Everyone knows of the 38 special. You notice that I did not put any period in front of the 38? That is because it is a name, not a caliber. The actual size of the bullet is .357
Introduced in 1902 for the new Smith & Wesson Military and Police model.(our present day Mdl. 10) It was originally brought out to replace the Colt 38 Long that was used by the military and found to be unsatisfactory. The Army didn't want any more small calibers handguns and so the 38 special was a military cartridge without a need. Luckily for Smith & Wesson the police of the nation loved it. Powerful enough for them and in a excellent pistol, it sold well. So well that in 1909 Colt brought out it's version with a slightly different bullet but it didn't sell as well. The 38 special was known by many names. 38 special, 38-44 Target, 38-44 High Velocity, and 38 Smith & Wesson Special. One boost to S & W was the fact that their pistols chambered for 38 special would also shoot Colt 38 Short and Colt 38 Long, which were common cartridges of that day.
Widely accepted as one of the most accurate cartridges ever designed and comfortable enough for anyone to shoot the 38 spl has endured to this day and still sells high on the list of cartridges. While the police had disdaned the cartridge for the larger 40's and 45's the little 38 spl just goes on being used by millions of people who like it.
Of course many millions of rounds of the cartridge are shot in personal guns chambered for .357 Mag. And every gun maker in the country and in most parts of the world chamber a pistol and even rifles for the cartidge. One of the most popular cartridges to be had in the derringer type of pistol and with the advent of +P ammo it has moved up to take it place among serious defenders.
Last week I went to my usual weekly range session and decided to take only revolvers this time. And some of them were 38 spl. After shooting for 2 hrs with 44 mags. I switched to a nice little 4" bbl S&W Mdl 10. And what fun it was. I could just see the wad cutter holes at 25 yrds all centering in the 10 ring. No kick, not much noise, no torque to the wrist. Just plain fun. The Smith & Wesson 38 special is a good cartridge and fun to boot. And I might add, cheap to reload. What more can you ask for.