- Aircraft, Vehicles and Equipment Factfile > Revolver, .38 Caliber

Revolver, .38 Caliber

Length: 9.25 inches (23.50cm)
Barrel length: 4 inches (10.16 centimeters)
Weight: 1.9 pounds (.86 kg)
Bore diameter: .38 caliber
Maximum effective range: 82.02 feet (25 meters)
Rate of fire:
Rapid (w/o speed loader): 12-18 rounds/minute
Sustained: 12-18 rounds/minute
Unit Replacement Cost: $325

Features: The .38 caliber revolver is a pistol in which a rotating cylinder presents six loaded chambers to the barrel for discharge in succession. There are several models with 2-inch and 4-inch barrels in service. At least one of each barrel length is made by Colt, Ruger, or Smith and Wesson. The 2-inch barrel weapons are used by CID and counterintelligence personnel, and the 4-inch barrel weapons are used by aviators. The 4-inch barrel models are by far the most common in the Marine Corps.
All revolvers are cylinder-loaded, exposed-hammer, selective double-action, hand weapons. The revolving cylinder with 6 chambers permits firing 6 shots without reloading. The action of cocking the hammer causes the cylinder to rotate and align the next chamber with the barrel. At the full cocked position, the revolver is ready to fire in the single action mode by a "light" squeeze on the trigger. If the hammer is not in the full cocked position, the revolver may be fired "double action" by a longer, heavier squeeze on the trigger.

Background: Modern .38 caliber revolvers have been in service since World War II (Colt and Smith & Wesson). Ruger revolvers entered service during the 1970s. During the mid-1980s, the M9 9mm semiautomatic pistol began replacing revolvers.

Date last modified: 11/30/95

Last Modified on June 17, 1999