Well, I see the the original posting was about .38 snub nose as opposed to small auto but it has evolved to a wider discussion. I do not have a subscription to Guns and Ammo but I would still like to respond.
For home defense shotguns are superior in close quarters and second to none. I have many guns and the one that is loaded and next to my bed is an old Winchester Model 12 - 12 gauge pump. The last thing anyone wants being shot at them at close range is buck shot.
For concealed carry by females i would say a .357 Mag revolver double action, Colt or Smith and Wesson. Use .38 special ammo and the bulkier frame should make the recoil acceptable. I know there are many ladies who can handle more but we are speaking in general terms.
My personal preference for concealed carry on the street or a combat side arm would be a 1911 model .45 ACP made by Springfield Armory or Colt.
After that if social unrest suddenly struck and chaos took to the streets you would probably only use your pistol while trying to make your way to your rifle and only 2 cartridges would do the job AND be replenishable by our modern military in most situations. That would be the .308 and the .223. So that only means M1A-M14 and an M4 type.
Hey.... Just like the guy a few post back.... It's only my 2 cents.