Jif and Scott.
Test firing different guns is a good idea. Choose what is best and most comfortable to you and family members not what others tell you to buy as you will get their favorites not yours.
In regards to the .38/.357. Many magnum calibers started off as standard ones just as many standard calibers started off as black powder rounds.. .38 special became the .357, the .44 special became the .44 magnum they simply stretched the case out. Many handguns are designed for multiple calibers. One of the more popular nowadays is the .410/.45 long colt guns that shoot a shotshell or a conventional pistol cartridge. The 9mm came from the 9mm Kurtz caliber which Kurtz means short. The .380 cartridge is simply a stretched 9mm case with more powder.
Many older revolvers and rifles were chambered in cartridges like the 44-40. This was simply a .44 caliber bullet with 40 grains of black powder same with the 45-70, 50-100 or 50-120 cartridge rifles. Generally the first number was the caliber and the second was the powder charge. You do have to be careful though as time progressed they converted some calibers and guns to smokeless ammunition which was great you got increased velocity and less fouling but modern smokeless ammunition even though it is the same caliber should not be used in older black powder guns as they will not handle it.
Thanks again for the advice. I'm taking my time with this. One of the reasons I joined this group was to gather information from experienced people. I appreciate the info and the time taken to write it all.
There are much greater reasons not to use .357 mag loadings than worrying about a lawsuit.
Magnum loadings in any revolver are going to create a greater muzzle flash and recoil. If fired in a low light scenario the results would probably ruin whatever night vision you had for a couple of minutes. Increased recoil means a slower second shot as it takes longer to get back on target.
Yes a handgun round will penetrate through a wall. Yes it could injure someone on the other side. That does not mean you do not shoot if there is no other choice. The likelihood of a round going through a human body then on to penetrate the wall is rather slim. A good self defense round is meant to expand inside tissue dumping all of it's energy inside the body. Through and through shots mean that the bullet did not do it's job completely since it past through and you actually lost that energy and stopping power as it exited. It would still could be effective just not as effective. The key that cannot be stressed enough is to hit your target.
BowerR64. Just like stacking the magazine tube of a shotgun with slugs, buckshot, birdshot or any other combination you never seem to have what you need right at that moment. It is also very hard in the heat of the moment to count which round is which. There are many SD rounds on the market that use special powder that yields a low muzzle flash but still lets the bullet reach the needed velocity to do it's job. It all comes down to hitting the target where you need to hit it.