Welcome to the world of firearms! I hope your journey is fun, rewarding and safe.
I'll share what I know. I own a Savage Mark II / .22lr and although it is cheaply made, and brand new it didn't cost much, it works fine. If I'd dropped $600.00 on a high end Browning I'd expect more, but you get what you pay for.
It's made out of stamped metal and the bolt action was a bit crunchy when new, and it has never had the precision fit of a high end rifle. That being said, it is a little tack driver.
With an inexpensive scope mounted on top it holds nice tight groups with almost any cheap plinking ammo except Winchester, and is fun trigger practice for little money.
I really like the accutrigger, and have mine set at the lowest setting. I've put a few thousand rounds through the gun and cycled the bolt enough times that the 'crunchy' spots have worn in and it's now quite smooth. For $197 it's a good little .22 lr.
If you're looking for home defense and recreational shooting all in one package you'd be hard to go wrong with a .357 magnum revolver. As was stated in an earlier post, it will shoot .38 special which is a great practice round and also economical. I have a .357 revolver and while I hardly ever shoot it anymore, it always seems to be the favorite choice among new shooters that I take to the range.
There are, of course more potent options for home defense. A 12 gauge with 18" barrel and buckshot is the ultimate, and millions of people keep them for that reason.
For someone just beginning their collection and getting into shooting, a .22 is very easy to get accustomed to since the recoil is minimal and rounds are cheap (if you can find them these days). If I were to have one and only one gun to my name - one that had to do it all - I would choose a .357 magnum.
It has the option of shooting .38, which is friendly to your hands and can allow you to develop good technique, while also being able to shoot deadly .357's, which are as good as anything in a self defense situation.
Finally, as my collection has grown I may take as many as 3 rifles and 3 pistols to the range on any given outing, but I always bring a .22 for warm ups and form practice. After getting into my 'zone' I put the .22 away and bring out the .45's and centerfire rifles. If I had to donate all my guns to charity and keep only one, ironically it would be the one I shoot the least: my .357 revolver. It's the only one I own that does it all.
Last edited by Bluehighways; April 3, 2013 at 02:54 AM.