"The 38 special I believe was next step in this cartridge (.38 S&W)..."
Nope, it wasn't.
The .38 S&W was an evolutionary dead end.
When the US Military began having problems with the .38 Long Colt revolvers it was using the Philippines, Smith & Wesson started designing a more powerful cartridge that they hoped they could sell to the military.
They took the .38 Long Colt, lengthened the case so that it would hold 21.5 grains of black powder, and increased the lead round nose bullet weight to 158-grains. Velocity was around 800 fps.
That load became THE .38 Spl. load, and for years was the standard police load in this country. It's still loaded today.
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza
Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.