38 SPECIAL

38 Special Ammo in ballistic gel

We shot 15 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 97

  1. 1000rds - 38 Special Tula 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Tula 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $199.95
    $0.20/ppr

    37 In Stock

  2. 38 Special - 130 Grain FMJ - Tula - 50 Rounds 38 Special - 130 Grain FMJ - Tula - 50 Rounds

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $13.49
    $0.27/ppr

    150 In Stock

  3. 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $284.95
    $0.29/ppr

    3 In Stock

  4. 1000rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 158gr. LRN Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $299.95
    $0.30/ppr

    24 In Stock

  5. 1000rds - 38 Special Remington UMC 130gr. MC Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Remington UMC 130gr. MC Ammo
    $299.95
    $0.30/ppr

    16 In Stock

  6. 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $309.95
    $0.31/ppr

    3 In Stock

  7. 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $309.95
    $0.31/ppr

    1 In Stock

  8. 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. FMC Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Magtech 158gr. FMC Ammo
    $310.00
    $0.31/ppr

    11 In Stock

  9. 1000rds - 38 Special PMC 132gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special PMC 132gr. FMJ Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $319.95
    $0.32/ppr

    6 In Stock

  10. 1000rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 130gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 130gr. FMJ Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 4 Review(s)

    $329.95
    $0.33/ppr

    10 In Stock

  11. 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. TMJ Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. TMJ Ammo
    $329.95
    $0.33/ppr

    4 In Stock

  12. 50rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 158gr. LRN Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Federal American Eagle 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $16.95
    $0.34/ppr

    117 In Stock

  13. 50rds – 38 Special Magtech 158gr. FMJ Flat Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Magtech 158gr. FMJ Flat Ammo
    $16.95
    $0.34/ppr

    59 In Stock

  14. 50rds – 38 Special Magtech 158gr. Lead Semi-Wadcutter Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Magtech 158gr. Lead Semi-Wadcutter Ammo
    $16.95
    $0.34/ppr

    46 In Stock

  15. 50rds - 38 Special Magtech 130gr. FMJ Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Magtech 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $16.95
    $0.34/ppr

    9 In Stock

  16. 1000rds - 38 Special Federal LE 158gr. +P LSWC Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Federal LE 158gr. +P LSWC Ammo
    $349.00
    $0.35/ppr

    2 In Stock

  17. 50rds - 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. +P TMJ Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. +P TMJ Ammo
    $17.49
    $0.35/ppr

    107 In Stock

  18. 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 125gr. TMJ Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 125gr. TMJ Ammo
    $349.75
    $0.35/ppr

    2 In Stock

  19. 500rds - 38 Special Remington Target 158gr. LRN Ammo 500rds - 38 Special Remington Target 158gr. LRN Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 2 Review(s)

    $174.95
    $0.35/ppr

    8 In Stock

  20. 1000rds - 38 Special Sellier & Bellot 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Sellier & Bellot 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $350.00
    $0.35/ppr

    1 In Stock

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1 - 20 of 97

38 Special Ballistic Gel Test Results
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 Remington HTP 125gr. +P SJHP Ammo 500rds - 38 Special Remington HTP 125gr. +P 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 Winchester 130gr. +P Bonded PDX1 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

Recent 38 SPECIAL Reviews

  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    This is reliable ammunition. The recoil is manageable , and in low light, the muzzle flash is no greater than standard velocity ammo. It goes “bang!” every time I squeeze the trigger. It is a viable contender for one of the top ammo choices for use in small frame revolvers rated for +p use.
    Richard Simpson on 50rds - 38 Special Federal LE 158gr. +P Semi-Wadcutter HP Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    I tried these cartridges in a Pietta .36-caliber 1858 Remington Navy percussion revolver with a Taylor (R & D) conversion cylinder. No paper targets to see what kind of grouping I could get. This was a plinking session, so accuracy was defined only as hitting what I shot at. The test score was 100 percent. I recovered one bullet, and saw that the hollow base had expanded to fully engage the barrel rifling, which was the key to accuracy with these rounds. In my opinion, the shooting characteristics of these cartridges are entirely within the norms of quality smokeless-powder ammo. I did not perceive any "incredible smokiness" as is noted in the 2016 review, and the only detectable lead was that which hit the targets. This ammo is loaded well within safe limits for both the conversion cylinder and my gun. It's actually milder to shoot than a heavy black-powder charge in the percussion cylinder. I'd say it's an excellent .38-special wadcutter in general, but for accuracy and safety in my particular activity of 1858 conversion-cylinder mode shooting, it's an especially good choice.
    Vince on 50rds - 38 Special Black Hills 148gr. Hollow Base Wadcutter Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    My wife was gun shy because of the recoil. She loves this round from my colt detective special. My colt detective, it now seems its hers.
    Bobo on 25rds - 38 Special Hornady Critical Lite Defense 90gr. FTX Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    Use this round in my Colt Python with excellent results.very accurate and lot easier to handle then the 357 with almost the same stopping power .I also use it for home defense
    David C on 20rds - 38 Special Federal Hydra-Shok 129gr. +P HP Ammo