IMHO, I would stick with your original idea of avoiding +p. TNoutdoors9 did a .45 +P from Hornady's zombie line 185gr. The expansion was impressive, but again, the sacrifice was penetration depth. Important? I'm not qualified to say. I know that head-on, I'm not 12" deep, even with my expanding posterior! well maybe I am right now at the hind end of things.
Standard pressure has been getting the job done for years and I personally am comfortable with it. Even better, Mas writes in his book "Conceal Carry" that "standard pressure 230-grain 45 ACP with conventional JHP bullet pretty much duplicates the recoil and trajectory of GI hardball in the same weight, allowing cost-effective training..." Mas Ayoob, Conceal Carry
Gun Digest Books 2008
I thought long and hard about short barrels and effectiveness in choosing ammo for .357mag, so I can empathize with ya.