The .38 Long Colt is a cartridge introduced by Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1875. It is slightly more potent than its predecessor, the .38 Short Colt, or .38 SC. It is also known as simply the .38 LC. The .38 SC and LC differ in case length and in bullet diameter, weight and design.
The .38 Short Colt uses a "heel-based" or "outside lubricated" bullet of 130 grains (Expression error: Unexpected < operator.
at a nominal 770 ft/s (235 m/s) producing 171 ft·lbf (232 J) of muzzle energy. The cylindrical "shank" or "bearing surface" of the bullet, just in front of the cartridge case mouth, is .374 or .375 inches (9.50 or 9.52 mm) in diameter, the same as the cartridge case (exactly like the .22 rimfire cartridges). A smaller-diameter portion of the bullet, the "heel," is crimped inside the case mouth, and the lubricant is outside the case, and exposed. This came about as a way to convert cap-and-ball .36 caliber Navy revolvers, which had cylindrical or single-diameter "charge holes," or firing chambers, to cartridge arms.
bullet, the bearing surface and lubricant of which are entirely contained within the cartridge case. This keeps the waxy lubricant from collecting grit which can damage the revolver's barrel. Unfortunately Colt retained the single-diameter charge hole, so the bullet was grossly undersize as it travelled through the chamber throat. It was supposed to expand in the throat and be "swaged down," or reduced again in diameter, as it entered the barrel, but expanded unevenly producing poor accuracy. Velocity was the same 770 ft/s (235 m/s), but bullets weighed 150 grains (Expression error: Unexpected < operator.
The United States Army adopted the .38 Long Colt in 1892 and it remained in service until 1911, when the military adopted the .45 ACP and the M1911 autoloading pistol. The .38 LC develops an anemic muzzle energy (by modern day standards) of 198 ft·lbf fpe (265 J). These poor ballistics were highlighted during the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1902. As an emergency response to the round's unexpectedly dismal performance against the Moro tribesmen in the Philippines, the Army re-adopted 1873 Colt "Peacemaker" revolvers. These weapons were chambered for .45 Colt cartridges, which are much more powerful. (Indeed, the ballistic profile of those cartridges would later be emulated by the .45 ACP round.)
Currently, the .38 Long Colt is manufactured in California by a company called Ten-X Ammunition. They offer two loads, one with a smokeless powder and one with a black powder substitute. They use a .357 inch bullet with 150 grains - it has a hollow base and a float point. These modern recreations are much more accurate than the original cartridges.