The only production gun I have heard of was the S&W Model 52. It shot wadcutters only. It was a bullseye target gun. (Would do a number on a rabbit I guess.) There might be some custom 1911 based target guns out there as well.
January 3, 2008, 05:15 PM
The only recent and fairly available gun would be the S&W Model 52 Master.
It was designed to work with .38 Spl. target wad-cutter ammo only.
Regular .38 Spl. ammo with full size bullets would not fit or function.
It was a 5-shot target pistol based on the older model 39 9mm auto.
There are no .38 Special auto-loaders being made because the .38 Special cartridge is a rimmed revolver cartridge.
It doesn't take well to working in an auto pistols magazine because of the rimmed case.
Other than the aforementioned Smith and Wesson, there are none.
You DO realize I hope, that the 9mm provides almost identical performance by comparison to the .38 special.
What purpose do you see for a .38 special autoloader?
January 3, 2008, 05:18 PM
There was the S&W M52, the Colt Gold Cup .38, and numbers of .38 Supers converted to .38 Special by gunsmiths like Clark and Giles. All were for .38 target wadcutters only, magazines holding only five rounds, the length of a string on the bullseye target.
Coonan would sell you a magazine and recoil spring to shoot .38 Specials in their .357 Magnum auto; that is the only one I know of for standard service loads.
None of the above are in production, except that Clark might make one up if you asked very nicely and paid a lot.
I don't know if Specials would cycle a Desert Eagle .357, kind of doubt it.
January 3, 2008, 05:53 PM
Many moons ago I got to fire a friend's Colt .38 super that had been ramped for firing .38 special wadcutters. It was a real tack driver. The first 3 shots at 50 yards were a clover leaf! Group opend up some with subsequent rounds, but it was a real treat to shoot.
January 3, 2008, 06:01 PM
The Colt Gold Cup National Match Mid Range was a popular Government Model chambered in .38 Special but shot only wad cutters.
January 3, 2008, 06:08 PM
the 9mm provides almost identical performance by comparison to the .38 special.Actually, quite a bit more then +P .38's with 115 - 125 grain bullets, and somewhat less then +P 38's with 147-150 grain bullets.
Still, I have to wonder why anyone would want a .38 Special auto-loader, once they understood the dynamics of the rimmed revolver round in a pistol magazine.
Although not backed by ballistics I have a preference to the .38 spl over the 9mm ... I was unaware of the problem w/ the rimmed case ... thanks for the info y'all ...
You really should look into a 1911 chambered in .38 Super. If you like the .38 Special you will love the .38 Super, IMO of course.
Below are the numbers for Remington UMC 130gr rounds:
185 ft/lbs of energy
7.0" drop @ 100 yards
426 ft/lbs of energy
3.6" drop @100 yards
357 Sig. (only 125gr available)
506 ft/lbs of energy
3.3" drop @100 yards
As you can see from the numbers the .38 Super almost matches the .357 Sig and can do even better when handloaded to it's full potential. IMO, it really is a "Super" round!! I'm at a loss as to why the .38 Super never made it as a popular mainstream cartridge.
January 4, 2008, 04:42 PM
IMO, it really is a "Super" round!! I'm at a loss as to why the .38 Super never made it as a popular mainstream cartridge.
Because 9MM +p will do the same thing and more reliably than .38 Super.
January 4, 2008, 04:58 PM
You may be right about the 9mm +P doing what a 38 Super can but I totally disagree it will do it more reliably! A well made round will fire and do what it's intended upon doing and the reliability issue is that of the firearm. Are you trying to tell me a 1911 is an unreliable weapon? I think not....
Also, the +P variant of the 9mm is a fairly new round. The 38 Super was around well before the +P 9mm. Try defeating a car door or windshield with a 9mm, then try it with a 38 Super and come back and tell me the 9mm is a better round. Again, I think not...
January 4, 2008, 05:54 PM
But the Colt Mid-Range .38 Spl. hasn't been made for about 40 years now.
Even when it was made, there were very few of them produced, over about a 10 year period. (1960 - 1971)
A good speciman today would probably bring at least 2 grand or more, and go into a Colt collection somewhere.
And that is probably where it belongs. The only one I ever saw being shot was not as accurate as a Clark conversion or a S&W M52. Why Colt thought they knew better and made it a blowback instead of following the example of the proven Clark Conversion is beyond me.
The owner of the above gun had it converted to .45 ACP. Since there was a locating key rib in the barrel bed, the frame had to be altered to accept a .45 barrel and slide. No doubt there is a speculator crying over it, but the customer has been shooting a more useful gun for nigh on 30 years now.
January 4, 2008, 06:10 PM
Clark made one nice wadcutter gun on a 1911 platform. I have seen a Clark .38 feed empty .38 cases.
January 4, 2008, 09:24 PM
A Clark 38 is the way to go. I want one but thy are a bit pricey @ $2700. Check out their website. clarkcustomguns.com
January 5, 2008, 01:21 AM
before 9-11, Hammerli was making a semi auto target pistol based on their traditional mauser style frame. Only desigend for .38 special wadcutters, and their brochures made it out like it was its own caliber, ".38 wadcutter". Price was 1100 base.
I have not seen of a new production gun for salein years. The current Hamemrli dealer in America has a few for sale in their used section. But they are priced at 1000-1300 each. Not really worth it, but cool to look at.
get a super, or a couple target 38 revolvers.
January 5, 2008, 01:53 AM
Are you trying to tell me a 1911 is an unreliable weapon? I think not....
No sir not at all. The 1911 is one on my favorites, and I reload so a .38 Super would be a good cartridge for me. The .38 Super is a straight walled cartridge and the 9mm is a bit tapered for better feeding. I just don't see the practical benefits of the .38 Super over the modern 9MM. When I buy a 1911 its it .45, but not saying the .38 Super is any slouch either.
January 5, 2008, 01:58 AM
Fair enough.... It is a shame the 38 Super never hit the lime-light though LOL
January 5, 2008, 02:04 AM
The Super .38 is an excellent cartridge in the Government Model platform especially at the loading bench.
January 5, 2008, 01:08 PM
It is a shame the 38 Super never hit the lime-light though
Actually, I like oddball cartridges and reload for some pretty rare stuff like .32 French Long for my SACM 1935A and 7MM French for my MAS 49/51. Looking at the 38 Super reloading data indicates you can get another 200 or so FPS from a 115 grain bullet over the 9MM. I do think that is significant, so if you reload and want something a little different, this would be a good choice over the 9MM. I wouldn't mind having a 1911 in 38 Super and one in 9MM. I shot a SA 1911 9MM that a friend has and it was a real pleasure to shoot.
If you enjoyed reading about ".38 Special" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!