The .38 Special arrived in either 1899 or 1902 depending on which expert is correct. From the very beginning the standard load was a 158-gr. lead round nosed bullet at around 850 fps. This became the standard police load early in the 20th century, however by the 1920s it was obvious something heavier was needed. The new criminal of those times used the then high-tech semi-auto pistols, automatic rifles stolen from military installations and fast-moving cars.
To better provide for law enforcement, S&W took their heavy frame .44 Special, fitted it with a .38 Special barrel and cylinder and the .38/44 Heavy Duty sixgun was born. Ammunition provided included a 200-gr. Super Police load as well as a metal piercing 158-gr. bullet at over 1,100 fps. These were loaded in .38 Special brass, and it was expected shooters were smart enough not to use it in older, smaller-framed .38 Specials. This same sixgun, the .38/44 Heavy Duty, would be used as a platform for the .357 Magnum in 1935.
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