It really depends on what you plan to do with it and what your priorities are. For being economical and shooting small game, you can't beat a 22 and for this purpose, a single action would be fine and cheaper than a quality double action. Personally, I would skip the 38 and go straight to a 357 magnum because it is much more versatile. Full power 357 magnum loads are pretty potent and pretty effective against 2 legged and 4 legged predators. You can also still shoot the soft kicking 38's which are also good for small game.
As for particular models, it really depends on what your idea of not pricey is. For a 22, the only reason I don't own a Ruger single six is because like most 22 revolvers, the grip doesn't fit my hand well. For a 357, I have a 6" GP100 and really like it a lot. It shoots well and even full house handloads are very comfortable to shoot out of it. It is not a small gun but too me it is comfortable to carry and downright light next to my Super Redhawk.
It is probably obvious but the reason I mentioned a single action for the 22 is obviously cost but also because that is how it will be used anyway. The reason, I didn't suggest a single action for the 357 is that, IMO, a double action is better for most people if it were used in a defensive scenario. Otherwise, something like a Blackhawk would make a great trail gun.
Last edited by SRH78; August 11, 2012 at 02:00 AM.