The 38 S&W cartridge was designed by Smith & Wesson in 1877 well before the later developed 38 Special cartridge and has a slightly larger diameter with a rimmed casing. This caliber is also known as S&W 38 Corto as well as .380 Rim. This hard to find cartridge with a 145 grain full metal jacket bullet is available from Fiocchi's line of ammunition and is a great find for your classic revolver. It's a clean and accurate option for target or range shooting.
Each round has a boxer-primed brass casing, non-corrosive propellant and is reloadable.
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I wrote a review of this ammo in 2020. I wish I had ordered a LOT more then. It's still good ammo and I jumped right on it when I saw they finally had some 38 S&W. It's gotten scarce and valuable......
I shoot a lot of 38 Smith. This is about the hottest factory load you can find. It is fairly snappy in my Victory. About the only way you'll top it is with a custom loader like Matt's Bullets. But as far as velocity, this is pretty good for 38 Smith. You can't beat Lucky Gunner's service either. I swear I order something from these guys and someone throws the ammo through my window five minutes later.
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Q: A friend gave an old revolve that was in their family for years. It's an H&R top break, 5 shot. I have put a 38 special round in the chamber, but it's too long. Is this a 38 S&W? I'm not sure what other options might apply. I can't see any caliber designation on the gun. Thanks
Posted On: 2/20/2023
By: Tim Glinski
A: Thanks for reaching out Tim! That's a great question. Your revolver may have been created before the 38 Special (aka 38 S&W Special) cartridge even existed. Since a 38 Special fit in your Top Break's cylinder but was too long for it, it's safe to say it is chambered for 38 S&W (aka 38 S&W Short) ammunition. It's a good thing your cylinder was too short for 38 Special, or else ignition would have probably blown your revolver to smithereens. Oh, and yes, the ammunition on this page is 38 S&W and should function correctly in your Top Break.
Q: I'm looking for . 38 short colt ammo will the . 38 sw short work? I have an 1901 forehand . 38 made by Hopkins and Allen
Posted On: 11/21/2022
By: Mikel Burgan
A: Thanks for reaching out Mikel! The 38 Short Colt is not interchangeable with the 38 S&W, unfortunately. The 38 Short Colt has a bullet diameter of 0.375" (original) or 0.358" (modern); the 38 S&W has a bullet diameter of 0.361". I regret that we haven't got any 38 Short Colt ammo in stock for you!
Q: I own a Taurus .38 Revolver. CAL 38 Special is engraved on the barrel. Will this ammo work in this gun?
Posted On: 9/4/2022
By: Michael Mitchell
A: Thanks for reaching out Michael! I'm glad you asked. The 38 S&W (aka 38 S&W Short) is not the same thing as the 38 S&W Special (aka 38 Special). Your revolver is chambered for 38 Special, which means it cannot fire 38 S&W. Fortunately, 38 Special is a much more popular cartridge that will give you many more options. Here's everything we currently have in stock: https://www.luckygunner.com/handgun/38-special-ammo
If you just want ammo for target shooting, then any of these options should treat you well: https://www.luckygunner.com/handgun/38-special-ammo?ammo_use_type=1439 (I personally recommend Blazer Brass, Federal or PMC)
If you're looking for self-defense ammunition, then you want a jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullet that will expand while penetrating soft tissue. I'd recommend this ammo particularly: https://www.luckygunner.com/38-special-125-gr-xtp-jhp-hornady-25-rounds-1
Note that some ammo is designated 38 Special +P. This ammo is loaded to a higher than standard pressure. The bullet will fly faster and hit harder, but also produce more recoil. If you have a modern Taurus handgun, then it is rated to safely fire +P ammo as well, although I cannot say for certain whether 38 Special +P is safe for your revolver based on the info you provided.
Q: Dear Luckygunner,
As Remington 38 S&W 146 gr is impossible to find, will the 38 S&W - 145 gr FMJ- Fiocchi round fire safely from my Smith & Wesson model 683-3 .38 S&W SPL revolver?
I have only sent the Remington brand through the pistol.
Posted On: 8/15/2022
By: Eric Kruger
A: Thanks for reaching out Eric! I want to make sure we're speaking on the same terms here. Now, to my understanding the Smith & Wesson Model 638 is only available chambered for 38 Special (full name: 38 S&W Special). The ammunition on this page is 38 S&W (also commonly known as 38 S&W Short). Since your revolver is chambered for 38 Special (as well as more powerful 38 Special +P), it cannot fire 38 S&W. The good news is 38 Special is a lot more popular. Your revolver can fire any of the ammo here: luckygunner.com/handgun/38-special-ammo
Perhaps you are accustomed to Remington's 38 Special 146gr LRN ammunition. I'm sorry we haven't got it in stock for you. I believe Black Hills 148gr wadcutter ammo will give you comparable (albeit not identical) recoil and ballistic performance: luckygunner.com/38-special-148-grain-hbwc-black-hills-ammunition-50-rounds
Please let me know if you have any other questions about 38 Special ammo!
Q: Is this the .38 that was sued by the military around the turn of the century thru the First World War and into the second?
Posted On: 6/11/2020
By: LIam gowers
A: I don't believe the 38 S&W had a big career in the U.S. Military, but the British issued Webley revolvers chambered for it. Now the 38 Special, on the other hand, that was developed by Smith & Wesson around the turn of the century specifically for the U.S. government. It was common for WWII airmen to carry a 38 Special in case their planes ever went down in unfriendly territory.
You may also be interested in these .38 Smith & Wesson products: