I really never knew it left in the first place.
For years and years the .38 Special, in both normal and +P offerings, was the choice of LEO and civilian shooters alike in their protective and defensive weapons. While relatively weak compared to magnum offerings, the .38 proved its worth time and time again in the hands of trained shooters. There are more than a few souls on the other side that can attribute their end to a .38 slug.
I actually find humor when I read or hear somebody say that a 9mm is "bigger" than a a .38 or similar. They both use a .357" bullet and the .38, in fact, is able to fire a larger bullet weight without any significant modification than the 9mm in commonly found ammo. Modern powders (the cartridge dimension harken back to black powder days) and bonded HP and defensive bullets have more than shaken off any disdain as this round as "underpowered". I would dare say that any stories found on the internet about suspects taking multiple .38 hits are similar to the same stories more recently about 9mm stopping power and can be attributed to the use of non-expanding FMJ or round nose bullets in service weapons.
|You're a bad guy and I pull my LCR on you and you see these staring from their homes at you and know that 125 grains of hollowpoint will be shortly coming after you at 850-900 fps...what do, what do? I'll tell you what to do...crap your pants!|
For those that still worry about the effectiveness of the .38 Special, companies such as Buffalo Bore offer more than a few hot and exotic offers chambered in it that should assuage any angst over its use for protection.
Some people still scoff at its use since it is (normally) only chambered for revolvers, thus limiting yourself to 5-7 rounds, depending on the model and size of the revolver. I call BS. Sure, more is certainly better and better to have and not need than to need and not have and all that....but still 5 or 6 rounds of .38 at your beck and call is still nothing to laugh at. And with proper training and practice the use of readily available speed loaders and strips can make the ammo "shortage" in a revolver almost a non-issue. Every see a video of Massad Ayoob or Jerry Miculek reload?
Also, while not as plentiful as in the past (and right now all ammo in popular calibers is scarce!) you can still find plenty of ammo and accessories for a revolver chambered for it if you look a bit.
|If you notice, I ever got a speed loadeder with some old Winchester Silvertips there!|
Looking in my safe I find I have 4 pistols that are chambered or can fire this round...
|Yes, that is my foot....|
1. My Ruger LCR - This has been my go to carry gun over the past Fall and Winter. I appreciate its light weight, clean and snag-proof lines and smooth trigger. I have been carrying it with 125gr. Remington Golden Saber +P rounds with 6 on a speed strip and do not feel under gunned at all. I have replaced the front sight with a XS big dot and it comes easy onto target and minute-of-pie plate at 10 - 15 yards with it is easy to do.
2. Astra Cadix - Bought this from The Powder Room for $150 a few months ago on an impulse. Astra was one of only a few companies allowed to produce firearms in post Civil War Spain and produced a vast array of pistols for both the military, law enforcement and the limited civilian purchases allowed. They have not been made in decades and are not widely found, but still are out there. Basically, this a clone of a S&W J-Frame with a square grip and 4" barrel. As such it "only" holds 4 rounds in the cylinder, but as a result has a very slim profile for a "service" sized weapon. At full lockup (Cock the pistol, let the trigger fall and while keeping the trigger pulled to the rear try and move the cylinder) this is the tightest revolver of the bunch, attesting to some very good build quality. It has a unique "donut" in the grip that can be rotated to change the trigger and hammer stiffness if desired, from a stiff service use pull to a lighter target style trigger. The only thing wrong with it is that incredibly tall, sail of a front sight is too high...way too high. I am shooting a foot low at 7 yards. Nothing a file and a few hours to work on won't fix, but still a hassle I have not yet taken on. For the amount I spent on it though, it could end up a good trade gun, a charity donation to a friend in need or even a "cabin" gun at some time if need be. Any way you look at it, its solid and reminds us never to underestimate the odd ball you find once in a while on a dusty shelf.
3. Smith & Wesson Model 64. - I have talked about this former prison service revolver before here that I picked up for a song (about $250) a while back. Its a Smith & Wesson, enough said.... Great night stand weapon and listed by G&A as one of the 8 most underrated defensive guns on their website...
4. Ruger GP-100 - Just got this beast as you may very well know, haven't even shot it yet...but I doubt it will not be good to go in any respect. Big and mean, its chambered for the .357 magnum and will shoot the .38 as well, matter of fact many people carry .38+P loads in heavy frame magnum revolvers as a matter of practice to maximize controllability and power in the frame weight given.
So, as you can see, the .38 Special has never gone anywhere it need to return from as far as I am concerned to begin with!