Has .38 Special ammo become cost prohibitive?


October 10, 2010, 02:49 PM
.38 Special practice ammo is now $25.00 for a box of 50 at my local Dicks.

Is this going to price people out of practicing with .38 Special?

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Old Fuff
October 10, 2010, 03:05 PM
Since law enforcement has changed from .38 and .357 revolvers to pistols, with others following, the demand for .38 Special ammunition of all kinds has fallen. With less demand, prices went up. Then at the same time all ammunition has gone up as cost and availablity of components increased. Consider loading your own. It's not difficult, and you can use reasonably priced lead bullets. The resueable cartridge case is the most expensive part of most ammunition.

AZ Desertrat
October 10, 2010, 03:55 PM
Exactly why I have been reloading .38's and .357's for 20 plus years.

October 10, 2010, 04:02 PM
.38 Special is probably the cheapest and easiest cartridge to handload. Brass lasts forever (and its still pretty cheap once fired), it doesn't get lost during firing, and cast bullets are great for low to moderate velocities and don't present any feeding issues.

Factory ammunition is getting more expensive for everything, .38 Special is no exception. Its an excellent reason to start handloading.

Dirty Bob
October 10, 2010, 04:05 PM
All in all, it's still cheaper than many other calibers, but the cost is higher than it used to be.

The .38 is a reloader's dream, however. Very easy to reload, with tons of different bullets and bullet moulds available. I haven't price checked in a while, but my reloads are much cheaper than even Wal-Mart prices, and I get to shoot exactly what I want, because I make it myself!

If you ever wanted to try reloading, the .38/.357 is a great place to start.

All my best,
Dirty Bob

October 10, 2010, 05:15 PM
$25 for 50 .38 special's sound very steep to me. Shop around, and when you find a better(much better) price on line, see if your local store will price match.

October 10, 2010, 05:32 PM
You can order an ammo can of 500 .38 spl. in 125 or 158 grain lead nose for $110 (+ shipping) at georgia-arms.com

October 10, 2010, 05:32 PM
I pay 15 per 50 for plinkers

Defense stuff is high as a giraffe booger but that is the case for all calibers.

October 10, 2010, 06:00 PM
In my area $15/50 is a good price. (+5.5% sales tax)

Even factoring all S&H, taxes, and components, I reload and shoot .38 special for about $6/50. And I don't even buy in bulk or use "economic" powders either.

Shooting .38 special is the reason I started reloading.

October 10, 2010, 06:14 PM
I have been buying high quality reloads for years from mastercast. If you ship them your once fired brass they will sell you 158gr SWC for $8.30/50 rounds. Here is their link http://mastercast.net/amo.htm

October 10, 2010, 06:25 PM
Another vote for reloading - you can reload 50 rounds tailored to YOUR gun for about $6, less if you cast your own

October 10, 2010, 06:54 PM
+1 to checking the web for a lower price for .38 special practice ammo. You may have to buy bulk to offset the shipping price. $25 a box is nutz.

evan price
October 10, 2010, 07:19 PM
I've seen 38 special LSWC reloads- Ultramax brand, I believe- for around $16 a box of 50.

Me personally, I have maybe $2 a box/50 into 38 special ammo. I cast my own bullets and load my own.
Even if you do not cast your own bullets it is possible to reload 38 specials with storebought components for under $6 a box. Buy a Lee turret press and a set of dies on eBay for under $100 and you can load all you want.

The Lone Haranguer
October 10, 2010, 07:46 PM
Fifty cents a shot for practice ammo is steep and would indeed be cost prohibitive, but surely not an average price. :uhoh:

highlander 5
October 10, 2010, 08:07 PM
Ive gotten 38 ammo cheaper than $25 for 50 at Dick's. IIRC I got Rem 38 spl 130 gr FMJ for around $16 a box and saved 10% when I bought a case (500).

Dirty Bob
October 10, 2010, 08:07 PM
I think it's FUN to cast bullets. Get a Lee tumble-lube 148-gr. wadcutter mould, and you can cast simple practice bullets. I lube in a ziploc bac with Lee Liquid Alox thinned to double its original volume. I seat them over a small charge of Win. 231 (from the Lee manual). They are accurate, with light recoil, and more penetration than I expected. One of my bullets went completely through 4 1-gallon jugs of water (24" of water) and was stopped in the fifth jug.

Casting my own really helps drop the price of my reloads. Combined with the long case of my brass, I'm able to shoot more.

All my best,
Dirty Bob

October 10, 2010, 08:14 PM
Last I checked at Academy .38 spl was $15-16/box.

Or this online :


Aguila is respectable round. Forget which dept buy a police dept in the N/W uses (or used to) that round as a duty round with no complaints.

But yeah $25/box is absurd.

Guy de Loimbard
October 10, 2010, 08:40 PM
Local walmart here has .38 special for $15/box of 50.

Centaur 1
October 10, 2010, 08:48 PM
I'm glad that I cast and load my own, my Walmart has Winchester white box for $38 a hundred. A friend of mine had about 800 pounds of range scrap, I smelted all the lead and gave him half back. I have two molds, a 158 grain swc, and a 105 grain swc. I get 2,000 reloads per pound of Bullseye and primers are $34 per thousand. That makes the cost of my reloads $44 per 1,000.

October 10, 2010, 08:56 PM
You shouldn't have to pay that unless it is your special carry ammo. For punching holes in paper there are tons of options. Reloading is the easiest if you have time but other options are at: http://gun-deals.com/ammo.php?caliber=.38%20Special
I tried several boxes of the LRN Prvi Partisan at 12.95/50. It performed very good for outside shooting. I don't care for bare lead inside.

October 10, 2010, 09:00 PM
Yeah, look around - IME dick's doesn't have competitive prices on any shooting equipment.

October 10, 2010, 09:59 PM
Check out http://www.ammoengine.com/find/ammo/.38_Special. They have practice ammo as low as $0.26 a round.

If you are paying $0.50 or more it should be premium practice stuff or carry level. You can get Fiochi 125gr SJSP for about $0.36 a round and Blazer 125gr HP for $0.37 a round. You can get +p SJSP and HPs for $0.53 per round or cheaper.

October 10, 2010, 10:40 PM
Except for a couple of boxes of factory 158 gr. +P LSWCHP for carry in a snubby, I don't think that I've bought factory .38 Special ammo in the last 20 years. It's about the easiest round to load for that there is, and cases last forever.

October 10, 2010, 11:16 PM
A local chain store (with locations outside the Chicagoland area) called "Blain's Farm 'n Fleet" recently had Blazer .38 spl on sale for $9.99 per 50-round box. I bought all they had [left] which was only 300 rounds. At the same time, they had .357 on sale for $14.39 per 50-round box. That's 287.80 per 1,000-rounds. I got an even 1,000 of them.

October 10, 2010, 11:25 PM

October 10, 2010, 11:35 PM
A picture is worth 1,000 words! LOL!

October 11, 2010, 03:47 AM
You really need to look into reloading.

Check this out:

1 lbs of Unique $16 (1 pound is good for over 1,000 rounds)
1,000 primers $28
1,000 Hornady XTP 125 gr. bullets $145
Shipping and Hazmat $50

$0.239 per round for high quality hollowpoint/self defense ammo.

Hornady sells 20 rounds of XTP ammo for around $19. A savings of $14.22 per box!

P.S. I shoot what I carry, hence my choice of XTP bullets over cheap lead SWC :)

October 11, 2010, 05:19 AM
last week I got some online for 14 and change, brass cases functioned fine.

October 11, 2010, 08:48 AM
It's about $15.00 a box of 50 here, for practice ammo. I bought some reloaded wadcutters at a gun show for $10.00, but as others have said a 38 is easy to reload for. I started with a simple Lee Loader and a plastic mallet back in the day, and did literally thousands of them with that little kit that fit in a shoebox with room left over for the shoes.

Over the years I've stepped up a little bit, but still have less than $200.00 in all my reloading gear (Lee equipment). Turns out ammo that works fine.

M2 Carbine
October 11, 2010, 11:10 AM
Has .38 Special ammo become cost prohibitive?
It would be if I had to pay $15-$25 for a box of 38 Special or for most any pistol or rifle ammo.

I simply will not do it when I can load better ammo in about ten minutes for $2-$4 a box.


October 11, 2010, 11:58 AM
Yep. I can reload it for pennies.

I don't actually think I ever bought any .38spl factory ammo. I was reloading it shortly after I bought my first revolver.

October 11, 2010, 12:12 PM
My .38 runs under 3 dollars a box of 50. I cast, I handload. Like CoRoMo, I can't remember buying a box of .38 and I've shot hundreds of thousands of rounds over the years.

October 11, 2010, 01:15 PM

October 11, 2010, 01:35 PM
thanks squeky

M2 Carbine
October 11, 2010, 02:01 PM
It doesn't seem that long ago that 38 Special was like a step child at the gun shows. They couldn't hardly give it away. $4.00 a box was common.

But come to think of it, WWB 9mm was only $6.00 at Academy and on sale for $4.84 a box.

October 11, 2010, 02:10 PM
I agree with all who mention the .38 Special, ammo cost AND reloading.
The .38 Special is EASY to reload for, brass is available on the ground at your local range and exceptional bullets are available from Missouri Bullets.
The .38 Special is, without a doubt, my favorite handgun round.

M2 Carbine
October 11, 2010, 03:55 PM
The .38 Special is, without a doubt, my favorite handgun round.
I like it because I don't have to pick up the brass.:D

October 11, 2010, 04:57 PM
I like it because I don't have to pick up the brass.

This is so true. It also keeps it clean.

Even if it does go on the ground, the'yre a lot bigger and easier to spot than 9 or 40.

October 11, 2010, 07:26 PM
If you decide to learn how to reload you couldn't go wrong learning on 38 special ammo. Even if space is of concern you can just use very basic reloading tools. It's so easy a caveman could do it.

October 11, 2010, 07:36 PM
It's so easy a caveman could do it.

Hey, hey! I RESENT THAT!

October 11, 2010, 07:38 PM

fixed it for you McG


October 11, 2010, 09:32 PM
I like it actually because I CAN pick up the brass . . . that other yahoos leave at the range!

I see it all the time, an empty new cardboard box left as litter . . . and 50 rounds of once fired new brass on the ground just for the taking. I've got thousands of rounds of .38 Special, .357, .45ACP and .44 Mag that way.

Buy a reloading kit, a pound of Unique, a few thousand Federal 100 and 150 pistol primers and some lubed lead bullets at a gun show and start finding out just how fun (and CHEAP) shooting can be.

Better yet, you can load your practice rounds "light" to reduce wear and tear on you and your guns . . . and work up loads that shoot better than the store-bought stuff.

Why Federal primers? They are the "softest" out there for revolver use, and us S&W revolver competitors learned years ago that the Federals thus offer sure double-action ignition even with tricked out revolvers with very light trigger jobs. For stock revolvers, other brands will do . . . but I only buy Federals.

October 11, 2010, 11:39 PM
S&Wfan, are you able to find Federal primers in stock?

Federal is my favorite brand of primers as well.

When it comes to primers these days, I buy what I can get. Right now I have Winchester, Federal, and CCI primers in my reloading room... :rolleyes:

October 12, 2010, 06:38 AM
Wow - Dick's is expensive. It makes the UMC 250 round box I bought a month or two back for $85 + s/t from WallyWorld a downright steal - $17/50. Of course, that's .45 ACP 230gr FMJ. And... .38's are more? I looked around at a recent show - 158gr LSWC's were $50/500, Titegroup - $19/lb, Fed SP primers - $33 - still <$.15/round in your brass. I started reloading for .45 Colt... today, I'd do it for .38's.

Last summer, I lost a good friend. His brother was cleaning out his closet and found a stash of .38 ammo I had made for him - with Win primers. He gave most of it back to me - 2,200+ .38's - 125gr JHPs - 158 gr LSWC's. I hate losing my range-friend - but think of him when I plink with it - as I did yesterday. Oddly, no ftf's yet with my lightly sprung S&W's (I use Federal primers in my ammo.) - good way to remember Alex.


October 12, 2010, 11:54 AM
Last I looked Remington umc was around $78 for a 250 round box. Not too bad if you ask me.

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