The shorter .38 S&W dates to 1877 while .38 S&W special was introduced in 1899. The two do not interchange because the.38 S&W has a few thousandths larger diameter case and bullet. There is a much greater variety of .38 special loads on the market and they are a lot easier to find in stock. Usually only the largest gun stores will have .38 S&W and it will be more expensive. Most folks don’t consider the .38 S&W to be powerful enough to be a good choice for self defense, but the British Empire used it as their primary military hand gun cartridge from the mid-1930s through WWII.
Last edited by k22fan; 01-19-2013 at 05:26 AM.