38 S&W Ammo
History of .38 Smith and Wesson Ammunition
The .38 Smith and Wesson was introduced in 1877 by Smith and Wesson. The .38 S&W is not to be confused with the .38 Special cartridge that has slightly different dimensions and is a more powerful cartridge. It was also known as the .380 Rim, .38 New Police, Belgian 9mm Revolver and the .38 S&W Corto.
The .38 S&W was a popular handgun cartridge in its time, it was most notably used by the British military where it was known as the .38/200. This was used to express the cartridge caliber and the weight of the bullet in grains. With a 0.36 bullet diameter and an overall length of 1.2 inches, the .38/200 gave a rather lackluster performance with a velocity in the 620 foot per second range and it generated less than 200 foot pounds of energy.
The cartridge has all of the desirable qualities of a good pistol round. It is: accurate, reliable quiet and has mild recoil. The .38 S&W was rather innovative in that it was a rather large bore cartridge that was found in small to medium sized frame revolvers. This is seen in the top break Smith and Wesson revolver introduced as the Safety Hammerless model in 1887. Also known as the “Lemon Squeezer” These pistols were popular for concealed carry as well as pest control and plinking.
One thing that is not commonly known about the .38 S&W is the fact that it was used in the attempted assassination of two presidents. In 1881, James Garfield was shot twice by Charles Guiteau using a .38 S&W caliber revolver. He walked away from the train station where he was shot, but he later succumbed to infection from his wounds 80 days later.
Theodore Roosevelt was the second president shot with a .38 S&W revolver. John Schrank attempted to assassinate President Roosevelt as he was preparing to give a speech. Fortunately, the speech, over 100 pages, was folded in half in his jacket pocket, along with his metal glasses case. These two items slowed the bullet enough so that he was able to give his speech before seeking medical attention.
Although not as popular as it once was, the .38 S&W ammunition is manufactured by no less than four major manufacturers. The most common bullets produced are lead round nose, but some jacketed bullets and even hollow point ammunition can be found.
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