The Rebirth of the 200-grain .38 Special Super Police Cartridge

One of the handguns I carried as an undercover narcotics cop was a Colt Agent® snub-nosed .38 Special revolver. Back then the standard .38 Special load was still the less-than-ideal 158-grain round nose lead round load with a muzzle velocity of around 750 fps from a four-inch barrel.

The few hollow point loads available for the .38 Special were nowhere near as reliable as they are now. There was a non-hollow point alternative—the Winchester Western 200-grain blunt nose “Super Police” load. This was the load I carried in my Colt Agent.

The .38 Special Super Police load featured a blunt round nose bullet weighing in at 200 grains, with a nominal velocity of 700 fps from a four-inch barreled revolver. It was more effective against soft targets than the standard 158-grain load, but less effective against vehicles.

Until recently, I thought that the effectiveness of the Super Police was due only to the increased bullet weight and blunt nose shape. I had confidence in the close range effectiveness of the Super Police round, especially because any shot I was likely to take would be at living room or bar room distances.

What I didn’t know then about the 200-grain Super Police bullet is that when it hits soft tissue, it consistently yaws. The “long for caliber” slug at moderate velocity is on the edge of instability in flight. This causes it to begin to turn sideways as it moves through soft tissue, causing a PERMANENT wound path and exit that ends up being much larger than the entrance hole. A bullet that yaws increases trauma and reduces over-penetration, without the cost, blast, and heavier recoil of modern +P hollow point defensive ammo. If the original Super Police bullets really did yaw when hitting soft test medium, I would consider carrying them in my Smith & Wesson Model 642. However, I couldn’t find original .38 Super Police ammo anywhere! Fortunately GAD Custom Cartridges of Medford, Wisconsin was able and willing to replicate the original loads.

Soon after contacting Bernold Nelson, the company’s owner, I had a fifty-round box of .38 Special Super Police equivalent ammo in hand, complete with the original blunt nose bullet.

I took the ammo to the range for chronograph and ballistic testing. Recoil was light and velocity averaged 572.4 fps from my two-inch snub. Velocity should be around 700 fps from a four-inch barrel. Now I needed to see how the rounds performed in my ballistic medium of choice: modeling clay.

Ballistic gelatin provides an industry wide consistent testing medium. It is a homogenous material kept at 55 degrees that shows what a particular bullet does in IT, and not in a 98.6 degree human being. It is expensive and messy. The clay block I used was 9½ inches long by 6½ wide and weighed 25 lbs.

All three test rounds shot into the block exhibited yaw. Entrance holes were around ½ inch in diameter with exit holes running 1 to 1½ inches in diameter! From entrance to exit, the bullets traveled in a gentle arc, and exited in various sideways positions.

I was very impressed with the performance of the reproduction Super Police rounds, and they are now the round of choice for my off-duty and backup revolver. Their profile makes reloads quick, low recoil makes training pleasant, and its performance makes the user confident. They are worth trying!

Connect with Bernold Nelson at 715-748-0919 or learn more at