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.38 Super questions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by codefour, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. codefour

    codefour Well-Known Member

    Today at the range, a gentleman was shooting a .38 Super. I fired it and like the caliber a lot. I am now looking at getting one myself.

    My question is: Can you load standard 9mm luger bullets into a .38 Super case or does it require its own specific bullet like the .357 Sig..??

    I also heard that you can shoot 9mm Luger in a pistol chambered for .38 Super..?? Similar to shooting .38 Spcl in a .357 Mag. Is this safe to do..?

    Are there any concerns about reloading .38 Super.? Where do you get your brass..?? Do you have to buy new brass because I have never seen any range pick-ups in .38 Super.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    The .38 Super can use .355 "9MM" bullets or .356 ".38 Super" bullets. For lead you will need to slug the bore, as .38 Super barrels are often over .356.

    You cannot shoot 9MM in .38 Super barrels, but you can have a 9MM barrel fit to your .38 Super gun and shoot both calibers.

    Not too many .38 Super range pickups. I ordered my brass directly from Starline.

    It is as easy to load as 9MM.

    The .38 Super is a lot of fun. :)
  3. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    "38S" is a great cartridge. For the reloader it's an easy way to share components you may already have on hand for 9mm. They usually can shoot the same bullets, powder and primers. Most reloading manuals will define 38S as .356, but if you'll slug your bore you may find that it's been made to .355 just like a 9mm.

    The rub is that Super is a long cartridge and is usually found in guns that shoot 45ACP, 10mm, and those longer style cartridges. So this usually means a 1911 size frame. The best deal I know of is the Rock Island Armory base model selling right at $400.

    Although 9x19 may go "boom!" in the 38 Super chamber, it's only hanging on by the extractor. The case is not long enough (.748" vs .900") to 'head space' on the end of the chamber like it should. Nor is the chamber the correct shape. Because of this, I doubt you'll get any great accuracy doing this.

    Super brass isn't everywhere, but it's around. You'll mostly find it at ranges where they shoot IPSC, not at public ranges. It's for sale on the Buy & Sell board here from time-to-time, or you can try the StarLine web site.

    38 Super is more popular in some foreign countries that won't allow citizens to own weapons chambered for military cartridges, so it's a viable cartridge around the world. Most any gun store will carry ammo for it. Go on GunBroker and see the gussied-up models Colt sells in Mexico. Some of them are pretty fancy.

    Hope this helps!
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    .38 Super. Get some.

    A Springfield and a Colt

    Attached Files:

  5. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    What you need is a fancy gun...



  6. petrey10

    petrey10 Well-Known Member

    whats the recoil like? compared to 9mm and 45acp? inbetween? more than both? accuracy?
  7. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    petrey 10,
    I don't have one, but have shot several a number of times.
    It depends on the load, but what they are 'famous' for is "Walkalong's" gun on the left.
    The bullet speed is tuned to the muzzle brake, so there is virtually no "FLIP". You have almost instant target reacquisition after firing. You're usually looking at somewhere around 1400+ ft/sec. It is extremely accurate in the right pistol.

    Another somewhat similar option is the 9mm "Major" load in a good 9x19 pistol with .355 bullets. It has the same characteristics of the 9 super, but once fired 9x19 brass works well. Add a muzzle brake, tune your load to it and you have a whopper-stopper or competition pistol.
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    While I do have a "hot" .38 Super load for my SA, I mostly shoot 125's at 1175 to 1200 FPS, which is quite pleasant from that gun. The way it is set up, it takes that to get the cases out of the gun. 1150 will get cases caught in the ejection port.
  9. noylj

    noylj Well-Known Member

    I have a hard time telling a 9x19 from a .38 Super from a .40S&W from a .45 Auto, until I load a 230gn Hardball load in the .45. Most of the recoil I seem to feel is due to the slide slamming back and not the specific load.
    The problem with the .38 Super is that it isn't popular, except with action pistol shooting and with other countries that don't allow "military ammunition" to be used by civilians. Thus, like the 9x21, you have loads that almost duplicate the 9x19 and hand loaders who are using very hot loads to work their compensators. It is really a handloaders round since about the only ammunition you can find is 130gn FMJ, and even that is hard to find.
    I think it is better than the 9x19, even at the same velocity, has it just seems to shoot better than the run-of-the-mill 9mm handguns.
  10. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    I like the .38 Super. I can load it hot, but for most of my time at the range I just load it around the level Walkalong mentions. About like a +p 9mm.

    I've been using Starline 38 SuperComp for about 2 years now. I love it.
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Me too. I use nickle cases for the hot loads to easily identify them at a glance. (125's at 1375 to 1400 FPS using rifle primers. Don't do this in a barrel with poor case support, or without help from folks who have done it. I sure didn't.)
  12. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Well-Known Member

    Even with full power handloads The Super recoils less than .45 in a 1911.
    My standard load is a 124/130 at 1,250 fps and recoil is less than .45 and muzzle blast/noise is about the same as .45.
    Great cartridge for the hand loader.
    I use .355" and .356" jacketed and plated bullets interchangeably.
  13. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    That's why I mentioned 9mm major loads "in the right pistol".
    I've shot some used in USPSA comp that really do shoot well. They were not stock factory pistols.
    I've thought about trying it myself because it shot so sweet, but the pistol and accessories costs would stress my retired budget. The reloading costs don't change much, just more powder.

    The 9x19 cases are free for the picking up--but please paint them if you load "major" so I won't pick them up after you've shot.:D
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

  15. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    My SIL is drooling on a Taurus in 38 super. We've gone shooting a couple of times, he's the one with the Smith 500. We went shooting last Friday, he was full of questions about the 38 super. Looks like I will be loading them for him!:cool:

    Any thoughts on the Taurus? Not sure what model he's looking at or what's available. He found one for IIRC about 450$!??

    I see a lot of them in race guns when I'm shooting IPSC. Noisy little devils! :evil: Those that are shooting them shoot twice as fast as this old man. I can never hope to come close to those kids in speed, even if I were to shoot one of their pistols.:uhoh::(
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I got a great deal on mine as a "retired" race gun. Still more that $450 though. I picked up the Colt reasonable as well. They are out there is one is patient.
  17. Hanshi

    Hanshi Well-Known Member

    The .38sup is a fine pistol cartridge and a favorite of mine. If you have one in a 1911 format, all you need is a 9mm barrel and a mag for the 9mm to have a two-in-one pistol.

    I had a BarSto barrel fitted in mine long ago and now accuracy is top notch.
  18. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    I did the same. Jim Garthwaite fitted a spare Nowlin 9mm barrel for me. It certainly adds to the versatility.

    ADKWOODSMAN Well-Known Member

    Can the .38 super mags. be used in the Colt if you have a 9mm barrel installed?
  20. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Yes. I do, anyway.

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