The .38 Special, also commonly referred to as .38 S&W Special, .38 SPL, .38 SPC, or 9x29mmR is a centerfire handgun cartridge designed by Smith and Wesson. This round was the standard service ammunition for the majority of police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the 1990s and was also commonly used by militaries during the same time period. Today, the .38 Special is still one of the most popular revolver rounds available and is used for target shooting, personal defense, and small game hunting.
Designed by Elmer Keith, Phillip B. Sharpe, and Douglas B. Wesson, the .357 Magnum was developed as a response to Colt's .38 Super. The introduction of .357 Magnum ammunition gave consumers another pistol cartridge option for deep penetration of the car doors and ballistic vests of the time. Today, .357 Magnum ammo is popular for plinking, target shooting, hunting, and self-defense.
The .357 Magnum and .38 Special each have unique traits that cater to a wide range of shooting scenarios.
The .357 Magnum is known for its power and speed with typical muzzle velocities ranging from 1200 to 1500 fps, depending on the bullet weight and type of powder used. This impressive speed means that it has exceptional stopping power, making the .357 Magnum an excellent choice for self-defense and hunting. It also has a flat trajectory up to around 100 yards for increased long-range accuracy. However, it does have significant recoil. This can be a challenge for inexperienced shooters to handle.
On the other hand, the .38 Special is characterized by its moderate recoil, making it a great choice for new shooters or those who like an easier on the body shooting experience. The accuracy of the .38 Special makes up for its lack of power and speed when compared to the .357. Typical muzzle velocities range from 750 to 850 fps.
Despite their differences, both rounds are celebrated for their reliability as they feed, fire, and eject well in a variety of firearms. Whether you're interested in power and penetration or manageable recoil and accuracy, the .357 Magnum and .38 Special have plenty to offer.
.357 Magnum and .38 Special Reloading
While the numbers in the names may lead you to believe otherwise, these two calibers have identical diameter chamberings at 0.357 inches. This means that use the same diameter bullet, making them essentially interchangeable.
If you are looking for .38 Special bullets or .357 bullets, we have you covered. Our selection includes a variety of grain ratings ranging from 125-158 with bullet styles like flat point, round nose, wad-cutter, and more. We are proud to manufacture the most superior copper plated bullets on the market.