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New caliber discovered. Need info

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by shooter429, Oct 16, 2009.

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  1. shooter429

    shooter429 Member

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    While waiting to ship off my Sig for repair, I happened upon a very unique looking Colt 1911. It looked to be Nickel plated. I looked more closely, and saw under Caliber .38 Super. Then I saw it was a single stack with a 10 Rd capacity. I was intrigued. Oddly, I had never encountered one before. It seems almost everybody shoots the .45 ACP in the 1911s. I got home and looked in my loading manual, and to my suprise, discovered that the hottest loadings looked very similar to the .357 Sig, yet this cartridge, according to the book has been out since 1928.

    Now I am really interested. It looks like it is right on the cusp of Major PF, but with 2-3 extra shots in the same comfortable 1911 single stack frame.

    Q. Does anybody here have a Colt in that caliber, and if so, is it accurate, reliable and easier to shoot than the .45. I am thinking faster FU shots and more rounds would be a plus. Kimber?


    Q. Are these Colt's in need of customization to be game worthy?

    Q. Is anybody in IDPA or IPSC winning with this caliber?

    Q. Are components easy to come by?

    I am by no means new to handguns, so cannot understand how I overlooked a 80 year-old cartridge.

    Q. What is the best value in this caliber? I am talking ~$1000 range ready?

    Any other updates, information or suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Shooter429
     
  2. dom1104

    dom1104 Member

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    this is not an uncommon caliber in the shooting sports world, I am sort of amazed you missed it :)

    A little net searchings will solve all your questions, its not uncommon by a long stretch.
     
  3. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    .38 Super has a long history as you've found. It wasn't originally developed for gaming, but it developed a following in that world.

    I see very VERY few .38 Supers in IDPA, but they are a lot more popular (along with 9x21, 9x23, etc.) in the "Open" class of USPSA/IPSC as their higher pressures make compenators work more effectively.

    The .38 super has a small but dedicated following amongst self-defense advocates.

    -Sam
     
  4. everallm

    everallm Member

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    If you are really interested in the caliber at a reasonable cost entry point the EAA Witness range (based around the CZ 75 design) is a good possible start.

    http://www.eaacorp.com/index.html

    One advantage is that if you decide that the caliber is not for you, they also provide conversion kits in 9mm, 10mm, .40 and .45 for most of the range.

    Usually see good prices on Gunbroker for NIB
     
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have two 1911s in .38 Super. A Springfield and a Colt. Both purchased used. It's a great caliber. If you handload it is only better.

    The Witness Elite Match in .38 Super would be a great choice that would most likely be far cheaper than you would find a 1911 for.
     
  6. Acera

    Acera Member

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    Because of our friends to the south's politics the .38 super was extremely popular down in Mexico. You can find a lot of good looking examples of that being resold here in the U.S.

    It was a major contender when I started shooting IPSC in the early and mid 80's due to the power factor it could obtain.
     
  7. kanook

    kanook Member

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    If you do a search here on THR you will find some recent discussions on that 38 super. All from personal protection to hunting with it.
     
  8. Gunfighter123

    Gunfighter123 Member

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    Search function is your friend !!!!

    YES , IT IS !!!! Do a SEARCH here at THR for much more information .
     
  9. zhyla

    zhyla Member

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    I don't think I've ever shot a .38 super but I distinctly remember manning a station at a pistol match while some guy shot his .38 super 1911. It was like an instant headache.
     
  10. floydster

    floydster Member

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    I have a Witness Elite Match in 38 Super and it is an excellent gun, have over 6,000 rounds thru mine and not a single problem. Nice crisp trigger and match barrel, a fine shooter. I also have a Match in 45 ACP.
     
  11. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    Smith & Wesson just came out with an N-Frame model with a Comp barrel
    it is chambered for the .38 Super cartridge with an 8 shot cylinder.& of course requires full moon clips.

    http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/...angId=-1&parent_category_rn=15714&isFirearm=Y

    Starline brass sells new unprimed cases
    for .38 Super, .38 SUper +P as well as
    .38 SUper Comp. The Comp cases are designed
    liked a normal semi-auto case where the rim is
    the same diameter as the rear diameter of the case,
    Reguler .38 Super ( & +P ) has a rim slightly smaller
    in diameter which is called rebated - I believe. So,
    if you make the switch to .38 SUper Comp a tweak
    to the extractor is called for.

    Most factory ammo theese days is loaded down to
    be about the same velocity as 9mm Parabellum/Luger

    Randall
     
  12. kanook

    kanook Member

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    just found this to add
     
  13. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    I don't think this has been specifically stated but for the
    O.P. Info.: The Mexican goverment had a law in place - perhaps
    it still is, not sure, but it banned private ownership of
    any firearms chambered for the same cartrdiges as used by
    the Military. WHen the law was first put into place the Mexican
    Army used a 1911 Colt or variant in .45 ACP as it's serivce
    pistol. So, the 1911 in .38 SUper was very popular south of the
    border.

    Randall
     
  14. kd7nqb

    kd7nqb Member

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    Its always been my experience that .38super was most popular in the competition world. Its on my to buy list but its pretty far down there since I don't see a job that it does that either a .40 or 9mm wont do.
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    The .38 Super was actually developed by Colt in 1929 in answer to S&W .38 Spl High-Speed & 38/44 police loads for use against the new fangled automobile mounted outlaws of the Prohibition era.

    It offered better penetration then anything else available in an auto pistol at the time.

    rc
     
  16. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    you might be thinking of the .41 Express...the .38 Super is actually semi-rimmed, with the original design headspacing on the rim rather than the mouth

    as rcmodel stated, the .38 Super was originally designed for LE (i'm thinking FBI)...it was later overshadowed in LE circles by the .357 Mag

    besides it popularity in South America, it used to be very popular with asian gangs on the West Coast
     
  17. shooter1

    shooter1 Member

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    I might also add: The "Super" was initially a hopped up version of the old 38 ACP and originally head spaced on the semi rim. The later barrels were changed to head space on the case mouth like the .45 ACP. When loading to make major, there were a rash of blown cases. The term "Super Face" was coined to describe some of the injuries from blown cases in this cartridge. The lesson here is, don't try to make a magnum out of the old Super. If you need that kind of performance out of a 9mm then go to the 9x23 or the 9x25.
    Lots of guys in my club shoot the .38 Super Comp in open class USPSA. I don't think I've ever seen one used in IDPA. Brass is rare and expensive. I don't currently have an open class gun, but when I build one, it'll be a .40 like my limited.
    You have gotten some good advice, if you just want to play with the cartridge, get the Witness. The old Colts are not that great as shooters, and are way too expensive for what you get. Just IMO.
    str1
     
  18. distra

    distra Member

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    I love the Super .38! :D I found a nice Springfield GI in .38 Super last year for <$400. Great shooting pistol plus I fit a 9mm barrel to it and can shoot both depending on my loaded round supply. :D It's a great caliber for medium bore pins, really smacks them off the table.
     
  19. Man With A Gun

    Man With A Gun Member

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    Lost cause

    I have never understood why the SUPER never caught on. It lives in .357 mag territory and has more shots in nearly every pistol configuration and has for many years.

    At one time some Texas Rangers carried them in 1911's ( Yes, Virginia, Colt made other calibers than .45ACP ).

    In Hard Ball they overpentrated like mad but I heard ( never shot ) the Hollow Point stuff was terrific.

    Shoots flat, hits hard, so what is not to love?

    I would much rather have a Super than a 9mm or .40. both of which the Super out shines.
     
  20. DougDubya

    DougDubya Member

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    I think the reason the .38 Super never caught on was because before the 70's, hollowpoint-reliable pistols weren't that common. When those autos hit their stride in the 80's, the 9mm +P+ developed with the assistance and input of the Illinois State Police lived in the same territory, and came with even MORE shots.

    Then the 9mm caught a bum rap, which only worsened with the slow and castrated 147-grain "subsonics" that people said would penetrate "far enough." Then anything sharing that same diameter was called useless, even the .357 Magnum - which had been LIED about by "experts" no less than Chuck Taylor, in complete contradiction to the experience of policemen and state troopers from Alaska to Florida.
     
  21. shooter1

    shooter1 Member

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    The Super was, and is, still a great 9mm! It's just that in it's early days, there were few pistols chambered for it other than the Colt. As Doug pointed out, it took 50 yrs for bullet technology to catch up to the cartridge. Early IPSC shooters used it with some success (Other than the failed cases) but it never had a large fan base other than in the southwest US and south of the border. It's made a bit of a comback in IPSA and USPSA using modern powders and brass. No to mention in it's latest configuration the .38 Super Comp. There are many 9mms currently available that outperform the Super. It has attained cult status among some, and refuses to die.
    str1
     
  22. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Ironically, Ballistics for .38 Autocolt, in 1900, were 130 grn Copper Pathed Bullet, and, 1250 fps...if memory serve...


    Was soon downloaded to be same Bullet, but 1050 fps.


    Then, in the late '20s, re-invented/revised into .38 'Super', more or less duplicating the original 1900 Ballistics, but, in stronger Guns (ie: Colt M1911A1 platform).


    I've long wished S&W would have made 'K' frame 'M&P' Revolvers in .38 ACP using Moon Clips, and, 'N' Frame revolvers, in .38 Super...but, I wish they would have made them 'then'...100 years ago, and, 80 years ago, respectively.
     
  23. Noveldoc

    Noveldoc Member

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    Isn't the classic 38 Super semi rimmed? I remember firing a few SRs through a 357 Colt revolver. Very pleasant load.

    Tom
     
  24. TEDDY

    TEDDY Member

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    38 acp

    I had a 1903 in 38 acp.the FBI still has 38 supers,it was mentioned in the florida shoot out.and they were popular with the bootlegers.I have couple boxes left over when I converted a friends 38 super to 45acp.that was second cartridge I loaded.I had a MODERN BOND TOOL and still have it.
     
  25. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

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    I looked into it a great deal because of the ballistics I'd seen in reloading manuals. Turns out to get those ballistics safely and reliably, you'll probably need a ramped barrel with full chamber support, lest the cartridge blow out at the webbing. Because of folks in competitive shooting pushing the .38 Super so hard to make Major power limits, it wasn't uncommon for the cases to blow out leaving you "Super Faced". This is basically a summary of relatively extensive research I did that eventually dissuaded me from getting into the .38 Super game. To shoot it safely in a non-ramped 1911 barrel, you really don't get much better than 9mm ballistics. It seemed to me it would be better to just got with a .357 SIG or in a 1911, one of the custom pistols in 9x23.

    Mind you this is all the summary and conclusion of my research, not first-hand experience.
     
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