Is the .38 really that "Special?"

Is the .38 really that "Special?"

This is a discussion on Is the .38 really that "Special?" within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Over the years, I've had a few .38 Special revolvers. Right now, the two I own are a J-Frame Smith and a 4-inch Colt Diamondback. ...

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Thread: Is the .38 really that "Special?"

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Is the .38 really that "Special?"

    Over the years, I've had a few .38 Special revolvers. Right now, the two I own are a J-Frame Smith and a 4-inch Colt Diamondback. Botyh will handle Plus-P ammunition, though the common perception is that the Diamondback shouldn't be fed a steady diet of Plus-P.

    When I was younger, I carried an old Chief's Special square butt in an ankle holster.

    I always loaded them with hollow-points of one type or another and currently, I've got the Diamondback loaded with Winchester factory rounds pushing a 158-grain lead semi-wad HP.

    Now on the scale of popularity, the old reliable .38 Special doesn't seem all that special anymore to a generation that grew up on semi-autos, and may think revolvers are for old folks.

    I happen to think the .38 Special is still a fight stopper, though I'm not delusional enough to believe it is the perfect round. It is, of course, a lot better than having no gun at all.

    But, of course, I'm an old guy...
    bmcgilvray and glockman10mm like this.


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    Is it 'special"? No.

    Does it work as a defensive round? Yep.

    I'd judge its popularity for defensive use by the number of posts on the "Supersuper Snubbie" thread here on DC!
    Last edited by gasmitty; November 13th, 2011 at 08:55 PM. Reason: zacii provided the thread name!
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    Nix
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    .38 Special still seems like a fine round to me. Especially in a +P. Of course I have a small .38 S&W I occasionally carry.

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    Ex Member Array Yankeejib's Avatar
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    I carry +p .38 in my .357. Much easier and more accurate than the fire breathing ka boom of .357 mag rounds.

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    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    .38 special gave way quickly when the .357 revolver came out, in my opinion. However, revolvers are still a definite good gun to have and use, no matter the caliber.
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    Many years ago, I sold all my semi auto handguns and went down the revolver road. This decision wasn’t made because of the guns, but by bullet performance. Many expensive SD bullets just fail to perform as advertised out of a semi.

    As a case in point go to the following link. Then click on “The shooting and it’s after effects” in the left sidebar. This poor fellow is very lucky his SD round failed to perform. By rights, he should have had a good portion of his leg missing.

    ****WARNING**** extremely graphic.
    Negligent, not accidental discharge and the resulting gunshot wounds

  7. #7
    Ex Member Array Yankeejib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varmiter View Post
    Many years ago, I sold all my semi auto handguns and went down the revolver road. This decision wasn’t made because of the guns, but by bullet performance. Many expensive SD bullets just fail to perform as advertised out of a semi.

    As a case in point go to the following link. Then click on “The shooting and it’s after effects” in the left sidebar. This poor fellow is very lucky his SD round failed to perform. By rights, he should have had a good portion of his leg missing.

    ****WARNING**** extremely graphic.
    Negligent, not accidental discharge and the resulting gunshot wounds
    Now that's a serious ouch. I've seen another post like that before where a dude blew through his foot. Lesson: observe the four rules of firearms. No exceptions.

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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    The Superduper Snubbie thread

    There are several .38s on there that are special
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    Distinguished Member Array Knightrider's Avatar
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    I think the snub nose .38 special is one of the only gun that is widely accepted by both younger and older shooters.
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    Senior Member Array SFury's Avatar
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    I'm younger than many here, and I choose to carry a revolver. Granted, it's not a .38, or a snubbie, but it is a full sized .357 revolver.

    Plenty of people have been killed/stopped with .38 rounds. It's a proven SD round.

  11. #11
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    The .38 put a lot of BGs down for a long time by a lot of LEOs...and it still gets a lot of carry time by folks these days. From what I have been able to ascertain, the performance of the .38 is comparable to that of 9mm...both of which will do the job if you do yours by putting shots in the right place.
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    Not that I knew why the cartridge is designated "special" but this thread made me curious. I did a little internet prowling and it seems that it is to differentiate it from the .38 long Colt and the .38 S&W, I did not know either of those existed. Thanks for sparking my curiosity.
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    Back in the 80's as a know-it-all teenager I read The Onion Field and tons of Combat Handguns, and swore .38SPL was crap. Never own one. Dad shot 45 competitively and we had 357's.
    I also hated a curly blond haired girl.
    I now own a Model 10 and am pursuing other 38's. I also realized I had a massive crush on said girl.
    Fed proper ammo, it's capable. I'm actually a little obsessed.
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    Sitting next to my wife's side of the bed is a biometric pistol box that contains a .357 magnum revolver loaded with .38+p. I feel confident that she is well-armed with that weapon and ammo combination for HD. The .38 Special is a solid choice.

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    I think any cartridge that is more popular 113 years after it's introduction, should be considered "Special."
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

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