Please Educate me on 38 Super.


January 7, 2004, 08:28 AM
I know nothing at all about 38 Super. Last night I read it was the most powerful round for an automatic at one time. I'd like to know more. What is the most powerful roud now? Thanks.

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January 7, 2004, 09:04 AM
.38 Super is a good round. My Series 80 Colt is currently stoked with Georgia Arms 147gr Gold Dots at a nominal 1200 fps.

Obligatory Photo:

January 7, 2004, 09:46 AM
Well early in the 20th century the US refused to use the various 9mm being that they were European cartridges. They did reconize the usefulness of it and developed the .38acp. About 30 years later the 1911, which was a stronger pistol compared to the previous pistols using the .38acp, was chambered for the cartridge and it power was increased to change it to the .38 super. The .38acp and .38 super both use 9mm size bullets, but the US refused to acknowledge the metric system at that time.
Today the most powerful pistol cartridge would be the .50AE.

January 7, 2004, 09:54 AM
came out in 1929 as an increase in power over the 38acp....kinda like the .38 special vs .357 is a cartrige that has seen its fair share of cussing and is still very popular in latin america where you cant get a .45acp because of the gun laws

It is a powerful and accurate round (if headspaced off the case NOT the rim) and is still used by pistol competetors in uspsa and ipsc

If I had to go into harms way with one I wouldnt feel "undergunned"

I have a neighbor that has one that I have tried to repeatedly trade out of but to no avail (I even tried with a custom elephant hide holster with cash as well):mad:

January 7, 2004, 10:01 AM
Well, actually not, Majic. The 38 ACP dates to 1896 while the 9mm Luger came around in 1902 or so. Nice try! :)

The 38 ACP was used in the 1900 Model Colt. In 1929, Colt hotted up the 38 ACP to 475 foot pounds of muzzle energy and called it the Super 38 to distinguish it from the older round and in hopes that some bozo did not try to fire it in one of the old 1900 Colts... Does anybody have any documentation about that first ka-Boom? I know it happened!

It remained the strongest handgun cartridge (on paper) until six years later when S&W introduced the 357 S&W Magnum.

The Super 38 was chambered in the Colt Government Model and offers an extra round, IIRC over the 45 Auto. Nine vs 8 fully loaded in the 45 in standard capacity mags with one in the chamber. This was considered high capacity back when the std service revo held 6. :uhoh:

I sold my Colt as it really had no big advantage over the .45 to me. It's good for shooting holes in auto bodies, at least better than the .45 if that is part of your interest. YMMV

January 7, 2004, 10:09 AM
I sold my Colt as it really had no big advantage over the .45 to me.

Thankfully there's no law against owning both. :D

(How's this for irony: Out of all my 1911's, I only have two Colts, and they are the only two that aren't in .45 ACP... :uhoh: )

January 7, 2004, 10:31 AM
Thankfully there's no law against owning both. :D No doubt about it. The sale was during one of my various downsizing attempts. I had 10mm/.45/9mm Colts to console me, also.

BTW, downsizing don't work. Been there, done that! :o

Sean Smith
January 7, 2004, 10:32 AM
What is the most powerful roud now?

Most powerful autopistol round NOW? I dunno. At one point the .475 Wildey was, at just shy of 2,000 ft-lbs. .440 Cor-Bon Magnum is in the same ballpark. Most powerful revolver cartridge is the .500 S&W Magnum.

Most powerful out of a 1911 is probably .460 Rowland, but that requires adding a compensator to keep the gun from beating itself to bits. Most powerful cartridge you can reliably use in an externally "normal" 1911 is 10mm Auto.

January 7, 2004, 10:37 AM
Chuck Hawks' comments:

Basically, lighter bullet loadings for a 357 Magnum in a pistol. I recall talk of it being adopted during the gangster days for better penetratio into cars (sheet metal/glass) than the 45ACP.

I would absolutely NOT feel under armed carrying a 38 Super.

I've owned two. A 38 Super Colt Combat Commander and a 38 Super Springfield MilSpec.

A similar cartridge with a much stronger case is the 9x23... couple hundred more feet per second.

January 7, 2004, 11:36 AM
Most powerful cartridge you can reliably use in an externally "normal" 1911 is 10mm Auto.

Don't tell Dick Casull.

BTW, I happened to notice the newest edition of the Sierra manual is listing some very potent loads for the 38. Super. In fact, I was really suprised at the listings for VV and some of the IMR powders. If you don't reload, Corbon is selling some fairly hot .38 Super loads.

Sean Smith
January 7, 2004, 11:55 AM
I assume you mean .38 Casull? Maybe. But most the Casull ballistics are quoted from 6" barrels (124 @ 1,800 or 147 @ 1,650), while there are 10mm factory loads that are closing in on 800 foot-pounds from 4.6" barrels (DT 135gr @ 1,600 ft/sec or 165gr @ 1,425). So I'm not sure that the .38 Casull ballistic advantage over 10mm exists once the barrel lengths are equal.

January 7, 2004, 02:02 PM
The 9mm Steyr, circa 1912, and the 9mm Largo, circa 1921 (And I think before as the 9mm Bergmann-Bayard.) bark right on the heels of, or surpass slightly the .38 Super. Perhaps we should qualify it as "the most powerful domestic pistol cartridge until the advent of the .357 Mag."

Then of course, there's the 9mm Mauser Export of Broomhandle chambering. I'm not sure when exactly this number came about, but it enjoyed a resurgence of interest in the '20's, so I imagine it predates THAT time slot. It never caught on here, as a 9mm x 25mm case (The 7.62 x 25 necked up to 9mm.) running 125's at some 1400-ish fps doesn't fit through anything but a Broomhandle Mauser.

That's a hot one. Naturally I want one, but they are rare unto ridiculous.

Sounds like a good prospect for a mag-length revolver cylinder 'n moonies, though.

Additional: I thought the .38 Super came about because .45's don't punch through car bodies too well.

January 7, 2004, 02:41 PM

Yeah, I am talking about the .38 Casull. One of the guys in a neighboring club works for Casull in advertising and marketing. I have shot a 1911 in the Casull chabering quite a bit. Sure is flat shooting. The recoil is horrific compared to my Delta Elite. Their ammo actually chronos higher than what they list. They do that to keep the speed demons from complaining. Frankly, I wouldn't pack one even if they came in a 5 inch configuration. Too much recoil and the ammo availability rule it out.

Sean Smith
January 7, 2004, 02:48 PM
Funny that the gun would kick that much... yeah it is a fast 9mm bullet, but it is also a big steel longslide gun. And anyway, what the heck is it good for?

The one gun test I saw of it showed it chrono at UNDER the box flap velocities, but not by much.

(The above quoting from Guns magazine, BTW).

January 7, 2004, 04:33 PM
What's it good for? Bragging rights I suppose, lol. I have no use for one at all. The recoil comes back and hits you in the hand with an unrivaled passion. I think part of the problem is the dwell time and a stiff recoil spring stolen out of a kid's pogo stick.:p

January 7, 2004, 05:19 PM
since we're talking bout powerful 1911esque pistols, I submit the L.A.R. Grizzly in Foty Fo S&W Magnum ctg. :D A mean hunka-hunka. :D

Stephen A. Camp
January 7, 2004, 05:35 PM
Hello. Some thoughts on the .38 Super can be found at the link below if interested:


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