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.
Before the conception of the .38 Special, the United States military’s primary cartridge was the .38 Long Colt, which had limited stopping power and had proven itself ineffective as a combat load.
The military needed ammunition that was more powerful, more accurate, and more versatile. Looking at the 38 Special vs. 38 Long Colt, the standard was beat – which was just what the firearm manufacturers intended to do. 38 Spl ammo has more power, more accuracy and more versatility than its predecessor.
Over the years, the cartridge received more and more demands for improvements, given its accuracy, manageable recoil, and versatility.
Today, 38 Spl 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 Ammunition
- 38 Spl Ammo
- .38 Special Ammunition
- 38 SPC Ammo
- 38 S&W Special Ammo
Regardless of your preferred terminology, the 38 Spl has maintained high its popularity over the years and is available from nearly every major American ammo manufacturer.
Popular Guns that shoot 38 Special Ammo
Types of 38 Special Ammunition
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 Spl simply for its variety of load options.
Additionally, many handloaders have come to appreciate the 38 Spl 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 Features
38 Special ammunition is a versatile cartridge that can be used for a variety of purposes, including self-defense, target shooting, and hunting small game.
38 Spl ammunition is a reliable cartridge that is easy to shoot and has a relatively low recoil, making it a good choice for beginners.
38 Special ammo delivers good stopping power, making it an effective choice for self-defense.
The 38 Spl ammo is available in a variety of bullet types, including hollow-point, full metal jacket, and wadcutter.
The 38 SPL +P and +P+ loads offer increased velocity and stopping power for those who need it.
Many 38 Special ammo loads are designed with reduced recoil, making them easier to shoot and more comfortable for beginners or those with recoil sensitivity.
While 38 Special ammunition can produce significant recoil, it is generally less than other revolver cartridges, making it easier to shoot accurately for extended periods of time.
38 Spl ammunition is generally less expensive than other popular cartridges, making it an affordable option for those on a budget.
Additionally, 38 SPL ammo is widely available and can be found at most gun stores and online retailers.
38 Special Ammo FAQ
QUESTION: What is 38 Special ammo?
ANSWER: 38 Special ammo is a revolver cartridge that was introduced by Smith & Wesson in 1898. It is commonly used for target shooting, self-defense, and law enforcement.
QUESTION: What is the difference between 38 Special and 357 Magnum?
ANSWER: The 357 Magnum is a longer and more powerful version of the 38 Special ammunition. It can be fired from a revolver chambered in 357 Magnum, while 38 Special ammo can also be fired from a revolver chambered in 357 Magnum.
QUESTION: What is 38 Special Ammo used for?
ANSWER:Historically, 38 Special Ammo or 38 Spl Ammo has primarily been utilized for target shooting, formal competitions, personal defense, concealed carry, 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.
QUESTION: What is 38 Special +P Ammo?
ANSWER: 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.
QUESTION: What is the best 38 Special Ammo for self-defense?
ANSWER: 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.
QUESTION: What is the effective range of 38 Special ammo?
ANSWER: The effective range of 38 Special ammunition depends on the specific load and the shooter's skill level. However, it is generally considered effective up to 25 yards for self-defense and target shooting.
QUESTION: What is the most powerful 38 Special Ammo?
ANSWER: 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.
QUESTION: What are the most popular brands of 38 Special Ammo?
ANSWER: 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: