Range Review: Colt XSE Commander .38 Super


May 22, 2008, 09:40 AM
I finally took the plunge and bought another Colt. I was going back and forth between a Dan Wesson and the Colt, but finally decided on the one with the horsie. It may be a little irrational, but I have the most fun with some of my more irrational purchases:D

Finding one was another matter. I tried a couple of different shops and neither could squeeze one out of their distributors. I finally said to hell with it and went searching on Gunbroker and found one in Nebraska. With the shipping I still got out for less than $900 (MSRP is $950). I picked it up yesterday, cleaned it as soon as I got home, and ran to the local indoor range after dinner.

...And here she is:


Look ma', no FLGR!



I'll have some time this weekend to take some more and better pictures which I'll post at the first opportunity.

The pistol came with two (Metalform?) 9-rd. stainless magazines with dimpled follower, a cable lock, the blue plastic box, range flag, the usual documentation, the ubiquitous NRA form, and a note from the Mass. AG (***) designed to make you feel bad (it didn't) about buying an gun. Colt added a note to the MA AG's memo saying we're sorry, but we have to - They probably include it with every pistol and it is a little amusing.

The fit and finish is pretty good - including the interior machining. I was surprised and quite happy to the standard guide rod. I thought all of the XSEs came with FLGRs; so I'll have to research it a little bit. The slide ran a little rough at first, but smoothed up considerably after a 100 rounds. I think that is more a function of the finish Colt puts the alloy frame than poor fit or machining. The one, minor, gripe that I do have is the slide hangs over the back of the frame just a hair and the sharp, perfect 90 edges.

And now, for the good part....

I ran 50 rounds of PMC 130gr FMJ and 50 rounds of Remington FMJ through it. I had no hiccups or stoppages of any kind. It ran flawlessly through 100 rounds. I will be shooting more this weekend, including some DPXs I had gotten from Midway and will let you all know if there is an change. I am especially curious to see how the DPXs feed. They seem a little longer than ball that I have and wonder if it will cause any issues. It'll be a good test of Colt's new(ish) throat design.

The sights are a typical, Novak style 3-dot affair and branded by Colt. They are pretty easy to pick up and shot right to point of aim at 20 yds with the ammo I tried.

The 80 series trigger was a little mushy, but light. There was almost no over travel and it broke pretty cleanly. My other 1911's are target guns and I don't think a comparison to my S70 Gold Cup is really fair.

It looks like Colt is still making some decent stuff.

If you enjoyed reading about "Range Review: Colt XSE Commander .38 Super" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
May 23, 2008, 09:16 AM
One thing that I will add relates to that funny grip safety that Colt has been putting on it "enhanced" pistols. I didn't hate it at all. I was simply a little odd. I think I'll put a few hundred more rounds through it before I make the decision to keep it or swap it out for a Wilson drop-in.

May 23, 2008, 09:20 AM
Great choice. My buddy has Colt Lightweight XSE Commander that I've shot a lot. Very nice trigger, very accurate and reliable. I have tried to buy it from him or trade without luck.

Is yours Lightweight or Steel framed?

May 23, 2008, 10:24 AM
Congratulations! Colt is always a good choice.

Suggestion: Buy a jar of "NECO Moly-slide" protectant. It protects steel/aluminum interfaces. For that matter, I use it even on steel/steel interfaces.


May 23, 2008, 02:24 PM
It is a lightweight.

I haven't heard of Neco before; I'll have to research it. I have been using Tetra grease on my semis and have been happy with its performance thus far.

I did notice minor digs on the feed ramp. From what I have read it is caused by the follower moving forward under recoil. I have a Tripp Cobramag on order - which should remedy that.

May 26, 2008, 12:21 AM
Interesting, I didn't even realize Colt still made lightweight comanders in .38super anymore. I so want a full size Colt .38super but my state has put laws in effect that make it hard for me to buy one.

May 26, 2008, 09:25 AM
One thing that I will add relates to that funny grip safety that Colt has been putting on it "enhanced" pistols.I think they suck. They cut the trigger guard to let your hand get a higher grip, but stick that butt ugly low "duck bill" grip safety on them which does NOT allow the hand to grip up higher. Both my Series 80 enhanced pistols have replacement grip safeties. One is a Super, by the way. Love it.

One thing it has in common with yours. It feeds everything, just like a good Colt should. ;)

May 26, 2008, 12:03 PM
Very nice! I have an old Colt, with a 4 digit serial number. I hate to carry it any more, so I guess you could say it is semi retired.

They were way ahead of their time.

May 26, 2008, 04:14 PM
I ran another 150 round of ball (more UMC and Federal AE) and 30 Rounds of Cor-bon 125gr DPX through it this weekend. I am happy to say that it ran flawlessly and the accuracy is quite good.

It was a busy weekend, so I didn't get a chance to set up proper targets and shoot for groups. Instead I took any opportunity that I had to shoot at what ever I could make out on the back stop (25 yards). I could hit damn near anything at will.

The trigger has also improved considerably. The "mushy" feel that I had reported earlier has nearly disappeared. I can honestly call the trigger quite good.

I also picked up a 10 round .38 Super Tripp Research CobraMag. It ran with out hiccup and locked the slide back with no issues. The fit and finish was suburb. I'll probably pick one more up in the future and I would defiantly recommend them to others.

May 26, 2008, 04:17 PM
That is a sweet pistol!

May 27, 2008, 01:18 AM
Very nice new Colt you have. I am a fan of the Super .38 myself.

May 28, 2008, 09:53 PM
Here is a pic of the muzzle after shooting about 75 rounds. The lighting isn't the best, but you can make out a perfect star shape from the fouling.


June 2, 2008, 10:02 AM
I finally got an opportunity to run some ammo over a chronograph this past Sunday and I thought you might find the information useful since all of the information I've seen is for a 5" bbl. As I've stated before my Colt as eaten everything that I've fed it. The chrono. was 10' from the bench.

Corbon 125gr DPX, 1350 fps 506 ftlb - from muzzle
1 - 1259 fps
2 - 1262 fps
3 - 1259 fps

Federal American Eagle 130gr FMJ, 1200 fps 416 ftlb - from muzzle
1 - 1200 fps
2 - 1232 fps
3 - error
4 - 1200 fps

July 15, 2008, 09:43 PM
Update 15 July:

I was cleaning the pistol after a range session (around round 700 - I counted the empty boxes) I noticed a small chip out of the chamber. Needless to say I was a little annoyed. I'm not sure if it was a defect in the barrel or a piece of crud that caused the chip to appear (probably crud). I called Colt that week and Cindy had me send it in for barrel replacement.

Colt had the pistol almost two weeks the returned it to me with a new barrel and slide. That is pretty fast turn around by any standard and, they thew in (unexpectedly) a set of grips for another pistol I had. I'm pretty pleased by the service. The slide was quite tightly fitted and needed a box or two to break in. I ran 250rds. through it when I got it back: 80 rds of Corbon 125 gr HP, 150 rds of mixed ball, 9 Silvertips another shooter had, and the rest were DPXs I had from before.

Accuracy with the new parts is about the same as before - better than I can hold. Reliability with ball and DPXs is still 100%.

Then, I tried some Cor-bon 125gr HPs and started to have issues. I'll start with the good: they ran right around 1300 fps out of the Commanders barrel.

The first issue is feeding. The first cartridge would jam on the feed ramp and just stop mid-cycle. The bullets were being jammed back into the case and would just stop. It didn't seem to matter if I used the slide stop, racked the slide, loaded a round of ball and fired, or used a different magazine. The second issue was the slide locking back at random times in the magazine. The DPXs, Remington UMC, Federal American Eagle or, Silvertips had any problems - so I'm inclined to think it is the ammo.

I don't expect any more problems, but I'll report again after I run the couple boxes of Magtech and some more DPXs through it.

Here's a more stylish pic:


February 4, 2009, 09:03 PM
i realize this is an old post but if you happen to see this i was wondering is the xse in .38 super has a ramped barrel? btw nice gun and in .38 super it just looks better

February 5, 2009, 09:15 AM
No it has the standard feed rap set up, but Colt has a unique way of throating the barrel that gives very good support.

.38 Supers do not have a reputation of kBs and my pistol has had no issues with feeding (except Corbon 125 JHPs).

Hostile Amish
February 5, 2009, 09:25 AM
Beautiful gun - stock up on CLEAN ammo for that Colt.

February 5, 2009, 01:38 PM
Great report, nice pic's.

Any pierced primers with the Cor Bon?

I just got my Baer .38 and I'm pretty stoked.

February 5, 2009, 10:53 PM
Thank you for the info about the barrel. Btw how do the alloy frames hold up to wear? Im ordering a lightweight xse in .38 super next wensday and if the super is half as fun to shoot as my fullsize .45 it will see 500 rnds a month. Thank goodness i roll my own otherwise it would get really expensive fast.

February 6, 2009, 08:30 AM
PO2Hammer: I didn't have any pierced primers, but the firing pin would drag at times. I replaced the firing pin spring with a Wolff extra power one I had in my box.

Clifford: I've put around 2k through my gun with no frame issues. Just keep it lubed and you'll be fine. Colt has been making the LW Commander since the '50s and as far as I know they hold up just fine. As a minor aside: the Beretta M9/92FS, most Sigs, and many other pistols have an Aluminum frame and have no issues I can think of.

I replaced the duck-bill grip safety with a Wilson "drop in" unit. Here is an updated pic:


February 6, 2009, 09:32 AM
Thank you for the info. I dont plan on putting 20000 rounds thru it but it will see its fair share of range time.

February 7, 2009, 05:27 PM
I have the same gun. I want to buy some additional mags for it and wondered what to buy and where to but them.. Thanks for your help.

February 7, 2009, 06:09 PM

Can you please post another picture with the Wilson Combat grip safety. For some reason your first photo does not show up.

I am picking up a Colt Combat Commander in .45 next week and the Wilson grip safety is on my list of planned upgrades.



February 8, 2009, 11:12 PM
I fixed the pic:banghead:

I posted a description of the grip safety install here:


Hostile Amish
February 8, 2009, 11:45 PM
It looks a LOT better with the Wilson safety. Keep it there :D

If you enjoyed reading about "Range Review: Colt XSE Commander .38 Super" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!