Talk:.38 Special

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"Few, if any, police departments in the U.S. still use .38 Special as a standard duty weapon." ...Disputed... Almost all forces in the US still have .38 as an authorized duty cartridge and Michigan State Police, as well as some others still use .38 as a standard and issued platform.

The document you cite clearly shows that it's a minority of forces which authorise the use of .38 Special, not "almost all." Riddley 13:44, 2 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed, prop. change wording to: "Only a minority of US police deparment issue or authorize."

What is the citation for that statment? The assertion of a minority status should be wholly stricken unless referenced. Nicholas SL Smithchatter 21:45, 8 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Image placement[edit]

Maybe if we moved the 2nd image way up high in the article, like after the 1st history paragraph, it wouldn't look so funny. I played with it a few places myself and couldn't find anything I really liked. Arthurrh 18:43, 6 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Can't there be an image of the gun itself, instead of the ammo? (talk) 21:09, 5 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

.38 Special is a cartridge, not a gun.--LWF (talk) 21:15, 5 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cartridge History and Date of Advent[edit]

Most reloading handbooks and references such as the cited Cartridges of the World date the .38 Special back to 1902. The cartridge was actually introduced in 1899 with the first model Military and Police Revolver. I have added a picture of one of these revolvers and the letter from Roy Jinks confirming the history of the .38 Special round and the date of shipment in 1900. Please look at the letter before deleting this edit.--Mcumpston (talk) 04:27, 14 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cartridge Effectiveness and/or Lack Thereof[edit]

Elmer Keith was an early critic of the effectiveness of the standard load. In his Sixguns Book, he said that the .38 Special "had cost many good men their lives." (sic) He developed higher pressure loads using his SWC with and without hollow point that he developed betwen 1928 and 31 deeming these loads effective. There has been much subsequent literature in the same vein but Keith seems to be the prime mover in this and his book would make a good reference in the places needing citation about inadequate power. I do not know how to add to the Ref list but this would be a good inclusion:

Keith, Elmer Sixguns by Keith New York, Bonanza Books 1955 and 1961

There have also been references to the Strausberg Goat material and studies by more recent stopping power researchers but these have become so controversial that using them as sources is guaranteed to start a fight. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mcumpston (talkcontribs) 13:14, 21 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've noticed that listed in this article, the 9mm Parabellum has more J energy transfered than the .38 Special. I find that to be bollocks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:48, 18 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So every ballistic data chart is a lie to fool people into thinking that 9x19mm has more muzzle energy than .38 Special? Take off your tinfoil hat. -- (talk) 13:46, 14 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
More to the point, note that energy is directly proportional to mass, but is proportional to the square of the velocity, hence the greater energy for the high velocity 9P round. Me, I shoot 45 because I can see the holes in the paper at 25 yards. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:38, 24 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

With good hollow point bullets, and the new pistol powders, the .38 Special is even better, and it does equal, and surpass the 9mm Liver round. With a 140 gr bullet loaded to 1166 fps, the grand old .38 Special develops 466 ft-lbs of energy. That makes it equal in power to a .45 ACP. HawkeyeSATX (talk) 22:27, 16 February 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not trying to be That Guy, but if you're getting a 140gr bullet up to nearly 1200 feet per second out of a .38 Special cartridge case, either you're loading to FAR beyond SAAMI pressures or you're shooting it out of a rifle, not a revolver. Very few commercially available loads in .38 Special exceed 900 feet per second from a 4" revolver with a bullet of any weight, even at +P pressures--much less the 2" J-frame revolvers that are the last remaining platform in which the .38 Special cartridge is still commonly seen. This is because SAAMI pressure specs for the ancient .38 Special blackpowder cartridge are written not to exceed the safety margins of Victorian Era blackpowder revolvers of dubious metallurgy. The 9mm was designed for smokeless powders and much higher pressures, which is why it can be so much more powerful than .38. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:400:8000:4526:64D7:68A6:D622:6F83 (talk) 23:12, 31 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

.38-44 Heavy Duty[edit]

It was S&W's .38-44 "Outdoorsman" that was the heavy-frame target pistol, which had fully adjustable target sights, and every surviving example I've ever seen has had the 6" barrel, though they did catalog other lengths. The .38-44 Heavy Duty was purely and completely a plain-Jane fixed-sight police service revolver (and the 5" barrel version was in the 1930 catalog as the "Super Police" model), with square notch rear sight milled into the topstrap of the frame and semicircular "half nickel" front sight pinned to a base atop the muzzle; every Heavy Duty model I've ever seen had the tapered 4" barrel though S&W listed others in their catalogs at the time. Imagine a S&W M1917 .45 ACP or Military Model .44 Special, but in .38 instead. That's a Heavy Duty.

And if anyone wants to verify that, just go to any of the online firearms auction pages and see for yourself which feature set went with which model name. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:27, 30 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WikiProject Military history/Assessment/Tag & Assess 2008[edit]

Article reassessed and graded as start class. Referencingand appropriate inline citation guidelines not met. --dashiellx (talk) 16:23, 24 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

.38 Special +P+ table entry[edit]

The .38 Comparisons table in the Performance section raises two questions for me:

1) The max pressure listed for .38 Special +P+ is 25,000 psi. Where does this figure come from? Unless things have changed fairly recently, there is no SAAMI pressure spec for +P+ ammo. +P+ is usually used to denote ammo with pressures that could be in excess of +P loads, but not within a defined spec. Moreover, the article on overpressure ammunition ( cites an article listing .38 +P+ at 22,000 psi, and claims a general industry agreement to load +P+ to 15% higher than +P, which would be 23,000 PSI. Given all of these conflicts and the lack of a SAAMI spec, I suggest replacing the entry in the column with "> 20,000 PSI" unless a source can be found for an actual max pressure. An explanatory footnote would be in order, too.

2) The sample +P+ load shown is a 147 grain bullet at 1150 fps. Is this an actual load? The most common 147 grain .38 +P+ loading (and the only commercial one, to my knowledge) is the Federal Premium Hydra-Shok law-enforcement-only load. From memory, that load was in the neighborhood of 950 fps--nowhere near 1150 fps. Can anybody document a 147 grain +P+ commercial load at a nominal 1150 fps? If not, I suggest replacing the entry with either the 147 grain at 950, or with the old "Treasury Load," which was a 110 grain at (IIRC) a nominal 1100 fps. The 147 grain load would be more current. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ana Nim (talkcontribs) 18:47, 12 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WWI Sidearm?[edit]

This article states: "The .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the early 1990s, and was also a common sidearm used by soldiers in World War One." Which was it a cartridge or a sidearm? This sentence could also stand to have a commaectemy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 11 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fixed. Miguel Escopeta (talk) 20:36, 11 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm no gun expert, but I watch a lot of Law and Order, and when they say "38 special", they are always referring to the gun, not to the cartridge. Is that common usage? If so, this article should be modified to indicate that the term "38 special" can apply either to the cartridge or to the gun (and it should state exactly what model of gun that is -- I assume the revolver in the picture). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:21, 5 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is no the .38 Special gun. It is common shorthand to refer any handgun chambered for the .38 Special cartridge as a .38 Special, but that covers more manufacturers and model numbers than would be practical to list. It's like calling any 9mm caliber pistol a 9mm. --Naaman Brown (talk) 18:11, 14 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dead link[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 12:47, 31 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dead link 2[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 12:48, 31 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Why is a .38 Special so "special"? Mr.Atoz (talk) 02:40, 30 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It was designed as a longer, more powerful replacement for the .38 Long Colt in military service, so it was given a distinctive name. --Naaman Brown (talk) 18:23, 14 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the term magnum hadn't been used for a pistol round or rifle round. HawkeyeSATX (talk) 22:44, 16 February 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Most popular revolver cartridge[edit]

The article states that the .38 Special "remains the most popular revolver cartridge in the world more than a century after its introduction". However the link to the article which supports this statement is broken and I can't find anything on the Internet which supports that claim. Is it really "the most popular revolver cartridge in the world"? If so then how is that determined? A new reference needs to be provided if it is true.

I also think the word "popular" is open to interpretation. It could mean used by the most people, or it could mean the biggest selling, or it could mean both. 'Most people' and 'biggest selling' are separate things and if it isn't both of them then a different word should be used? I am not an expert on guns or ammunition (which is why I'm reading about them on Wikipedia!), so I think someone who knows more about this should follow it up...

Ciao for now!

FillsHerTease (talk) 11:06, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unreliable references?[edit]

I cannot find the tag for the unreliable references. Are there some? If not please remove the tag.--DThomsen8 (talk) 14:09, 17 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Accuracy of specifications?[edit]

The figure ".379 in" is unreferenced. Is the difference between .38 and .379 really significant? At .38 Long Colt, the case diameter is given as .381 in. So is there really a difference of .002 in between the two cartridges? You would expect this to fall under tolerance. I have just measured a RUAG ".38 Special" cartridge, and the diameter is between 9.57mm (.377 in) and 9.51mm (.374 in), so at least in practice the final digit does not seem to be significant (maybe "(.376±.003) in" or something would be a reasonable expectation). In any case, the datum ".379 in" needs a reference. --dab (𒁳) 12:36, 5 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

.38 special semi-auto?[edit]

The sentence “ The 38 Special is most commonly used in revolvers, but also finds use in semi-automatic pistols and carbines.” should have a citation . While .38 Super and 380 Auto/.380 ACP are used in semi-autos, I have never seen or heard of a .38 Special semi-auto in 40+ years of firearms experience. Don’t know how to make the ‘citation needed’ edit. 2600:8806:F48:1300:E836:B094:BD95:D3FA (talk) 12:55, 2 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Whoever wrote that probably confused the fact that .38 and 9mm are close to interchangeable. But yeah, it's not a good addition so I removed it. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 15:56, 2 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]