I agree - that's what I have been saying - handgun wise, he shouldn't start w/ anything more powerful than a 357, and he can use 38 rounds in it until he gets good.
From personal experience of introducing about a dozen people to shooting, a .38 Special revolver is the handun of choice by my new shooters. I always start a new shooter on a .22 LR handgun, but after not much range time they want something that "feels" more powerful. A .38 has enough felt recoil to give them that feedback, yet is mild enough that they're not immediately scared of it. It's easy to move on from there after they get used to that.