SKS will do it all (hunting, defense, plinking), and with a Tech-Site is the rifle the Garand should have been (lighter, bigger magazine, lighter ammo). They are still reasonable around $300 (and stripper clips are MUCH cheaper than mags) and will last till your grandkids pass it to their grandkids. I prefer the Norinco for the chrome-lined barrel and the lighter weight (bayonets are useless, IMO). If no to a semi-auto, the .357 levergun with a 16'' barrel is the winner for similar reasons. But remember - much more important than the rifle is your having practiced with it sitting, standing, squatting, at ranges from 20 to 150 meters, in the heat and cold, at sunset and mid-day and dawn, and when you are overcaffeinated and when you are tired, loading, clearing jams, and firing rapid, aimed, strings. If you are 'one with your rifle', any of these choices are perfectly adequate for family defense unless you vacationing are in Somalia. You should spend as much on ammo getting good with your rifle in the first year as the original cost of the rifle. Now go have fun!