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What is 38 Special Ammo? 🤔
It is a type of handgun ammunition designed specifically for .38 caliber handguns. It was developed in 1898 and remains popular today among sport shooters, law enforcement officers, and even some hunters. Its popularity stems from its low recoil and relatively flat trajectory, making it an ideal round for target practice or home defense.
38 Special ammo is a popular choice for handgun owners who want the performance and flexibility of a powerful cartridge.
- ❇️ The cartridge offers excellent accuracy with a wide variety of ammunition types, this includes:
- 🔶 Jacketed hollow points (JHP) are designed to expand and create greater stopping power;
- 🔶 Full metal jackets (FMJ) which offer reliable performance and penetration;
- 🔶 Wadcutters which are designed for target shooting and punching clean holes in paper targets;
- ❇️ As well as various other specialty types like frangible rounds which are designed to break up upon impact.
- ❇️ This ammo is also known for its low recoil due to its slightly smaller size compared to other calibers. The smaller size and mild recoil allow shooters to comfortably practice more often with less fatigue than larger calibers would cause.
- ❇️ It is an ideal choice for budget-minded shooters who need an economical yet effective round for personal protection or recreational purposes.
- 🟣 38 Special ammo can be a great choice for self-defense and sport shooting.
- 🟣 It offers plenty of power and accuracy, yet it is lightweight enough to carry safely.
- 🟣 This caliber also has low recoil, which helps reduce user fatigue on the range.
- 🟣 Additionally, it is relatively inexpensive, making it an attractive option for those who want to stock up on ammunition without breaking their budget.
Stopping Power 💥
The stopping power of the .38 Special is dependent on a few different factors.
🔰 In terms of this ammo, heavier bullets packed with more powder will generally provide greater stopping power than lighter bullets with less powder.
🔷 This is simply due to increased velocity and penetration; however, excessive penetration may cause over-penetration when shooting at soft targets such as humans or animals.
🔰 The type of firearm being used with ammo is also an important factor in determining stopping power.
🔷 Revolvers are typically limited by the length of their barrels – since they cannot be adjusted like those found on rifles – so the velocity of any given projectile will be relatively low when compared to that fired from a longer-barreled rifle.
Our Selection 33 Best 🎯 38 Special Ammo – Editor’s Choice
1# 38 Special – 158 Grain LRN FP – Armscor
The Armscor 38 Special is a versatile cartridge that is perfect for range training or self-defense. The 158-grain lead round-nose flat-point bullet is easy to use and provides superior rotational stability. The monolithic composition of the bullet ensures that it will engage with the steel target and knock it over. Don’t wait – try it just now!
2# 38 Special – 148 Grain Hollow Base Wadcutter – Black Hills
If you’re searching for reliable, accurate ammunition for target practice or competition shooting, look no further than Black Hills’ line of wadcutter cartridges. These .38 Special rounds come in boxer-primed brass cases and are perfect for use in revolvers or specially-designed semi-automatic pistols. With a flat front bullet design, wadcutter ammunition is known for its superior feeding properties and is ideal for short-range shooting. Whether you’re at the indoor range or outdoors plinking targets, Black Hills’ wadcutter ammo will help you stay on target all day long.
3# 38 Special – +P 125 Grain JHP – Black Hills Ammunition
When you need a round that is both accurate and effective, you want Black Hills 38 Special +P 125 Grain JHP. This ammunition has been used for decades by law enforcement and the military, so you know it can be relied on. The jacketed hollow point projectiles offer controlled expansion, making them ideal for self-defense situations. With a muzzle velocity of 1,050 feet per second, these rounds are sure to stop any potential threat. Don’t take chances with your safety – trust the Black Hills to give you the performance you need.
4# 38 Special – 158 Grain LRN – Blazer
Searching for a great value on target shooting, plinking, or range training ammunition? Check out this newly manufactured 38 Special ammunition from CCI Blazer. Each round features a full metal jacket bullet atop a boxer-primed aluminum casing. Non-corrosive and non-reloadable, this ammo is great for range training or simply enjoying some time at the shooting range. Order your box today!
5# 38 Special – +P 158 Grain TMJ – Blazer Clean-Fire
If you want to find an American-made alternative to lead-based ammunition, CCI Blazer Clean-Fire is an excellent choice. This cartridge uses state-of-the-art Clean-Fire primers and Speer TMJ bullets, designed for indoor range shooting. This virtually eliminates airborne lead, barium, and antimony for a much cleaner burning round. Each round features a total metal jacket bullet atop a Berdan-primed aluminum casing. This product is non-corrosive and easy to clean up after your shooting session. Order your box of 50 rounds today!
6# 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ – Browning
Would you like to get a top-of-the-line revolver cartridge that will serve you well during training? Pay attention to Browning’s 38 Special. This 130-grain full metal jacketed bullet is perfect for those who want to practice their shooting without worrying about terminal expansion. Boxer-primed brass casings make this an extremely reliable choice, and with 50 rounds per box, you’ll have plenty of ammunition to get in some good target practice.
7# 38 Special +P – 158 Grain LSWCHP – Federal Law Enforcement
Wish to purchase top-quality, American-made defense ammo? Check out the Federal Law Enforcement 38 Special +P. This brass-cased, boxer-primed ammunition is designed specifically for law enforcement and is only occasionally made available to the general public. It features Federal’s Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point bullets, which are great for both target practice and self-defense. The +P designation means this ammo is slightly more powerful than standard 38 Special ammo, so be sure to use it only in firearms that are approved for +P ammunition.
8# 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ – Federal American Eagle
Introducing the Federal American Eagle 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ. This product is excellent for target practice, plinking, and routine tactical exercises. Each round is brass-cased, boxer-primed, non-corrosive, and reloadable. The product is both economical and precision manufactured in the United States by an established U.S. cartridge producer. Don’t miss your chance to get your hands on this high-quality ammo!
9# 38 Special – 158 Grain LRN – Federal American Eagle
The Federal American Eagle 38 Special is a great choice for target practice, plinking, and routine tactical exercises. Each round is brass-cased, boxer-primed, non-corrosive, and reloadable. The bullets are soft lead and are great for shooting metal spinner targets (lower ricochet than jacketed bullets). This product is both economical and precise.
10# 38 Special – 125 Grain SJHP – Fiocchi
The Fiocchi 38 Special – 125 Grain SJHP is a top-quality product that is flawless for personal defense. The expansion on impact makes it ideal for self-defense, and the new production, non-corrosive, boxer-primed, reloadable brass cases make it a great choice for serious shooters. With 50 rounds per box, this ammunition is sure to provide plenty of firepower for any situation.
11# 38 Special – 125 Grain FMJ Flat – Magtech
Need a reliable and affordable option for target practice or range training? Think about Magtech’s 38 Special FMC Flat Nose rounds. These reloadable rounds feature a brass casing, full metal cased bullet, boxer primer, and non-corrosive propellant – perfect for shooters who demand reliability and accuracy.
12# 38 Special – 158 Grain LSWC – Magtech
Do you want to find a clean-cut way to shoot paper targets? Magtech’s 38 Special – 158 Grain LSWC – Magtech is your perfect ammunition. With a lead semi-wadcutter, you’ll get a cleaner hole than with a typical FMJ round, and the brass casing and boxer primer make this ammo reloadable. Plus, since 1926 Magtech has manufactured its components, so you can be confident in the quality of every round. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shooter, pick up a box of Magtech 38 Special – 158 Grain LSWC – Magtech and enjoy some fun target practice!
13# 38 Special – 158 Grain FMJ FN – Magtech
Look at the new Magtech 38 Special 158 Grain FMJ FN. Each reloadable round boasts a brass casing, full metal cased bullet, boxer primer, and non-corrosive propellant. Sport ammunition was designed for shooters looking for accuracy, reliability, and exceptional performance, round after round. So if you’re searching for a high-quality round that will give you consistent results, Magtech 38 Special is the ideal choice.
14# 38 Special – 158 Grain LRN – Magtech
Want to purchase a great round of ammunition for target practice or plinking? Pay attention to the Magtech 38 Special LRN! This newly manufactured product by Magtech is excellent for recreational shooting and comes with a full quality control guarantee. Each reloadable round boasts a brass casing, boxer primer, and non-corrosive propellant, making it ideal for those who are looking for accuracy and reliability. The goal is to provide shooters with the best possible experience, round after round. So pick up a box of 38 Special LRN today and see for yourself!
15# 38 Special – 132 Grain FMJ – PMC
Presenting the 38 Special – 132 Grain FMJ from PMC. This newly manufactured ammunition is perfect for target practice and range training and is suitable for use in all 38 Special firearms. The FMJ bullets are precision manufactured for consistent accuracy, while the brass casings are boxer primed for reliable ignition. This ammo is a great alternative to steel-cased products or more expensive defensive ammunition and is sure to provide many hours of shooting enjoyment. So don’t miss out – order your box of rounds today!
16# 38 Special + P – 125 Grain SJHP – Remington UMC
The Remington UMC 38 Special +P 125 Grain SJHP is the perfect option for self-defense. With 100 rounds in each box, you’ll have plenty of ammunition to protect yourself and your loved ones. The semi-jacketed hollow point bullets are designed to expand on impact, penetrating deep into an attacker while causing maximum damage. The brass casings are boxer-primed and can be reloaded for future use. The +P pressure rating makes this ammo suitable for use in firearms with a +P designation. Order your box of Remington UMC 38 Special +P 125 Grain SJHP today!
17# 38 Special – 125 Grain TMJ – Speer Lawman
If you’re serious about being proficient with your revolver for self-defense, then this 1,000-round case of .38 Special ammunition from Speer Lawman is a great choice. These cartridges deliver the same recoil and trajectory as more expensive defensive ammunition but fire more economical total metal jacket (TMJ) projectiles instead. TMJ bullets are particularly well suited to indoor shooting because they have no exposed lead and have a lower risk of releasing heavy metals into the air when the round is fired. So don’t wait until it’s too late – stock up on this affordable and reliable ammunition today.
18# 38 Special – 158 Grain TMJ – Speer Lawman
If you require high-quality, reliable training ammunition, take a look at Speer’s Lawman line. These rounds are perfect for both sport shooters and law enforcement professionals, with each round loaded into boxer-primed new production brass that is reloadable. The 158-grain Total Metal Jacket (TMJ) projectiles leave the barrel at 850 feet per second and are loaded with clean-burning propellants and CCI primers to ensure you get reliable ignition every time.
19# 38 Special – +P 158 Grain TMJ – Speer Lawman Clean-Fire
When it comes to choosing the right ammunition for indoor range training, you can’t go wrong with Speer Lawman Clean-Fire 38 Special +P. The clean-burning powders and 158-grain TMJ bullet help to keep your indoor range training safe and enjoyable, while the +P powder charge provides realistic recoil for more lifelike practice sessions. With 1000 rounds in each box, you’ll be prepared for an all-day range trip with this great .38 Special ammo from Speer Lawman.
20# 38 Special – 125 Grain JHP – Speer Gold Dot
When you’d like to purchase high-quality ammunition to protect yourself and your loved ones, trust Speer Gold Dot. The 38 Special 125 Grain JHP bullets are outstanding for self-defense situations. The Bonded core helps the bullet achieve impeccable weight retention and explosive expansion, while the low-flash powder and boxer primers create a consistent, reliable fire. The nickel-plated brass casings also resist corrosion, making them perfect for long-term storage. You can’t go wrong with Speer Gold Dot ammo.
21# 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ – Tula
Wish to buy a cost-effective option for range training? Check out Tula’s 38 Special FMJ ammunition. These rounds are perfect for use in revolvers and lever action rifles, and they come at a fraction of the price of brass ammunition. Tula is a well-known name in the shooting community for its quality and affordable steel ammo, and this 38 Special offering is no exception. Their steel-cased ammo was chosen for its cost-saving benefits, and it is non-corrosive and non-reloadable. Get the most bang for your buck with Tula’s 38 Special FMJ ammo.
22# 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ – Winchester
When you buy Winchester Centerfire Handgun Ammunition, you’re getting a product from a company with years of experience in making high-quality ammunition. The .38 Special is one of their most popular rounds, perfect for both range training and target shooting. This particular load is made with a full metal jacket, ensuring that it’s both durable and dependable. You can rest assured that when you buy Winchester Centerfire Handgun Ammunition, you’re getting a product from a company that knows how to make quality ammunition.
23# 38 Special – 158 Grain Lead Round Nose – Federal Premium
If you want to invest in quality American-made handgun ammunition, Federal Premium’s 38 Special 158 Grain Lead Round Nose is a flawless option. These bullets offer superior accuracy and reliability and are fascinating for shooters who want to reduce the noise they make while shooting without sacrificing performance. The bullets’ clean-burning powders also help keep your weapon clean, so you can shoot with confidence knowing your gun is in peak condition. Whether you’re an experienced shooter or a new gun owner, this ammunition is a great choice for anyone who wants the best possible shooting experience.
24# 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ – Remington
Searching for high-quality, reliable handgun ammunition that won’t break the bank? Have a look at Remington UMC Centerfire Handgun Ammunition. This affordable ammo is perfect for high-volume shooting situations and provides great value without sacrificing performance or quality. The case mouth and primer are waterproofed for maximum reliability, and the cases are plated in nickel to reduce oxidation, improve feeding, and ease extraction. So whether you’re at the range or out in the field, you can rest assured that Remington UMC Centerfire Handgun Ammunition will provide consistent, reliable performance.
25# 38 Special – 130 Grain FMJ – Wolf Ammo
Hitting the range or hitting the road, this .38 Special ammo from Wolf is sure to be a blast! The 130-grain full metal jacket steel-cased centerfire pistol ammunition is perfect for anyone searching for an exceptional selection. The steel casing is built to be durable and withstand whatever you throw at it, while the full metal jacket provides maximum penetration. With Wolf Ammo, you know you’re getting a quality product that will provide you with years of shooting enjoyment.
26# 38 Special – +P 135 Grain Gold Dot Hollow Point Short Barrel – Speer
The Speer Gold Dot .38 Special +P 135 Grain Gold Dot Hollow Point Short Barrel Centerfire Pistol Ammunition is designed to provide maximum performance in barrels as short as 1.9 inches. The reliable feeding and consistent expansion and performance at a variety of distances and velocities make this ammunition a great choice for sub-compact handguns. The Gold Dot Hollow Point bullet provides additional penetration and expansion, making it an ideal choice for self-defense situations.
27# 38 Special – 50 Grain Hollow Point – Liberty Ammunition
Do you want to purchase a reliable, powerful, and accurate self-defense round? Look at Liberty Ammunition’s .38 Special. This 50-grain solid copper hollow point bullet is designed for maximum stopping power and barrier penetration. It’s also one of the lightest and fastest lead-free bullets on the market, making it a great choice for self-defense. And because it’s a standard pressure round, you’ll enjoy reduced recoil for greater control and accuracy. So whether you need to protect yourself or your home, Liberty Ammunition’s .38 Special is an excellent choice.
28# 38 Special – +P 158 Grain Total Metal Jacket – Speer
The Speer Lawman training ammunition is a superbly consistent option for those looking for the best in feel and point of aim. The TMJ bullet with a plated jacket encapsulates the entire lead core, providing exceptional performance. With 50 rounds in each box, it’s perfect for target practice or training sessions. A muzzle velocity of 900 ft/s and muzzle energy of 284 ft-lbs make this ammunition a great choice for your handgun training needs.
29# 38 Special – +P 125 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point Brass Cased – Sig Sauer
The Sig Sauer 38 Special +P 125 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point is a top-of-the-line personal defense round. The V-Crown stacked hollow point design provides superior accuracy, reliability, and performance. The bullet has a unique toothed cannelure halfway up the shank to lock the jacket and core which provides exceptional structural integrity in a jacketed design, ensuring maximum weight retention and outstanding terminal performance. Brass cases are Techni-Crom coated for enhanced lubricity, superior corrosion resistance, and reliable feeding and extraction.
30# 38 Special – +P 81 Grain Centerfire Pistol Ammunition – Fort Scott Munitions
The Fort Scott Munitions 38 Special +P TUI ammo is a match-grade round designed for use in self-defense. This round is made to be fired from concealed carry revolvers and thru bolt action rifles. With its Tumble Upon Impact design, you get a devastating wound cavity without sacrificing accuracy or penetration.
31# 38 Special – 77 Grain Brass Cased Centerfire Pistol Ammunition – Norma
The Norma ARX .38 Special 77gr Brass Cased Centerfire Pistol Ammunition is a top-quality product that is ideal for those who want to get a reliable and long-lasting ammunition option. The Norma ARX .38 Special 77gr Brass Cased Centerfire Pistol Ammunition is made from some of the most durable materials on the market, and it is designed to provide you with many years of dependable use. Norma has been making high-quality products for a very long time, and this product is their way of showing how much they care about their customers.
32# 38 Special – 125 Grain Tracer-Like Jacketed Hollow Point Brass – Ammo
Streak .38 Special 125gr Tracer-Like JHP Brass Pistol Ammunition is the faultless choice for those who want to see their shots in action. These unique bullets leave behind laser-like streaks that make it easy to see where your shots are landing and make corrections to your aim. The tracer-like effect is only visible from within 30 degrees of the shooter’s point of view, making it a great choice for both self-defense and training. This 38 Special ammunition is also non-incendiary and safe for indoor range use. Get yours today to see the future of personal protection.
33# 38 Special – 158 Grain Lead Round Nose – CCI Ammunition
If you’re searching for reliable, accurate performance for training at the range, think about CCI Ammunition Blazer Aluminum .38 Special 158 Grain Lead Round Nose Centerfire Pistol Ammunition. The loads feature aluminum cases to keep price to a minimum, yet offer the same high quality and performance you’ve come to expect from CCI. The bullets are heat-treated for maximum durability and each round is loaded with a reliable primer for consistent ignition. So whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned pro, this ammo is sure to meet your needs.
⚙️How to reload?⚙️
Reloading 38 Special ammo is a relatively simple process that requires some basic tools and supplies.
- ➡️ To begin, you will need to gather all of your supplies and make sure everything is in working order.
- ➡️ Next, clean the cases by tumbling them in a media solution or using a brass brush and solvent. After cleaning the cases they should be inspected for any signs of wear or damage.
- ➡️ Once your cases are ready it’s time to size them. This is done with a resizing die and a reloading press.
- ➡️ Once the cases have been resized, trim them to the desired length if needed and then chamfer the inside edge for easier seating of primers and bullets.
- ➡️ Next, prime your casings using a hand-held priming tool or a separate primer pocket tool.
- ➡️ After priming you can add the powder to your case using either an adjustable powder measure or manually weighing out each charge on a set of scales.
- ➡️ Once the powder is added, it’s time to seat a bullet in each casing. You will need a seating die to do this, as well as a reloading press.
- ➡️ Finally, inspect all of your rounds before they go into circulation and store them safely until you are ready to use them.
38 Special ammo is a popular cartridge for self-defense and concealed carry. In this article, we’ve reviewed the best ammo loads on the market today. We’ve also included some tips on how to choose the right ammunition for your needs. Whether you’re searching for target shooting or personal protection, there’s something here for everyone. Thanks for reading! 🙂✨
I have a collection of snub nose J-Frames that I need to feed. Most of them are aluminum frame pistols, with a Taurus Ti thrown into the mix. They are rated for +P, and my wife and daughters own three of them and shoot them quite well. However, shooting +P rounds in them isn’t very enjoyable and often results in a significant discrepancy between the point and aim and the point of impact. My goal was to create standard pressure .38 Specials with 158-grain bullets, as I’ve always read that these were more or less what the fixed sights on those pistols were regulated for. I hope this will help to get POA and POI in the same neighborhood and provide better accuracy. Since I believe the little pistols won’t be able to get the newer and lighter super bullets up to enough speed to do their magic, I’m going with larger bullets.
I understand your point of view. Using 158-grain bullets for my J-Frames will work well, as you only need two good center mass hits to stop most threats. The speed of the bullets is irrelevant if they don’t hit the target. Regarding the new cartridges, they work fine and are designed to be devastating out of a short 2″ stubby barrel. The old 158 load data was optimized for a 4″ police service 38, so using a faster powder like Bullseye or #2 could provide better optimization in a snub-nosed revolver. Unique is a versatile powder that works well for most loads, but it’s not the optimal choice.
My standard load is very similar to your special load. After some experimentation, I discovered that the 3.2-grain load was more accurate in all of my .38s, so now it’s my go-to load. It also shoots to the sights on my fixed-sight Smiths, so it does everything I need a .38 to do.
In my experience, when it comes to .38 Special loads fired from a 2-inch or shorter barrel, it’s difficult to achieve all three of the following criteria: 1) penetration between 12 and 18 inches, 2) 1.5x expansion, and 3) mild recoil. Some +P loads can just barely meet the penetration and expansion criteria, but the recoil is harsh, especially in an Airweight. Light bullet loads may expand well but tend not to penetrate deeply, making them poor choices in my opinion. Mild recoiling full-wadcutter and semi-wadcutter loads, on the other hand, penetrate deeply but don’t expand much. I’m fine with that since penetration is the most important factor in stopping a threat.
I’m a newcomer to the world of firearms and I’ve been considering buying a .38 Special. Also, I’m wondering what the difference is between bullet weights like 130 grain and 158 grain. Any insight would be appreciated.
Nowadays, I reload my own so I can’t really speak to the current supply situation. However, I think 38 special is a versatile cartridge that can be used for various purposes, such as defense or practice, depending on the load you choose.
If you’re looking for a reliable revolver at a reasonable price, I would suggest taking a look at Ruger. Personally, if I was in the market for a .38 revolver, I would opt for a .357 instead. The beauty of a .357 is that it can handle both .38 special and .357 magnum ammo. As for grains, it refers to the weight of the bullet. A 158-grain bullet is longer and heavier than a 130-grain bullet. The 130-grain bullet may travel at a faster velocity, but the 158-grain bullet is likely to deliver more force upon impact.
I have two snub-nosed revolvers for home defense, one .357 and one .38 Special. Right now, I have loaded them with Speer Gold Dot jacketed hollow points in .357 Mag and .38 Sp+P, but I’m starting to think this might not be the best strategy. The noise and recoil from these rounds are extreme, making it difficult to shoot accurately and causing a lot of discomfort. If I ever had to use them in a home defense situation, I would be concerned about the blinding muzzle blast and potential hearing damage. So, I am now searching for a mild .38 Special round that will still be effective against an intruder but won’t have such a punishing recoil.
Well, I think that the Speer Gold Dot 38 +P 135gr should be manageable in both of our revolvers unless we have an ultralight 38. If we were to purchase a 38 that weighs 15 oz or less, then we might have a wild ride with any ammo that’s more powerful than barely lethal target wadcutters. However, Speer’s 135gr 357Mag “short barrel specialty load” is only slightly stronger than the 38+P version of the same load. Assuming our gun weighs 19oz or more, it would be a very good choice for us.
In my opinion, using a snub-nose revolver for home defense is not ideal. The short sight radius makes aiming difficult, the light weight makes follow-up shots difficult, and the DA trigger pull can be challenging.
In my opinion, for home defense, the Remington 870 with the #1 buckshot is the ideal setup. The #1 buckshot has decently sized pellets and the widest spread, which won’t be too much of a concern indoors. It’s not an expensive option and I highly recommend it. As for my revolvers, I prefer to use Speer Gold Dot 125 Grain JHP in .38 for both. I believe it’s one of the best defensive rounds available.
In my opinion, the ideal .38 ammo for home defense would be a 158 Grain LSWC – Magtech. This type of bullet can be effective because if it has enough energy, the hollow point will expand upon impact. If it doesn’t have enough energy to expand, the shoulder of the Semi-Wadcutter will still cut through tissue.