Its probably a dumb question, but I was just wondering if there is any reason to choose .38 super over a .45 in a defensive 1911, possibly in a commander configuration. I know there are a lot of advantages to .45, in that it's easier to find, roughly the same cost if not cheaper, and is of course the "legendary manstopper". Then again, i really like the ballistics of the .38 super, and you get two more rounds out of it. So is there any reason that .38 super should be picked instead if i'm not using it in some sort of competition?
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November 25, 2007, 07:50 PM
Competitive advantage would be the only reason for me....but that is me...I also like 9mm and that will give you fire power in a double stack if that is your objective...personally I will stay with the 45acp....
November 25, 2007, 08:00 PM
If you live in a country where police/military calibers are banned for civilains, .38Super might be the best you can do.
Other than that, its pretty much a reloader/gamer caliber only, but I think it makes more sense than the .357SIG.
November 25, 2007, 08:05 PM
Nope. .38 Super is a gaming round pure and simple. Look at the choices for loads available in both .45 ACP and .38 Super and that should answer your questions.
November 25, 2007, 08:25 PM
November 25, 2007, 08:32 PM
Go with a .45 ACP. The .38 Super is only up to true ability when hand loaded. The .38 Super factory loadings are literally 300 to 400 FPS under the ability of the round. When properly and fully loaded, the .38 Super should be only about 15 FPS lower velocity than the .357 Sig. However, as currently factory-loaded, the .38 Super is no hotter than a 9mm.
November 25, 2007, 08:54 PM
in regard to the OP probably not.But come on guys corbon DPX 125 barnes @1350 there's nothin' wrong with a super as a SD round.I wish Doubletap would load some 124 golddots for it.
November 25, 2007, 08:57 PM
But, 1,594 FPS with a 124 gr. round handloaded is better, is it not? Note, that is a full 254 FPS faster than what you noted.
November 25, 2007, 08:59 PM
Yeah mav, looking at some of the figures make me start to salivate, that and the potential of the caliber make me want one. However, its unfortunate that a company like Doubletap and or Buffalo Bore hasn't yet started to get involved in making a .38 Super at or near its full potential. I apologize, i really shouldn't read Stephen Hunter and then post on the internet afterwards :D
November 25, 2007, 09:09 PM
I've picked up two 38 supers in the last month a taurus pt38s and just this weekend a kimber stainless target.love the round and yes I do reload.I've never seen those kind of numbers from a 5" gun my old STI compgun was on the ragged edge at 1400 FPS with 130s.BTH I'm not a it has to start with a 4 kind of guy more of a can you put a well designed bullet with 400+ ft lbs. where you want (the more the better).
November 25, 2007, 09:34 PM
Some of my favorite fun to shoot guns have been Super 38's, though I would have to agree with those who say that the .45 would be the better choice overall in a PDW. It's just that sometimes it's a little more interesting to take the road (or caliber), that's less traveled.
November 25, 2007, 10:02 PM
My Colt 5" .38 Super is ultra-accurate, and light in the recoil department. But I still go back to the penetration videos that I have seen of various rounds fired through, say automobile windsheilds, and the sole round that was dead-on consistent was the .45 ACP. Lighter rounds didn't do as well. That doesn't mean I'd ever sell my .38 Super.
November 25, 2007, 11:00 PM
Higher capacity, less recoil and better penetration. That being said; I own a couple of .45acp's and no .38 supers. I'd like to get one though.
November 26, 2007, 01:15 AM
I have several 45ACP's, XD's, 1911's & a revolver. It's my favorite caliber. I recently bought a 1911 in 38 Super. WOW! I like it! :D It won't replace my 45's, but I rarely shoot my 9mm's anymore. ;)
November 26, 2007, 01:25 AM
Yes, she is pretty, and pretty sweet to shoot...I haven't named her yet. Personification is a beautiful thing!
I looked into the .38 Super alot, but to get the full potential of the round, you need a ramped, fully-supported barrel. To my knowledge, Kimber is the only company that makes such a gun from the factory, and I don't particularly care for that individual model or Kimber as a company. Check out the VihtaVouri load data though. They have some crazy velocity data on that page. I've never seen it verified though. Most of it is several hundred FPS higher than anyone else's data which makes me suspect it is way over SAAMI specs.
November 26, 2007, 01:36 AM
If you like the .38 Super, run the .38 Super.
Clyde, of Bonnie and Clyde and others in their chosen profession used .38 Supers with much success, along with BARs [Browning Automatic Rifle], and Remington Model 11 shotguns
Texas Rangers, and others in this chose Profession also used .38 Supers, and BARs and 11s
Gamers? Umm no.
Serious Running & Gunning is more like it. Since the targets shoot at each other.
November 26, 2007, 01:56 AM
Standard .45 ACP doesn't penetrate nearly as well as 9mm and the .38 Super has potential to out penetrate the hottest 9mm loadings.
For a close up face to face self defense situation the .45 is the better round.
If your enemy might take advantage of commonly available urban setting cover the .38 Super is the better choice.
Neither will defeat the light body armorof today, back in the thirties the Motorized bandits often wore body armor that would stop a .45 at a distance, but the .38 Super would walk right through the same level of protection. Same went for Military helmets of the era.
November 30, 2007, 08:54 AM
Have you viewed these two videos?
1) Deadly Weapons: Firearms and Firepower, ANITE Productions.
These are the research conducted by some firearms experts. The part I enjoyed most was the projectile penetration research. Only three firearms calibers were demonstrated, on tape, as being effective through windshields and car doors:
The 9mm calibers experienced considerable deflection, to the point of missing the target in the driver's seat when fired through a windshield.
November 30, 2007, 09:05 AM
Interesting. My experiences shooting metal objects was that the 38 SA penetrated stuff the 45 ACP would bounce off of. This was with factory ammo in both guns.
November 30, 2007, 11:24 AM
There's an advantage if you live in Mexico.
38 Super is legal there for civilians, 45ACP is not--or, at least it used to be that way. I understand there were / are similar prohibitions in European countries as well.
November 30, 2007, 04:22 PM
I find that 38SA recoils considerably less (even with hot loads).
Not as big a deal with the single stack guns, but your capacity is increased.
A 125ish gr bullet at 1400+ fps with mild recoil is nice.
Neither is clearly superior to the other. If you want a 38 Super Automatic, buy one! That's a good enough reason for me.
November 30, 2007, 04:47 PM
More folks like the .45, but the .38 Super crowd loves them. It is a good cartridge. I much prefer the .45 myself.
November 30, 2007, 08:27 PM
How exactly does the recoil of 38 super compare to .45 acp?
November 30, 2007, 09:09 PM
The .38 Super made a comback in the early days of IPSC/pin-shooting when compensators started showing up - there's a greater muzzle-rise reduction when shooting the higher pressure .38 through it than the low-pressure .45ACP. More pressure through the vents = less muzzle-flip.
Defensive use - I think the jury's out on that, but I certainly wouldn't feel undergunned with a .38 Super.
November 30, 2007, 10:26 PM
Meet me at Double Action tomorrow or Sunday and I'll bring both. The .38 Super is more mild. But, both are comfortable.
November 30, 2007, 10:28 PM
I have to work tomorrow, but i'm game for Sunday, provided you let me buy the ammo and pay for the range.
November 30, 2007, 10:58 PM
PMs answered. See you then. We'll post some pics and videos here on Sunday.
December 2, 2007, 03:13 PM
Well, now you can speak to the .38 Super versus .45 ACP first-hand. :D You did a nice job on those targets. Although, we should have gone for 2 hours of range time. You only fired off maybe half of the those 750 rounds of 9mm, .38 Super and .45 ACP, oh yeah, and the 5.56.
Mike...I'm feeling bad for you right about now. If your girlfriend was "upset" before :neener: because of missing out, and hearing about all of the pistols that you fired, well, you had better hide this pic from her! Here is a pic of all 10 of the pistols that you fired (AKA "Blast-Fest"):
1) Colt Series 80 (.38 Super)
2) Colt Series 70 reproduction (.45 ACP)
3) Colt WWI reproduction (.45 ACP)
4) Colt Gold Cup Trophy (.45 ACP)
5) Colt New Agent (.45 ACP)
6) Kimber Warrior (.45 ACP)
7) Glock 17 (9mm)
8) Glock 19C (9mm)
9) Browning High Power (9mm)
10) Bushmaster Carbon 15, Model 21 (5.56 mm)
When you say i did a nice job, your being too kind. I did ok, for a novice, while on the other hand you tore giagantic holes in every part of the target you shot at :Chuckles:. I have to say the 38 super does noticeably recoil lighter, but the .45 isn't too bad in comparison, unless its being shot out of your New Agent. Yikes!
December 2, 2007, 03:31 PM
There you are! You did well! You switched between 10, 10 different pistols, firing at engagement distances. Also, you fired around 300 rounds! That is a lot in 1 hour! You did well!!
Yes, the Colt 1911 in .38 Super is more mild. You shot it very well! You kept the shots inside a 3" circle @ 7 yards with it, as well as with the Colt Gold Cup Trophy .45 ACP, and the Colt Series 70 Reproduction .45 ACP. Those were the 3 that you fired the best. I'll try to load some videos.
Don't believe Mike...he's just modest! He did very well!!
Blast-Fest for certain!!!
December 2, 2007, 03:38 PM
After reading every post on this thread I have this to say.........If you like buying diffrent ammo off the shelf at k-mart wallmart or what ever then go 45
If you can-want to reload get the 38 super. Agulia factory loads a 124gr doing 1550 out of my gun. You get better higher capacity with the 38 it is not just a gaming round any more there are several manufactures for defense ammunition. They are accurate guns. I have both and when it comes down to it I prefer the 38 over the 45 oh yeah cheaper to reload for the 38 in most cases anyway.
December 2, 2007, 03:39 PM
The 70 series is such a joy to shoot, it should be illegal:) the gold cup was amazing to, and like i said the recoil of the .38 super is surprisingly mild. You have some beautiful guns, each of them looks as if it came right out of the catalog and into your range bag:) By the way, someone should tell colt they forgot to put sights on your WW1 1911 :D
December 2, 2007, 03:47 PM
The .38 super is the classic border round, used by bad men and lawmen alike. You're not going to find a much more effective handgun than a 5" .38 super 1911. And it's darn fun to shoot. My concern would be ammo availability, but sometimes heading off the beaten path just for the sake of trying something new is worth a little effort and cost.
December 2, 2007, 04:05 PM
Here we go. The proof is in the pudding. Mike doing a great job of putting-the-hurt on a target @ 7 yards, using a STS Colt Series 70 Reproduction in .45 ACP. I had the video on zoom.
I'm in the background (behind), and step up after Mike finishes, and explain to him that this is the pistol that I use for CCW.
How does it compare to other 9mm rounds? Such as the 9x21, 9x23, 9x25, and .357 sig?
December 2, 2007, 04:24 PM
haha thanks for the video doc:) I guess i shot it better than i thought, because when i first started watching the vid i thought it was you (but of course there would probably just be one ragged hole if that were the case).
December 2, 2007, 04:24 PM
The .38 Super (with hand loads) is on par with .357 Sig (1,594 FPS w/ 124 Grn). Factory loads are 100 to 200 FPS faster than 9MM +Ps. The only one that I have seen that out-strips the .38 Super, hand loaded, is the 9X25, and that is simply a beast! I have to get myself one of those some day!!! :evil:
I knew it was you shooting because each time you finished I would step up and explain what that particular pistol was. You fired the first magazine; I fired the second magazine.
Now you see why I videotape the shots. Firing this many pistols, it's difficult to recall what is what. You did very well!!! I forgot to say earlier, I was very comfortable shooting with you. You were very safe, and level-headed. Great work. You can shoot with me any day.
December 2, 2007, 04:43 PM
I'm glad you felt comfortable, i definitely felt the same way. I'm usually cautious to the point of being too cautious (if there's such a thing). I honestly can't thank you enough for basically answering dozens of questions i had at once. Not only that, but in my inbox i have 200 something private messages, a vast majority of which are patient, well written answers that you've given me to my questions about 1911's, and pistols in general. They should make the 38 super in a Series 70 :D now that would be a nice shooter!
December 2, 2007, 05:29 PM
Thanks, Mike! I always enjoy helping people in the questions, either in threads or in PMs. You are right...yeah, I can you imagine a Series 70 in .38 Super! I bet Colt would make it if you custom-ordered it. The question is, how much?
There is just something about the Series 70 configuration that fits my hand like a latex glove. It's simply natural. It's difficult to explain, but easy to sense when you pick that pistol up and point it. I always know how well my shooting is by using that pistol for the control. If the groups are poor with that pistol, I can only blame myself.
Oh, here is the link to that pistol...the post I created about the barrel/bushing:
That is a wonderful shooter, and the trigger is perfect. I'd like to inquire about getting a series 70 in .38 super, but i'm afraid I would no longer have a girlfriend if i even attempted such a thing :D The series 70 in .45 is definitely the benchmark by which i will judge 1911's for a long time. Well that, or the gold cup, wow does that shoot nice :D
Also out of curiousity, were those .38 super's handloads, or factory? What velocity were they? Just curious :D Thank again.
December 2, 2007, 05:39 PM
You have it narrowed to 3 at worst:
Series 80 .38 Super
Series 70 .45 ACP
Gold Cup Trophy .45 ACP
The next time we go shooting, I will bring only these three so you can narrow it down to one.
I'd bet a cup of coffee that you narrow it down to the Series 70 in .45 ACP. Truthfully, I suggest that above all others. The .38 Super is fun, and mild. But trying to locate .38 Super ammo is not always easy. Now, .45 ACP on the other hand is every where.
December 2, 2007, 05:56 PM
Sadly, they're all too beautiful to carry though :D
December 2, 2007, 05:57 PM
I carry all of my pistols, except the Bushmaster and my Contender. :)
I missed part of your post. Sorry. Those .38 Supers were factory +P+ loads, so yes, they were quite hot, but not to the degree of hand loaded. These are in the range of 1,350 FPS.
Re: your statement that you shot better than you thought, I posted your last video. By then, you had adjusted to the 191s, and you had fired the Series 70 about 4 times. You also did pretty well with the Glock 19C with the 3.5 Lb, quick-reset, target trigger. But, for sure you did best with the 1911s.
December 2, 2007, 08:53 PM
Ahhh very cool. I can't stress enough how much fun I had, and I can't thank you enough. At least let me get you some ammo or something :D
December 2, 2007, 09:11 PM
Nope! No pay backs. You helped me with some firearms research without even knowing.
You know all that ammo we fired? How many failures were there? None, nada, zip, zilch! Perfection in function, right?
Those rounds of ammunition have been loaded in those magazines for over two years, at maximum capacity.
Interesting enough, most of the magazines were Kimber magazines. :) I've never had problems with Kimber magazines. But, I hear them blamed so often for problems.
So, does it harm a magazine to be loaded to maximum capacity for prolonged periods of time? No.
Are Kimber magazines as-good-as Colt magazines? They work in my 1911 pistols...all of them. :) So, you see, you helped me by burning through all that ammo.
But, don't ask me to pay you a co-"research" fee. :neener: For me, it's fun to do some informal research, and this way, you too were part of it. :D
Keep next Sunday open if you want. We can burn off the remainder of that 750 rounds of ammo. Finish the research. I can pay the range fee, you buy the targets...just like today.
December 2, 2007, 09:13 PM
:Chuckles: That's crazy. I'll definitely keep next Sunday open (as far as I know i have no plans), and i'll gladly waive my co-research fee :D
December 2, 2007, 09:19 PM
Not only can you say that Kimber magazines aren't jamomatics, but i often hear of those lovely Colts being blamed for the same thing. I think i'm going to save up for a Colt Series 70 now, since I can't really imagine a better pistol. I think you've ruined me on everything else :P
December 2, 2007, 09:20 PM
After next Sunday, we can start a new thread about long-term ammo storage...all of that ammo was pulled from my fire resistant vault last evening. Imagine...two years in high humidity, jammed in there tight at max capacity, and run through how many different types of firearms by two different shootists and zero failures. Good performance, and worth a thread...next Sunday!
11:00 a.m. @ Double Action?? I'll have the 3 Colts that you liked, and 2 Glocks (still have 6, 33-round mags of 9mm to test the function (burn). You can finish the Colts' ammo and I finish the Glocks' ammo.
December 2, 2007, 09:21 PM
Sounds like a plan, provided you let me get the range and targets :D Also would you rather go somewhere closer to you? I don't mind the drive, and its only fair.
December 2, 2007, 09:24 PM
No...the drive if fine. I'm a Lifetime Member at Double Action.
December 2, 2007, 09:24 PM
Fair enough :D
December 2, 2007, 10:12 PM
Assuming you can shoot both equally and that the .38 Super can be more advantegeous in concealment and comfort level; no problemo....:)
I've always had the suspicion that pistoleros concerned with bore size lack confidence, shooting skills, or both...:uhoh:
December 2, 2007, 10:31 PM
I think my experience today might have sold me on the .45. It's far easier to find ammo for (i don't reload), and more importantly, the Series 70 doesn't currently offer a model in .38 Super (as far as I know). That being said, i think the .38 Super would be more than adequate, as a matter of fact i think it would be very fine indeed, but I think at this point a .45 makes more sense. Of course, when i'm financially secure enough to get Colt to make me a custom Series 70 reissue in .38 Super, that might change entirely :D
December 2, 2007, 10:41 PM
Did you check with Colt to see what they would charge for building a Series 70 .38?
I have several makes of .45 and .38 1911's. I shoot the .38's about 95% of the time. They are so much softer recoiling, but loud and a blast.
December 2, 2007, 10:43 PM
Nah i just shot one for the first time today. It's going to be a bit in the future, since i'm moving and have to save for that first. I guess:P After I move then hopefully i'll be able to pick one up. And after that hopefully I can see how much one in .38 Super would be and even more hopefully it will be an acceptable price :D
December 3, 2007, 08:47 AM
I looked into the .38 Super alot, but to get the full potential of the round, you need a ramped, fully-supported barrel. To my knowledge, Kimber is the only company that makes such a gun from the factory, and I don't particularly care for that individual model or Kimber as a company.You need to check out the CZ clone Tanfoglio Witness in 38 SA, I have been told it has fully supported barrel. I know my 45 ACP & 10 mm barrels are full support ramp models. Check out http://www.eaacorp.com/index.html (EAA Home page")
When I decided on 10 mm over the 38SA it was because the factory 10 mm loads are about on par with 38 SA +P and is easy to shoot but when hand loaded it is a barn burner with 155 grain easy doing 1350 fps and up for hot loads. Also factory loaded ammo is easier to find for 10 mm then 38 SA for some reason.
All that said I would still love a 38 SA in a 1911 or 3rd gen S&W auto similar to my S&W Chiefs Special 45 ACP which is a light weight CCW pistol with a 6+1 that would easy be 8+1 in 38SA or 10mm configuration.
December 3, 2007, 07:32 PM
IIRC, Roswell has it right. If I know my history, the standard .45 ACP and .38 specs were having difficulty going through car doors of the bonnie and clyde era. Thusly colt developed the .38 super cartridge in the 1911, and S&W responded with the .38 Super Police in the .38-44 heavy duty. Both were supposed to have better penetration effects against steel and glass.
Note: supposed to, I don't know for sure, I only know what I've read.
December 3, 2007, 08:44 PM
Only one way to resolve this dispute...pull up some cars (I prefer not to use our own). I'll bring the .38 Super and the .45 ACP. :neener:
I have two videos posted around here that shows such a test on auto windows, windshields and door. It was pretty cool.
December 3, 2007, 08:49 PM
I think on "theboxoftruth" they showed that almost any pistol round can penetrate a car door, some through both doors if i recall correctly. I wonder if it's a matter of more modern ammunition, or if car's of that time were built more sturdy. Probably a combination of the two. That being said, i still have an unnatural obsession with .38 super, and so in the (probably distant) future i'm gonna get a custom Series 70 in it and and... :Drools:
December 4, 2007, 04:11 PM
I've been saving up for a Colt XSE LW Commander in .38 Super.
December 4, 2007, 04:12 PM
If you can shoot it better in 38 super, that's reason enough. If you want to, that's also reason enough. Both will do the job.
December 4, 2007, 04:37 PM
One fact that I have come to appreciate about the .45 ACP versus .38 Super is the availability of near-maximum potential loads in factory-loaded ammunition. The .38 Super is so under-loaded that it defies logic. Most factory loads of 115 to 124 grain projectiles depart the barrel between 1,150 to 1,250 FPS. The 1,250 is a +P load? The hand-loads for the 124 grain .38 Super depart the barrel at 1,594 FPS. Now that is hot...hot as in .357 Sig-hot.
If we are taking power, and penetration, etc, and we are, then the factory-loaded .38 Super ain't all that. However, hand-loaded .38 Supers are all that, and then some! And so, IMHO, the choice is truly "to hand-load, or factory-load". If the OP plans to hand-load ammunition, then yes, the .38 Super is tremendous. If the OP plans to buy factory-loaded ammunition, the .45 ACP is the superior choice.
Personally, I own Colt 1911s in both calibers; I like both. I prefer the .45 ACP because I can purchase "genuine" +P loads for it, not loads referred to as +P when they are not.
In closing, I seriously doubt that a 115 grain .38 Super, factory loaded to 1,199 FPS (a +P load) has as-much-power or penetration as a 230 grain .45 ACP factory-loaded to 1,000 FPS. Do the math.
January 15, 2008, 02:12 PM
The super was designed to penetrate car doors in the '20 and '30. Trust me they are made of much sterner stuff and today's sheet metal doors!
January 15, 2008, 03:42 PM
The .38 super and the .357 mag where developed in the late 1920's and early 30's as a response to law enforcements needs to overcome the body armor of the day. Ballistics of the .38 super is superior to the 9mm +P+ especially with bullets heavier than 125gr. The .357 SIG is a very close match to the super. (source Wikapedia)
January 15, 2008, 04:46 PM
Well, as previously stated, most modern, factory loaded .38 Super rounds are essentially 9mm strength, maybe 9mm +P. You may be able to find some "hot" stuff out there, but it's few and far between, and not loaded by the major companies ("hot" stuff being what .38 Super is supposed to be and what it was back in the roaring 20's and such when it was used quite sucessfully)
Now, there certainly is a boatload of people out there (myself included) who feel that 9mm is an adequate SD/PD round. Thus downloaded, or modern, .38 Super should also be adequate. However then a few other issues come up.
First, platforms. Most 9mm lovers also love the high cap Glock, SIG, HK, etc, etc, etc. With the exception of the Witness, most .38 Supers are 1911's. Of course there are those who love a 1911 too, and having one that uses 9mm or equivalent is just fine.
Second, availability. Finding .45 is easy as pie. Every Wal Mart and Mom and Pop store which handles any ammo will most likely have some .45. Not nearly so for .38.
Third, and potentially most important (it is to me at least), bullet selection. There is a large group of experts who feel that most modern handgun loads have similar effectiveness in SD/PD situations due to the most modern bullet designs such as Gold Dots, Rangers, Golden Sabre's, and the like. It's easy to get .45, 9mm, .40, and such in those loadings, and they are readily found even at smaller stores. None of the big companies load such bullets into a .38 Super. The most modern commercial load is the Winchester Silvertip, which is at least two or more generations old. You may find some smaller companies which load modern SD bullets into the .38, but then you're dealing with smaller companies and potentially poorer quality.
January 16, 2008, 06:05 AM
January 17, 2008, 02:03 PM
I would get a gun that is setup for 9x23 Win/38SC/38SA and also 9x19. That should only require an extra barrel. You can plink with the 9x19 (I like plinking with 9x23 :evil: ). Use the 9x23 for SD/HD/etc.
January 17, 2008, 02:38 PM
Pssh, for penetrating targets 7.62x25, unfortunately it is an odd ball round and tends not to cause much of a wound.
I looked at .38 Supers and really liked the idea. But when i actually searched around for he pistol and then the ammo, it was not such a great idea. A plane jane .45 would do just as well and if I wanted hi capacity then I was stuck with 9mm or a rather large .45. Anyways, it nice to hear they are such nice rounds to deal with and the recoil isn't much.
good luck with your decision.
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