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The .38 S&W Special, also commonly known as .38 Special, .38 Spl, .38 Spc, (pronounced “thirty-eight special”), or 9x29mmR 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 for the vast majority of United States police departments from the 1920s to the 1990s, and it was also a common sidearm cartridge used by United States military personnel in World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War. In other parts of the world, it is known by its metric designation of 9×29.5mmR or 9.1×29mmR.
Known for its accuracy and manageable recoil, the .38 Special remains one of the most popular revolver cartridges 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.
The results are game changing in many aspects for the consumer, law enforcement and military. For indoor RANGE use and nighttime shooting. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable brass cases.
The .38 Special was introduced and produced in 1898 as an improvement over the .38 Long Colt which, as a military service cartridge, was found to have inadequate stopping power against the charges of Filipino Muslim warriors during the Philippine–American War. Upon its introduction, the .38 Special was originally loaded with black powder, but the cartridge’s popularity caused manufacturers to offer smokeless powder loadings within a year of its introduction.
Despite its name, the caliber of the .38 Special cartridge is actually .357 inches (36 caliber/9.07 mm), with the “.38” referring to the approximate diameter of the loaded brass case. This came about because the original .38-caliber cartridge, the .38 Short Colt, was designed for use in converted .36-caliber cap-and-ball Navy revolvers, which had cylindrical firing chambers of approximately 0.374-inch (9.5 mm) diameter, requiring heeled bullets, the exposed portion of which was the same diameter as the cartridge case.
Except for case length, the .38 Special is identical to the .38 Short Colt, .38 Long Colt, and .357 Magnum. This allows the .38 Special round to be safely fired in revolvers chambered for the .357 Magnum, also including the .38 Short Colt and .38 Long Colt in revolvers chambered for .38 Special, increasing the versatility of this cartridge. However, the longer and more powerful .357 Magnum cartridge will usually not chamber and fire in weapons rated specifically for .38 Special (e.g. all versions of the Smith & Wesson Model 10), which are not designed for the greatly increased pressure of the magnum rounds. Both .38 Special and .357 Magnum will chamber in Colt New Army revolvers in .38 Long Colt, due to the straight walled chambers, but this should not be done under any circumstances, due to dangerous pressure levels, up to three times what the New Army is designed to withstand.
Due to its black-powder heritage, the .38 Special is a low-pressure cartridge, one of the lowest in common use today at 17,500 PSI. By modern standards, the .38 Special fires a medium-sized bullet at rather low speeds. In the case of target loads, a 148 gr (9.6 g) bullet is propelled to only 690 ft/s (210 m/s). The closest comparisons are the .380 ACP, which fires much lighter bullets slightly faster than most .38 Special loads; the 9×19mm Parabellum, which fires a somewhat lighter bullet significantly faster; and the .38 Super, which fires a comparable bullet considerably faster. All of these cartridges are usually found in semi-automatic pistols.
The higher-pressure .38 +P loads at 20,000 PSI offer about 20% more muzzle energy than standard-pressure loads and places between the .380 ACP and the 9 mm Parabellum; similar to that of the 9×18mm Makarov. A few specialty manufacturers’ +P loads for this cartridge can attain even higher energies than that, especially when fired from longer barrels, produce energies in the range of the 9 mm Parabellum. These loads are generally not recommended for older revolvers or ones not specifically “+P” rated