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.38 Special Revolver History

Introduced by Smith and Wesson in 1898 as an improved version of the .38 Long Colt, the .38 special revolver was first used during the Philippine-American War. Once smokeless powder was available, production of a 200-grain cartridges began, and the .38 special revolver became a standard British military sidearm. But that was just the beginning. The .38 special revolver gained popularity with shooters of all kinds, and by 1930, they were winning over police departments across the United States. But that wasn’t enough. Police forces wanted high-speed rounds capable of armor-piercing damage, and modifications were made to .38 special revolvers to handle the required ballistics. During World War II, armed forced in the U.S. Navy and Army carried .38 special revolvers as a sidearm and emergency signal flare. During the 1970s, requests for more powerful ammunition spurred the development of the .38 special revolver “+P” built to withstand pressures that would destroy a regular .38 special revolver.

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