I'll side with the majority here. The 442/642 is ideal.
Scandium frames are nice and are stronger than aluminum frames, so if longevity over thousands of rounds is important, get one.
I am not a fan of .357 Magnums out of scandium J frames. I have been firearms enthusiast since age 12 and they are the most unpleasant handgun I have ever fired. My .454 Casull revolver was nowhere near as brutal, nor was the .500 S&W Magnum I fired. If one is wedded to the Magnum chambering, a Colt Lawman or a M-19/66 with a 2.5 inch barrel is a better choice.
Many tout that the extra power is necessary when the time comes and more stopping power is good, BUT... a defensive firearm requires lots of practice and qualifications. The J frame Magnums are flinch inducing machines. I am against practicing with light loads and then carrying Magnum rounds based on experiences I saw on the range with cops who did this in duty revolvers back in the early 1980s.
A .38 Special +P round with a modern bullet design, combined with good placement, should do the trick.
Imported from the future in 1984. Returned to the past in 2007
Dear God, this is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. It's got to rank right up there with CALEA. -Pepper45