Big love for the weak little .38 special

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by magnumman, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. magnumman

    magnumman New Member

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    *disclaimer, this is not a caliber argument thread. I am simply looking for a discussion of a round that i believe is looked over by many young shooters today. Please chime in with input but please don't start a caliber d*** measuring contest. There are plenty of other threads where that is going on.*

    With all of the modern high performance ammo choices that we have today, I guess I can see why there are a lot of guys (especially in my generation) who thumb their nose at the .38 special. Sure, it doesn't move at 600000 f/sec and doesn't detonate on impact, but this cartridge still has it's place on the shooting bench and even in the holsters of many Americans.

    With the constant advancement in ammunition technology, there are several great commercial loads in 38 special especially if your gun happens to be of the +p rated variety. Sure, you might think you can do better than an antiquated gun design that is bulky and sometimes heavy, but I am here to tell you that you can do worse.

    Some of the hottest selling handguns on the market are small, light weight snubs in 38 and 357. The reason is the simplicity and function of these guns. There is nothing complex and no confusion when the fecal matter hits the revolving blades. These guns are also not going to intimidate a new shooter who wants to get into firearms.

    If you happen to hand load, you can shoot a different gun every day, a light load in 38 special is very comfortable to shoot. With recoil not being a factor in the function of the gun, you can really load up some great plinking ammo that may not work so well in an auto loader. You can also play Elmer Kieth if your gun is up for the task. For a young person, a lady friend, or your buddy from down the street who hasn't shot much. There is nothing better IMO to make them confident with a center fire handgun than being able to hit what they are aiming at without being punished by recoil and fumbling with controls.

    Although I love guns of all shapes and sizes, when I hit the range, there is usually a couple of boxes of 38 special involved. And the majority of the time when I am not at the range, I have a 38 snub nosed revolver with good +p ammo somewhere on my body. Carrying a 38 is not for everybody, I am completely aware of that. But if you have never shot or owned one, I believe you are missing out on a great corner of the world of handgunning. I am not trying to discredit any caliber for any purpose, I honestly can not stand the "my caliber is better than yours" argument that is spread across the Internet and gun shops like the plague. I just see so many people here and in my daily life who treat the old 38 special like it belongs next to a prehistoric cave painting. If you are one of those guys who walks past the revolvers at the gun shop with out batting an eye, I suggest that you try one out, you may be surprised what you have been missing out on.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  2. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    personally, i think the 38 spl. round is still a good round. low recoil, with adequate power for close up shots. excellent plinker round for shooting in a 357 magnum. low cost usually. very easy to reload.

    IMO, i think is doesn't recieve the same love as it did years ago due to many people migrating to semi-auto pistols over revolvers.
     

  3. DrumJunkie

    DrumJunkie New Member

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    I like the 38 spl. and +P rounds. You can get around 1k fp/s bullet speed and the right slug will make good use of the energy.:)
     
  4. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    My EDC is a S&W Mdl 36. Wadcutter target loads in my bigger revolvers makes an accurate target load that is cheap to reload. Brass never seems to wear out with mild loads.

    As far as self defense- anyone that wants to chase me with 5 sucking chest wounds- more power to ya.

    IMHO, the .38 Special- specifically the S&W Military and Police revolver (aka the Model 10) should go down in the books as the Peacemaker of the 20th Century.
     
  5. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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    I carry a model 37 every day. with 115 grain loads it is superb.
     
  6. JW357

    JW357 New Member

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    Love shooting .38 Special loads in my S&W 66. I usually load 'em fairly light, to stretch each pound of gunpowder out as long as I can, but sometimes load 'em hotter.

    Great plinking round, and it was considered an excellent self defense round in its day. To me, that means it can still be a perfectly viable choice. Ammunition has only gotten better since it was the forerunner for SD cartridges.

    And, I love wheel guns, and don't have near enough.
     
  7. magnumman

    magnumman New Member

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    All great points. The model 10 that I bought yesterday was the inspiration for this thread. Even though I own other 38 and 357 revolvers, the model 10 is one piece that I have always coveted.
     
  8. nitestalker

    nitestalker New Member

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    The S&W Mdl. 60 is just a favorite of mine as is the Mdl.36. My Mdl. 60 it so Damn accurate with any load and a joy to carry. I have killed many rocks and empty shot shells with the .38 Special. I cast my own bullets so I shoot it often. Back in the 60s working for a Government Contractor we had barrels of .38 Special Ammo and time to kill. I wore out a Mdl. 36. :D
     
  9. aandabooks

    aandabooks New Member

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    It is my current personal favorite. Great accurate round in my 686 and hopefully just as accurate in my soon to be picked up Model 28. I can see more .38 wheelguns in my future.
     
  10. magnumman

    magnumman New Member

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    I first got into 38 special with a Taurus 605 which was the first handgun that I bought for myself. I always liked the j-frame smiths so I traded up for a 442 after a while. Somewhere I bought a taurus 669 with a 6 in barrel for a hunting side arm. Most of the shooting I did with it was 38spl plinking. Also picked up an 1894c marlin in 357. That thing is like a cap gun with 38's. I have only shot 1 box through the model 10 but i love how the old smiths handle and accuracy is fantastic. I will take some pics of the targets next time because I know that none of you will believe me without photographic evidence.
     
  11. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    the S & W model 19 and it's predecessors are some of my favorites. IMO, one of the perfectly sized pistols for a 38 spl. or 357 magnum. not too big, and not too small.
     
  12. armsmaster270

    armsmaster270 New Member

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    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  13. Donn

    Donn Active Member

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    Carrying a S&W Model 36 loaded with Extreme Shock Air Freedom 38+p as I type.
     
  14. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    I have a Charter Mag Pug and a SP 101 that my wife bought as her first EDC both are chambered in 357 mag. I haven't shot 200 rounds of 38 spl ammo out of both guns. My wife does shoot a good bit of 38 spl ammo. My problem with the 38 spl is I can buy 357 mag JSP ammo for the same price. When I shoot a lot I shoot 9mm ammo. Unless you are willing to reload and cast your own bullets the 38 spl isn't very cost effective.

    I might start reloading soon. I recently bought a Howa 1500 chambered in 300 wby. A single station press and 300 wby dies were part of the bargain. 300 weatherby ammo can be difficult to find. I will likely be forced to start reloading if I don't sell the howa.
     
  15. magnumman

    magnumman New Member

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    Factory ammo prices and availability make it tough to shoot much of anything these days. Once you start loading, I bet you will enjoy the 38s much more. There are endless loadings for that cartridge. One day you can shoot light plinkers and the next you can shoot some serious +p rounds since you have 357 magnums. It was the round that I first began handloading for, it can really teach you a lot about load development since there are so many possibilities.
     
  16. AR10

    AR10 New Member

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    I had not owned a .38 in years. OOPS, come to think of it, I have never owned one. Except for a .38 derringer.

    The other day, I purchased this. Was too inexpensive to walk away from.

    Weighs exactly half what my fully loaded Glock 23C weighs, at 2pounds, 2 ounces. The Airweight, loaded, weighs 1 pound 1 ounces.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. JW357

    JW357 New Member

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    Congrats on the purchase. I would like a good airweight for CC purposes someday.

    Are you thinking of carrying it?
     
  18. Mouser

    Mouser Active Member

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    I have a GP 100 and a SW 686...I rarely shoot magnums. Mild shooting 38spcl is 95% of what I shoot and I don't use either weapon for self defense. The only regret I have for the 38 is that factory target loads are not cheap like 9mm but certainly not cost prohibitive...just another reason to get in to hand loading.
     
  19. aandabooks

    aandabooks New Member

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    .38/.357 are definitely calibers that lead to reloading. Factory both are more expensive to shoot than even .45ACP. Since I run through at least 100 rounds of .38 every time I go to the range I always have .38 prepped for reloading.
     
  20. JimRau

    JimRau Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just what I did as well. (I didn't get as good a deal as AR did though:p)
    I can carry the 642 in my boot or pocket or the standard hip carry and not notice the weight or bulk, and with a couple of speed strips I am well armed. I tell my students the 38 sp is the minimum I recommend when choosing the PPD. I think when the dust settles and all the 'hype' is over the 38 sp and the 9mm will still be here as the best and most concealable options for a PPD.:)