Snubnose revolvers are difficult to shoot well, and new gun owners may have too much problem mastering the double action trigger pull, reloading,and the proficient use of the snubbie.
There are many smaller semiautomatics out there that can be easier for the new shooter to master. The canard of getting a revolver for a new shooter, as opposed to a semiautomatic, is often foisted on men as well as on women. Go to http://www.corneredcat.com/TOC.aspx#FirstGun
and read everything there about chosing a first handgun, It applies to men as well as to women, unless you are in the military in which case you are stuck with what they issue you.
Perhaps you can take your friend to the local gun shop and let him fondle several different styles and sizes of handguns as a first step. Tell him to concentrate on what feels "good" or "right" in his hand - just about everyone knows what that means.
After he has selected a style/size, see if it is available for rent somewhere, or if someone you know has one. Let him try it out and find out if it is still "right" for his hand, and can he actually manipulate the controls and deal with the recoil.
After that you can help him check out gunshows, local stores/pawn shops and the internet auctions, and advise him on price/quality.
is a great explanation of how to check out a revolver before plunking your money down. If your friend is going to go for a revolver, I recommend you and he print it out and carry it with you when shopping.
BTW, I own and shoot several snubies, and carry one as a BUG to my EDC small semiautomatic.