I like the idea of keeping them cheap, but I agree the added range would be nice. 16" vs 20" threat isn't too big of a difference though, and having handlers means I need to group them up to maximize the range bonus.
However, what I really want to try doing is taking a unit of 4 with handlers and pulling a double teleport with the Slann's command trait. Drop them within 12" of a target and hope for the best! 4 salamander shots at something big could has some serious potential. Plus, the combined unit cost is only 200 points!