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.38 Special

As one of the most popular calibers on the market, it can be expected that buying ammo online for your Smith & Wesson .38 Special is an easy task. Rather, it should be an easy task, but the popularity of the caliber means that many sites offer the product, some at ridiculous prices. What often happens is slow or non-existent service, inflated shipping costs, or the items always seem to be out of stock. I believe in loyalty and that sure-fire service and quality ammo is worth a few pennies more. Even if your site of choice offers the best ammo prices, don’t waste your time and money on some anonymous site that may or may not deliver your ammo. Stick with the tried and true – it will never fail you.

Best .38 Special Online Ammo Store

Our top choice to buy ammo online is Ammo.com. The site is operated by a team that offers low prices on ammunition and fast service. Orders placed before 3 PM will ship the same day. Orders placed later will ship the next business day. The website is divided by brand and caliber, making it easy to find what you need.

In addition to products and services, Ammo.com ranks as our best online .38 Special ammo store because they support Second Amendment rights.

Known as America’s Pro-Freedom Ammo Source, Ammo.com defends our right to bear arms. The company provides a forum for gun owners and freedom fighters to exchange ideas and steps up to the plate by donating to the customer’s choice of organizations like the NRA, Armed Citizens’ Educational Foundation, Homes for Our Troops. and the Institute for Justice. They also operate a Resistance Library, filled with informative and useful articles on everything from law to self-defense.

Ammo.com Logo

Other Top Online Ammo Stores

Academy Sports – Academy Sports is a nationwide sporting goods store that also has a strong online presence. The easy to use site offers low prices on ammo as well as reloading supplies. Ammo can be bought in bulk, so you’ll never run out.

Ammo to Go – Like most grassroots businesses, Ammo to Go started in a garage. Today, they operate a heavily stocked warehouse. Availability is shown online so you never have to worry about back orders. Ammo to Go routinely offers specials but be sure to check often because they sell out fast.

Ammunition Store – The name couldn’t be more straightforward. In addition to selling ammo, the site offers a lot of information on buying ammo online. The website isn’t updated regularly, so items may not be in stock. Call before you order.

Cheaper than Dirt – Cheaper Than Dirt offers a wide array of accessories and parts in addition to ammo. Ammo can be purchased by the box or in bulk. Searching is made easy as items are divided by caliber and brand. Receives high ratings from customers.

GunBuyer – Although it’s a relatively new site, customers rate GunBuyer on a high level. The site is streamlined and simple, offering good prices, and fast shipping times.

Lucky Gunner – Lucky Gunner appears at the top of many lists of where to buy ammo online. Like GunBuyer, Lucky Gunner routinely receives high marks from customers for low prices. The site also offers a shipping cost estimator, so you aren’t left wondering about additional charges. Lucky Gunner also has a live inventory count, so you will never have to worry about backorders.

Primary Arms – The company’s mission statement: “To provide firearms enthusiasts, professional shooters, and servicemen and women the highest quality optics at affordable prices.”

Primary Arms keeps true to its word and is known for competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

SGAmmo – This site usually falls at the top of best places to buy ammo online. They offer a wide selection and fast shipping times. Often referred to as Amazon.com for ammo, SGAmmo is known for hands-on customer service.

Sportsmans Guide – Sportsmans Guide has recently updated its image, streamlining its website, making it easier for its customers to find ammo. Customers can search inventory by caliber or brand name. SG claims 300,000 products in its catalogs and website and offers frequent deals.

Types of .38 Special Ammunition

Wadcutter (WC)

The wadcutter is a blunt bullet designed to sit flush at the top of the casing. Best for short distance shooting. Popular with short barrel guns such as snub nose (“snubby”) .38 Special revolvers.

Semi-Wadcutter (SWC)

Semi-wadcutters are flat with a conical nose. A great all purpose bullet commonly used in plinking, small game hunting, target shooting, and, less often, self-defense.

Lead Round Nose (LRN)

This bullet is an unjacketed lead projectile. Inexpensive, these bullets are common and popular. Not recommended for self-defense.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

FMJ bullets are most commonly used in range training and target shooting. They are reloadable which keeps the expense low.

Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)

JHP bullets are the most common type found for .38 Special ammo. Common bullet weights include 110 grain, 125 grain, 129 grain, and 158 grain. They are often offered as +P rounds to optimize ballistics.

Best .38 Special Ammo for Range Training

Choosing the right ammo for home defense or personal/self-defense, can mean the difference between scaring away an intruder and being defenseless. Using a .38 Spl for home defense helps to eliminate the chance of over-penetration. All rounds are tested using strict FBI guidelines. Following is a list of the best .38 Special ammo for home/self-defense:

Black Hills Cowboy Loads 158 Grain CNL

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Conical Nose Lead (CNL)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 800 FPS

Sellier & Bellot 158 Grain FMJ

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 889 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 278 ft-lbs.

Federal Ammunition American Eagle 130 Grain FMJ

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 890 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 229 ft-lbs.

Black Hills 148 Grain HBWC

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 148 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Hollow Base Wadcutter (HBWC)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 700 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 161 ft-lbs.

Remington UMC 158 Grain LRN

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Lead Round Nose (LRN)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Berdan
  • Muzzle Velocity: 755 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 200 ft-lbs.

Sellier & Bellot 148 Grain WC

Recommended use: New shooters, competition shooting, target shooting, and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 148 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Wadcutter (WC)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 699 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 161 ft-lbs.

Remington High Terminal Performance .38 Special +P 110 Grain SJHP

Recommended use: Target shooting, personal defense, and hunting.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 950 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 220 ft-lbs.

Hornady Critical Defense FTX 110 Grain JHP

Recommended use: CCW, target shooting, personal defense, and small game hunting.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1010 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 249 ft-lbs.

Hornady Critical Defense FTX .38 Special +P 110 Grain JHP

Recommended use: CCW, target shooting, personal defense, and small game hunting.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1090 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 290 ft-lbs.

Federal Ammunition American Eagle 130 Grain FMJ

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 890 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 229 ft-lbs.

Fiocchi Ammunition Pistol Shooting Dynamics 130 Grain FMJ

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 950 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 260 ft-lbs.

CCI Ammunition Blazer Brass 158 Grain Lead Round Nose (LRN)

Recommended use: Target shooting and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Lead Round Nose (LRN)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Berdan
  • Muzzle Velocity: 755 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 200 ft-lbs.

Best .38 Special Ammo for Home Defense

Choosing the right home defense or self-defense ammunition, can mean the difference between scaring away an intruder and being defenseless. Using a .38 Spl for home defense helps to eliminate the chance of over-penetration. All rounds are tested using strict FBI guidelines. Following is a list of the best .38 Special ammo for Home/self-defense:

Federal Ammunition Law Enforcement .38 Special +P 158 Grain LSWCHP

Recommended use: CCW, self-defense, and home defense.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 158 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point (LSWCHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 900 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 284 ft-lbs.

Hornady Critical Lite Defense 90 Grain FTX JHP

Recommended use: CCW, self-defense and home defense.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 90 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1200 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 288 ft-lbs.

Federal Ammunition Personal Defense Micro 130 Grain JHP

Recommended use: Self-defense and home defense.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 890 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 229 ft-lbs.

Speer LE Gold Dot Short Barrel 135 Grain .38 Special +P Ammo JHP

Recommended use: Self-defense, home defense, and CCW.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 135 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 860 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 222 ft-lbs.

Winchester Defender 130 Grain PDX1 .38 Special +P Bonded JHP

Recommended use: Self-defense, home defense, and range training.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 950 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 260 ft-lbs.

Federal Ammunition Hydra-Shok 110 Grain JHP

Recommended use: Self-defense, home defense, and hunting.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 110 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 980 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 235 ft-lbs.

Magtech 125 Grain .38 Special +P SJHP

Recommended use: Self-defense, home defense, and hunting

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 125 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Pressure: +P
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 938 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 244 ft-lbs.

PMC Ammunition 132 Grain FMJ

Recommended use: CCW, self-defense, and home defense.

Specs:

  • Bullet Weight: 132 Grain Bullet
  • Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Standard Pressure
  • Primer Type: Boxer
  • Muzzle Velocity: 917 FPS
  • Muzzle Energy: 232 ft-lbs.

Conclusion

Unlike handgun owners that use a semi-automatic, .38 Special shooters find it easy to buy a mix of rounds to suit every need. Keep in mind that you cannot shoot .357 Magnum ammo from a .38 Special due to increased pressure. Keep an eye out for new ammunition offerings on the market to make your .38 Special the best it can be.

 


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