38 Special Ammo
About 38 Special Ammo
Initially produced in 1898, 38 Special ammunition was designed to be a higher velocity round with better penetration than the 38 Long Colt.
Over the years, the cartridge received more and more demands for improvements, given its accuracy, manageable recoil, and versatility.
Today, 38 Special ammunition is used for target shooting, personal defense, and small-game hunting.
Common Names for 38 Special Ammunition
Since its initial production over 120 years ago, 38 Special Ammo has had many different name variations. Some of the most common include:
|• 38 Special||• 38 Spl||• .38 Special|
|• 38 SPC||• 38 S&W Special|
Regardless of your preferred terminology, 38 Special Ammunition has maintained high popularity over the years and is available from nearly every major American ammo manufacturer.
38 Special Ammo Benefits
Due to its popularity, 38 Special ammo is relatively inexpensive. In most cases, the price per round is comparable or cheaper than competing rounds when purchased in bulk quantities.
In many ways, gun enthusiasts consider 38 Special ammo the top choice for revolvers. The ammunition can easily be found and purchased online and throughout most gun shops.
Regarding performance, 38 Special ammo is renowned for its accuracy (although this is also largely dependent more on the shooter's skill). Additionally, 38 Special ammunition offers low recoil compared to other cartridges without sacrificing penetration power.
What Guns Shoot 38 Special?
|Smith & Wesson||Taurus||Ruger||Charter Arms|
|Model 642||Model 856||LCR||Undercover|
|Model 442||Defender 856||LCRX||Undercover Lite|
|Model 638||Model 85||SP101|
Types of 38 Special Ammo
Like similar firearm cartridges, 38 special ammunition comes in a variety of variations. However, unlike many other firearms, most 38 Special revolvers can reliably fire a variety of cartridges and loads without mishap, even when a variance is loaded into the same cylinder.
For this reason and more, many gun owners opt for pistols chambered in 38 Special simply for its variety of load options.
Additionally, many handloaders have come to appreciate the 38 Special cartridge and has proven to be a favorite among them.
Some of the most common 38 Special loads include:
- Full metal jacket (FMJ): These standard load cartridges feature a lead bullet covered in a harder metal, fitted in a casing made of brass, steel, or aluminum.
- Jacketed hollow point (JHP): Made for self-defense, .38 Special JHP ammo cartridges have a bullet designed with a hollow point in the middle, increasing their ability to expand when they hit a target.
- +P: Originally designed for the FBI, .38 Special +P ammo is loaded under a higher pressure, increasing velocity and power.
- +P+: Loaded under more pressure than the +P, this ammo is often reserved for those on duty, including law enforcement and military.
- Frangible: Unlike JHP rounds, frangible bullets don’t expand on impact; instead, these particular type of .38 Special ammo explodes and shatters into tiny fragments (if the target is harder than the bullet), eliminating the risk of over penetration; also referred to as Advanced Energy Transfers (AETs).
- Round nose: While most ammo comes with a round nose, standard issue .38 Special ammo features a flat tip that became popular with the 1909 Colt, but the option is still available for those who want it.
38 Special Ammo FAQ
What is the best 38 Special Ammo used for?
Historically, 38 Special Ammo or 38 Spl Ammo has primarily been utilized for target shooting, formal competitions, personal defense, and small game hunting.
While its popularity has declined over the years due to higher capacity handguns like the 9mm, the ammunition has traditionally been most popular among US police departments nationwide.
What is 38 Special Wadcutter Ammo?
Wadcutters are specialized rounds designed for shooting paper targets. Wadcutter bullets are flat and sit completely nestled in their casing, flush with the top of the shell.
Unlike traditional round point bullets that rip or tear, these projectiles (cut) through paper, making the wadcutters easier to score. Wadcutters have also become increasingly popular for self-defense, especially for owners carrying 38 Special snub nose revolvers.
What is 38 Special +P Ammo?
Like other +P ammunition, 38 Special +P ammo is loaded to a higher pressure than standard 38 Spl rounds. This added pressure gives the bullet a higher velocity and more power.
Although most modern 38 Special revolvers are designated safe for using +P ammo, owners should check their manual to ensure it can withstand the increased power.
What are the most popular brands of 38 Special Ammo?
Nearly every significant ammunition manufacturing company produces 38 Spl ammo cartridges. The following are quality and affordable ammunition brands you can trust and are available at Ammunition Depot:
- Federal American Eagle 38 Special 158-grain LRN
- Fiocchi Classic Line 38 Special 158-grain FMJ
- Tulammo 38 Spl 130-grain FMJ
- Blazer Brass 38 Special 130-grain FMJ
What is the best 38 Special Ammo for self-defense?
There are many factors to consider when selecting a self-defense ammunition right for you. For example, if you're carrying a snub nose, either Jacketed Hollow Points (JHP) or Wadcutters (WC) could be the right fit.
Because snub revolvers have a short length 2-inch barrel, a JHP bullet may not reach the necessary velocity to expand on impact, making it only as effective as an FMJ bullet. But wadcutter ammo can cut through soft tissue like paper and has surprisingly good wound ballistics.
What is the most powerful 38 Special Ammo?
Although subject to debate, jacketed hollow points (JHP) are believed to be the most powerful 38 Spl ammo type. These rounds are designed for self-defense and have more stopping power than traditional full metal jacket cartridges.
In addition, JHP bullets expand on impact, increasing their stopping power and reducing the risk of overpenetration.