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 99

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

    21 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

    22 In Stock

  3. 1000rds - 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $269.95
    $0.27/ppr

    11 In Stock

  4. 500rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. LRN Ammo 500rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $144.95
    $0.29/ppr

    8 In Stock

  5. 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

    14 In Stock

  6. 1000rds - 38 Special PMC 132gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special PMC 132gr. FMJ Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $304.95
    $0.31/ppr

    8 In Stock

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

    6 In Stock

  8. 50rds – 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Blazer 158gr. LRN Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $15.95
    $0.32/ppr

    47 In Stock

  9. 1000rds – 38 Special Sellier & Bellot 158gr. FMJ Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Sellier & Bellot 158gr. FMJ Ammo
    $319.95
    $0.32/ppr

    5 In Stock

  10. 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 125gr. TMJ Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 125gr. TMJ Ammo
    $319.95
    $0.32/ppr

    1 In Stock

  11. 50rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 130gr. FMJ Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 130gr. FMJ Ammo
    $16.45
    $0.33/ppr

    7 In Stock

  12. 50rds – 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. Semi-Wadcutter Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. Semi-Wadcutter Ammo
    $16.45
    $0.33/ppr

    136 In Stock

  13. 50rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. LRN Ammo 50rds - 38 Special Prvi Partizan 158gr. LRN Ammo
    $16.49
    $0.33/ppr

    3 In Stock

  14. 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

    26 In Stock

  15. 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. TMJ Ammo 1000rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 158gr. TMJ Ammo
    $329.95
    $0.33/ppr

    1 In Stock

  16. 50rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 125gr. TMJ Ammo 50rds – 38 Special Speer Lawman 125gr. TMJ Ammo

    ☆☆☆☆☆ 1 Review(s)

    $16.95
    $0.34/ppr

    27 In Stock

  17. 500rds - 38 Spec Remington 158gr UMC Lead Round Nose Ammo 500rds - 38 Spec Remington 158gr UMC Lead Round Nose Ammo
    $169.95
    $0.34/ppr

    3 In Stock

  18. 1000rds - 38 Special Speer Lawman Clean-Fire 158gr. +P TMJ Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Speer Lawman Clean-Fire 158gr. +P TMJ Ammo
    $339.95
    $0.34/ppr

    1 In Stock

  19. 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 148gr Lead Wadcutter Ammo 1000rds - 38 Special Fiocchi 148gr Lead Wadcutter Ammo
    $339.95
    $0.34/ppr

    3 In Stock

  20. 600rds - 38 Special +P Remington UMC 125gr. SJHP Ammo 600rds - 38 Special +P Remington UMC 125gr. SJHP Ammo
    $204.95
    $0.34/ppr

    1 In Stock

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1 - 20 of 99

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

Recent 38 SPECIAL Reviews

  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    I carry this round in my model 60 non +p rated J-Frame instead of hollow points. It offers deep penetration with some deformation being that it is also soft lead. Hollow points in non +p rounds offer almost zero deformation with not enough penetration. With these you get the best of both worlds. You also ensure penetration through thick clothing with the ability to penetrate to the vitals.
    Paul McKee on 50rds - 38 Spec. Federal 158gr Lead Semi-Wadcutter Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    This is the only 38spl +p round i know that has consistent expansion every time. The soft lead 158gr gives deep penetration too. In my opinion it is the best self defense 38spl +p round on the market. It was also the FBI’s round for many years.
    Paul McKee on 50rds – 38 Special +P Federal LE 158gr. LSWHP Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    I had been searching for lead hollow base ammo for my replica conversions and found these. They are exactly what I needed. Thanks for the excellent service and fast shipping.
    Frederick Taylor on 50rds - 38 Special Black Hills 148gr. Hollow Base Wadcutter Ammo
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
    Still a solid round and performed well in 4 layer denim/gel tests with it latest bullet (older Silvertips failed to expand properly). Current day versions are very adequate. Low recoil in alloy j frame.
    Big E on 50rds - 38 Special Winchester 110gr. Silvertip Jacketed Hollow Point Ammo