Welcome! If you end up ordering online, I’d suggest the ESEE-4 with 3D handles as a great starting point. Not too big, not too small, and just a very versatile knife. As to your handle question - yes the 3D handles are light years better than the original flat ones. If you can find a store where you can try them out in person, I’d suggest comparing that to the ESEE-4HM , ESEE-6 3D/HM, and Laser Strike. The 3 & 4 have the same handle, the 3 is just a bit shorter and thinner blade. I personally love the Laser Strike handle, but it’s not for everyone and I’d 100% get the contoured handles from the The Knife Connection (https://theknifeconnection.com/tkc-handles/esee-laser-strike/) - they’re an excellent online knife store too.