Tell me about the 38 Super.


March 26, 2005, 12:20 AM
I am looking for something different. Would like to know about the 38 Super. Is is a good round? Is it a good round for SD? Any info would be welcome.

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March 26, 2005, 12:28 AM
I think it's supposed to be more accurate than 9mm but less recoil than .45acp. Seems like it's generally used for competition more than anything. From the little research I've done about it, if you're not going to reload, it's not worth it.

model 649
March 26, 2005, 12:51 AM
Yup, they are mostly used in competition any more. .38 super (auto) is the "magnum" version of the .38 auto. It was quite the hot-rod back in the thirties for a handgun round. You would definitely be handloading this round nowadays but it uses any 9mm bullet (.355 or .356 in lead)(115-147 gr.) We have a couple shooters at our club who have race guns in this chambering and man, do they CRACK! I can feel them through the concrete floor, through my shoes. One can get a 115 gr. bullet doing in the neighborhood of 1350 fps. No problem with penetration there for a 9mm.(and they tear up a bowling pin pretty good, too!)


March 26, 2005, 12:52 AM
I like the Super and have owned several. Shoots same bullet as 9MM Parabellum but about 200-300 FPS faster in top loads. With ball it is a very high penetration round. It was made in 1929 in response to cops who wanted to shoot through car bodies.

But, the ammo makers have reduced the power of this round to the level of the old 38 ACP it replaced. You must reload this caliber to gain full potential. I load a 115 JHP to around 1500 FPS. A 1911 will hold 9+1 so I think of it as a 10 shot 357 Magnum.

March 27, 2005, 10:29 AM
I have a series 70 commander in 38 super...and love shoots flames out just like my trooper MKIII .357 ! You ought to get one

March 27, 2005, 10:50 AM
Great and very versitle round.
I had a load pushing a 115 at 1600 fps (not recommended) that shot very well.

Navy joe
March 27, 2005, 02:01 PM
All the folks playing games and using .38 Super, Supercomp, or .38TJ (all variations of the same) are having to move a 115 gr bullet at 1450 or greater to make 165 power factor. Now if a mfg. turned out a quality HP load skipping along at about 1350+ it would be very worth having fo self-defense, but the few factory offerings suck, so you are left to handload.

March 27, 2005, 02:43 PM
If you reload then its a great caliber. The 115 gr @ 1350 is std Corbon 9mm ballistics. My Rangers run in the 1250's and are 127 gr.
For strictly defensive purposes a 9mm is probably better, more ammo is available and plinking is much cheaper..........again, only if you dont reload.

Shoot well....

larry starling
March 27, 2005, 05:04 PM
I enjoyed shooting my buddys series 70 in 38super so much , I went out and bought me a MK4/series 80 Enhanced in .38....His little commander shoots flames out thats really impressive,and its a great shooter!! :what:

March 27, 2005, 09:35 PM
I LOVE the .38 Super round. It's a little more fun for me at the range due to it's bigger "umpf"!!!! Although I've had SVI (Infinities) and a few others, my Colt SCGC is my favorite. I'm waiting for the .38 super hard chrome models to become available so that I'll have a matching .45 and .38 super.

Colt Special Combat Government Competition .38 Super

March 28, 2005, 06:26 AM
..............I have a full size Witness in 38 Super. Actually bought for my wife when her probabtion dept was supposed to be armed under the sherrif's dept. Turned out not to be so and I inherited it. I began working with it and had almost instant success. One favorite load is the 147gr Lyman FNBB (153grs) at 1260 fps (surplus WC820 ball). For a jacketed load it loves the 124gr Gold Dot HP's @ a tad over 1300 fps.

It's surprisingly easy to hit the 200 meter gong with it at our range. Slug gets there pretty quick.


Dave Williams
March 28, 2005, 07:00 AM
reliable 10 shot magazines are now available for the Super, so you have a 10+1 gun.

Another cool thing about the .38 Super is that Jeff Cooper often used one on his forays into Central America, since his preferred .45ACP was against the law due to being a military cartridge.

From his book, FIREWORKS, pg.117, when he was almost under attack from some men in a car:

" in my hand, is a Super 38. I would prefer my own 45 but it is a prohibited caliber in this country.......In any case, the Super will have to's ten-round capacity and good penetration in car bodies are comforting. A man inside a car is no problem for a Super. There are at least 6 men in the black car. With an extra full magazine on my belt I have 19 rounds available. Used carefully, 19 should be plenty."

Also, in his book ANOTHER COUNTRY, he mentions the Super in his essay on his exploration of a Mexican River.

Dave Williams

March 28, 2005, 07:15 AM
I have the Rock Island Armory 1911 in 38Super and it's a great gun. Factory loads are very mild so it's fun to shoot. My daughter likes it too. I'ts hard chromed so it's prettier than anything. Will post a pic when I can.

The FBI adopted it for a while back in the '20s.

March 29, 2005, 07:13 AM
The .38 Super does sound like a good round, but wouldn't buying a comparable .357 Sig make more sense?

March 29, 2005, 07:23 AM
The 1911 don't come in 357Sig. ;)

March 29, 2005, 08:07 AM
The Sig is faster in factory loadings but I think you give up at least one round in the mag. Besides, Super sounds better than Sig. :)

March 29, 2005, 09:05 AM
"The 1911 don't come in 357Sig."

WRONG! SVI will happily make one of its Infinity 1911's for you in .357 Sig (which is really NOT a .357; it is a 9mm bullet on a necked-down .40 case).

If you really want "exotic," get one in 9x23. It will still chamber the more prosaic .38 Super, plus you have the option of the more powerful 9x23 cartridge. And there are LOTS more 9mm bullets to choose from than there are .356 Super bullets. ;)

March 29, 2005, 11:51 AM
I've got a .38 super full size Colt. I think if your gonna load hot, you should consider a barrel with integral ramp and supported chamber (at least in Colt) I've got a 9X23 setup for this gun and it makes real noise. Unfortunately the gun is a SERIES 80 Enhanced. OTHER INFO BELOW

Introduced by Colt in its Government Model pistol in 1929, the .38 Super is nothing more than a souped up version of the vintage 1900 .38 Colt Automatic Cartridge. Although the Super .38 languished in the shadows of other cartridges for many years, it has now become to top ranking competitors in the rapidly growing sport of action shooting what the 6mm PPC is to benchrest shooters. The top guns in USPSA/IPSC competition prefer the .38 Super simply because of its relatively light recoil and its two round advantage over the .45 ACP when both are fired form Colt's Government Model pistol.

For many years the .38 Super was plagued with accuracy problems, mainly because the chambers of the 1911 Colt pistols in this caliber were designed to allow the cartridge to headspace on its almost nonexistent rim. Sometime in 1988, Colt officials decided to follow the lead of custom barrel makers by allowing the mouth of the .38 Super case to headspace against a shoulder in the chamber. As a result of this design change, Government Model pistols in .38 Super now being built by Colt are as accurate as those in the 9mm Parabellum, 10mm Auto, and .45 ACP.

Due to its slightly greater powder capacity, the .38 Super has a slight performance edge over the 9mm Parabellum. As cartridges designed by autoloading handguns go, it is also loaded to relatively high chamber pressures. Most USPSA/IPSC handgunners who compete with the .38 Super prefer the relatively new and extremely strong Remington +P case. For an extra margin of safety, they also use custom barrels with fully supported chambers made by Bar-Sto, Wilson, and Clark.

March 29, 2005, 12:24 PM
The 9x23mm was created to rectify a problem with the Super (the semi-rim) and to make a stronger case that could safely fire the higher-pressure loads many competitors were stuffing in their Supers.

The Winchester 124 grain JSP usually clocks just over 1500 fps from a 5" bl.

I have a Para-Ord frame with a Springfield slide. :)

I would say "There's nothing wrong with the .38 Super, but the 9x23mm is better", but that's not true. The semi-rim on the Super can cause problems.


March 29, 2005, 05:26 PM
"The semi-rim on the Super can cause problems."

If you mean accuracy problems from trying to space on the near-nonexistent rim, any modern gun chambered for .38 Super uses the case mouth. This increases the accuracy tremendously.

As for hooking the semi-rim in a mag, near impossible. There's not enough there to jam a mag the way a carelessly loaded .22 LR will in your Ruger or Buckmark.

Of course, with the rimless .38 Supers, like SuperComp or TJ, even that problem is gone. ;)

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