After World War II, .38 Cal. revolvers continued in use and even were supplemented with new models from Colt or Smith & Wesson plus Ruger as a new supplier. The adoption of the M9 Beretta Automatic Pistol in the mid to late 1980s led to the replacement of most revolvers in the U.S. military.
Lance Cpl. Jennifer L. Hague fires a .38-caliber service revolver while training at the Marine Security Guard School, Quantico, VA, 16 July 1979.
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US Caliber .38 Revolvers After World War II
Pistol team of the 141st Air Refueling Wing, Washington Air National Guard firing .38 Cal. revolvers in the 1950s. The man to the far right is identified as Clinton Cooper.
The "Revolver, Caliber .38 Special" was procured from commercial manufacturers with at least six types in Army and Air Force inventory, as documented in TM 9-1005-206-14P/1 dated February 1971. The models listed are:
Colt, Detective Special, 2-inch Barrel
Colt, Police Positive, 4-inch Barrel
S&W, K-38 Masterpiece, M14, 6-inch Barrel
S&W, Military & Police, M10, Square Butt, 4-inch Barrel
S&W, Military & Police, M10, Round Butt, 2-inch Barrel
S&W, Military & Police, M10, Round Butt, 4-inch Barrel
The same TM had a later edition dated August 1985 that covered only two .38 pistols, presumably the only ones still officially in inventory:
S&W, Military & Police, M10 (3 models, see MP in NSN list)
Ruger Service Six, 4 inch Barrel M108 (3 models, see S6 in NSN list)
The Ruger pistols were brought into the U.S. military in the 1970s.
Cal. .38 Revolver National Stock Numbers
It is often useful to know the National Stock Number in order to locate manuals, parts or other references to a specific weapon. There have been a confusing number of NSNs assigned to .39 Cal. revolvers, as shown in this table of NSNs used up to August 1985. Photo to right is a Cal. .38, Smith & Wesson Model 10, with 2-inch barrel.
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