Log in Sign up

A Concise Guide On The 38 Revolver

by Ben Jimenez 4 min read

38 Revolver

While all handguns are to be properly used for self-defense and life-or-death scenarios, many gun owners have questions on which handgun to buy and whether or not the choice of gun matters. If you're looking for guns with a certain type of ammo, you might want something powerful, yet easy to handle. With this in mind, you might consider looking at a certain revolver to do the job: A .38 revolver.

The .38 revolver is a type of revolver with specialty ammo that is heralded as one of the strongest handgun rounds created. First introduced in the late 1800s, .38 revolvers have been made with no changes to the formula since. These revolvers are highly praised for their soft-shooting, durability, and ease of handling. There are many types of handguns available for gun owners to purchase, but the .38 revolver ranks as one of the best.

How Does It Differ From The Popular 9mm?

Today, gun experts consider .38 revolver guns as classic alternatives to modern handguns that use 9mm cartridges, despite 9mm rounds and compatible guns being invented in 1901. .38 revolvers have some advantages but also disadvantages over 9mm handguns, and they are as follows:

  • .38 revolvers are typically smaller than the ordinary 9mm handgun. As a result, these guns are more portable and easier to conceal should you want to conceal carry with one.
  • .38 revolvers are inexpensive to buy compared to other types of handguns. This is because they have a simple design and are still made just like when they were first introduced over a century ago.
  • .38 revolvers can only use .38 Special cartridges, which are significantly longer than 9mm cartridges with nearly identical diameters. While it might appear that longer bullets are deadlier due to their size, they are actually less deadly because of their weight. As a result, they travel slower than 9mm rounds when fired.
  • 9mm handguns are known to also have one of the most accurate types of ammo. With that in mind, .38 revolvers require an extra layer of skill to shoot where you need to.
  • .38 revolvers do not have a safety due to their design. Therefore, .38 revolver owners must be very careful handling the gun to reduce the chance of a misfire.
  • Furthermore, due to the small size of the revolver and large size of the .38 Special bullet, gun owners cannot carry as many cartridges in a given storage area compared to 9mm handguns due to their respective bullet being smaller. 9mm handguns will be designed to carry more ammo than .38 revolvers. .38 revolvers can only hold five bullets inside its chamber at a time, so in the event of an emergency, they will have to count.

Are They Good For Self Defense?

.38 revolvers have been used by law enforcement from the Depression Era up until the 1970s and 80s. The soft-shooting nature of this gun has made it easy for trainees to practice with. They were also beneficial to police in order to penetrate through cars driven by fleeing criminals. However, once 9mm semi-automatic handguns were made available, the .38 revolvers either fell out of favor or became the backup choice among officers.

.38 revolvers are considered less lethal than handguns with 9mm bullets, but this could potentially be life-saving in the event that an unskilled and/or accidental shot strikes an innocent victim. .38 revolvers require great skill and accuracy to either immobilize an intruder by aiming for the body or a limb or subdue the intruder by aiming for the head. With that said, you can use a .38 revolver strategically if you want to stop a criminal without killing them or possibly someone else.

Which Handguns Classify As .38 Revolvers?

We currently know of a few .38 revolvers that are reliable and professionally-crafted: the LCR from Ruger, the SP01 from Ruger, the Model 10 from Smith and Wesson, the Model 442 from Smith and Wesson, the Model 642 from Smith and Wesson, the M&P Bodyguard 38 from Smith and Wesson, and the Cobra from Colt. When looking for a revolver that uses .38 Special bullets, you can easily tell by its appearance or the number "38" on the gun's name. .38 revolvers are well known for their small size, stubby noses, and recognizable chambers. Of these revolvers, the only two that we currently make holsters for is the LCR and the M&P Bodyguard 38, but we are open to expanding our catalog upon requests.

As .38 Special cartridges are made by Smith and Wesson, they are primarily designed to be used with Smith and Wesson revolvers. Each revolver made for .38 Special rounds has a chamber for five rounds. Colt's Cobra revolver is the exception to this rule, having space for six rounds.

.38 revolvers can only use .38 Special rounds, as no other type of ammo will be able to work with one. .38 Special rounds, on the other hand, will fit inside handguns that are designed for .357 Magnum bullets. If you already own such a gun, perhaps it will work with .38 Special cartridges, but one way to know for sure is to test the gun out before relying on it to stop a possible threat. If you shoot it and it delivers adequate-enough speed and accuracy, it should be okay.


.38 revolvers are far from the fastest and the most accurate of handguns, but it may be a good idea to get such a gun if you feel that owning a conventional handgun might end up being a bad idea. Gun owners need to be very skilled in order to stop a serious threat with a .38 revolver, as the cartridges travel slower and there are not as many bullets you can keep inside the chamber. Regardless, these revolvers are great for their classic charm, ease of use, portability, and reliability.

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is strictly for informational purposes. Concealment Express, LLC does not provide legal consultation.










Ben Jimenez
Ben Jimenez

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Concealment Express Blog

10 of the Best Glocks
10 of the Best Glocks

by Ben Jimenez 5 min read 3 Comments

The Best 9MM Self Defense Ammo for Concealed Carry

by Ben Jimenez 2 min read

Sig Sauer P365
Sig P365 Review

by Ben Jimenez 3 min read

Join the club