Perhaps the most popular revolver cartridge across the past 120 years, the last user of a wheel gun chambered for .38 Special hasn't been born yet. With that in mind, here are a few of the best .38s out there.
Sure, today Colt has rebooted their Cobra and Python lines, which are fine guns, but the classic Cobra of the 20th Century was a hit for over 30 years from the 1950s onward and spun off a half-dozen variants using the same frame and style. When you put one of these in your hands, you can see why.
Offering most of the same styling as the iconic Python, Colt produced the Diamondback in .38 among others, and it was long one of the company's most popular snake guns, although it has been a bit of a sleeper with collectors. For now, at least.
Introduced in 2010 as a lightweight follow-on to the company's SP101 series compact revolvers, the LCR uses a polymer grip/trigger housing with a monolithic receiver to produce a sub-1-pound wheel gun that is still 38SPL +P rated. What more could you ask for?
Introduced at about the same time the cartridge hit the market, the original Smith & Wesson Military & Police model went on to be known as the S&W Victory Model in WWII. Known since 1957 as the Model 10, has been an everlasting hit with those looking for a reliable and dependable revolver chambered in .38. Did we mention that it is still in production?
Adding target features to the Model 10, Big Blue introduced the K38 just after WWII and the hard-serving .38 went on to be known as the Model 15. Still in service to help train Air Force working dogs, they are only now being replaced by the Sig Sauer-produced M18 in the military. Still, these hardy six-shooters will continue to circulate for generations.
Introduced in 1952 to coincide with S&W's 100th anniversary, the shrouded-hammer Centennial series J-frame revolver has never been out of production. Today, Smith makes these in the .38SPL+P capable Models 340, 442, 638, 640, and 642 while legacy collectibles such as the vintage Model 40, shown above, can still clock in for steady work.
Introduced with a stainless-steel frame and cylinder in 1970, the S&W Model 64 has been often seen in the holsters of law enforcement and security for a half-century and make great guns for home defense. They also make very enjoyable range guns.
Made in Connecticut since the 1960s, Charter Arms has been in the revolver biz for a good bit, marketing their original flagship revolver-- the Undercover. Compact and lightweight with a three-point cylinder lockup, these American-made snubs are ready for work.