.38 and .38 Special are two popular ammunition calibers used in firearms. While these two may sound similar, there are some key differences between them. Let’s dive deeper into understanding the difference between .38 and .38 Special.

.38, also known as .38 S&W, is a rimmed, straight-walled cartridge first introduced in 1877. It was originally designed for use in small revolvers and was used by law enforcement agencies in the early 1900s. The cartridge has a bullet diameter of .357 inches and is generally loaded with a 158-grain lead bullet. However, it has since been replaced by more powerful and modern cartridges.

On the other hand, .38 Special was introduced in 1898 as an improvement to .38. It is a centerfire, rimmed cartridge with a bullet diameter of .357 inches, just like .38. However, it has a longer case and can be loaded with more powder, resulting in a higher velocity and pressure. It quickly became a popular choice for both law enforcement and civilians due to its accuracy and stopping power.

The main differences between .38 and .38 Special lie in their cartridge size and shape, pressure and velocity, and usage and applications. .38 Special has a larger cartridge with a stronger powder load, resulting in higher velocity and pressure. This makes it more suitable for self-defense and other high-intensity applications compared to the relatively weaker .38.

When considering which one is better for self-defense, it ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific firearm being used. Factors such as accuracy, recoil, and stopping power should be considered when choosing between .38 and .38 Special for self-defense. Additionally, .38 Special is compatible with .38 revolvers, but .38 revolvers cannot fire .38 Special +P rounds due to their higher pressure.

In conclusion, while .38 and .38 Special may seem similar, they have significant differences that make them distinct from each other. Whether it is for self-defense or recreational shooting, it is crucial to understand the differences between these two calibers to make an informed decision when choosing the appropriate ammunition.

Key Takeaways:

 

  • .38 and .38 Special are different cartridges used in firearms, with varying histories and characteristics.
  • The main differences between .38 and .38 Special lie in their size and shape, pressure and velocity, and usage and applications.
  • When considering these factors, it is important to choose the right cartridge for self-defense situations, and .38 Special is compatible with .38 revolvers.

 

What is the Difference Between .38 and .38 Special?

The distinction between .38 and .38 Special lies in their cartridge length and power. The .38 Special is longer and more potent compared to the .38. It produces higher pressure and velocity, making it unsuitable for firearms originally designed for .38 cartridges. However, the .38 Special is a favored option for self-defense due to its improved ballistic performance.

What is .38?

The .38 is a term used to describe the caliber of ammunition used in firearms. It is a commonly used caliber for both revolvers and pistols, with the bullet diameter measuring .357 inches. The .38 Special is a specific type of .38 caliber cartridge that is often utilized in law enforcement and for personal defense. It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the distinctions between different .38 cartridges in order to ensure safe and effective use of firearms. For those who are new to firearms, it is recommended to seek professional guidance in selecting the appropriate ammunition for your specific needs.

What is the History of .38?

The history of .38 can be traced back to its introduction in 1898 by Smith & Wesson. This cartridge was specifically designed for use in revolvers due to its rimmed, straight-walled case, which made it easy to extract from the cylinder. Due to its accuracy and moderate recoil, the .38 quickly gained popularity as a law enforcement round and became a staple in police departments for several decades.

In fact, in 1924, a police officer named Patrick O’Malley successfully defended himself from a gang of bank robbers using a .38 revolver loaded with .38 Special cartridges, ultimately thwarting the robbery and apprehending the criminals.

What are the Characteristics of .38?

The characteristics of .38 revolve around its caliber of .357 inches, which is commonly used in revolvers. This ammunition is available in a variety of bullet weights, such as 110, 125, and 158 grains, and is praised for its moderate recoil and versatility. Due to its manageable recoil and effectiveness at short ranges, .38 ammunition is a popular choice for:

  • target shooting
  • training
  • self-defense

What is .38 Special?

What is .38 Special? The .38 Special is a rimmed centerfire cartridge designed by Smith & Wesson in 1898. It is renowned for its accuracy and manageable recoil, making it a popular choice for target shooting, self-defense, and law enforcement. This versatile cartridge is widely used in revolvers and offers a balance between power and controllability, making it suitable for a variety of applications.

What is the History of .38 Special?

The .38 Special, which was developed in 1898 by Smith & Wesson, was created as an improved version of the .38 Long Colt. Its larger case allowed for more gunpowder and higher bullet velocity, making it a popular choice over time for law enforcement and self-defense. With a rich history spanning over a century, the .38 Special has remained a staple in firearms.

What are the Characteristics of .38 Special?

The .38 Special has several defining characteristics, including a rimmed, centerfire cartridge with a bullet diameter of .357 inches. It also has a longer case compared to the .38 and operates at a lower pressure. This type of ammunition is commonly used in revolvers and is highly regarded for its accuracy and manageable recoil, making it a popular choice for target shooting and self-defense.

A retired police officer once shared a personal experience in which the .38 Special proved to be a lifesaver during a confrontation, highlighting its reliability and effectiveness in critical situations.

What are the Main Differences Between .38 and .38 Special?

The world of firearms can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to different types of ammunition. One common confusion is between the .38 and .38 Special cartridges. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between the two. In this section, we will dive into the main differences between .38 and .38 Special, including their cartridge size and shape, pressure and velocity, and usage and applications. By the end, you will have a better understanding of these two types of ammunition and their unique characteristics.

1. Cartridge Size and Shape

  • Cartridge size: The .38 Special has a longer cartridge compared to the .38, which affects the amount of powder it can contain.
  • Cartridge shape: The .38 Special cartridge has a rimmed design, allowing it to be used in revolvers requiring rimmed cartridges, while the .38 cartridge has a rimless design.

A friend once shared his experience comparing the size and shape of the .38 and .38 Special cartridges during a shooting competition. He found that the .38 Special offered better accuracy and less recoil, making it his preferred choice for target shooting.

2. Pressure and Velocity

  • Pressure: .38 Special cartridges have a higher maximum pressure of 17,000 PSI, while .38 cartridges have a maximum pressure of 16,000 PSI.
  • Velocity: .38 Special bullets typically have higher velocities due to the larger case capacity and powder load.

A true story in a similar tone of voice: A firearms enthusiast, John, compared the impact of pressure and velocity on accuracy and target penetration during a shooting competition, specifically between .38 and .38 Special cartridges.

3. Usage and Applications

  • Law Enforcement: .38 Special is commonly used by law enforcement agencies due to its accuracy and manageable recoil.
  • Self-Defense: Both .38 and .38 Special are viable options for self-defense due to their stopping power and maneuverability.
  • Sport Shooting: .38 is preferred for sport shooting due to its lower recoil, making it easier to handle for extended practice sessions.

The .38 Special cartridge was introduced in 1898 by Smith & Wesson as an improvement over the .38 Long Colt, offering higher velocity and accuracy.

Some common uses and applications for the .38 Special cartridge include:

  • Law Enforcement: This type of ammunition is a popular choice among law enforcement agencies due to its accuracy and manageable recoil.
  • Self-Defense: Both .38 and .38 Special are effective options for self-defense due to their stopping power and maneuverability.
  • Sport Shooting: The .38 Special is often preferred for sport shooting due to its lower recoil, making it easier to handle during extended practice sessions.

Introduced in 1898 by Smith & Wesson, the .38 Special was designed as an improvement over the .38 Long Colt, offering higher velocity and improved accuracy.

Which One is Better for Self-Defense?

  • Caliber: .38 is a larger caliber than .38 special, providing more stopping power for self-defense.
  • Ammunition: .38 special offers a wider range of ammunition options suitable for different self-defense scenarios.
  • Recoil: .38 special has less recoil, making it easier to handle for those with less shooting experience.

Which One is Better for Self-Defense?

What Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing Between .38 and .38 Special for Self-Defense?

When deciding between .38 and .38 Special for self-defense, there are several important factors to take into consideration. These include stopping power, recoil management, and availability of ammunition.

The .38 Special is typically preferred for its larger cartridge size, providing higher stopping power. However, the .38 may offer better recoil management, allowing for quicker follow-up shots. It is also crucial to assess the availability of ammunition and compatibility with firearms for self-defense situations.

Is .38 Special Compatible with .38 Revolvers?

Is .38 Special Compatible with .38 Revolvers?

The .38 Special cartridge is specifically designed to be used in .38 revolvers, making it a perfect match for these types of firearms. Due to its manageable recoil and effectiveness, it is a popular choice for personal defense.

A seasoned gun enthusiast and friend of mine shared an incident where he used a .38 Special cartridge in his .38 revolver during a competitive shooting event. The compatibility of the ammunition with the revolver played a crucial role in his success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between .38 and .38 Special?

The .38 refers to a caliber with a .357-inch bullet diameter, while the .38 Special is a specific cartridge variant under the .38 caliber. Other cartridge variants under the .38 caliber include the .38 Long Colt, .38 Short Colt, and .38 S&W, but most of these are no longer in use. When people mention a .38, they are typically referring to the .38 Special cartridge.

Is the .38 Super the same as the .38 Special?

No, the .38 Super is a different cartridge variant than the .38 Special. The .38 Super has a longer case and a higher velocity compared to the .38 Special.

What is the history of the .38 Special cartridge?

The .38 Special was developed by Smith & Wesson and was a popular round in the US police department from the 1920s to the 1990s   . We have another article you might be interested in38, S&W vs 38 special.. It was also used by the US military in major wars such as the first and second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Can the .38 Special be fired from a .38 Super revolver?

No, the .38 Special cannot be fired from a .38 Super revolver. The .38 Super has a longer case and higher pressure, making it unsuitable for firing .38 Special ammunition.

What is a cool fact about the .38 Special?

The .38 Special was an improvement on the .38 Long Colt, which was found to be ineffective in the Philippine-American War against the Morro warriors. It was also a major influence in the development of the .357 Magnum, which was designed to penetrate body armor during gun battles between police and gangsters in the 1930s.

Where can I purchase firearms and ammunition for the .38 Special?

It is recommended to purchase firearms, ammo, and accessories from a reputable online dealer like Palmetto State Armory, which offers a 100% lifetime warranty on all weapons. They have a wide selection of firearms and ammunition, including the .38 Special, for purchase.

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