Original 38 Special propellant?

Was the 38 Smith and Wesson special cartridge introduced commercially with smokeless or black powder as propellant? Jack

Originally with black powder, but it was quickly offered with smokeless, I think within a year or so.

For what it’s worth, from the IAA catalog collection:

From UMC the .38 S&W Special first appears in the 1900 catalog (it’s not in the 1899) listed as a black powder loading with 21-1/2 gr. of powder, a 158 gr. bullet and No.1 primer. It is also listed as a smokeless loading without description of bullet weight and using a No.6 primer.

From Peters retail price lists, the .38 S&W Special is not in the 1898 catalog but is in the next available 1901 issue loaded with King’s Semi-Smokeless Powder and a No.1-1/2 primer. A smokeless loading is not found in the 1902 issue but is in the next available 1904 issue with a No.6 primer.

When actual loading and distribution took place may well be different all together.


Dave and Strelok: Thanks for your responses. I have used the older catalogs but forgot later ones are available in the IAA catalog collection too. Jack