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1911 IN .38 Special

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by prisoner6, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. prisoner6

    prisoner6 Well-Known Member

    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.
  2. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member


    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.
  7. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    .38 AMU

    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

  8. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    :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!
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member


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

    And I will get you yet ..... You wait .....
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Revenge Served Piping Hot

    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.


  11. silent one

    silent one Well-Known Member

    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:
  12. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    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:


  13. Chuck Dye

    Chuck Dye Well-Known Member

    Where is coonan357 when you need him?
  14. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Well-Known Member

  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    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 …
  16. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    Ah...Thanks Gewer! Now all ya gotta do is neck'em down to take a
    .035 diameter bullet like Fuff said.:D :D
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    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 .....
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    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:
  19. pipit

    pipit Member


    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.
  20. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    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.

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