I have bought silver as a hedge for the past several years. Bought a little gold, too, but silver was more to my liking due to price. When I started, I think silver was selling for @ $9 per oz.
I just bought more before this latest slide began. Needless to say, I was disappointed it had not kept up with gold, but I'm not disappointed I bought it even when I did.
I never bought as an investment. If silver or gold increase in price, its due to the dollar being devalued/inflated. I wanted to protect some of my very modest wealth and not left holding worthless paper.
I only buy physical PMs. I deal with a company in OK City - APMEX. They have been very professional. Prices are in-line with other sources, and they ship fast. (I just received my latest order this morning via FedEx.)
There is rumored to be an increasing amount of counterfeit coinage being circulated and sold at silver and gold, so I think it important to buy from a reputable dealer rather than flee markets or similar sellers.