1911 IN .38 Special


March 26, 2004, 10:07 AM
I know I've seen 1911 target guns chambered in .38 Special to shoot wadcutters. My question is if these are all custom jobs or would Colt have produced them this way in the past. I can find no literature to show that they came stock that way, and all I've seen certainly have a custom feel to them. Any info would be appreciated.

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March 26, 2004, 10:19 AM
I don't know that I've ever seen a Colt box marked '38 Special Wadcutter' but then, they've built an awful lot of guns over the years and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find out that they have made them off and on, esp a Gold Cup.

And of course, the excellent Smith 52 (before the 9mm 952) came in the 38 Wadcutter.

Old Fuff
March 26, 2004, 10:30 AM
Colt made a version of their Gold Cup target model in .38 Special (wadcutter). It was different in that the action was straight-blowback and the chamber was threaded to grip the fired case more tightly and slow the backward movement of the slide. Colt also made kits for military match units and civilian gunsmiths that consisted of a conventional (locked breech) top unit (slide, barrel, and the rest) designed for the purpose of converting a .38 Super or .45 to .38 Special.

Being long and rimmed, .38 wadcutters didn't always feed reliably in automatic pistols, and when bullseye shooters turned to using their .45 pistols in the center fire match(s) the market for these guns largely dried up.

One interesting sidelight to all of this was the development of the .38 AMU cartridge, that consisted of a .38 Special body with a .9mm head - in other words rimless - in an attempt to solve some of the feeding problems.

March 26, 2004, 10:30 AM
AFAIK, these were mostly conversions, although Colt did produce a Gold Cup model in this caliber. They were produced before WWII by (I think) the Army Marksmanship Unit (?). After the war, the late Jim Clark Sr. became famous by doing these conversions - they are what established his reputation as a master gunsmith. Parts can still be ordered from his firm, Clark Custom Guns (now run by his son, Jim Clark Jr.) - see here (http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/index.htm).

March 26, 2004, 10:31 AM
Yes, they made a Gold Cup National Match in 38 Special midrange wadcutter and are so marked. The story I heard was Jim Clark built up a market for them with his conversions of standard Colts and they finally got on the bandwagon. I have one of his 1960s conversions marked 38 AMU.

Old Fuff
March 26, 2004, 12:55 PM

Nope, Colt didn't make any .38 Special automatics prior to World War Two, but they did make the first National Match pistols in .45 ACP and .38 Super.

The post-war Gold Cup .38 Special was made from 1960 through approximately 1973.

March 26, 2004, 03:29 PM
a .38 Special body with a .9mm head


A .9mm head??? Man! I'd give a dollar bill to have a look at THAT one.
That'd work out to be what...a .0356 caliber???:scrutiny:
Talk about a serious bottleneck!


Sorry Fuff...I know it was a typo...I hadda do it or cease to exist.:p


March 26, 2004, 03:33 PM
:what: It looks like they just cut the rim off and cut and extractor groove like a 9mm case on the 38 AMU. A l-o-n-g sucker for an auto shucker!

Old Fuff
March 26, 2004, 06:23 PM

This half-blind ol' man is working on a laptop today with a little-bitty screen.

And I will get you yet ..... You wait .....

March 26, 2004, 07:20 PM
Old Fuff said:

And I will get you yet ..... You wait


My habit of gettin' online and answerin' questions at 4 in the A.M. oughta
provide ya with ample opportunity...:D :D

It's a wonder that THIS half-blind old man even caught that little
typo. The carrots and all this clean livin' must be payin' off.



silent one
March 26, 2004, 07:41 PM
Do I sense a little friendly rivalry goin on here?.:uhoh: :D

good luck, and be safe.


Tuner, check PM's, I'm showin 2 unread. But you know me and puters:confused: :banghead: :cuss:

March 26, 2004, 07:58 PM
Silent One said:
Do I sense a little friendly rivalry goin on here?.

Nah...I'd hafta stand on a stepladder to look Fuff in the eye. I just
thought I'd rag at him a little before turnin' in.

I'm sendin' more pix early in the mornin' Silent One...When ya see'em, you
may just cash in the wife's 401-K and become a mountain man...;)
And go ahead and use that E-mail address...It's the right one.

Beddy-bye time. Went shootin' today with one of the forum members and
didn't get my mid-afternoon nap. Once a man, they say...:rolleyes:



Chuck Dye
March 26, 2004, 09:14 PM
Where is coonan357 when you need him?

March 26, 2004, 10:38 PM
I actually have a .38 AMU case, see the one on the left:


From the headstamp end:


Talks about the round here:


Love my low-number S&W Model 52, btw. :D

Old Fuff
March 26, 2004, 11:51 PM
I’d get after that %^&& Tuner, but it’s not fair to pick on a man while he’s having his beauty sleep. I’ll nail him tomorrow after he’s had his coffee …

March 27, 2004, 06:31 AM
Ah...Thanks Gewer! Now all ya gotta do is neck'em down to take a
.035 diameter bullet like Fuff said.:D :D

Old Fuff
March 27, 2004, 11:41 AM
Now you know that .17 caliber is all the new rage - I'm just trying to do it one better. Just think of the velocity I can get after I "figger out" how to neck the .38 case down .....

March 27, 2004, 11:54 AM
Old Fuff said:

Just think of the velocity I can get after I "figger out" how to neck the .38 case down...

I'm bettin' the sucker would self-destruct before it makes it to the end of the barrel!:D

Back in my follish youth, we used to blow 50-grain 22 caliber pills in .220 Swifts about 50 yards out of the muzzle. You could watch'em turn into a
puff of gray smoke through the spottin' scope. Just the thought of what the chamber pressures musta been gives me the willies.:D We didn't have
access to a chronograph in those days, but it was probably in the 4,000+ fps range.

Well...The Good Lord looks out for fools and drunks. I guess He stands by
for idiot handloaders too...:cool:

March 27, 2004, 11:59 AM

Anybody knows if there is an online manual for this colt national match in .38 special? I was quite surprised when my father-in-law showed me his colt and .38 special was stamped on the slide.

Old Fuff
March 27, 2004, 12:46 PM
I doubt that you'll find a manual on-line as the number of guns was relatively small and within a short time several different sub-models were offered. If your Dad's gun was identified as to exactly what it is, and it was a Colt product (not built by a custom gunsmith, as many were) the Colt Company's Customer Service Department could probably provide you with a manual, or a photocopy of it.

March 27, 2004, 04:07 PM
Just think of the velocity I can get after I "figger out" how to neck the .38 case down
Well .22 Jet dies will get it down to .222". Getting it from there down to .17" should be easy.

Maybe you could talk S&W into reintroducing the Model 53 in a .17 caliber combo. :evil:

Old Fuff
March 27, 2004, 05:44 PM
Thanks for your suggestions. I know I can get this "figgered" out and outwit that curse'ed Tuner ...

Maybe a chrome-molly bullet, heat treated and all that ... 'cuz I can't get any of the depleated U-rain-e-um stuff. (Darn government!!)

I might have to use a smoothbored barrel though ...

March 27, 2004, 06:29 PM
I got it! Use a tungsten bullet! Go with a .020 caliber with teflon to bring it to groove diameter so it'll grab the lands. That'd give it a spin and melt the teflon off just in time to get it out the bore. Whee-OOO! Betcha
that thing'd be clockin' better'n 30,000 fps. I figger about...what...a quarter-inch drop at a thousand yards.

We could call it the Point Oh Three-Five Old Fuff Express.

Dontcha just love how these threads take off on a tangent sometimes?:D

Cheerios! (Honey-Nut)


Old Fuff
March 27, 2004, 07:12 PM
Maybe we'd better quit before a Mod. decides to have us both committed... Folks must be starting to wonder.

silent one
March 27, 2004, 07:36 PM
Tuner, and Fuff,

I have come to the conclusion, that if there were any conceivable way of putting the proverbial square peg in the round hole, you would find a viable means of performing such a task. :D

good luck, and be safe.


March 27, 2004, 10:30 PM
Yeah...Yer prob'ly right Fuff...Better get back to the topic. Uh...whaddahell was the question?:p

Hey...Didja hear that? I think Silent One just called us square...:D

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