.38 special 1911


December 31, 2006, 09:07 PM
I just started building my own 1911's and became intrigued when I read an article about Jim Clark building them in .38 spec for some years. Does anyone know anything about this combination? It is definately cheap and fun to shoot. Can I buy just the barrels anywhere, Clark only lists shop conversions by them. Thanks

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December 31, 2006, 09:41 PM
Back in the mid '80's, I use to see Clark 38's at the shooting range where I worked in Baton Rouge, La. Those 1911's were very accruate and reliable. The owners would always show their new pride and joy by feeding an empty case. The gun was designed for wad cutters, and low velocity...bullseye shooting.


December 31, 2006, 10:36 PM
"...The gun was..." Yep and high end target pistols there were too.

January 1, 2007, 08:56 AM
You can get one of these, not a true 1911, but close.

It's called a Coonan. They don't make them anymore, but they can be found. They are .357Mag, but with a spring change you can shoot .38Spec too.

January 1, 2007, 10:02 AM
Colt also made their Gold Cup in 38 special back in the '60's to compete with S&W's Mdel 52. Wish I had either one of them now. The last 38 Colt i saw was going for over 1500.00. FWIW

January 1, 2007, 10:10 AM
mags can be pricey, too.

January 1, 2007, 10:13 AM
Anybody remember or have a .38/.45 ? (.45 necked to .38) I tried to find a barrel for my 1911 for a long time, but nobdy could actually come up with one. I even made some brass with a homemade die. I jumped on a .400 Corbon barrel as sonn as they were available. It's fun, but nothing special. A 10MM is better.

The Lone Haranguer
January 1, 2007, 10:21 AM
This sounds like a .38 Spl. wadcutter conversion. At one time this was in vogue for the bullseye shooters as an attempt to combine the accuracy of the wadcutter load with the 1911 platform. Since the case is rimmed and a wadcutter (a sharp-edged cylindrical-shaped bullet designed to be shot at low velocities and cut clean holes in a paper target) is to be seated flush with the case mouth, it would require extensive and probably irreversible reworking of the gun to get it to function smoothly and will not be a "drop-in" conversion.

January 1, 2007, 04:16 PM
There was also a rimless .38 special mutant for use by, IIRC, military
pistol teams, called the .38 AMU for Army Marksmanship Unit. Used to
have one empty example somewhere.

Never re-elect anyone. Coming soon: consent withheld

January 1, 2007, 04:42 PM
Just happened to go to Guns America and found a Coonan for $900....


Here is a .38 AMU for $2,500....


January 2, 2007, 06:33 PM
I shot one that was made by colt for the airforce. 60's era.

nice gun, shot wadcutters that did not extend beyond the case. yes weird but true. and before anybody chimes in here is was really a .38 spl and not .38 super. I know the diff.


Jim K
January 2, 2007, 08:56 PM
The standard factory .38 wadcutter bullet does not extend past the end of the case, though reloads for revolver use usually do.

Those Colt .38 Specials were strictly for target use. The magazine holds only 5 rounds. IIRC, some of the ones made by/for the military were straight blowback, with a fixed barrel; any load over 2.5-2.7 grains of Bullseye was too much.


January 2, 2007, 09:52 PM
You're right about the blowback on some of those guns, Jim. I saw and handled one many moons back.

I had a chance to buy a Colt MR Wadcutter model a few years after that but decided the DX S&W met more of my needs at the time.

January 2, 2007, 10:05 PM
Looks like I have my work cut out for me, as well as an even emptier wallet. It is a good thing my wife shoots, asl ong as it is cute she understands. Thanks again for the input Tim

January 2, 2007, 11:26 PM

Kart offers 1911 barrels in 38 Special. I believe their's is a standard barrel, not one of the special, blow-back style. In other words, you wouldn't be restricted to the type/power level of ammunition you could shoot. You're right - it would be a hoot and inexpensive.

January 2, 2007, 11:37 PM

38 Casull!!! IF, you could ever find one of these pistols (or barrels for that matter), you'd be considered a legend amongst 1911 enthusiasts. IIRC, the 3800 was a 6" longslide made for a couple of years by Casull Arms. It wasn't cheap either ~ $2500. Now I'd guess they'd run close to $4K. The cartridge was 45 ACP necked down to, roughly, 9mm (.356-.357) and it screamed. 125-gr. JHP at around 1800 FPS and a 147-gr. JHP at about 1650 FPS. :evil:

I saw a box of each at the last local gun show I went too. They were asking $50 per (20 rds.), so I passed. They were cool conversation pieces though.

Jim Watson
January 3, 2007, 12:14 AM
Far as I know, all the Colt Gold Cup .38 Specials were blowback. They had some gimmicks; the barrel had a slight float and set back a fraction of an inch upon firing. One variant had the chamber grooved in almost a threaded pattern to give some Mann ring type delay. They had several different chamber throat designs, trying to give the soft wadcutters an easy launch.

Only one I ever saw being shot grouped the empty brass about as close as the wadcutters. But that might have been the shooter's fault.

Why didn't they just copy the Clark Conversion? They had been selling him parts kits all along for .38 Special guns operating in normal 1911 recoil operated locked breech mode.

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