Question on .38 super


September 15, 2011, 09:31 AM
It looks to me as if the .38 super is just an extra long 9mm with a semi-rim and is in the same category as a 44 special-.44 mag or a .38 special-.357.

SO-can I load a .38 super using 9mm Para dies?


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September 15, 2011, 09:47 AM
The 9mm Parabellum is a tapered case and the .38 Super is a straight-walled case based on the .38 ACP. It is not similar to the .38 Special / .357 Magnum lineage.

From the dimensioned drawings, it looks like the .38 Super case would be largely unsupported by the tapered 9mm die. In other words, I doubt it would be correctly resized.

I would use the correct dies.

September 15, 2011, 10:12 AM
9mmP -> 9x23 is a similar relationship to what you're talking. .38 Super is a completely different case with a smaller base and larger neck than the 9mmP. There are people that shoot 9x23 and .38 Super in the same chamber, but the chamber has to be fairly loose for that, and it's not ideal for either.

September 15, 2011, 10:15 AM
38 super was simply the 38 acp loaded to what was probably the first "plus P" level...way back in the late '20s (1920s). You have to use 38 acp/38 super dies. It has a slight rim and headspaced on the rim although some gunmakers headspace the cartridge on the mouth. Easy to load, much better than the 9mm P, and I have found it a little more accurate -- for me, that is. Takes heavier bullets than the nine and is available in some darn good guns. It got displaced in history by the advent of the 357 in the 30s but a lot of us still like it. Funny thing....a couple years ago, one of our club members bought one, made in another land, for bowling pin matches...figuring he could shoot it in minor class. He called me asking why the gun manufacturer stated he should not use +P loads in it. Kind of funny when you consider that the super is a +P from the get go. (or it was).

September 15, 2011, 11:16 AM
Thanks for the great info. I've got .38 super dies on the way. Anxious to give it a good workout.

September 15, 2011, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the great info. I've got .38 super dies on the way. Anxious to give it a good workout.

Good choice ordering the proper dies. You will have fun with the 38 Super.

Today, most mainstream manufacturers chamber their 38 Super barrels where the case headspaces on the case mouth. Not the case 15-20 years ago. The accuracy is much better when the case headspaces on the mouth.

The 38 Super maintains some popularity around the world because it was never a military round. Some countries only allow civilians to own weapons chambered in non-military rounds.

Just a note, never fire a 38 Super round in a gun chambered for 38 ACP. While the rounds are dimensionally identical, a 38 ACP gun cannot handle the pressures generated by the 38 Super.

September 15, 2011, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the great info. I've got .38 super dies on the way. Anxious to give it a good workout.
You'll enjoy it 38 Super is a awesome cartridge to load for. Check out Hodgdon Longshot it's fast becoming my favorite powder for 38 super and 10mm.

September 15, 2011, 11:07 PM
SR 7625 and HS-6 are excellent powders for the Super too.

September 16, 2011, 12:01 AM
I agree. You'll really like the 38 Super. It's fun.

You might want to slug your barrel. Traditionally, the 38S has been .356 diameter, but many new guns are coming in at .355 (same as 9mm), others at .357 (38 revolver).

Berry Mfg has a fine selection of 130 and 135gr plated RN for the Super.

September 16, 2011, 03:16 AM

Wish I could afford one.

September 16, 2011, 03:50 AM
Good you ordered the dies.

What gun are you shooting it in? I use 9mm bullet components in mine with success.

And I've been using Starline 38 SuperComp cases. Great concept. It uses the same shellholders as a 9mm case.

September 16, 2011, 06:12 AM
My gun is a Colt series 70 from around 1970. Traded for it because I liked its looks. It has been cared for, shot some and carried it appears. Really good shape but has 'character wear' signs. Good smooth shooter too.

I'm still gathering ammo and reloading components so I've only been able to put about 100 rounds through it. I intend to cure that flaw next week!

January 6, 2012, 01:20 PM
Can bullets made for 38/357 (sized .358) be used in the 38 Super or do you have to used bullets sized .356? Thank you for the information.

January 6, 2012, 01:34 PM
I used to load 38cal 160 grain cast lead SWCs in my 38 Super. Shot great, good accuracy.

Then I replaced the "headspaced on the rim" barrel with a "headspaced on the mouth" barrel and the SWC rounds would not chamber any more. The shoulder of the bullet hit the end of the chamber. Shucks. But, accuracy improved with the new barrel.

It would probably be ok but you ought to slug your bore to make sure it is not too small.

January 6, 2012, 04:50 PM
I shoot 9mm 147 grain Speer gold dots for serious reloads, and hard cast 145gr bullets from widener's for practice.
I like the super because it IS like a 9mm magnum compared to the 9mm parabellum, like you asked in the OP. But 9mm dies won't work. Neither will 38super dies properly size the 9mm. ALWAYS best to get the right stuff rather than try to get by with the wrong stuff.

January 7, 2012, 06:07 PM
When brass availability was iffy, I did the simple mod to my Star Super to use the .38Super case. Works fine. BUT.... I handload to 9mm Largo level, NOT .38Super specs. Tried some Georgia Arms .38Super once - WHOA! Too much for the Spanish gal. I now use 9mm Largo brass, but the .38Super brass is a back-up. I use .356 plated bullets.

January 7, 2012, 08:34 PM
I've been using Starline 38 SuperComp cases
So do I. The concept just makes sense.

I recently tried the Berrys 124 Gr HBRN bullet in .38 Super at 1300 FPS in an old retired (semi-retired) SA .38 Super ( Worked great. Shoots good in 9MM too.

January 8, 2012, 05:18 PM
I love my Witness Elite 38 Super, I size my cast bullets to .357, my bore is .356+.

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