.38 Super vs 45 ACP


December 22, 2012, 09:44 PM
What are the advantages for say IPSC/USPSA (you pick your set of initials) with these two calibers? Or any other (40 S&W) for that matter...

Looking to move up in the world of competitive shooting...

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December 23, 2012, 12:14 AM
JMO: USPSA: To me "45" means "Single Stack" with a different skill-set involved in stage planning/ mag changes. It's a great division for comp.

38 Super can work in limited 10 (I think) limited or open class. I see it as an "Open Class" gun with all the mods to be able to compete.

I'm getting long in the tooth and would like to be able to afford a good Open Class platform for super OR 9mm major.
My preference is 9mm Luger major with both the low costs to shoot and my supplies for reloading. I even have the $3000 ready-to-run gun picked out that I can't afford. :-)

December 23, 2012, 06:57 AM
.38 Super is classed as minor power factor, regardless of the power factor achieved, if competing in Standard / Limited / Limited 10. As such .40 S&W, which is classed as major power factor rules the roost due to the added mag capacity over .45.
In Open .38 super or 9mm can be loaded to major power factor, and rules over the .45 & .40 due to mag capacity and higher gas pressure working the comp better.
.45 ACP rules in Single Stack or IDPA CDP - the rules are written to give .45 an edge.
In Production all calibers are rated as minor power factor. .40 S&W has a slight edge in that heavy slow bullets tend to give better recoil control. Obviously hand loading is required here. Otherwise 9mm pretty much rules the roost due to cost and the range of guns chambered for it.

December 23, 2012, 11:57 AM
It depends a lot on which class you want to shoot as the rules pretty much dictate what cartridge you should shoot. Scoring is based on the power factor (Bullet weight times velocity divided by 1000). It's always better to shoot 165 major than 125 minor ammo. So the class breakdown is:

Open class with optics and compensators 38 Super gives you the greatest magazine capacity and works the comp the best. A lot of people are using 9mm now since the brass is cheaper, but is a lot harder to get to run right.

Limited class is dominated by 40 S&W as it is the smallest caliber allowed to make major.

Production class is pretty much set up for 9mm since all scoring is counted as minor power. Some people load 40 S&W to minor since the recoil is about the same as 9mm. Magazine capacity is limited to minor so it doesn't really matter. Single action guns are banned from production, so no 1911s.

Single stack class was designed for 45 ACP 1911s. If you are shooting major, magazine capacity is limited to 8 rounds. Minor is 10 rounds. Some people shoot 38 Super or 9mm for the extra capacity, but most shoot 45 for the scoring.

What class or type of gun were you thinking about shooting with?

December 23, 2012, 10:46 PM
Not sure where I'm going with this... just doing my research before I buy something that I will immediately want to replace. I've been down that road too many times!

So it really kind of looks like the only real reason to go with a .38 super is for the magazine capacity and the placement of classes?

December 23, 2012, 11:09 PM
Well, in open class 38 Super is better than anything else for a lot of reasons. Magazine capacity in other classes, though realistically 9mm is going to be a better choice. 45 ACP is only competitive in singe stack and is at a serious disadvantage in all other classes.

You really need to figure out what class you want to shoot before you pick a caliber.

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