The .38 Special is a rimmed, centerfire cartridge by blacksmith & Wesson. The 9mm Luger additionally known as 9X19mm Parabellum was designed by George Luger and also is the many popular and widely used military handgun cartridge.

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Comparison chart

.38 distinct versus 9mm comparison graph
.38 Special9mmBullet diameter Neck diameter Case kind Base diameter Designer Place of beginning Rim diameter Case length Overall size Maximum push Velocity Designed Cost Penetration Used through Variants Primer type Expansion

.357 in (9.1 mm) 9.01 mm (0.355 in)
0.379 in (9.6mm) 9.65 mm (0.380 in)
Rimmed, Straight Rimless, tapered
0.379 in (9.6mm) 9.93 mm (0.391 in)
Smith and also Wesson Georg Luger
United States German Empire
0.44 in (11mm) 9.96 mm (0.392 in)
1.155 in (29.3mm) 19.15 mm (0.754 in)
1.55 in (39mm) 29.69 mm (1.169 in)
17,000 PSI 235.00 MPa (34,084 psi)
679-980 FPS 950-1400 FPS
1898 1901
More expensive than 9mm Cheaper 보다 .40 S&W & .45 ACP
9.9-16.2in. 8 - 40" (13")
US police department us Navy, Marines and also Air force NATO and also others; Militaries, police, and self defense.
.38 one-of-a-kind +P 9 mm NATO, 9×19mm Parabellum +P, 9×19mm 7N21 +P+, 9×19mm 7N31 +P+
Small Pistol Berdan or Boxer little pistol
0.43-0.63 0.36-0.72"

A blacksmith & Wesson version 642, .38-Special

Production History

The .38 special was introduced in 1898 together a military organization cartridge as .38 lengthy Colt had insufficient avoiding power versus the wood shields of Moros throughout the Philippine-American War. The .38 unique rounds deserve to be fired indigenous revolvers chambered because that .357 Magnum or the .38 long Colt as just the case length of .38 special is different. But a .357 Magnum is an ext powerful and cannot be fired in a revolver chambered for .38 Special. The 9mm Luger to be designed by George Luger indigenous his earlier 7.65X21mm Parabellum. In 1902 he gift it to British tiny Arms Committee. In 1903 he presented 3 prototypes come the us Navy. It was adopted by the German navy in 1905 and the German army in 1906.


Side-by-side comparison of many usual pistol rounds. L-R: (1) 3 in 12 ga magnum shotgun shell (for comparison), (2) dimension "AA" battery (for comparison), (3) .454 Casull, (4) .45 Winchester Magnum, (5) .44 Remington Magnum, (6) .357 Magnum, (7) .38 Special, (8) .45 ACP, (9) .38 Super, (10) 9 mm Luger, (11) .32 ACP, (12) .22 LR


Initially, .38 one-of-a-kind was presented as flour cartridge and also then was made as smokeless flour loadings together a result of that popularity.Initially the 9mm Luger was lead core. However during WWII to maintain lead, it to be made using iron main point jackets. Through 1944, regular copper main point cartridges to be produced.


.38 unique were popular amongst the us police and was provided by the united state Air force, Navy and also the Marines. Yet their popular has decreased due come the greater capacity and quicker reloading the semi-automatic pistols in the 9mm Parabellum, the .357 SIG, the .40 S&W, the .45 ACP, or the .45 void versions..38 one-of-a-kind is offered for target shooting, officially target competition, personal defense, and also for hunting small game.

9mm Luger has become the popular caliber because that US regulation enforcement agencies as result of the ease of access of compact pistols with big magazine round capacity making use of this caliber. It is also a popular self-defense cartridge for civilians whereby permitted.


Ammunition in 9mm is easily accessible in bulk and also has plenty of variations than the ammunition because that .38 Special. That is also cheaper.

Magazine Capacity

A .38 Special have the right to hold 5 to 6 ring while a 9mm Luger can hold as much as 18 rounds.


A .38 distinct fires bullets v velocity in between 679-980 feet per second. The velocity different according to barrel size and kind of gun.

A to compare of velocity that .38 one-of-a-kind bullets with various weight and also type:

Bullet weight/typeVelocity
158 grain LRN770 FPS
148 grain LWC690 FPS
130 grain FMJ810 FPS
110 Grain980 FPS

A 9mm fires bullets with velocity ranging in between 1200 and also 1430 feet per second depending on the model.A comparison of velocity of 9mm bullets with different weight and type:

Bullet weight/typeVelocity
115 serial FMJ1120 FPS
124 grain FMJ1200 FPS
9mm NATO +P 124 serial JHP1220 FPS
147 serial JHP1000 FPS


Accuracy of shoot is dependent much more on the skill of the shooter 보다 the cartridge or gun. Yet still .38 one-of-a-kind is renowned for its accuracy.


The energy yielded by most 9mm pistols have actually high penetration and expansion v premium JHP bullets. The 115gr JHP +p or +P+ is the finest of this lot for self-defense.


.38mm Special provides low recoil when contrasted to the 9mm Luger. Bothe these cartridges have lesser recoil as compared to various other cartridges prefer .40 S&W.

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This video compares the recoil of usual handguns consisting of the 22LR, .380 ACP, 9mm parabellum, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum and also 38SPC.