The Revival of the 38 S&W Special
Dr. John Woods 05.17.17
There is a renaissance movement under way, and it’s a bit surprising. Considering the domination of the semi-auto pistol calibers these days, who would have thought an old revolver round would again find favor with shooters, self-defense advocates, preppers, and survivalists? There is new life in the old 38 Special.
Smith and Wesson developed the cartridge and brought out the first revolver to chamber it, the Military & Police Model in 1902. Colt did not chamber the 38 Special until 1909. A Colt version came out a few years later, only differing in the shape of the bullet.
The 38 Special turned out to be one of the most well-balanced all-around handgun cartridges ever developed. The 38 Special is also so accurate that it is still widely used for match target shooting. It is useful for small game hunting up to medium-sized game.
The 38 Special is loaded by every commercial ammunition manufacturer, so it is widely available. Factory loads use a wide variety of bullet weights from 95 grains up to 200 grains, which vary from round nose and flat nose plain bullets to all sorts of jacketed and hollowpoint bullets.
The standard load has a 158 grain bullet. Velocity of these loads hover in the 755 fps range with 200 foot pounds of energy.
These days, more and more people are looking to the 38 Special for self defense. Yes, the 38 Special is making a comeback, and that’s a good thing.