Quantcast

38 Super for dummies

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by bersaguy, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Messages:
    568
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Ok, I've of course heard of it, and recently been looking into a 38 super 1911. But I am admittedly pretty ignorant of the cartridge. Looking at published data online for commercially available loadings, velocities are kinda all over the place. My question is, would it be conceivable, and advisable to be able to load say, a 124gn JHP projectile and achieve velocities approaching 1500fps? And if so what considerations should I keep in mind for the gun to choose, brass ect? In other words, can the 38super truly get into 357mag territory without putting the gun and shooter in danger?
     
    Merle1 likes this.
  2. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    Messages:
    266
    Location:
    NE Georgia
    bannockburn, 460Shooter and bersaguy like this.
  3. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    10,480
    Location:
    The Land that Time Forgot
    I embarked on the same adventure earlier this year, and am still working on one issue.

    In answer to your question, yes based on my experimentation you can get into 357 magnum territory with a 124 gr bullet, though I was shooting RMR 124 gr Truncated Cone Match Winners. As is always the case, you need to work up loads. Here's a link to the thread I started on the subject. It's a bit long and there's a bit of side conversation, but it details the process and trip ups I had along the way. There’s also some great advice from people who have way more experience than I.

    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/loading-38-super-discussion.853519/

    If I was going to summarize my findings of the numbers you mentioned, it would be the following. I assume you are looking at load data using N-105 powder. They used a 5.5” barreled and I think the numbers they posted were a bit on the optimistic side. I struggled to get my velocity up until I went with a max charge of 10.4 gr.

    Just as others have mentioned in that thread, the nice part of that powder is you can load it pretty hot in this case and you don’t end up with excessive pressure (work up though of course). I hit 1450 FPS and I see no reason you couldn’t do the same with a JHP. It shoots like a laser but I don’t feel like the gun is recoiling any harder than my commander length 45. It'll be a compressed load, so seating aggressively is necessary.

    The biggest issue I had was extraction. I chose super comp brass from Starline because it feeds more reliably than rimmed 38 Super. However my factory extractor won’t engage it properly. The new extractor I bought requires some fitting. So pick your brass carefully and be ready to fiddle with your extractor or replace it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
    1KPerDay, bannockburn and bersaguy like this.
  4. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Messages:
    788
    When pushing the 38 Super to it's max pressure, the best brass for the job is Starline 38 Super +P or Starline 38 Super Comp (rimless). Both of these are heavy duty versions of the 38 Super. Avoid Starline's regular 38 Super brass (non-+P). It's not built for the job.

    Good case support by the chamber and the brass noted above will help you reach your goal safely - but be sure to work your load up.
     
    bannockburn, 460Shooter and Walkalong like this.
  5. Rock185

    Rock185 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    722
    Location:
    Rim Country, Arizona
    bersaguy, I over the past 40 years or so, I have owned Colt, Kimber and STI 38 Super pistols. Started reloading for the 38 Super quite a few years ago too. I have owned several 38 Super Colts with unramped barrels, but much prefer the integrally ramped barrels for any of the higher pressure pistol cartridges. My current 38S Kimber and STI have the ramped barrels that provide better case head support than the unramped barrel, as traditionally used by Colt.

    All that being said, within my personal experience, the 124/125 at velocities approaching 1500 FPS is certainly possible in the 5" ramped type barrels I use. More often that not I use new Starline Super Comp brass in my reloading, though Starline 38TJ brass is also excellent. My pistols function reliably with regular 38S brass, as well as 38SC, 38TJ and 9X23 Win. brass. I have never had a case head blow out, and suffered the attendant "Super face" sometimes mentioned when loading 38S.

    This is just my experience, so I cannot guarantee that anything I mention will be safe and reliable for anyone else...
     
    TikkaShooter and bersaguy like this.
  6. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    804
    Since .357 Sig already does everything the .38 Super MAY POSSIBLY do, but under POSSIBLY DANGEROUS conditions, and is also available in 1911 platforms, why bother with .38 Super and not just go with .357 Sig?
     
  7. drband

    drband Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,958
    Location:
    GA
    .38 Super just "sounds" way more cool than .357Sig!;)
     
    1KPerDay, Demi-human, Meeks36 and 6 others like this.
  8. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,389
    Location:
    Colorado Rockies
    Pretty sure it can be done, but if you are starting fresh, no gun, cases, dies etc, it will be a lot easier to go .357 Sig, as it was specifically designed to do exactly what you want to do, replicate the .357 Magnum 125gr in a semi auto friendly package.
     
    qwert65 likes this.
  9. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Messages:
    568
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Because John Dillinger never carried 357sig:D. No, but seriously, I think reloading for 38sup would be less of a chore than the bottlenecked 357sig. Also, and correct me if I'm wrong as I'm not too up on 357sig, but you get more capacity in the same size magazine with 38super right?
    So, here's the idea...I have a 357 magnum for woods carry, but if I could have similar ballistics in an automatic with more rounds, that would be ideal. Here's the the thing though...if I would need to get into Colt or STI territory to get a ramped barrel that would handle hot 38super...then I may be better served with 10mm. But then again, 38super would offer more flexibility for different types of rounds with different weights and velocities for different uses. Not sure yet if that's the way I want to go. Seems to get caught in the overlap from 9mm, 9mm+p, 357sig. But it's just a cool old cartridge that would be fun to reload for
     
    drband and 460Shooter like this.
  10. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    10,480
    Location:
    The Land that Time Forgot
    I’ve only been loading for about two years and the N105 load is the only one I’ve tinkered with so far with that cartridge , so I’m in no way an expert, but I guess I don’t see what’s dangerous about following published data and working up loads for individual guns.

    I matched the results from the above linked article with no pressure signs that indicated I was in danger of hurting myself or my gun.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
    tightgroup tiger and Walkalong like this.
  11. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    10,480
    Location:
    The Land that Time Forgot
    10mm blows the 38Super away when it comes to ballistics IMO. The velocity and bullet weight variety is just greater.

    But that doesn’t make 38 Super ineffective. And you can cram more 38 Supers in the same size magazine as 357 Sig. plus 38 Super is just cool.

    Given that the capacity is the same between 357 Sig and 10mm, I’d pick the 10mm every time. So for me, 38 Super fills exactly the gap you are describing.

    The one advantage I see in 357 Sig is you can cram it in a 9mm sized frame. Not so with the longer cartridges.
     
  12. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Messages:
    568
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    If I do 38super, its gotta be a 1911. Let's be honest, its probably not the most absolute practical cartridge, so I would definitely have fun with it. Like I said, not going to drop the coin for Colt, STI, Ed Brown or anything like that. I'm thinking more like a nickel RIA with money left over for a set of dies, leather shoulder holder, pinstripe suit and a fedora:D
    Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing:evil:
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
  13. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    65
    There's nothing wrong with .38 Super in a 1911 - that's a fine setup. More power? Go with 10mm. If you handload, you can make target loads that shoot like .40 S&Ws, or step up to more power if you'd like .357 magnum levels of energy.
     
    barnetmill and Rudolph31 like this.
  14. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2010
    Messages:
    8,855
    Location:
    East TN
    Ramshot Powders (http://www.ramshot.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/WesternLoadGuide1-2016_Web-1.pdf) show similar ballistics for similar bullets between the 38 Super+P and 357 Sig. 124 grain bullets can be driven in the 1300+ fps range. Other powders may give more velocity.

    I'm a fan of 38 Super and the M1911. For the same size hand gun, I'd rather have the higher magazine capacity of a 38 Super than a 357 Sig.

    But the 357 Sig in an M1911 is cool as well. I do have a 357 Sig M1911.

    I'm just getting into a 10mm (S&W 610) so I understand the greater power of the 10mm round but have not experienced it yet.
     
    bannockburn and bersaguy like this.
  15. Tallball

    Tallball Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2014
    Messages:
    3,834
    If I could ask a question that exposes my complete ignorance...

    How is 38 Super similar and dissimilar to 9mm Largo? I've probably read some things about it in the past, but am not remembering ATM.
     
  16. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Messages:
    788
    First, the cases are different. The 38 Super is straight-walled and the 9mm Largo is tapered. The Largo case is rimless and marginally longer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9×23mm_Largo

    The 38 Super tends to be loaded a little warmer.
     
    cfullgraf likes this.
  17. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    65
    There's 38 Super and 38 ACP. The dimensions of the cartridge are the same - just the Super is loaded to a higher pressure/velocity - and should not be fired in older 38 ACP pistols.
     
  18. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2010
    Messages:
    8,855
    Location:
    East TN
    This is important from a safety standpoint. Older 38 ACP pistols, such as the 1903 Colt 38 ACP pistol, are not designed to handle the pressures of 38 Super Auto cartridges. The cartridge dimensions are the same while the pressure levels are very different.

    Bottom line, do the research to make sure what you have before stoking it with just any ammunition.

    If I remember correctly, the industry has begun calling 38 Super 38 Super+P in the past few decades ago to help with the differentiation.

    In any case, any 38 Super M1911 should be able to handle any 38 Super ammunition.
     
  19. DocRock

    DocRock Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2019
    Messages:
    385
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    There are three 9x23 pistol cases: 9mm Largo, 9x23 Win, and 9x23 Steyr. 38 Super is 9x22.8...

    The 9x23 Win is essentially the 38 Super Comp.

    The 9x23 Steyr was chambered in the Hungarian M12 Steyr-Hahn semi-auto pistol and is the least powerful of the three, given powders at the time.

    The 9mm Largo is Spanish, and originated with the 1903 Bergman-Bayard (Belgian made) pistol, a C96 Mauser looking semi-auto. It was used in several subsequent Spanish pistols and the infamous Destroyer carbine. Obviously larger than 9x19 Parabellum, it was also more powerful at the time. But not as powerful as the 38 Super, effectively the 38 acp +P.

    That should clarify things....
     
  20. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Messages:
    788
    This is completely wrong.

    The 38 Super Comp is a rimless version of the 38 Super. It is a straight-walled case. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Super

    The 9X23 Winchester is a tapered case. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9×23mm_Winchester

    The 38 Super (and Super Comp) has the same case length as the 9X23 Winchester = 0.900".

    The 38 Super has a SAAMI pressure limit of 36,500 psi.

    The 9X23 Winchester has a SAAMI pressure limit of 55,000 psi.
     
  21. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    65
    You know, you could always go with something in a 9 x 25mm, like the 9mm Dillon or 9mm Mauser. Better yet, 9mm Winchester Magnum. With any of these, you'll be the only guy at the range with one, and the envy of other shooters.
     
    Demi-human likes this.
  22. Monac

    Monac Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Messages:
    1,122
    Location:
    Southeast Wisconsin
    All I know about hot 38 Super loads is this: back 20 or more years ago, 38 Super pistols became popular in IPSC shooting. The ammunition had to be loaded to high velocity in order to "make major", that is, reach a certain figure that was the product of the bullet weight time the velocity. This sometimes resulted in a condition called "Super Face", which was small facial wounds caused by bursting brass. I have no idea what velocity they were going for, nor what pressure they were getting.

    I am surprised that 9x23mm Winchester is not more popular. If you want a full-sized, all-steel, single-stack gun, it would make sense to me to get it in something more powerful than what you can get in a Glock. Of course, I would not want to shoot it, but I'm just saying, it would make sense. :)
     
    WC145 likes this.
  23. Tallball

    Tallball Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2014
    Messages:
    3,834
    Some guy at the range was shooting 9x25 a few weeks back. Maybe it was Dillon. He let me shoot a few rounds. It was kinda spicy. :)
     
    Demi-human likes this.
  24. DocRock

    DocRock Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2019
    Messages:
    385
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Ballistics are the same, mate. But you win "rivet counter of the week". Congrats.
     
    qwert65 likes this.
  25. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Messages:
    788
    I did not realize there were published ballistics for 38 Super Comp. Can you direct me to them? Thanks.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice