38 S&W Special CTG: Detailed Specifications You Need to Know

38 S&W Special CTG: Detailed Specifications You Need to Know

The 38 S&W Special CTG is a classic cartridge widely used by law enforcement officers, military personnel, and civilians for over a century. This iconic round is known for its accuracy, reliability, and stopping power, making it a popular choice for self-defense and target shooting.

Read on as we will delve into the detailed specifications of the 38 S&W, covering everything from its history and value to useful information. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of the 38 S&W Special CTG and uncover the secrets of its enduring popularity.

38 S&W CTG – Overview

38 S&W CTG is a classic revolver cartridge developed by Smith Wesson in the late 1800s. It is a rimmed, and centerfire that is designed to be used in small-frame revolvers. Here is a brief overview of this cartridge:

38 S W Special ctg. 38 S&W CTG - Overview

Design and Development

The following are important highlights:

  • It was factory-made in 1877 and was originally called the 38 S&W.
  • It was mainly designed to interest the British army.
  • The cartridge was later improved and then was introduced again as the 38 S&W Special CTG.
Design and Development

Using the Tapered Barrel Gun

The 38 S&W CTG is typically used in guns having a tapered barrel, which helps to increase accuracy and reduce recoil.

  • It gradually narrows towards the muzzle, which reduces the amount of gas escaping and helps to stabilize the bullet.
  • It is designed for small a gun but you can also mod it and use it with a heavy barrel as well.
Using the Tapered Barrel Gun


There are some interesting facts about its performance:

  • The cartridge can produce muzzle velocities ranging from 600 to 1,000 feet per second, depending on the bullet type and load.
  • You can further increase the speed with a heavy barrel.
  • Its moderate recoil and ease of control make it a favorite among shooters of all skill levels.

38 S&W CTG Special Highlights

Here are some detailed specs of the Smith Wesson 38 S&W:

Cartridge Type:

Rimmed, centerfire

Maximum Pressure:

17,000 psi

PSIBullet Weight:

110 to 158 grains

Muzzle Velocity:

680 to 1,000 feet per second

Best Use:‎

Target shooting, self-defense, hunting

Approximate Value & Year of 38 S&W

The 38 S&W CTG has a rich history, having been introduced by Smith and Wesson in 1877.

  • At the time of its introduction, the cost of a factory box of 50 rounds of the cartridge was $1.50 in value.
  • It is equivalent to approximately $40 in today’s currency after adjusting for inflation.
Approximate Value & Year of 38 S&W

Note: The exact price of the cartridge box varied depending on the location and retailer, as well as the type of bullet used.

The Rise in Fame and Pricing

Over the years, the popularity of the 38 S&W CTG model has led to a variety of bullet types and manufacturers, further influencing the price of the cartridge:

  • Today, the cost of a box of 50 rounds of the 38 S&W CTG can range from around $20 to $50, depending on the brand and type of bullet used.
  • Despite the changes in cost over time, the Smith Wesson 38 remains a popular choice for target shooting, self-defense, and hunting among firearms enthusiasts.
The Rise in Fame and Pricing

Age & Value of 38 S&W CTG Special

The 38 S&W CTG Special revolver has a long history and was first introduced in 1898. Today, if we come across a Smith Wesson 38 model, it may be an antique or a modern production one, depending on its age and condition.

  • If you have an antique 38 S&W CTG Special that is in fine condition, it can command a high value among collectors due to its rarity and historical significance.
  • A lot of people will show interest and pay a lot of money for that specific model.
  • The price for this model can range from several hundred dollars.
  • The modern production of this model doesn’t have a high value in the market, but still offers excellent performance.
Age & Value of 38 S&W CTG Special

Why is the Serial Number Important?

Every .38 Special has a unique serial number stamped on it:

  • These serial numbers can be used to determine when it was manufactured, as well as other information.
  • It is usually found on the bottom of the grip frame, although some models may have it in other locations such as the crane or the yoke.
  • By using the serial number, collectors, and enthusiasts can determine every useful info about the weapon.
  • It is crucial for identifying rare or collectible variations.
Why is the Serial Number Important?

Additional Info on .38 Special

Here are some additional points:

  • Packaging: The .38 Special cartridge was originally packaged in a cardboard box containing 50 rounds and shipped in a wooden crate holding 1,000 rounds.
  • Name Origin: The origin of the name “.38 Special” is unknown. It may have been called so because it was a “special” cartridge designed for use in the .38 caliber Smith model of the time.
  • Versatility: The .38 Special cartridge is versatile and has been used for a variety of applications, including self-defense, law enforcement, and target shooting.
  • Ammunition Characteristics: It has a bullet diameter of .357 inches and a case length of 1.155 inches. It typically fires a bullet weighing between 110 and 158 grains.
  • Recoil and Accuracy: Recoil and accuracy are important considerations when choosing a cartridge for shooting. The .38 Special cartridge has moderate recoil, making it easier to shoot accurately. In fact, some shooters have even called it the “goldilocks” cartridge, as its recoil and accuracy are just right, in their guess.
Additional Info on .38 Special

Modern Variations

Modern variations of the .38 Special cartridge have been developed to include modifications such as the +P and +P+ versions. These modifications have improved the performance of the guns, making them more versatile for various applications. You can get any mod depending on your personal preference.

Modern Variations


What does CTG mean on 38 Special?

The term CTG on a .38 Special refers to the type of cartridge that the firearm is chambered for. Some shooters may guess that CTG stands for “cartridge,” commonly used in firearms terminology.

What year was the Smith Wesson 38 Special CTG?

The .38 Special first saw the limelight in 1898, calling it the .38 Hand Ejector. It was a significant development in firearms technology and remains popular to this day.

How much is a 38 Special CTG?

The price of a .38 Special varies widely depending on factors such as the age, condition, and rarity of the specific firearm. It’s around $399 – $600 but calling a reputable firearms dealer or doing research on market prices can give a more accurate idea of the cost.

Is a 38 Special a good gun?

Yes, the .38 Special has been a popular and reliable cartridge since its introduction and remains a trusted choice for self-defense and law enforcement applications to date

Is 38 S&W Special the same as 38 Special?

No, the .38 S and W Special and the .38 Special are two separate and distinct cartridges, even though they share a similar name and were both made around the same time in the late 19th century. There is a couple of years difference in the date.


The .38 Special is a timeless classic in the world of firearms. Despite the introduction of newer and more powerful cartridges, it remains a trusted choice for self-defense and law enforcement applications. Whether you are a seasoned shooter or just starting, this cartridge continues to stand the test of time.

What cartridge do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments below.

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Tyler Purol is a professional Bowhunter. He has professional training in hunting. For many years he hunts regularly.