Rocking the .38 Special

.38 Special ammo remains popular

Smith & Wesson Introduced .38 Special ammo in 1898. S&W designed the centerfire cartridge as an alternative to its .38 Long Colt. The military had used the Long Colt as a service cartridge, but complained that it lacked stopping power in battle. Law enforcement officers from the 1920s up until 1990s, used the .38 Special as a standard issue service cartridge. WWI soldiers carried the round into combat. The revolvers and ammunition faded from every day use, but remain the symbol of the law.

Shooters buy .38 Special rounds frequently for competition shooting, pest control, target practice, and self-defense. Most opt for a full metal jacket round for plinking or range training while jacketed hollow point rounds are chosen for self-defense and personal protection.

Military Use

The U.S. Army used the .38 Long Colt as a standard issue sidearm from 1892 – 1911. However, as the M1892 progressed, the military said that the round was no longer effective. They complained that it performed poorly during the Spanish-American War as well as the Philippine Insurrection. Soldiers said the ammo wasn’t accurate, nor did it have adequate stopping power.

Smith & Wesson produced the .38 Special Military and Police revolver in 1902, which quickly gained recognition among troops and civilians.

In 1909, Colt also introduced a revolver chambered in .38 Special ammo. The gun compared to the .38 S&W Special, however, Colt’s firearm had the flat-pointed bullet design.

The Colt Detective Special

John Henry Fitzgerald, an employee at Colt, designed the “Fitz Special” in the mid-1920s. Fitzgerald’s snubnosed revolver was a pared down version of the .38 Special Police Positive Special. He believed that reducing the barrel size would make it easier for law enforcement officers to carry concealed. He shortened the ejector rod and removed the front of the trigger guard. Fitzgerald shortened the ejector rod, removed the trigger guard, and changed out the hammer spur so it could be a faster draw. Colt made some alterations to the design of the Fitz Special and rebranded it as the Colt Detective Special. Since its release in 1927, the six-shot revolver has been called the most iconic snubnosed revolver in firearms history.

Self-Defense

People choose the .38 Special as a standard for self-defense purposes. Police officers carried lead-nosed rounds, dubbing the ammo “.38 Special Police.” It is known for deep penetration and causing extreme damage to its target. Shooters choose the .38 Special for concealed carry when use with snubnose revolvers. The small size is easy to conceal in a purse, jacket, or in an ankle holster.

Target Shooting

Competition and target shooters purchase full metal jacket bullets as a preferred round, followed by hollow point. Likewise, when range training, the FMJ is the preferred choice as it doesn’t expand when impacting a soft target. Target shooters choose the ammo for its economical price and aren’t dissuaded by the less than perfect performance.

Experts train novice shooters with .38 Special ammo because of the ease of use, low noise, and low recoil.

.380 for Self-Defense

.380 is a popular off duty weapon for police.

People who carry concealed for self-defense often choose larger calibers for their stopping power. The .380 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) remains one of the most popular rounds on the market. Shooters prefer the round because it is lightweight and easy to carry with minimal recoil and muzzle blast. Police officers often carry a .380 as a backup weapon. Hobbyists and competition shooters choose the ammo for backyard shooting, competition and plinking.

 Development of .380 Ammo

John Moses Browning created .380 ammunition for the Colt Model 1908 Pocket Pistol in 1908. Browning designed the ammo after the .38 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) cartridge, which was made for blowback pistols. The military used .380 ACP ammo until it was replaced with the 9mm.

In 1912, .380 ACP ammo was introduced in Belgium, where it was named the “9mm Browning Short.” Military forces used the round throughout World War II until many replaced it with the more popular 9mm cartridge.

Other names for .380 ACP cartridges  include 9mm Browning, 9mm Browning Court, .380 Auto, 9mm Short, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz, and 9×17mm. The .380 Auto should not be confused with .38 ACP.

The .380 Auto for Self-Defense

People looking for a self-defense weapon may choose the .380 ACP for its accuracy. The round has a moderate recoil and muzzle blast which works well for novice shooters. The round feeds easily and the guns chambered for this round are dependable. The ammunition is better than the .32 Auto, especially when it comes to stopping power. As a result, the .380 ACP has become the standard minimum chambering for law enforcement, military and self-defense use.

The popularization of the 9mm caused a decrease in sales for the .380 ACP until the mid-2000s, when the demand increased for lightweight pistols suitable for carrying concealed. Manufacturers have responded to the demand for weapons chambered in .380 ACP and have also begun to mass produce the ammo to be sold in bulk. The mass production allows consumers to buy .380 rounds for less money at retail sites as well as through online markets.

Stopping Power

The stopping power of .380  ammo is sufficient to stop a threat.  Some experts dismiss the round because it is smaller and less effective than larger handgun calibers. For example, the 9mm has more firepower, but the performance isn’t much different. The .380 round performs like a .45 cartridge rather than the .32 ACP, which is closer to its size.

While the cartridge may be weaker than larger calibers, the lower recoil is a benefit to novice users since the gun is easier to fire. The shooter also has less recovery time and can fire faster, which means a great deal when the shooter is acquiring a target. Manufacturers continue to chamber handguns for the .380 ACP, including subcompact models that are ideal for concealed carry.

 

 

 

9mm: America’s Most Popular Ammo

9mm handgun

Designed by DWM weapons designer, Georg Luger, the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge was introduced in 1902. Luger designed the round as a service cartridge for the DWM Luger semi-automatic pistol known as the Pistole Parabellum, more commonly known as the Luger.

The cartridge was compact and accurate, an improvement over previous ammo which was heavy. Pistols chambered for 9mm ammo held more cartridges than previous models, and they were highly accurate, surprising for its small size. Luger intended for the round to be lethal at 50 meters.

Alternate Names

  • 9mm Luger
  • 9mm Parabellum
  • 9x19mm Parabellum
  • 9mm NATO
  • 9-millimeter
  • 9mm
  • 9mm Para
  • 9mm P

Law Enforcement and Military

When World War I occurred, the military introduced submachine guns. Chambered for 9mm ammo, the guns were able to penetrate field gear, an essential part of eliminating the enemy. The submachine guns were fully automatic, and magazine-fed, firing up to 900 rounds per minute.

In 1935, the Browning Hi-Power was introduced. The gun played a large part in World War II, and therefore, 9mm ammo became widespread. Not long after the war, law enforcement agencies adopted the cartridge, replacing the .38, a standard issue sidearm. Civilians followed suit, using the 9mm for self-defense due to its size, weight, and low recoil.

Other milestones include:

  • In 1955,  NATO adopted the 9mm Parabellum as their official sidearm round.
  • The U.S. Military replaced the .45 ACP with the 9mm as their standard cartridge.
  • Law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD and LAPD, adopted the 9mm cartridge.
  • In the 1990s, many civilians replaced .38 Special and .357 Magnum handguns in favor of 9mm semi-automatic pistols. Being able to buy cheap 9mm ammo has encouraged users to keep up the trend.
  • In 2014, The Federal Bureau of Investigation returned to 9mm ammo after graduating to 10mm cartridges.

Police cite the following reasons for their preference:

  • Shootability: High accuracy, easier to shoot, low recoil.
  • Selection: The selection of pistols is vast. Many law enforcement agencies allow their officers to select their choice of guns chambered in the cartridge.
  • Longevity: Less wear and tear on the firearm. 9mm pistols will fire as many as 100,000 rounds.
  • Increased Capacity: Most 9mm duty pistols have a capacity of 17 rounds; extended magazines can hold 20 rounds or more.
  • Reliability: They are the most reliable handguns.
  • Ammo variety: Ammo has many variations and is easy to obtain.
  • Cost: Low-cost ammo, especially when buying in bulk.

Over 60% of police forces in the U.S. use 9×19mm Parabellum pistols.

9mm Ammo Design

The 9mm cartridge is a well-known handgun cartridge. However, it has reinvented itself over the last century. Pocket pistols, full-size handguns, revolvers, and submachine guns, among others all use this cartridge.

The 9x19mm Parabellum measures 9mm in diameter; its tapered case measures 19mm in length. Derived from Latin, the name “Parabellum” comes from DWM’s motto, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” which means “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Self-Defense Ammo

The ammo is often chosen for self-defense purposes due to its lightweight and mild recoil. Women and novice shooters tend to prefer it over a .45 caliber weapon. The FBI has run field tests to dispel the myth that the load doesn’t have the same stopping power as a .40 or .45 caliber firearm. In combat, proper shot placement proves that the 9mm is equally lethal.

Civilians prefer the caliber for its excellent control and accuracy. Gun owners tout the ease of  carrying concealed with a subcompact gun.

With the wide variety of uses and easy access to bulk 9mm ammo, the round is sure to remain popular for many years to come.