I prefer an AK in 7.62×39 based on battlefield reliability, maintenance, and cost of the round itself. I also love my .45 but no entity uses it in mass quantities. If I had to leave the house with just 3 weapons it would be My AR-15, Remington 700 LTR and my Glock 19. Compatibility with all current NATO calibers. For the AR and the 700 interchangeability with current US Military and Police issued weapons platforms and the Glock for interchangeability with the most common Police issued firearms. While none of these weapons are the most accurate or best performing in their respective fields they are way above average across the board and ammo, magazines and repair parts will be more plentiful.then other models and are generally more affordable based on their prevalence in the market . The 5.56, and 9mm are low recoil enough for people with smaller stature to fire with little or no problems and the weapons themselves are easy to operate and maintain. As far as the ability to “Rack the slide” If your racking at the time of need, you’ve already failed. As far as during firearms failures and normal reloading there are several products available for the Glock series and the XD’s that can help provide for more leverage. Search Amazon for glock or XD slide assist.
As far as picking firearms for purchase. When asked “what should I buy?” my first question is how much are you willing to spend. My Second question is “what is the status of your other preps?”. A person with a $3000 dollar rifle a couple thousand rounds and no preps is a looter waiting for an opportunity to act. The answer is buy the best upgradeable , common caliber firearm you can afford. Put money and time into training before you buy tactical gadgets. Standard AR sights have worked just fine out to 500m and beyond for 30 years. The Army’s requirement for enhanced sights for all rifles was a massive waste of money. As you grow with your firearm you can upgrade but remember all of these lights, lasers and sights require batteries and also may require parts and maintenance. Also as far as pistols for SHTF. In combat the pistol is a last resort weapon. reliability and ease of operation are paramount. Initial upgrades should be extended controls, such as mag release and slide release. Unless you have tried a combat reload in actual combat please believe me large uncomplicated ,easy to find and operate controls are a must.