How Much is a Used 38 Special Worth?

A 38 Special, which is more technically called a 0.38 Smith & Wesson Special, is a fan favorite revolver among gun enthusiasts. The piece was originally a black powder gun but has since evolved into the design you can find and purchase today. 

If you’re looking for something for your collection, or if you simply can’t afford a new 38 Special, buying a used one can be a good option. 

In this article, we answer the question “How much is a used 38 Special worth?” We also talk about the history of the gun, what makes it so special, and what you should expect if you decide to purchase a used one. 

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How Much is a Used 38 Special Worth?

Owning a brand new gun will give you the best possible experience when it comes to shooting and cleaning your revolver. If you’re going to buy a new 38 Special, the small gun will set you back about $540 in the United States. 

If you go for a used one, you can expect to spend anything between $300 to $500 for a 38 Special. The amount you pay will depend on the age and condition of the gun. This means that you will have to properly inspect what is being offered before you buy it. 

how much is a used 38 special worth

What is the Best Place to Buy a Used Gun?

A quick Google search will give you dozens of options from where you can buy used guns, though you might not be able to get your hands on the gun and check it out.

A good way to find and buy used guns is to check your local classifieds. While the sale of guns, ammunition, explosives, or related items is not allowed on Facebook Marketplace, you can look near your area for people who are selling their guns and will be willing to let you test them before you buy them. 

You can also visit police auctions to get good prices on used models. Several online sellers have used police guns for sale on their websites. 

Before you buy a used gun, make sure you have all the necessary documentation. Depending on which state you live in, you might need to only purchase a gun through a licensed dealer, even for a private sale. Remember that you will need to keep your ID with you and fill out a form before you can buy a used gun. 

How Do I Make Sure I’m Getting a Good Gun?

Used guns can be a hit or miss when it comes to quality. You need to inspect it inside out to make sure you’re not getting a bad product. Check both the inside and outside of the revolver for cleanliness and damage. The crown, trigger, barrel, action, and bore of the gun should also be checked before you decide to buy it. 

There should be no chips around the seams or any scarring around the screws. Make sure all the screws match should also be something you need to keep an eye out for. These factors will ensure that the revolver you’re holding has not been opened up and the insides have not been tampered with. 

Other things to look for are the alignment of the ejector rod, the positioning and stability of the cylinder, and the condition of the firing pin. 

You can learn more about this by watching this Buying Used Revolvers video.

how much is a used 38 special worth

Why Should I Buy a 38 Special?

A 38 Special has been a popular gun for a long time, used in wars and for police work. The accuracy of the gun is quite great, making shooting it a pleasure. The power on the gun is low without being ineffective, which makes it a low recoil gun. 

The 38 Special is also compact and easy to conceal carry. Loading and unloading the gun is quite easy as well, making it a good fit for women. Revolvers in general are less complicated and more intuitive to use than other guns.

Reliability is another important factor when it comes to a 38 Special, and even a used gun will give you years of reliable, point-and-shoot experiences. You are also spoilt for choice when it comes to ammunition options. If you’re looking for something to own as a self-defense weapon, a 38 Special can be your best bet. 

A used gun, besides being relatively more affordable, might also come with accessories and some extra ammunition included by the seller. This will give you the ability to use your gun immediately without having to buy everything separately. 

What are the Cons of a 38 Special?

While a 38 Special is certainly a great gun for hunting or to keep in the house for self-defense, it comes with certain disadvantages as well. The round capacity is not too high, which means you will quickly run out of loaded bullets if you’re shooting hard. Reloading the gun will also take longer than, say, a semi-automatic gun. 

Besides this, a 38 Special’s trigger pull will be slightly harder than what you might find on a semi-automatic gun. While you can always cock the hammer to make your shot softer, it might not be the best idea for a high-pressure situation. 


If you’re in the market for a used gun, we hope that this article has given you all the information you need about buying a used 38 Special and what to expect. 

If you want to learn more about guns (for example, the working of a single-action revolver), please check out our other posts as well!

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