Thoughts on a 1911 in .38 Super


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malakili
July 31, 2012, 02:33 AM
Hi, guys. I've owned three 1911s before, Springfield, Para, and Armscor, all 5" guns in .45 ACP. Ended up getting rid of them for various reasons.

The 1911 bug has been biting again recently though, as I do really love the platform. Great feel, great trigger, nostalgia, etc.

This time, I'm bouncing around the thought of skipping .45 ACP and trying one of these mysterious .38 Supers I keep hearing about. Sounds like a neat little round, with some high performance defense ammo available (115 gr Corbon JHP at 1425 fps!). It also beats the .45 in capacity, holding 9+1 in this platform.

A big advantage would be reloading-wise, as I already reload 9mm, and would be able to use the same bullets, powder, and primers I already have. Would just need the dies.

The model I'm looking at is the Rock Island GI model in .38 Super, which runs under $450. Anyone out there with experience with this pistol, or .38 Super 1911s in general? Is this a smart way to get back into 1911s?

Thanks.

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surjimmy
July 31, 2012, 02:43 AM
See if they make it in the Tactical, you will love it. Outstanding round.

springer99
July 31, 2012, 07:48 AM
Yep, I picked up a RIA GI in 38Super earlier this year and have to say I'm very pleased with it. If you reload, you can easily surpass 45ACP in power and do it with less recoil.

I've had my LGS fit a tighter barrel bushing and adjustable sights so I can use this as a back-up for centerfire "bullseye" type competition. With just these changes, my best, full power loads will hold 2.4" -10shot groups at 50yds (from a ransom rest). That load is much too stout to use for bullseye though, so I'm now dialing it back with some .357 lead, semi-wadcutters, that will be easier to manage in timed and rapid fire.

I like to think of the 38Super as "what a 9mm wants to be when it grows up"!

Cowboybootnut
July 31, 2012, 08:13 AM
I have a .38 Super 1911 from Colt, and I love it. I love the cartridge, I have another in Auto Ordinance, 2 Taurus PT 38, and an EAA Witness in the same caliber.



http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i69/Cowboybootnut/096.jpg

malakili
July 31, 2012, 10:20 AM
Springer99, has your RIA been reliable? I want to be able to trust this gun.

Cowboy, beautiful Colt!!

Thanks for all the input so far, guys.

springer99
July 31, 2012, 11:32 AM
malakili,

I only have around 1200 rounds thru this so far, but I haven't had one malfunction of any type. Mostly 125gr. HAP rounds, but also some LSWC's. Even have played with 148gr. DEWC's seated flush, but there's not much room left for powder, so pressure get a bit "spikey" if that makes sense. Even the DEWC's fed fine though.

Walkalong
July 31, 2012, 11:50 AM
Go for it. It's a great caliber. Very versatile.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=89535&d=1229646278

Cowboybootnut
July 31, 2012, 11:52 AM
Here is my Auto Ordinance 1911 .38 Super from Hurley, NY. I bought it in the early 1980s, had a local 'smith do some work on it (trigger, beaver-tail, sights). It is pretty reliable.

cuba
July 31, 2012, 12:20 PM
The 38 super was in its inception developed around the 1911 platform as was the 45 acp, two peas in a pod, as far as recommending a manufacturer that will give you the most bang for your buck I think that Taurus PT1911 will fill that bill best. If you can live with a little bit of BLING, right now CDNN has a special on the PT1911 for $399 till they last.

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac210/Cuba1911/pt1911BG.jpg

shoot safe, shoot straight, and have fun

Cowboybootnut
July 31, 2012, 03:27 PM
cuba,

Beautiful, but I'd be afraid of that gold coming off.

cuba
July 31, 2012, 05:37 PM
Though no as durable as stainless I hear that the gold wears pretty good, but at that price range you can't go wrong, you can alway buy stainless parts from Taurus and still be ahead, and leave the Gold parts for special occations(Bar.B.Q time)

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac210/Cuba1911/pt1911BG.jpg

shoot safe, shoot straight, and have fun

Bikewer
July 31, 2012, 08:36 PM
Way back when I was in the army in the mid 60s, I read an article about how the "super" was going to be the next big thing in handgun rounds.
It so happened that the base gun store had one, a Llama in that caliber.
Essentially, a 1911 clone.
It was a pretty gun...On the outside. Nicely finished and it had a nice vent rib on the top. Inside, there were a lot of tool marks...
Still, it shot OK.
It's main flaw with the .38 Super was that it flung brass all over the landscape. If you reloaded, you almost needed to employ an energetic young boy to chase down your empties.
Turned out back then the round wasn't the next big thing, and I ended up trading the thing for a 1911.

TonyT
July 31, 2012, 09:05 PM
The minus to the 38 Super is the cost of the brass. Have you considerd a 1911 in 9mm? The brass is very inexpensive. I shoot 38 Super in revolvers where retrievng one's brass is not an issue.

Walkalong
July 31, 2012, 09:11 PM
The minus to the 38 Super is the cost of the brass. Have you considerd a 1911 in 9mm? The brass is very inexpensive.
That is certainly true, but I think it is worth the cost of having to buy brass, even if new vs once fired. That is how good the .38 Super is.

Another way to go is to get a 9MM barrel for your .38 Super.

Here is my Series 80 Colt Enhanced .38 Super with a Storm Lake 9MM barrel installed. The best of both worlds.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=165576&stc=1&d=1338663146

Walkalong
July 31, 2012, 09:13 PM
I shoot 38 Super in revolversI would like to own one someday.

retsam lotsip
October 5, 2012, 11:37 AM
didnt dillinger have a .38 1911 back in the day that he smithed himself....? Brilliant! Didnt know that was possible. I am just getting into smithing myself and have had a G.I. issue springfield 1911-A-1 that I have truly done the works to it. Last pgrade is the sites. After that, not sure what else there is..... Looks beautiful l now though. Polished all the internals, trigger pull is down to an even 2 lbs. :)

Certaindeaf
October 5, 2012, 11:42 AM
^Wasn't that full-auto? I forget.

Hey, welcome to the site!

Kyle M.
October 5, 2012, 11:57 AM
I had a rock island in .45 and it always worked, and it shot pretty darn good. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another especially a .38 super.

CountGlockulla
October 5, 2012, 12:05 PM
I have one that is currently at Chambers Custom to get a 9mm barrel.

9mm in modern ammo performs just as well, is cheaper, and easier to find.

IMO .38 super is not worth it outside of some specialized applications like making major in a USPSA Open gun.

SharpsDressedMan
October 5, 2012, 12:47 PM
The 9mm +p and +P+ certanly give the super a run for the money, but with heavier 147gr bullets. only the Super can deliver, as 147's create too much pressure for the 9mm with too little case capacity. The heavy bulleted Super gives the .357 Mag a run for the money then, and the 9mm falls behind.

mavracer
October 5, 2012, 02:22 PM
love my 1911 supers, as SDM eluded to try pushing 150gr SWCs 1200 fps with a 9mm. My commander sometimes doubles as a woods gun so loaded.
http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii261/mavracer/SANY0178.jpg

Nushif
October 5, 2012, 02:29 PM
I love the idea of the .38 super.

But I would also want to shoot it before I spend the money to get one of those unicorns to the PNW.

Can a regular shooter of the round give me kind of a description of the recoil in comparison to 9x19 and .45 Auto?

lead slinger
October 5, 2012, 09:13 PM
i have a one a pt from taurus its been great. I really love the trigger on it runs great i do reload which helps. but i really dont shoot it as much because of the brass i dont have much but its still a graet gun

retsam lotsip
October 6, 2012, 12:03 AM
Well theres gotta be some reason dillinger preferred the .38 to the .45 in his 1911. Other than the fact that it was easier to control under full auto fire. Many of his 1911's were semi auto .38's It just got me thinking what was the big deal with that round....

ApacheCoTodd
October 6, 2012, 12:27 AM
Well theres gotta be some reason dillinger preferred the .38 to the .45 in his 1911. Other than the fact that it was easier to control under full auto fire. Many of his 1911's were semi auto .38's It just got me thinking what was the big deal with that round....
Cop car doors? Also, wasn't he a kinda small guy - like 5-7, 150 pounds?

Certaindeaf
October 6, 2012, 12:27 AM
Well, it had good car penetration. You ever shoot at an old car? let alone an armored one? Same reason they used sawed off BAR's. and were killed with same.. them G men were fast learners

retsam lotsip
October 6, 2012, 08:48 AM
Heres a quick change o topic... after practicing trigger pulling in my house last night with snap caps, I had an apiphany. What if you were to make snap caps with small laser diodes with the same accuracy as a bore sight? You could shoot at photo reactive target paper so you would know EXACTLY where you were hitting. A few button cells and a laser diode housed in a 9mm or .40, or .45 or whatever caliber down to 5.6mm. (which is the smallest standard off the shelf laser diode) sold in a kit with the paper. It would at least be good for sighting your gun in if anything. thoughts?

KTXdm9
October 6, 2012, 09:01 AM
Something like this?

http://www.opticsplanet.com/laserlyte-laser-target-trainer-system-tlb-1.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=plusbox-beta&gclid=CI-l55e57LICFcaiPAodfRwAcw

SharpsDressedMan
October 6, 2012, 02:23 PM
Recoil in a fuil size 1911 is probably between a .45 in the same gun, and an alloy framed 9mm. The weight of the 1911 subdues it a lot, but you will have way more muzzle blast and a hypersonic crack. Not the best for indoor shooting without hearing protection, as a .45 will be easier on your ears.

XTrooper
October 6, 2012, 02:52 PM
The Super .38 aka .38 Super: my all-time favorite 1911 caliber!

http://xtrooper.net/Colt_NJSP.jpg

cyclopsshooter
October 6, 2012, 02:54 PM
Nice Colt XTroop

XTrooper
October 6, 2012, 04:07 PM
Thanks, cyclopsshooter!

I also bought a 9x23 Winchester barrel for it and shoot that caliber in it also. I use the same mags and only need to swap in a heavier recoil spring.

http://xtrooper.net/Colt_Nowlin_9x23.jpg

bannockburn
October 6, 2012, 06:17 PM
I have always liked the .38 Super in Commander sized guns; for me it's the perfect size and balance for the gun and cartridge.
http://i1184.photobucket.com/albums/z334/TailoAltera/gunpix1004.jpg

win71
October 6, 2012, 09:20 PM
I got the same bug several years ago and ended up with a Commander in 38 super. I reload and at times use it as a ccw weapon. For whatever reason it is easier for me to shoot than commanders in .45.

http://i175.photobucket.com/albums/w140/win71/38super002.jpg

Sergei Mosin
October 6, 2012, 10:38 PM
What do you guys who carry .38 Supers use for ammo? Have read of problems with JHP bullets intended for 9mm breaking up at .38 Super velocities.

2zulu1
October 7, 2012, 02:14 AM
The Super is one of the sweetest shooting calibers there is and is literally a 357mag in a 1911. When VihtaVuori load data shows a 124gr jacketed bullet at 1500fps, that is what you get. :)

http://www.lapua.com/en/products/reloading/vihtavuori-reloading-data/relodata/6/30

One of the benefits of shooting the Super is that it can be loaded with certain 357mag bullets that will perform at magnum velocities.

http://i1103.photobucket.com/albums/g474/aztrekker511/38Supervx357mag125FTX003.jpg

We know from feral goat culling in Australia that the 9mm/124gr XTP comes apart in the upper 1300s to low 1400s, the 125gr XTP is a much tougher bullet. I've tested the 357SIG 125gr Gold Dot to ~1435fps and it had reliable expansion.

The good news is that N105 powder is a neutral powder and that keeps operating pressures under 33,350psi.

With under max loads the above pictured Colt chronogrphed 1491fps in the first session and 1486fps a few months later shooting the 125gr XTP; that's faster than Hornady's 357mag ammunition.

mavracer
October 7, 2012, 05:09 AM
I use Georgia arms 124gr golddot load.

Snowshoe
October 7, 2012, 06:56 AM
I bought an RIA GI Super .38 about two years ago and had a 9mm barrel installed.

I enjoy the Super, but brass is a little expensive. That really isn't an issue for me though as I shoot at an indoor range.

Recoil in the Super is not bad at all. The weight makes the difference.
In .45 my wrist won't take but 25-30 rounds. In the Super 200 rounds or more is not an issue.

I also like the Georgia Arms 124 Gold Dots for carry. ;)

ADKWOODSMAN
October 7, 2012, 07:30 AM
It does fling the brass. Been shooting a .38 super Colt Enhanced in IDPA as a minor load and it has been a favorite.
My Chip McCormick mags hold 10 rounds.

BSA1
October 7, 2012, 08:40 AM
The 38 Super was popular in the "20's and "30's due to it's ability to punch through car doors and body armor of the era.

Both the 38 Super and 41 Magnum are excellent rounds that had too brief of a moment in the sunshine. They are just waiting to be rediscovered.

Casefull
October 7, 2012, 10:53 AM
I love my kimber in 38 super. BTW twinny I do not know about "bullets breaking up" but my Casull revolver rips the jackets off a lot of pistol bullets. Once you get around 1500 fps a lot of things change with light jacketed bullets.

Cocked & Locked
October 8, 2012, 08:30 AM
I think they are Super ;)

http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2169/3082611/9381895/251827366.jpg

tipoc
October 8, 2012, 02:02 PM
You can read a bit more about the Super here...

http://www.38super.net/

and here...

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Corbon%2038%20Super%20Ammo%20Tests.htm

These may be helpful.

tipoc

Certaindeaf
October 8, 2012, 02:10 PM
I love my kimber in 38 super. BTW twinny I do not know about "bullets breaking up" but my Casull revolver rips the jackets off a lot of pistol bullets. Once you get around 1500 fps a lot of things change with light jacketed bullets.
Then just use un-jacketed lead.

If you enjoyed reading about "Thoughts on a 1911 in .38 Super" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!