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.38 Special


The .38 Smith & Wesson Special (commonly .38 Special, .38 Spl, or .38 Spc, is a rimmed, centerfire cartridge designed by Smith & Wesson. It is most commonly used in revolvers, although some semi-automatic pistols and carbines also use this round. The .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the 1990s and was also a standard sidearm cartridge used by soldiers in World War I.

Known for its accuracy and manageable recoil, the .38 Special remains one of the most popular revolver cartridge in the world more than a century after its introduction. It is used for target shooting, formal target competition, personal defense, and for hunting small game.

About .38 special

  • Type Revolver
  • Place of origin USA
  • Designer: Smith & Wesson


  • Parent case .38 Long Colt
  • Case type Rimmed, straight
  • Bullet diameter .357 in (9.1 mm)
  • Neck diameter .379 in (9.6 mm)
  • Base diameter .379 in (9.6 mm)
  • im diameter .44 in (11 mm)
  • Rim thickness .058 in (1.5 mm)
  • Case length 1.155 in (29.3 mm)
  • Overall length 1.55 in (39 mm)
  • Case capacity 23.4 gr H2O (1.52 cm3)
  • Primer type Small pistol

Ballistic performance

Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
9.53 g (147 gr) Cor-Bon FMJ   900 ft/s (270 m/s) 264 ft⋅lbf (358 J)
8.1 g (125 gr) Hornady JHP 900 ft/s (270 m/s) 225 ft⋅lbf (305 J)
8.1 g (125 gr) Underwood FMJ +P   1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 278 ft⋅lbf (377 J)
10.24 g (158 gr) Grizzly JHP +P 975 ft/s (297 m/s) 333 ft⋅lbf (451 J)
6.48 g (100 gr) Cor-bon PB +P 1,150 ft/s (350 m/s)   294 ft⋅lbf (399 J)

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ATTENTION: The following locations have ammunition restrictions.

California - Retailer must ship to FFL.

Connecticut - Retailer must have your ACE or Pistol Permit and State ID on file or ship directly to and FFL.

Illinois - Retailer must have your FOID and State ID on file.

Illinois (Chicago) - Retailer must ship to an FFL.

Massachusetts - Retailer must have your ACE or Pistol Permit and State ID on file or ship directly to an FFL.

New York - Retailer must ship to an FFL.

New York (New York City) - No ammo shipments allowed.

New Jersey - A copy of your current Drivers License and Firearms Purchaser ID Card are required before a retailer can ship the order.

Please check local laws and shipping policy before placing an order.