38 SPECIAL

38 Special Ammo in ballistic gel

We shot 16 different loads of 38 Special self-defense ammo into ballistic gel

See the results below

38 Special ammo is a legendary round and is probably one of the longest lasting rounds for police service there ever has been. The cartridge has been around for more than 110 years! 38 Special as a caliber is the derivative of several different kinds of 38 Special, which all eventually settled into the mainstream SAAMI spec-cartridge that we use today, more or less.

Up until the 1980’s police officers could still be found with Smith and Wesson K frame 38 specials. These six shooters became symbols of the lawman, long after being retired from military service. With the explosion of concealed carry those who prefer the wheel gun can’t go wrong with a snub nose 38 special. The 38 spc has been around so long it has a wide variety of different rounds, including oddballs like wax and snake shot.

Today, you’ll find 38 special rounds for target practice as well as self-defense. Most shooters opt for a full metal jacket bullet for training or plinking while the jacketed hollow point rounds with an expanding bullet are better for self-defense/protection.

Major ammo companies are still tweaking the 38 special design to get the most they can out of it. Look for rounds in-stock from well-known manufacturers like Hornady, Winchester and Federal.

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1 - 20 of 98

  1. 1000rds - 38 Special Tula 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Tula 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $194.95
    $0.20/ppr

    17 In Stock

  2. 1000rds - 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $254.95
    $0.26/ppr

    13 In Stock

  3. 1000rds - 38 Special +P Blazer 125gr. JHP Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special +P Blazer 125gr. JHP Ammo
    $264.95
    $0.27/ppr

    12 In Stock

  4. 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $279.95
    $0.28/ppr

    13 In Stock

  5. 1000rds - 38 Special Remington UMC 130gr. MC Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Remington UMC 130gr. MC Ammo
    $279.95
    $0.28/ppr

    14 In Stock

  6. 500rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. LRN Ammo 500rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $144.95
    $0.29/ppr

    7 In Stock

  7. 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $289.95
    $0.29/ppr

    4 In Stock

  8. 1000rds - 38 Special PMC 132gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special PMC 132gr. FMJ Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $294.95
    $0.30/ppr

    13 In Stock

  9. 50rds – 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $14.95
    $0.30/ppr

    105 In Stock

  10. 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. FMC Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. FMC Ammo
    $300.00
    $0.30/ppr

    7 In Stock

  11. 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $309.95
    $0.31/ppr

    1 In Stock

  12. 50rds – 38 Special +P Blazer 125gr. JHP Ammo 50rds – 38 Special +P Blazer 125gr. JHP Ammo
    $15.95
    $0.32/ppr

    125 In Stock

  13. 50rds – 38 Special Magtech 158gr. LRN Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Magtech 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $15.95
    $0.32/ppr

    3 In Stock

  14. 1000rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 158gr. LRN Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $319.95
    $0.32/ppr

    14 In Stock

  15. 1000rds – 38 Special Sellier & Bellot 158gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Sellier & Bellot 158gr. FMJ Ammo
    $319.95
    $0.32/ppr

    6 In Stock

  16. 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 148gr Lead Wadcutter Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 148gr Lead Wadcutter Ammo
    $319.95
    $0.32/ppr

    3 In Stock

  17. 1000rds - 38 Special Federal LE 158gr. +P LSWC Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Federal LE 158gr. +P LSWC Ammo
    $325.00
    $0.33/ppr

    9 In Stock

  18. 50rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 130gr. FMJ Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $16.45
    $0.33/ppr

    168 In Stock

  19. 500rds - 38 Spec Remington 158gr UMC Lead Round Nose Ammo 500rds - 38 Spec Remington 158gr UMC Lead Round Nose Ammo
    $164.95
    $0.33/ppr

    7 In Stock

  20. 1000rds - 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. +P TMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. +P TMJ Ammo
    $329.95
    $0.33/ppr

    2 In Stock

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1 - 20 of 98

38 Special Ballistic Gel Test Results

About This Data

Used firearms icon
Firearm Used S&W 640
Barrel length icon
Barrel Length 2.125"
Distance target icon
Distance to Target 10 Feet
Barrier icon
Barrier 4-layer cloth
Ammo 5-shot average penetration depth 5-shot average diameter 5-shot average velocity
500rds - 38 Special Black Hills 125gr. +P Jacketed Hollow Point Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Black Hills 125gr. +P Jacketed Hollow Point Ammo
  22.12"
0.35" 822
20rds - 38 Special +P Federal Personal Defense Micro 130gr. HST JHP Ammo 200rds – 38 Special +P Federal Personal Defense Micro 130gr. HST JHP Ammo
  12.66"
0.72" 872
20rds - 38 Special Federal Hydra-Shok 129gr. +P HP Ammo
  19.56"
0.35" 828
20rds - 38 Special Federal Hydra-Shok 110gr. HP Ammo 200rds – 38 Special Federal Hydra-Shok Low Recoil 110gr. JHP Ammo
  14.52"
0.51" 936
50rds – 38 Special Fiocchi 158gr. JHP Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Fiocchi 158gr. JHP Ammo
  15.5"
0.35" 686
25rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Defense 110gr.+P FTX HP Ammo 250rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Defense 110gr.+P FTX HP Ammo
  14.64"
0.47" 961
25rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Defense 110gr. FTX Ammo 250rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Defense 110gr. FTX Ammo
  14.78"
0.46" 829
25rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Lite Defense 90gr. FTX Ammo 250rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Defense 90gr. FTX Ammo
  13.9"
0.45" 910
25rds - 38 Special Hornady 158gr. JHP XTP Ammo 250rds - 38 Special Hornady 158gr. JHP XTP Ammo
  18.58"
0.35" 675
50rds – 38 Special +P Remington HTP 125gr. SJHP Ammo 500rds – 38 Special +P Remington HTP 125gr. SJHP Ammo
  14.78"
0.44" 898
20rds - 38 Special SinterFire Special Duty 110gr. Frangible HP Ammo
  16.3"
0.35" 1060
50rds - 38 Special Speer LE Gold Dot Short Barrel 135gr. +P Ammo
  13.74"
0.57" 886
200rds – 38 Special +P Winchester Defender 130gr. PDX1 Bonded JHP Ammo
  17.86"
0.51" 843
50rds - 38 Special Winchester Silvertip 125gr. +P JHP Ammo 500rds - 38 Special +P Winchester 125gr. Super-X Silvertip Jacketed Hollow Point Ammo
  15.96"
0.49" 871
20rds - 38 Special Winchester W Train and Defend 130gr. JHP Ammo 200rds - 38 Special Winchester W Train and Defend 130gr. JHP Ammo
  20.28"
0.38" 857
50rds - 38 Special Federal LE Hi-Shok 125gr. +P Hollow Point Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special +P Federal LE 125gr. Hi-Shok JHP Ammo
  15.82"
0.35" 841
50rds – 38 Special +P Federal LE Tactical 129gr. Hydra-Shok JHP Ammo
  16.44"
0.4" 878

Recent 38 SPECIAL Reviews

  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    Great product, have a Pietta ,1858 Remington 36 cal .375 cap and ball revolver ,used the wadcutters in Taylor's conversion cylinder ,ammo made in tolerate range of mfg Barrel Feet per second ,FPS. Shot at bullseye target @ 35yrds punch clean holes at 5 inches in circle ring.
    Tris on 50rds - 38 Special Black Hills 148gr. Hollow Base Wadcutter Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    This particular .38 SPECIAL+P Loading is simply the best overall choice for the 2" - 4" [ +P rated ] barrel revolvers, IMHO. Speer's Product # 53921 offers pretty much all the required attributes of an all around / multi-season self defense Loading. [ NOTE: # 53921 = 50 rd Box - & - # 23921 = 20 rd Box ] It combines acceptable penetration, expansion, velocity, accuracy, & standard deviation. Also, being a type of 'bonded' projectile is another big plus, as it doesn't have a traditional 'jacket', as a great many of its genre do. Therefore, there's jacket to rupture or fragment which reduces penetration, amongst other issues. And, weighing in at 135 grains, it will / should also shoot much closer the factory sights, as opposed to a lighter projectile. Yes Folks, the current market of .38 SPL. CCW type Loads is truly overwhelming. However, with all the available choices out there, I have always relied upon this particular Speer Load, for both my 2" & 4" . 38 SPL.+P rated revolvers.
    Dom Pastore Jr. dpast32 on 50rds - 38 Special Speer LE Gold Dot Short Barrel 135gr. +P Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    FWIW, This particular .38 SPL+P Loading appears to excellent as an 'summer season' choice. It exhibit exceptional expansion, although it's penetration does appear to be somewhat lacking with an average of approximately 12.5". If chosen for very 'lightly clad' targets, it does represent an viable choice, IMHO.
    Dom Pastore Jr. dpast32 on 20rds - 38 Special +P Federal Personal Defense Micro 130gr. HST JHP Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    Great accuracy and never a FTF or FTE.
    David Scobbie on 50rds - 38 Spec. Federal Premium Gold Medal 148gr Lead Wadcutter Match Ammo