Question about .38 Smith & Wesson



I have a box of .38 S&W cartridges (not full) and I have no idea for what gun these are meant. I’ve tried search with google but can’t find good answer. Something I found was considering about .38 Special ammo that I guess have the same type bullet. I’ve tried but these cartridges does not fit to .38Spl/.357Mag revolver cylinder.

Here is some information that is printed on the cartridge box:

Winchester Western
38 Smith & Wesson
145 gr. Lead
The box contains 50 pcs.

The cartridge is loaded with round nose lead bullet. Bullets diameter seems to be .356. The COL is 1.172 inch and the case is nickeled. The case is head stamped W-W, 38 S&W.

I’m really interested about this calibers origin and in which guns it’s supposed to be used. Could someone please help me with my problem?

Thank you very much!




The 38 S&W was introduced in 1876 in the Smith & Wesson break open revolvers. It is actually 36 caliber. At one time it was the most popular revolver cartridge in the world. It is also known by other names such as the 38 Colt New Police and 38 S&W Super Police. As you have found, it is too large in diameter to be used in 38 Special revolvers although it is possible to load it in 38 Specials that have oversize or worn chambers. There is no danger in firing the 38 S&W in a 38 Special revolver although the reverse is ceratinly not a good idea and would most likely damge or destroy the revolver. There are so many variations of the 38 S&W cartridges that it can be a collecting field of its own (and probably is).



The revolvers that have been made for this cartridge are legion. Among other users, the United Kingdom, with their own particular bullet styles, used this round as the “.380/200,” etc. throughout the United Kingdom. It is still in use with police in some places, although with the trend towards auto pistols for police in most of the world, its days are probably numbered. Smith and Wesson made revolvers for this caliber long after WWII, and Harrington and Richardson, for all I know, may still make one. I use a Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless Revolver, C. the 1890s, chambered for this round for the pocket pistol parts of Cowboy Action Shooting. It shoots great!


Thank you JohnMoss and Ray Meketa.

Now that I know that this cartridge is also known as 38 Colt New Police & 38 S&W Super Police I seem to find a lot of information about it from the net.

Thanks again.