Open Carrying the Lebel because of a linguisitic difference between open carry and concealed carry laws sounds an awful lot like poking the bear when the cage door is closed but not latched.
There are a hundred ways we can say it's probably legal. There's also a hundred ways it could be legal until one of a hundred different "except when..." can pop up. For example, if he gets stopped next to a school he's boned. The feds evidentally call it a firearm. And the feds don't exempt you from the 1000 yard school zone until you have a state issued Concealed carry permit.
As for picking a revolver... You can get a snub nosed Smith and Wesson without too much looking. I don't know revolvers well at all however, so I suggest going to the revolver forum for knowledgeable advice.
Why do you want a revolver over a semi? A .357 revolver will let you practice with 38 special, and load 38 Special +P or .357 magnum defensive rounds. .38 isn't expensive. But it's not super cheap either. The 9x19 semi automatic chambering is very inexpensive to shoot for practice. However, your best bet is to go to the handgun forums, and ask around there, then go to a range that rents handguns and try them out for feel to find the ones you like.