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The awesome .38 SPL

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by 336A, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. 336A

    336A Participating Member

    Jul 26, 2007
    As I was reloading some .38 SPL I kept thinking what a great cartridge the .38 SPL is. Even today in this day and age of Hi cap polymer tacticool pistols, j frame magnums, and larger cartridges the .38 SPL still hangs on. It is easily in the top 5 most popular hadgun cartridges sold today.

    Anything .38 SPL sells like hot cakes, from ammo, components, to the ever popular j frame sized guns. Whether it is just leaving the house to go run errands or going for a hike the .38 SPL is up to the job. With CCW permits at their all time high so are the sales of j frame size revolvers. You can slip them in a pocket and step out and no one is any the wiser.

    Then there are the various K frame revolvers for which it is chambered. These are really the true home for this awesome cartridge. They possess some of the smoothest triggers of any handgun made. Another positive is that they are very accurate for what they are, and point like the proverbial finger. Most times it will take a autoloader that costs many times more and be built specifically as a target gun to match or exceed it's accuracy.

    The ubiquitous S&W M10's are more robust than many would think, it's fixed sights are regulated for 158gr bullets. It would take a great deal of shooting to wear one out, you will probably wear out long before the gun unless you abuse it. The M15 makes a perfect trail gun, with it's adjustable sights it's easy to zero for hat ever the user wants. Folks will of course chime in and quote ballistics tables of they're favorite cartridge in an attempt to show the .38 SPL to be a little weakling. The fact is however that the .38 SPL can more than hold it's own.

    It is not dependent on nose shape of the bullet or amount of powder to ensure the gun operates properly. I've never been into the whole light for caliber bullet theroy and like 158gr bullets for the .38 SPL, which is what it was intended for anyway. Handloading only makes the .38 SPL even more versatile. With good loading data and a modocum of due prudence the .38 SPL can really shine.

    Some are probably thinking to themselves right now "yeah sure". In response read and explore for yourself just how versatile the mighty .38 SPL can be.




    With the 158gr loadings now available from Buffalo Bore I'm not sure that I'd want to subject my M10 to some of those last loads. I have and do load the classic 5.4gr of Unique with a 158gr bullet though and it is a goodie:) For SD purposes it is very hard to beat the old Remington +P 158gr SWC-HP. As can be seen from the tests above it still offers up a good thump on the recieving end.
    to Sum it all up the .38 SPL is a working mans cartridge capable of doing 95% of what needs doing with a handgun cartridge. I have no use for the .357 magnum, if I need more than what I can do with the .38 SPL then I reach for the .41 magnum. Putting on the flame suit now.
  2. nearlynormalmike

    nearlynormalmike New Member

    Jan 9, 2010
    Rural Southwest Georgia
    No flame from me. I have access to 9mm, .357, 45APC, and 44 mag, but when I go out, 95% of the time it is my j frame .38 that I carry.
  3. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    I love the 38 special.

    In my never-so-humble-opinion the K-Frame Smith and D-Frame Colt are the perfect platform for it.

    It can be loaded up hot (a lot hotter than the current manuals suggest), is very controllable and is quite versatile.

    Here is a pic of my daughter shredding a "swinger" at an IDPA match this morning.

    Note how the recoil (admittedly downloaded) is easily handled in her Smith 19.

  4. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Senior Member

    Oct 20, 2011
    I agree I love the 38 special I think it is very versatile and a great round the first I ever reloaded on. :D no flames here
  5. guyfromohio

    guyfromohio Participating Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    I have one on my hip right now. I agree 100%.
  6. snake_plisskin

    snake_plisskin New Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    Agreed, .38 special is pretty sweet. Its also the cartridge that I learned how to reload with.
  7. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Economical to shoot, accurate, a good balance of power and controllability but its greatest virtue is its versatility. Especially so if the revolver is chambered in .357 Magnum.
  8. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Active Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    I love the .38 Special, but I like .357 even better. However, don't flame me, I like the .357 because I can load all the overpressure .38 Special I want without fear of my gun exploding.

    Haven't ever needed something bigger than a .38 Special.
  9. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Participating Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Northern Virginia
    Nary a flicker of flame from this corner. The 38 special, in all its variations, is my favorite centerfire cartridge. It approaches perfection in a K-38 or Model 10. My 357s (half a dozen at the moment) see more 38 specials than magnum rounds and they do a great job. It's worth reloading just to get the best out of the caliber as well as save money.

    I happen to think it is better for SD in most cases: more control and allows for lighter guns if needed. And the idea of firing a full house 357 cartridge inside four walls without hearing protection is painful to even think about. My hearing is about 50% of average (heredity, not trauma) and I see no need to make it worse unneccesarily.

    Isn't there a LONG thread in the THR archives extolling the Model 10 and the 38 special?

  10. DougW

    DougW Senior Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    North Texas
    I recently picked up 2 of the Taurus 82's that Century imported a few years ago. Inexpensive, not too pretty, but mechanically very good pistols. I do load the .38 and .357 Magnum, so ammo is plentiful. And two Ruger -Six revolvers are the primary HD weapons around here.
  11. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Sep 10, 2008
    SW Arizona
    With expensive auto loaders and several revolvers to pick from, my 66-2 or 66-5 are the one's that get to go just about every where with me. And although I usually carry full tilt .357's in it, I do love to carry my 125 gr. Longshot +P loads too. And I think that's one of the particulars about a nice K frame that inspires me, is the option to choose the power range I prefer to carry on a given day.

  12. Cooldill

    Cooldill Mentor

    Nov 19, 2011
    The .38 special is really nice and it holds a nice place in my heart. I remember as a kid taking my dads old J-frame model 37 to the woods and popping natural light cans with it. Boy they sure would jump around a lot when hit.
  13. postalnut25

    postalnut25 Active Member

    Mar 8, 2010
    Colorful Colorado
    I carry bigger guns at work, but my 642 in 38 Special is what comes home with me at the end of my watch.
  14. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Senior Member

    May 22, 2003
    I never feel undergunned with a .38 Spl.
  15. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Senior Member

    Jun 30, 2011
    A sweet feelin' .38 with a nicely worn action blastin' home brewed wadcutters... some of the best therapy I know of.

    The .38 - it'll feed you, keep you safe, provide recreation, dispatch pests and never break the bank.
  16. Iggy

    Iggy Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I agree with Mauserloader

    I love the .38 Special, but I like .357 even better. However, don't flame me, I like the .357 because I can load all the overpressure .38 Special I want without fear of my gun exploding.

    I use a lot of ol Elmer's hot .38s in 38/44s and .357s
  17. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Senior Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    SouthEastern FL
    Though my EDC is a nine with eight rounds, I do enjoy having the option of grabbing one of my two already-loaded .38 snubs, or one of my two already-loaded service revolvers (both chambered in .357 Magnum, but stoked with .38 Special ammo.)
  18. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Participating Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    I shot a cool, area steel match (5 stages) that was revolver-friendly (max of FIVE steel targets per stage). Maximum ammo? Eight rounds max in the gun, reloads OK

    There were all sorts of classes: Production CF pistol, open CF pistol, even a CF revolver class!

    The absolute fastest aggregate times for the day, in ANY class?
    Hands down it was with my 1950-made S&W M&P .38 Special revolver (later called the Model 10)! I'd taken it there just for conversations sake, and it was fun whipping the bottom feeders with such an "ancient" wheel gun! LOL All I did differently to the gun was add a Tyler T-grip for the match. Heck, I didn't even take a speedloader!

    Second place? A new S&W 686 SSR. In a distant third was the top 1911 shooter.

    No speedloader? Frankly, at ultimate speed one still needs to hit every target without the need for extra rounds to win this type of match. Ya just can't miss FAST enough, but if I DID miss I still had that sixth cylinder! Only needed it once.

    IN MY POCKET ALWAYS? Another .38 Special, my Model 37 Airweight from '71

    .357 Magnum is nice, but .38 Special is generally better to load in one's .357 if it is for home self-defense use.
  19. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    I am 100% with you. I always carry a M442 loaded with Speer GD SB ammo and there's a S&W M&P on my night stand loaded with the FBI Load for HD. I'm a huge fan of the .38 Special cartridge and the guns they are shot from...
  20. Manny

    Manny Active Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    NE Ohio
    It took me a long tim to find my way to .38/.357 but Now that I found them I've become a huge fan. Plus P .38's are my preference for the best balance of power and controlability. My prefered platform is a Ruger SP101 2.25" barrel, but I hope to get the new 4" with adjustable sights which strikes me as an incredible all purpose gun.

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