38 Special Ammo

A medium-power cartridge that is well-liked for its good accuracy, reasonable power, and low recoil, the .38 Special is suitable for both target shooting and self-defense. It was introduced as a replacement for the .38 Long Colt in 1898 and remains in wide use today. Revolvers firing .38 Special ammo were formerly very popular for law enforcement and are still common for concealed carry.

.38 Special target ammo typically fires heavy bullets at relatively low velocities; some of the lighter loads can be used for cowboy action shooting, as they are very light-kicking. Defensive ammo is more powerful and usually fires lighter bullets in the 110-130 grain range, with muzzle velocities of around 1,000 feet per second. Many of these loads are designated +P and produce better terminal ballistics at the cost of greater recoil and blast.

Owners of revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum should note that .38 Special ammo can be fired safely in .357 Mag handguns. Many shooters choose to exploit this benefit at the range due to the lower recoil and cheaper cost of the .38 SPL rounds.
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