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Favorite .38 Special?

This is a discussion on Favorite .38 Special? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Originally Posted by bmcgilvray Always thought of the .44 Special as a special favorite cartridge for revolvers as well as the .45 ACP for automatics. ...

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  1. #46
    New Member Array rlggray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Always thought of the .44 Special as a special favorite cartridge for revolvers as well as the .45 ACP for automatics. Kinda figured I was a .44 Special sort of guy. Have always been joined-at-the-hip with the .38 Special though. A .38 Special was the first handgun and stubbornly remains the handgun for "going along when the going gets tough." I've long viewed the .38 Special as a lucky cartridge for me. Stuff shot with it tends to stay well shot. Of course it's amazing what good hits will do. Even .44 Magnums don't work so hot with bad hits.

    Hopefully in only a few more days life will get down to a dull roar and some of the same ol' .38 Special revolver photographs could be posted here. Meanwhile, here's a pile o'.38 Specials.

    Years ago, it was common to see folks display their handguns as a "wheel" on "Big Blue" Smith & Wesson Forum. One day I set out to make a photo "wheel" with .38 Special revolvers. It ended up a pile instead. Twenty-something revolvers are in the pile and additional .38 Specials have come to roost since. More .38 Special chambered guns are on hand here than any other caliber. Can't really say why.

    I do really like the cartridge though and think it's under-rated and much more capable in its own right than to be limited to only the shrunken snubs of today's market.

    😗 That's a nice pile you got there!
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  2. #47
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    Now y'all know why I trusted @bmcgilvray 's advice on problem solving, step by step, when I had trouble with my Model 10 when I first got her.

    Turned out her tolerances are SO TIGHT that the slightest hint of a high primer locks the cylinder up tighter than a drum. Once I determined the actual problem, it was a matter of checking each and every reload that Gramps made.....no problems since then. She will shoot factory ammo - if and when I run out of the boxes of reloads marked "Rosie food."

    The "NOT Rosie Food!" rounds go into my 686 snubbie. It doesn't care: Has a voracious appetite. Nothing goes to waste.
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  3. #48
    Distinguished Member Array BamaT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rotorhead1026 View Post
    Model 10 with a 4 pencil barrel.
    Plus one on the 4 M10 pencil barrel!
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  5. #49
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    I have a S&W 637 Airweight but my Taurus 856 Ultra Lite and Taurus 856 Ultra Lite with concealed hammer are my favorites. I liked the boot grips on the 637 so much I put them on both of the 856's too.
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  6. #50
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  7. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kilowatt3 View Post
    "Favorite .38 Special" is a tough call! Favorite to carry, favorite to shoot, or favorite to look at???

    In keeping with the spirit of the OP, .357 Magnums are not included. If they were, the Python would be a hands-down no-brainer.

    Favorite to carry would be the S&W M442 (or its twin 642), for sheer practicality:

    Attachment 305180

    The Detective Special twins might be first choice, except they're getting too collectible to ding up by carrying:

    Attachment 305182

    Favorite to shoot? Did anyone mention the Model 10?:

    Attachment 305184

    The .38 Army Special is a great shooter, too, plus it's 100 years old, with a great pedigree:

    Attachment 305186

    Favorite to look at? Well, back in the day, I didn't care much for shiny guns, but I guess our tastes change.
    For pure eye candy, I guess my favorites are the 3" Detective Special and recently-acquired NIB Model 38:

    Attachment 305188

    Attachment 305190
    Boy, do we have similar tastes! Might fine collection, Kilowatt.
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  8. #52
    Senior Member Array OlCop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Always thought of the .44 Special as a special favorite cartridge for revolvers as well as the .45 ACP for automatics. Kinda figured I was a .44 Special sort of guy. Have always been joined-at-the-hip with the .38 Special though. A .38 Special was the first handgun and stubbornly remains the handgun for "going along when the going gets tough." I've long viewed the .38 Special as a lucky cartridge for me. Stuff shot with it tends to stay well shot. Of course it's amazing what good hits will do. Even .44 Magnums don't work so hot with bad hits.

    Hopefully in only a few more days life will get down to a dull roar and some of the same ol' .38 Special revolver photographs could be posted here. Meanwhile, here's a pile o'.38 Specials.

    Years ago, it was common to see folks display their handguns as a "wheel" on "Big Blue" Smith & Wesson Forum. One day I set out to make a photo "wheel" with .38 Special revolvers. It ended up a pile instead. Twenty-something revolvers are in the pile and additional .38 Specials have come to roost since. More .38 Special chambered guns are on hand here than any other caliber. Can't really say why.

    I do really like the cartridge though and think it's under-rated and much more capable in its own right than to be limited to only the shrunken snubs of today's market.
    Love that Colt at the bottom!
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  9. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by OlCop View Post
    Love that Colt at the bottom!
    That li'l dumplin' right there will shoot too. No Python made is a bit better than a Colt Officers Model Match .38 Special. Though the OMM saw some use in duty holsters it was created for bulls-eye competition, something it will still do very well. That's ten shots at 10 yards off hand. About as good as I can get on the best day. One of the .38 Special favorites around here.

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  10. #54
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    Here's a dandy holster gun that more people should take the trouble to acquire. I'm joined-at-the-hip with my old Smith & Wesson Model 10 Heavy Barrel, but a good Smith & Wesson K-Frame Model 15 4-inch represents a very useful side arm to this day. Adjustable sights means one can regulate it for the gamut of .38 Special ammunition and the Model 15 will handle anything you can throw at it in the realm of heavy .38 Special loads and do it with aplomb all while making you look good in the accuracy department. Sometimes I carry this one for serious social purposes, just because it's here and I can. Six fer sure!

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  11. #55
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    Colt Detective Special .38

    I have a number of .38 caliber revolvers, mainly Smith & Wesson. But my favorite is this Colt Detective Special that I bought new about 25 years ago. It has the best trigger and the best finish of all the others. I have carried it on many occasions.

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  12. #56
    Senior Member Array OlCop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Here's a dandy holster gun that more people should take the trouble to acquire. I'm joined-at-the-hip with my old Smith & Wesson Model 10 Heavy Barrel, but a good Smith & Wesson K-Frame Model 15 4-inch represents a very useful side arm to this day. Adjustable sights means one can regulate it for the gamut of .38 Special ammunition and the Model 15 will handle anything you can throw at it in the realm of heavy .38 Special loads and do it with aplomb all while making you look good in the accuracy department. Sometimes I carry this one for serious social purposes, just because it's here and I can. Six fer sure!

    The Mod. 15 4inch was my first duty weapon and yes they are a great revolver.
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  13. #57
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    The time change snuck up on me and I waited a bit late in the day to take a new photograph of these three .38 Specials.

    Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers of the early 1950s, in each of the three frame sizes: J, K, and N. Only a few years apart, these three.



    Represents the thinking of the era. The .38 Special cartridge was way more mainstream and was primarily housed in duty guns rather than shrunken snubs which were a new marketing sensation at the time. The 5-shot Chief's Special at top (soon to be called the Model 36) was something of an outlier when compared with the quantities of K-Frame Military and Police revolvers (soon to be called the Model 10) in service (center revolver). The familiar K-Frame was the yardstick for .38 Special sidearms. The bottom .38 Special revolver isn't always as familiar to modern shooters. Built on the N-Frame this very large revolver never was as popular as its K-Frame brethren though up into the 1950s it sold well enough to some law enforcement agencies who wanted a very sturdy revolver that could handle heavy .38 Special loads. Originally named the Heavy Duty and later to be called the Model 20, this revolver was introduced in 1930, five years before the advent of the then breathtaking .357 Magnum cartridge. A jazzed-up factory loading pushed .38 Special performance to new heights of effectiveness and was considered a boon to law enforcement in the 1930s. Of course soon after, Colt snorted that its revolvers, right down to its light D-Frame Police Positive Special and Detective Special, could handle it and Smith & Wesson found itself advertising throughout the 1930s that its K-Frame Military & Police was suitable for use with the admittedly heavy factory .38-44 loads and heavy it was! .38-44 was a .38 Special cartridge, the -44 suffix indicating that it was intended for use in the heavy framed (read that N-Frame) revolvers originally developed for the .44 Special. Apparently it was fully equal to Buffalo Bore or other 158 grain performance loadings of the .38 Special.

    And to think they had that kind of .38 Special performance available back in 1930!

    The cylinder alone on my Heavy Duty weighs more than my Smith & Wesson Model 642 weighs in its entirety! The Heavy Duty is a an ol' softy to shoot with any .38 Special load.

    Our own OD* has a dandy Smith & Wesson Outdoorsman, a premium N-Frame target version of the Heavy Duty. He posted it earlier in this thread.

    https://www.handgunsmag.com/editoria...rtridge/139175
    Last edited by bmcgilvray; November 3rd, 2019 at 10:14 PM.
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  14. #58
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    Thanks for the link, Bryan (and info), I had not seen that article.
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  15. #59
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    Thanks Dan. I'm not allowed to envy your Outsdoorman because it was your dad's, but if it hadn't been I'd be very envious of your fine Outdoorsman. Never shot an Outdoorsman and would love to wring one out for accuracy. It's probably so accurate that it's like cheatin' to pit it against other .38 Special revolvers.

    This one was a whole lot of folks' favorites, was a law enforcement favorite for long years, the Colt Official Police. These old sleepers give a certain Colt Python-esque feel about their actions. The Smith & Wesson Military & Police/Model 10's fiercest competitor for decades. It's said that in the first part of the 20th century the Colt was the premium choice among agencies and lawmen with the Smith & Wesson rising to prominence mid-20th century. Don't know how true that is.

    This Official Police .38 Special was an NYPD gun.



    Shown here with an NYPD Jay-Pee holster.
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  16. #60
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    Old Model 36

    Favorite .38 Special?-bday_carry.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Favorite .38 Special?-img_20180903_095042-2-.jpg  

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