the new Beretta Pico would be good to look at. If you want a 9mm try the Ruger SR9c or S&W MP9c, Walther makes some nice guns. Do you want a semi-auto or revolver? Look at many guns on the internet and watch YouTube videos on shooting and handling them. Look at them in gun shops and hold some. Rent some to shoot at a range. Take your time and really look at some guns and read reviews online. Talk to people and ask what they shoot and how they like it. Allow yourself to look at different guns and learn. For someone with little or no experience with handguns I believe a .32 acp or .380 is good to start with. But look around. :dance3:
Quite simply, carry. If you live in a state where a permit is required the get it. If you have Open Carry available with no permit then don't donate to the gub'ment, just get the training for your benefit. Train and learn to be safe and responsible. There is no right or wrong gun, so do your own evaluation on what is best for you.
Education about any subject is a great thing.
Just because you take the class doesn't mean you have to get the permit.
Just because you get the permit doesn't mean you have to carry.
There are logical steps in each process but the decision is yours.
IMHO, after taking the class you will feel very confident about gun ownership and the reasons to carry.
If you're asking this question here, then NO you shouldn't bother getting a permit. I've seen numerous people who jumped on the concealed carry idea only to discover that they either aren't comfortable handling/using a gun or they aren't willing to make the adjustments required to carry concealed.
My Daughter, DIL, and spouse have been contemplating taking a CCW class together. Nice thought BUT here's what I see knowing these three females as well as anyone. Spouse is basically scatter brained and would soon misplace her pistol or simply wouldn't be able to access it if needed-just like her cell phone.
DIL would most likely choke in the time of need and not be able to pull the trigger on another human.
Daughter is the only one who I'm sure would maintain her gun, have it accessible, and most importantly-use it if needed.