New caliber discovered. Need info


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shooter429
October 16, 2009, 05:51 AM
While waiting to ship off my Sig for repair, I happened upon a very unique looking Colt 1911. It looked to be Nickel plated. I looked more closely, and saw under Caliber .38 Super. Then I saw it was a single stack with a 10 Rd capacity. I was intrigued. Oddly, I had never encountered one before. It seems almost everybody shoots the .45 ACP in the 1911s. I got home and looked in my loading manual, and to my suprise, discovered that the hottest loadings looked very similar to the .357 Sig, yet this cartridge, according to the book has been out since 1928.

Now I am really interested. It looks like it is right on the cusp of Major PF, but with 2-3 extra shots in the same comfortable 1911 single stack frame.

Q. Does anybody here have a Colt in that caliber, and if so, is it accurate, reliable and easier to shoot than the .45. I am thinking faster FU shots and more rounds would be a plus. Kimber?


Q. Are these Colt's in need of customization to be game worthy?

Q. Is anybody in IDPA or IPSC winning with this caliber?

Q. Are components easy to come by?

I am by no means new to handguns, so cannot understand how I overlooked a 80 year-old cartridge.

Q. What is the best value in this caliber? I am talking ~$1000 range ready?

Any other updates, information or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks

Shooter429

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dom1104
October 16, 2009, 06:57 AM
this is not an uncommon caliber in the shooting sports world, I am sort of amazed you missed it :)

A little net searchings will solve all your questions, its not uncommon by a long stretch.

Sam1911
October 16, 2009, 09:02 AM
.38 Super has a long history as you've found. It wasn't originally developed for gaming, but it developed a following in that world.

I see very VERY few .38 Supers in IDPA, but they are a lot more popular (along with 9x21, 9x23, etc.) in the "Open" class of USPSA/IPSC as their higher pressures make compenators work more effectively.

The .38 super has a small but dedicated following amongst self-defense advocates.

-Sam

everallm
October 16, 2009, 10:17 AM
If you are really interested in the caliber at a reasonable cost entry point the EAA Witness range (based around the CZ 75 design) is a good possible start.

http://www.eaacorp.com/index.html

One advantage is that if you decide that the caliber is not for you, they also provide conversion kits in 9mm, 10mm, .40 and .45 for most of the range.

Usually see good prices on Gunbroker for NIB

Walkalong
October 16, 2009, 11:01 AM
I have two 1911s in .38 Super. A Springfield and a Colt. (http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=89839&d=1230312106) Both purchased used. It's a great caliber. If you handload it is only better.

The Witness Elite Match in .38 Super would be a great choice that would most likely be far cheaper than you would find a 1911 for.

Acera
October 16, 2009, 11:29 AM
Because of our friends to the south's politics the .38 super was extremely popular down in Mexico. You can find a lot of good looking examples of that being resold here in the U.S.

It was a major contender when I started shooting IPSC in the early and mid 80's due to the power factor it could obtain.

kanook
October 16, 2009, 11:39 AM
If you do a search here on THR you will find some recent discussions on that 38 super. All from personal protection to hunting with it.

Gunfighter123
October 16, 2009, 11:45 AM
If you do a search here on THR you will find some recent discussions on that 38 super. All from personal protection to hunting with it.

Search function is your friend !!!!

The Witness Elite Match in .38 Super would be a great choice that would most likely be far cheaper than you would find a 1911 for.

YES , IT IS !!!! Do a SEARCH here at THR for much more information .

zhyla
October 16, 2009, 12:16 PM
I don't think I've ever shot a .38 super but I distinctly remember manning a station at a pistol match while some guy shot his .38 super 1911. It was like an instant headache.

floydster
October 16, 2009, 12:47 PM
I have a Witness Elite Match in 38 Super and it is an excellent gun, have over 6,000 rounds thru mine and not a single problem. Nice crisp trigger and match barrel, a fine shooter. I also have a Match in 45 ACP.

BlindJustice
October 16, 2009, 03:20 PM
Smith & Wesson just came out with an N-Frame model with a Comp barrel
it is chambered for the .38 Super cartridge with an 8 shot cylinder.& of course requires full moon clips.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=11101&storeId=10001&productId=753594&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=15714&isFirearm=Y

Starline brass sells new unprimed cases
for .38 Super, .38 SUper +P as well as
.38 SUper Comp. The Comp cases are designed
liked a normal semi-auto case where the rim is
the same diameter as the rear diameter of the case,
Reguler .38 Super ( & +P ) has a rim slightly smaller
in diameter which is called rebated - I believe. So,
if you make the switch to .38 SUper Comp a tweak
to the extractor is called for.

Most factory ammo theese days is loaded down to
be about the same velocity as 9mm Parabellum/Luger

Randall

kanook
October 16, 2009, 03:50 PM
just found this to addSome of the gunrunners, who also worked as Valley supermarket employees, told investigators they sold the weapons directly to Mexican police on the streets of Nogales. A Colt .38 Super, one of the most powerful auto-loading pistols made, was confiscated during the arrest of Alfredo "El Mochomo" Beltran Leyva, a narco captain who oversaw drug transportation, money laundering, bribery and paramilitary units for a major cartel, according to Mexican police records.

BlindJustice
October 16, 2009, 06:07 PM
I don't think this has been specifically stated but for the
O.P. Info.: The Mexican goverment had a law in place - perhaps
it still is, not sure, but it banned private ownership of
any firearms chambered for the same cartrdiges as used by
the Military. WHen the law was first put into place the Mexican
Army used a 1911 Colt or variant in .45 ACP as it's serivce
pistol. So, the 1911 in .38 SUper was very popular south of the
border.

Randall

kd7nqb
October 16, 2009, 06:42 PM
Its always been my experience that .38super was most popular in the competition world. Its on my to buy list but its pretty far down there since I don't see a job that it does that either a .40 or 9mm wont do.

rcmodel
October 16, 2009, 06:50 PM
The .38 Super was actually developed by Colt in 1929 in answer to S&W .38 Spl High-Speed & 38/44 police loads for use against the new fangled automobile mounted outlaws of the Prohibition era.

It offered better penetration then anything else available in an auto pistol at the time.

rc

9mmepiphany
October 16, 2009, 09:03 PM
Reguler .38 Super ( & +P ) has a rim slightly smaller
in diameter which is called rebated - I believe

you might be thinking of the .41 Express...the .38 Super is actually semi-rimmed, with the original design headspacing on the rim rather than the mouth

Its always been my experience that .38super was most popular in the competition world

as rcmodel stated, the .38 Super was originally designed for LE (i'm thinking FBI)...it was later overshadowed in LE circles by the .357 Mag

besides it popularity in South America, it used to be very popular with asian gangs on the West Coast

shooter1
October 16, 2009, 09:18 PM
I might also add: The "Super" was initially a hopped up version of the old 38 ACP and originally head spaced on the semi rim. The later barrels were changed to head space on the case mouth like the .45 ACP. When loading to make major, there were a rash of blown cases. The term "Super Face" was coined to describe some of the injuries from blown cases in this cartridge. The lesson here is, don't try to make a magnum out of the old Super. If you need that kind of performance out of a 9mm then go to the 9x23 or the 9x25.
Lots of guys in my club shoot the .38 Super Comp in open class USPSA. I don't think I've ever seen one used in IDPA. Brass is rare and expensive. I don't currently have an open class gun, but when I build one, it'll be a .40 like my limited.
You have gotten some good advice, if you just want to play with the cartridge, get the Witness. The old Colts are not that great as shooters, and are way too expensive for what you get. Just IMO.
str1

distra
October 16, 2009, 09:29 PM
I love the Super .38! :D I found a nice Springfield GI in .38 Super last year for <$400. Great shooting pistol plus I fit a 9mm barrel to it and can shoot both depending on my loaded round supply. :D It's a great caliber for medium bore pins, really smacks them off the table.

Man With A Gun
October 17, 2009, 12:24 AM
I have never understood why the SUPER never caught on. It lives in .357 mag territory and has more shots in nearly every pistol configuration and has for many years.

At one time some Texas Rangers carried them in 1911's ( Yes, Virginia, Colt made other calibers than .45ACP ).

In Hard Ball they overpentrated like mad but I heard ( never shot ) the Hollow Point stuff was terrific.

Shoots flat, hits hard, so what is not to love?

I would much rather have a Super than a 9mm or .40. both of which the Super out shines.

DougDubya
October 17, 2009, 12:58 AM
I think the reason the .38 Super never caught on was because before the 70's, hollowpoint-reliable pistols weren't that common. When those autos hit their stride in the 80's, the 9mm +P+ developed with the assistance and input of the Illinois State Police lived in the same territory, and came with even MORE shots.

Then the 9mm caught a bum rap, which only worsened with the slow and castrated 147-grain "subsonics" that people said would penetrate "far enough." Then anything sharing that same diameter was called useless, even the .357 Magnum - which had been LIED about by "experts" no less than Chuck Taylor, in complete contradiction to the experience of policemen and state troopers from Alaska to Florida.

shooter1
October 17, 2009, 07:22 AM
The Super was, and is, still a great 9mm! It's just that in it's early days, there were few pistols chambered for it other than the Colt. As Doug pointed out, it took 50 yrs for bullet technology to catch up to the cartridge. Early IPSC shooters used it with some success (Other than the failed cases) but it never had a large fan base other than in the southwest US and south of the border. It's made a bit of a comback in IPSA and USPSA using modern powders and brass. No to mention in it's latest configuration the .38 Super Comp. There are many 9mms currently available that outperform the Super. It has attained cult status among some, and refuses to die.
str1

Oyeboten
October 17, 2009, 07:37 AM
Ironically, Ballistics for .38 Autocolt, in 1900, were 130 grn Copper Pathed Bullet, and, 1250 fps...if memory serve...


Was soon downloaded to be same Bullet, but 1050 fps.


Then, in the late '20s, re-invented/revised into .38 'Super', more or less duplicating the original 1900 Ballistics, but, in stronger Guns (ie: Colt M1911A1 platform).


I've long wished S&W would have made 'K' frame 'M&P' Revolvers in .38 ACP using Moon Clips, and, 'N' Frame revolvers, in .38 Super...but, I wish they would have made them 'then'...100 years ago, and, 80 years ago, respectively.

Noveldoc
October 17, 2009, 08:29 AM
Isn't the classic 38 Super semi rimmed? I remember firing a few SRs through a 357 Colt revolver. Very pleasant load.

Tom

TEDDY
October 17, 2009, 06:28 PM
I had a 1903 in 38 acp.the FBI still has 38 supers,it was mentioned in the florida shoot out.and they were popular with the bootlegers.I have couple boxes left over when I converted a friends 38 super to 45acp.that was second cartridge I loaded.I had a MODERN BOND TOOL and still have it.

eldon519
October 17, 2009, 06:43 PM
I looked into it a great deal because of the ballistics I'd seen in reloading manuals. Turns out to get those ballistics safely and reliably, you'll probably need a ramped barrel with full chamber support, lest the cartridge blow out at the webbing. Because of folks in competitive shooting pushing the .38 Super so hard to make Major power limits, it wasn't uncommon for the cases to blow out leaving you "Super Faced". This is basically a summary of relatively extensive research I did that eventually dissuaded me from getting into the .38 Super game. To shoot it safely in a non-ramped 1911 barrel, you really don't get much better than 9mm ballistics. It seemed to me it would be better to just got with a .357 SIG or in a 1911, one of the custom pistols in 9x23.

Mind you this is all the summary and conclusion of my research, not first-hand experience.

PO2Hammer
October 17, 2009, 06:49 PM
For the handloader, it's tough to beat. Mild loads in a 1911 are smooth and soft shooting. Hot loads are fun without too much recoil. Combine that with the handling and trigger of a good 1911 and you have a real winner.

bullturkey
October 17, 2009, 08:28 PM
In this months NRA mag the top 7 shooters in world competition are 4- 38 super 3- 9mm. I am 59 yrs old, shot most of my life, served my uncle sam for 14 years, shot competition IPSC, IDPA etc. I have shot and owned many caliber/action type handguns, for me my sig 220 in 38 super is the cats meoow.

Jim K
October 17, 2009, 10:03 PM
A good cartridge. The semi-rim came about for the .38 ACP, .32 ACP, .25 ACP, and 9mm Browning Long because Browning started out his auto pistol development working with revolver cartridges. When those didn't feed well through a magazine, he kept reducing the rims to the point where the feeding was OK. The reason he didn't support (headspace) the cases on the mouth was that it just never occurred to him to do it that way. It appears that sometime around 1904 he saw a 9mm Parabellum round and the light went on. His .380 ACP and .45 ACP were straight cases supported on the case mouth.

When Colt hopped up the old .38 ACP to .38 Super, they kept the same case and the ammo makers nickel plated the cases of the .38 Super to try to keep folks from using it in the old double link pistols. It didn't always work, and quite a few of the older pistols were ruined by shooting .38 Super.

Jim

DougDubya
October 17, 2009, 11:00 PM
Back in the 80's, when I was a high schooler writing adventure stories, I was in love with the movie Cobra, by Sylvester Stallone.

In my fan-fic stories, Cobretti's 1911 was a .38 Super Commander, though. All the power of a .357 with all the handling and ergonomics of a 1911. I was such a big Commander fan that I had Cobretti's girl partner trade in her police issue Beretta 92 for a 1911 herself - since it fit her smaller hands so well.

ak-kev
October 18, 2009, 09:23 AM
The Super 38 is Far superior to the 9mm. I've been loading for it for years. I shoot a Speer 125gr Gold Dot @ 1450fps easily. No bulged cases, flatten primers, or pierced primers. I have 3 Colts, and a Detonics CombatMaster. I love them all. Its probably my favorite round for defense. It shoots flat, easily managed recoil and 10rds of .357 magnum ballistics with very fast follow-up shots. Whats not to love?? Kevin.

outerlimit
October 18, 2009, 12:01 PM
The 9x23 is far superior to the .38 Super.

I never liked semi-rimmed cartridges in autoloaders either. I've always avoided the .32 auto and .38 Super for this very reason and the problems I've had with them.

Steve in Allentown, PA
October 18, 2009, 01:05 PM
The 9x23 is far superior to the .38 Super.

I have to agree with outerlimits. What I did was purchase a 9mm Springfield and had a 9x23 barrel fitted to it. Now I can shoot either caliber by swapping barrels and mags.

The biggest problem with the 9x23 is that it's a niche caliber and so you can't easily find factory ammo for it. Cabella's is not going to stock it. You can order Winchester factory ammo and Corbon makes a couple of flavors of it. Winchester factory runs an honest 1450fps (a bit faster coming out of my Nowlin barrel) . Handloading allows you to produce anywhere from mild to wild ammo.

The 9x23 produces rifle-like pressures. To contain all that oomph the brass is very thick at the base and looks all the world like a .223 rifle case when you section it. Because it's so thick, it's perfectly safe to shoot in a standard, non-ramped barrel.

On the plus side you can load a 1911 with 11 rounds of 9x23 which equals or exceeds the ballistics of the .357 magnum loaded with 125gr hollow points. Compared to shooting .45 ACP 230gr hollow points, the 9x23 has noticeably less recoil. However, it's a lot louder. That bad boy really cracks.

With all that velocity the 9x23 is like a laser beam in that it shoots so flat.

With FMJ bullets it penetrates like 105mm sabot main gun tank round. Well, maybe not that good.

DougDubya
October 18, 2009, 10:43 PM
The 9x23 is far superior to the .38 Super.

I never liked semi-rimmed cartridges in autoloaders either. I've always avoided the .32 auto and .38 Super for this very reason and the problems I've had with them.
That may be, but I didn't grow up with the 9x23mm, nor do I have stories of the Texas Rangers stomping bad guys with a Johnny Come Lately that popped up in 1996 (or the Secret Service chambering their SIG P220's for it for a while).

Now, if it gets a lot of law enforcement adoption, and gets the reputation of being the .357 of the 1911 set for punching through bootleggers' cars and is utilized by lawmen as awesome as Frank Hamer to take down someone as big as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow... then we'll talk about giving up the love for the .38 Super and go to a cartridge with ballistic superiority.

glocktoys
October 19, 2009, 04:43 AM
fun round and seen one for a sig p220 at a shop last year

outerlimit
October 19, 2009, 05:33 AM
That may be, but I didn't grow up with the 9x23mm, nor do I have stories of the Texas Rangers stomping bad guys with a Johnny Come Lately that popped up in 1996 (or the Secret Service chambering their SIG P220's for it for a while).

Now, if it gets a lot of law enforcement adoption, and gets the reputation of being the .357 of the 1911 set for punching through bootleggers' cars and is utilized by lawmen as awesome as Frank Hamer to take down someone as big as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow... then we'll talk about giving up the love for the .38 Super and go to a cartridge with ballistic superiority.

Well, 10mm was adopted by the FBI and we all know what happened there.

ak-kev
October 19, 2009, 08:15 AM
I like the 9x23 too. The draw for me was their 125gr Silvertip at 1450fps. Amazing. But then I realized I can do that with my Super! Plus with the Super, you get an "off the scale" cool factor. :)

DougDubya
October 19, 2009, 01:50 PM
Well, 10mm was adopted by the FBI and we all know what happened there.
The .38 Super was also liked by FBI agents in the Prohibition era as well.

Still, if the FBI adopts the 9x23, it MIGHT cause a resurgence in the .38 Super, going by the 10mm failure/.40 S&W win logic.

Except, it'd become the exact opposite situation - I love the 10mm. I'm indifferent to the .40 S&W.

jaydubya
October 19, 2009, 10:07 PM
How does the Super compare with the .357 SIG? I have no experience with either caliber, but the .357 SIG is becoming available again, and the police that carry it seem to love it. On the other hand, the .38 Super appears destined to remain the handloader's specialty cartridge it has been for most of its life.

Cordially, Jack

gglass
October 19, 2009, 10:27 PM
...In other news today, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. News at 11:00.











:neener:

DougDubya
October 19, 2009, 10:48 PM
How does the Super compare with the .357 SIG? I have no experience with either caliber, but the .357 SIG is becoming available again, and the police that carry it seem to love it. On the other hand, the .38 Super appears destined to remain the handloader's specialty cartridge it has been for most of its life.

Cordially, Jack
They pretty much operate the same. The .38 Super is optimized for 1911 frames, the .357 SIG is optimized for 9mm frames.

Hm. Anyone ever convert a Smith and Wesson 4506 to .38 Super?

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