Winchester top five pistol cartridges

A Winchester Ammunition rep disclosed to Joe @ ArmsTalk the top five pistol cartridges that they produce …

  1. 9mm- Winchester also has a military contract
  2. .40 S&W- Number one LEO round
  3. .38 Special- I found this surprising
  4. .45ACP
  5. .380ACP- our topic finally shows up!
  6. .357 Sig

I too am very surprised to be .38 Special right up there!

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Bill Lester


    Why so surprised by the .38 Special? Look at the huge popularity of S&W J’s and the Ruger LCR. Their new sales alone will probably drive a fair portion of ammo sales. And then there are those geezers like myself who still think small autos can be a bit dodgy at times and still prefer revolvers like the Bodyguard, Centennial, Detective Special, etc.

  • Tim

    .38 Special doesn’t surprise me at all. The round has been around over 100 years now and there are a bazillion guns chambered for it, and more being made every day. Plus, all the .357’s out there probably see more .38 rounds run through them than they do Magnums.

    .357 SIG does surprise me though. I don’t see those pop up too often, even as an LEO. I know its caught on with some police agencies down South but I can’t think of any in this area or where I typically travel in the North East. Obviously somebody is using it though!

  • Sian

    .38 special is seeing a huge resurgence with concealed carry, and is good practice fodder for both 38 and 357 CC wheelguns. I’m not surprised at all.

  • Redchrome

    It is surprising to see .38 Special still up there; but I guess there’s a *lot* of old revolvers out there still getting regular use.

  • SpudGun

    Just read Joe’s article and though he tried, he couldn’t get the Winchester Rep to give him percentages. I know that .38 Special and .380 have become very popular for defensive carry, but you don’t often see shooters churning through hundreds of rounds down at the range with those calibers. This might have more to do with the light weight, hard kicking CCW guns rather then the calibers themselves.

    Not surprised that 9mm is the top seller, even if you discount military contracts, just about everyone I know has a ‘metric’ gun.

  • I agree that .38 Special isn’t to surprising to see it on the list, there are about a jillion wheelguns out there chambered in .357/.38 Special, and with the popularity of small, concealable revolvers right now it makes sense that Winchester would be selling a lot of .38.

    The 9mm makes perfect sense since Winchester manufactures a ton of the 9mm NATO stuff that the military uses as well as the ubiqutous WWB that you see in Wally-World.

  • MD

    Color me surprised at .357 sig as well. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one at the range.

  • Vak

    “I too am very surprised to be .38 Special right up there!”

    Actually, I’m more surprised to see the .357sig on that list, and NO .357 magnum !

  • Nooky

    Glad to see .357 Sig in that list, I love it.

  • Jason K

    For anyone who thinks about what pistol to through in their bug out bag, or what calibers to have when TSHTF, this is probably the right order to think of in terms of availability (and cost) of ammo.

  • Redchrome

    I just realized that the cowboy shooters may be responsible for a lot of the .38Spl ammo being used.

    Can anyone comment on the relative popularity of the .38Spl vs. other calibers in cowboy action shooting?

  • The .357 SIG placement is very puzzling.

  • Sian

    @Redchrome I think many of the cowboy action guns are .45Colt and 44-40 due to authenticity and availability. though you can by the rules use .38spl in it, it seems a bit wrong.

  • Tim

    I’ve shot CAS for years. .38 Special is very common. Authentic, no, common, yes. Thing is even in the early days of CAS some of the most available guns were .357 Mag Ruger Blackhawks. Aside from that, it’s a low recoiling round that meets the sub 1000fps, all lead bullet, match requirements with no special loads. Plus, its *much* cheaper than shooting the .44’s and .45’s. I started shooting .44 Mag’s with reloads loaded to .44 Special levels, then I shifted to a .44-40 and .45 Colts. Eventually I ended up with a set of Ruger Blackhawks, and then New Naquero’s and a Marlin 1894 lever action, all in .357 Mag, but using .38 specials for the matches. I cut my ammo price down per match by about 2/3. When you’re shooting regularly that makes a huge difference. Aside from the Rugers and Marlins, most of the repro guns like 1873 Colt clones, Schofields, Winchester 66 and 73 repros etc. can all be had in .38 Special as well.

  • Burke

    I’ll chime in as not surprised about the 38 special given my most of my handguns will shoot it. I usually send 100 to 150 of these downrange every trip to the range.

    This does make me think once more about getting a 9mm.

    I’d love to know where all the 380 is going. I haven’t seen it on a shelf anywhere local in quite a while.