Super Vel 38 special

This round was made by Super Vel Corp. of Shelbyville, Illinois. The company supposedly specialized in police ammo. Was this ammo available to us, non-police mere mortals? Does the company still exist? Are"38 Special" and “38 Colt Special” the same thing?

Super Vel was a commercial firm orignally in Shelbyville, Indiana, as I recall, and they did sell ammunition to the public. My own personal experience with their ammunition was not particularly good. Some of the .38 loads had a habit of cracking the forcing cone in Smith and Wesson Model 15 and 14 (Combat Masterpiece and K-38) barrels. They changed hands at least once, but the company eventually went out of business.

Now, regardless of my opinion of their ammunition, the fact is that Lee Jurras, the founder, is owed a continuing debt of thanks by shooters and law enforcement. Until Super Vel came on the market, most of the hotter (better self-defense) loads, especially calibers like .38 Special and 9mm Para, had all but disappeared. While hollow points were made before the ware, even in American 9mm ammo (although they probably didn’t expand well), by the time Super Vel came on the scene about the only bullet you could get in an auto pistol caliber was FMJ RN or match-type SWC, and in .38 Special, RN Lead and full wadcutter. The competition from Super Vel forced the bigger companies to get off of their collective rear-ends and furnish some real loads suitable to the quality of brass and firearms that existed by then, including well-designed, hollow-point bulleted loadings in most popular LE and defense calibers.


Super Vel was high performance handgun ammunition first developed by shooter Lee Jurras in the 1960s. He began with a .38 Special loaded with a lightweight JHP bullet that reached some very high velocities. Such things are very common today but back then the idea was revolutionary. The ammunition was available to all who wanted it.

An early associate of Lee Jurras was J. D. Jones who has continued the pioneering efforts with a line of proprietary handgun cartridges at SSK Industries.

The 38 Special and 38 Colt Special are the same cartridge, the Colt being loaded with a flat nose bullet that supposedly gave greater stopping power than the conventional round nose lead bullets. You can also find “Colt Police” handgun cartridges in 32 and the shorter 38 calibers. With the plethora of today’s high performance cartridges the concept is pretty well a dinosaur.


Hi, Vlad…I just sold a couple of Super Vel 357 Mag boxes on Ebay…one was “standard” and one said “Police Only”…so it looks like they did make cartridges which they considered to be “especially for police”…Perhaps John Moss or others much more knowledgeable than I in the handgun cartridge department can comment on this …Randy [/img]

Thanks to everybody. By any chance, does anyone remember the reason it is called “special”?

I was told - but cannot confirm - that the “LEO only” type labels are applied to loadings shipped to dealers / distributors in what are now know as the “deep blue” areas of the country so, theoretically, they would not be sold to the general public in violation of local / state laws.

I’ve seen “LEO only” markings on other lines of ammo as well, plus other calibers of Super Vel ammo.


Firstly, regarding Police Loads, Super Vel initially aimed their production at the Police Market. I suspect boxes marked “Police” are early, or were so marked just for PR purposes. Very early, they offered most, and perhaps all of their line to the public. However, early literature shows their interest in “Police” even for calibers not used by hardly any American police in the 1960s, like 9mm and .44 Magnum. Their early broadsheets on individual calibers show the terminology 9mm Luger, Police; .44 Magnum, Police; .357 Magnum, Police, and .38 Special, Police. All of the boradsheets except the one for .44 Magnum, which uses the “.44 Magnum, Police” designation in the title, mention to one degree or another that the cartridges were developed to meet the needs of police.

Regarding the name .38 Special, it was just a name picked by Smith and Wesson to differentiate the round from other .38 Revolver cartridges, including others bearing the Smith and Wesson name, such as .38 S&W.

The first suggested names seem to have been “.38 Smith & Wesson Service or Special.” UMC began making the round in May 0f 1899, and by September 1899, when they started making the “.38 Smith & Wesson Special Smokeless” round, the “Service” designation had disappeared from their logs.

In my collection I have a .357 Magnum cartridge with a Super Vel head stamp.
In the tip of the bullet I see a kind of primer, and the tip is painted yellow.
Unfortunately I am not so familiar with modern ammo, but is seems to be a kind of exploding bullet.
Is this round made by Super Vel for police use?


Dutch–No, these were not made by Super Vel. They are Exploder type cartridges, most likely made by Velex, Velet or Exammo, all of Spokane, Washington in the 1980 era. These were suscessive names of basicly the same company as the ownership changed.

I think we should ask George Kass about the more recent history and

Dutch–I just checked my collection and found that Bingham, Limted, the maker of "Exploder"and "Devastater"
brands used Super Vel cases at one time with yellow bullet tips. My Velex brand exploding bullet has a red, not yellow, tip. The Bingham rounds are headstamped “SUPER VEL 357 MAG” while my Velex is headstamped “SUPER VEL # # 357 MAG”. The “#” stands for a diamond.

howdy , i recently purchased several boxes of once fired super vel brass and there boxes are marked ’ Police Only" all the brass in nickelled , these are 357 mag 110 gr jhp.
super vel also marked PPC ammo 158 swc.
hope i helped in the on going investagation, robbt