I have a .357 lever gun and I like the idea of loading my own pistol/carbine ammo - self reliance.
I did just get an AR though, and the 223 is steep, but loading rifle (especially those little skinny 223) is a much more intensive process, and I don't know if I'll bother.
I got into reloading though, when I would drive about 200 miles, stopping at 4 -5 gun shops and only find 2 boxes of 38 spl for my wife. When things get that bad (after Obama's first win) it's good to be able to reload.
I've handled those Berettas a few times and I'm not impressed, plus they're over priced. You could just get the High Point - better buy in my opinion (even though I don't really like the High Point).
If you get advice from some of the wizards on here you could get yourself a 9mm AR (Olympia ... Olympic?) and later get a larger caliber upper if you're looking for more Ooomph.