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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Disclaimer.... I"m not real strong on .38 caliber handguns......

Wit barrel markings like this..

".38 S & W SPL +P"

will it shoot reg .38 AND .38 special?
 

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Yes. It is specifically rated to handle the higher pressures of the +P round, which is a .38 Special just loaded hot.

Wait, what do you mean by "regular .38?" To me that means ".38 Special". I take your question as being will it is shoot regular .38 Special as well as .38 Special +P.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
.38 S&W and .38 special are two different calibers according to my reloading books, but I've never owned a pistol in either caliber. For a friend, and my own knowledge, why is the gun stamped with both calibers?
 

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It isn't, the revolver is chambered for .38 S&W Special but is also rated for the higher pressure +P cartridges. The .38 S&W Special and .38 S&W Special +P are the same cartridge although one is loaded to higher pressure than the other. Since both share the same cartridge case there is no change in calibers.
 

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You guys are missing it. The .38 S&W is a different cartridge. It is shorter, fatter and less powerful than a .38 S&W Special. It will not/should not chamber in the .38 S&W Special only because the brass is fatter.

 

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The cartridge that you are referring to is the 38 S&W there is no such cartridge s a 38 S&W Special. I believe that by saying 38 S&W Specials the opening poster is acctualy asking about the 38 Special
 

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. . . there is no such cartridge s a 38 S&W Special. . .
Words like "no, never, yes, always, etc." have a way of coming back to haunt you.;)

If you research the history of this cartridge, you will find that Smith & Wesson did develope a new round from the .38 Long Colt introducing it as the .38 S&W Special. In fact, .38 S&W Special/Spl is the designation still found stamped on the barrels of S&W firearms.

What IS true is that sometime in the past, the ammunition companies have decided to drop S&W from their headstamp so now this cartridge is commonly offered as the .38 Special.

Those of us who trust in what is stamped on the firearm will include the S&W designation for the cartridge. Others will simply refer to the cartridge according to what's printed on the cartridge box.

No hard and fast rule here. It's much like do we call it a .45 Colt or .45 Long Colt? Just my dos centavos YMMV.
 

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The cartridge that you are referring to is the 38 S&W there is no such cartridge s a 38 S&W Special. I believe that by saying 38 S&W Specials the opening poster is acctualy asking about the 38 Special
I will take the liberty to explain his good logic. If the book says that there is a .38 S&W Special, the the regular .38 would be the .38S&W. Makes sense, but is incorrect. My earlier pic shows the ammo. This new pic is from Cartidges of the World showing different names for the .38 S&W Special and for the .38 S&W.





 

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The 38 Special was originally designed by S&W. To add to the confusion, S&W took the 38 Long Colt and made it longer, added more powder and added more bullet weight. This became the 38 Special we know today.
 

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The .38 S&W dates from the 1870s or so, the .38 S&W Special from the late 1890s. After the introduction of the .38 Special, it wasn't uncommon for people, especially old timers, to refer to the .38 S&W as the ".38 Regular".
Getting back to the barrel markings, the revolver will safely shoot both Standard Pressure .38 Special cartridges, as well as +P pressure .38 Special cartridges.
 

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38 special was intended to replace the 357 magnum for law enforcement due to the word "magnum", sounding overly aggressive. The 38 special sounded "nicer" for LE. The +P designation means a hotter load, as a 38 Special Magnum, would not go over well in the eyes of the public. I read that in Guns and Ammo magazine a long time ago.
 

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I believe that the 38 Speial came before the 357 Magnum
 

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Yes. Decades before. Don't know where you got that info?
 

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The .38 special was REPLACED by the 357 magnum when police departments needed more firepower.
From an article by Massad Ayoob, guns magazine, January 2005

"...In the early 1960s, Lee Jurras and his Super Vel Company introduced commercially manufactured hollowpoint ammunition, emphasizing lighter bullets at higher velocities.
Two good things happened. Those with .38s now had ammo more likely to help them survive a gunfight. The .357 Magnum (anathema to most police chiefs for fear that it would overpenetrate and strike down bystanders--a well founded concern) got a lighter, faster, expanding Magnum slug not only likely to stay in the body, but inflict a wound more likely to end a fight.
Remington introduced what would become the .357 Magnum police load, a 125-grain semi-jacketed hollowpoint at a blistering 1,400 feet per second. It soon proved to, as some Texas cops said, "Drop the bad guy like a lightning bolt." Federal upped the ante with a similar bullet at 1,450 fps. Winchester followed suit, and Remington kept up with them."

And I found this blurb on Western shooting supplies web...

"The .38, .38 Special has been around for many years now, and was the standard issue for most US police departments in 1920’s. However with the 1930’s came the demand for a little more power. Many police departments demanded more stopping power and penetration as the .38 Special had been known to “careen” of car wind-screens, or fail to hole the thick heavy gauge steel of the cars of criminals.
The .357 was develop to meet this need, and was primarily seen as a police calibre. The leading developer for this was Phil Sharpe, who increased the length of the venerable .38 Special case by about 1/8”, the .357 was born.


It was not anticipated that civilian sales would be all that extensive, but to the surprise of Smith & Wesson, the public loved the new improved performance, and sales reflected this.
The model 27 continued until 1994, but had a special production in 1997-2000."

The .38 did not replace the 357.
 
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