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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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

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