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S&W 38 Special #5358376 02/23/20 08:23 PM
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BlueOvalFitter Offline OP
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My son has been looking around for a .38 Special to buy with some of his tax return money. He's narrowed it down to a few. I suggested one from Recoil Gun Works. It's a LE trade in S&W 64 SS .38 Special. The only thing I know about a .38 Special is that it's very similar to the .357 Magnum. I have shot BOO KOO .38 Special FMJ bullets from my past/currently owned .357 Magnums but nothing in a JHP.
Can someone please school me on the .38 Special? How does it compare to the .357 Magnum? Also, which JHP do you suggest for SD purposes? My SP-101 .357 Magnum has 158 gr. Hyda Shok bullets in it for SD.
Thank You.
https://www.recoilgunworks.com/smith-wesson-revolver-rubber-grip-p-54606.html
https://www.recoilgunworks.com/smith-wesson-revolver-wood-grip-p-29630.html


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358385 02/23/20 08:33 PM
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Astro14 Offline
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The .357 Magnum cartridge was created by lengthening the .38 special case. That’s why you can shoot .38 special from a .357, they’re both .357 inches.

.38 special is an effective round. It’s good for self defense. Moderate recoil makes it a good round for new, or occasional, shooters.

SG Ammo has some great prices on .38 right now:

https://www.sgammo.com/catalog/pistol-ammo-sale/38-special-ammo

Particularly this buy, for .23/round which is an outstanding deal for .38 special

https://www.sgammo.com/product/geco...ial-158-grain-fmj-ammo-made-geco-hungary

I would be happy with any good brand of defensive ammo, Speer Gold Dot, Federal Hydra-shock, etc. it’s a revolver, so they’ll all work.

My .38 special S&W is a nice gun. Very well made. An LE turn in will have some cosmetic wear, but most of them just weren’t shot much, so it should be in great mechanical shape.

Last edited by Astro14; 02/23/20 08:34 PM.

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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358387 02/23/20 08:35 PM
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c502cid Offline
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I buy a lot from Recoil. Outstanding people to deal with!



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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358390 02/23/20 08:36 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
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hatt Offline
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I'd get some Speer Short Barrel Gold Dots, 135 grain, for it. .38 is substantially less powerful than .357 but it'll still get the job done. Especially out of a 4 inch barrel


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358393 02/23/20 08:38 PM
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TwoTrax Offline
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The 38 shares the same bullet diameter but is a much lower pressure round resulting in about 300-400 less fps in velocity. It is no 357 magnum. That said there are some respectable defense loads, the best are around 130 gr +P loads. On the positive side, recoil and muzzle blast are noticeably less than the 357 making it an easy round to shoot.

Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358400 02/23/20 08:46 PM
Joined: Nov 2015
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bunnspecial Offline
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38 Special is an old, low pressure rounds from the early days of smokeless powder. 357 Magnum is an evolution of 38 Special that came about by increasing the pressure limit significantly, which allows for significantly higher velocities. 357 Magnum cases are a bit longer than 38 specials-with some bullet profiles this allows a slightly higher powder capacity(and not with other bullets like the Ketih type 168gr LSWC), but more importantly the longer case keeps the cartridge from chambering in 38 special guns. A 38 Special will chamber in a 357 Magnum gun, but not the other way around.

In any case, it's hard to go wrong with the model 64. It's the stainless steel version of the Model 10, which in turn is an evolution of the S&W M&P Revolver. The lockwork/overall design is basically identical to that used in the S&W Model of 1902, and the frame size and construction dates back to the Model of 1899. It's a time tested and proven design. The fixed signs aren't the easiest in the world to see, but you don't have to worry about them getting knocked out of adjustment and they draw from the holster easily.

For a while, I had an ex-prison-guard Model 64 basically identical to the one pictured(4" heavy barrel, AKA "bull barrel") aside from it being factory double action only. I stupidly sold it. Mine was beat up from being carried a lot, but hadn't been shot much. It was a great shooter, and with standard pressure 38 Specials is a very soft shooting gun. It will handle 38 Special +Ps, and is more than manageable with those.

IMO, this sort of gun is a much better choice for most people than the now popular 2" snub nose revolver. These are easier to shoot and recoil less. They're not AS easy to conceal, but are still doable, and I did carry my 64 that way some.

As for a JHP-one of my favorite loads for this gun is the Speer Gold Dot 135gr +P "Short Barrel." Despite the short barrel labeling, this is a load that actually performs really well in a 4" barrel. In fact, I've been told-but can't verify it-that it was developed for the NYPD primarily for their Model 10/Model 64 Duty Revolvers, but also performed well in the off-duty snubs. With that said, I rarely carry a JHP in 38 Special, and have instead settled on the 158gr +P LSWCHP, AKA the "FBI Load." In proper form, this is a soft lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint that expands nicely even at 38 special velocities. Even if it doesn't expand, it still acts like a semi-wadcutter, which has somewhat better terminal performance than a round nose.


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358433 02/23/20 09:31 PM
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Rodmiser Offline
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A good one to look at 442

Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358434 02/23/20 09:33 PM
Joined: Oct 2017
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MParr Offline
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The .38 special is a good personal defense round in +P loadings. If he intends to conceal carry, I would recommend the model 638 Airweight. I have one and it’s easy to conceal.


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: TwoTrax] #5358456 02/23/20 09:50 PM
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4WD Offline
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Originally Posted by TwoTrax
The 38 shares the same bullet diameter but is a much lower pressure round resulting in about 300-400 less fps in velocity. It is no 357 magnum. That said there are some respectable defense loads, the best are around 130 gr +P loads. On the positive side, recoil and muzzle blast are noticeably less than the 357 making it an easy round to shoot.


Which is why I got one for her and some Hornady SD +P rounds. The other reason is the little simple and reliable S&W revolver fits in the compartment behind the GPS touch screen …

Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: bunnspecial] #5358462 02/23/20 09:56 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
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hatt Offline
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Originally Posted by bunnspecial


As for a JHP-one of my favorite loads for this gun is the Speer Gold Dot 135gr +P "Short Barrel." Despite the short barrel labeling, this is a load that actually performs really well in a 4" barrel. In fact, I've been told-but can't verify it-that it was developed for the NYPD primarily for their Model 10/Model 64 Duty Revolvers, but also performed well in the off-duty snubs. With that said, I rarely carry a JHP in 38 Special, and have instead settled on the 158gr +P LSWCHP, AKA the "FBI Load." In proper form, this is a soft lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint that expands nicely even at 38 special velocities. Even if it doesn't expand, it still acts like a semi-wadcutter, which has somewhat better terminal performance than a round nose.

Yep. The .38 SBGD load is excellent in longer barrel .38s. Speer uses the same bullet in the .357. They don't load the .357 version to .357 pressures but the extra velocity really makes the bullet shine. As you can see the .38 out of a 2 inch barrel is on the ragged edge of expansion.

.357 SBGD gel testing.
.38 SBGD gel testing.


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: MParr] #5358501 02/23/20 11:05 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
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zrxkawboy Offline
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Originally Posted by MParr
The .38 special is a good personal defense round in +P loadings. If he intends to conceal carry, I would recommend the model 638 Airweight. I have one and it’s easy to conceal.


We have a 638 also...nice little cc gun. Also agree that any +P defense round will work fine. I use Sig V-Crown just because the nearby Cabela's always has it in stock.


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358510 02/23/20 11:25 PM
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jstert Offline
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taurus 38sp revolvers are decent buys, new $250ish and used under $200, with luck s&w can be had for $100 more. new taurus handguns are back to a lifetime warranty if registered at taurus online within 30 days of purchase.

my own 38sp rules: wadcutter ammo for non-steel, lightweight pieces, as i’m allergic to recoil. unfortunately wadcutter ammo is only reliably available online or at gun shows, so stock up. aftermarket pachmayr or hogue grips that cover the backstrap, again to tame recoil.

a lawabiding civilian really cannot go wrong with a 38sp revolver. step up to a 357mag if you routinely enter apex predator turf. revolvers eat any ammo: steel, brass, reloads. no magazine or feeding ramp issues. no springs or pins to lose when cleaning, especially worrisome if outdoors. easy to learn and execute manual of arms. easy to secure. politically correct just about anywhere.


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358526 02/24/20 12:10 AM
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ZeeOSix Offline
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I'd look for a 357 Mag, then you can shoot any 38 Spl or 357 Mag ammo.

Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: ZeeOSix] #5358533 02/24/20 01:23 AM
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JohnnyJohnson Offline
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Originally Posted by ZeeOSix
I'd look for a 357 Mag, then you can shoot any 38 Spl or 357 Mag ammo.


Yes and the gun cost is very close.


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Re: S&W 38 Special [Re: BlueOvalFitter] #5358565 02/24/20 03:37 AM
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SR5 Offline
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For ammo selection, check out the ballistic gelatin test done by Lucky Gunner
https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolver-ballistics-test/

They test both 38 special (standard and +P) and 357 Mag in both 2" and 4" barrel.


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