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Talk Me Through the .38 Super

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Olympus, Jul 16, 2008.

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  1. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    What's the story on the .38 Super? Looking into some 1911 options and came across this caliber. I'm not familiar with it what so ever. How does it compare to the .45 ACP? What are the pros and cons?
     
  2. rduckwor

    rduckwor Member

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    Most commonly seen in USPSA and IPSC competitions. Hot load used to make power requirements in the race/space guns. Expensive.

    RMD
     
  3. Geno
    • Contributing Member

    Geno Member

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    Use the search function. There are dozens of posts here about .38 Super V. .45 ACP.
     
  4. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    .38 Super was developed in 1929 post-Roaring 20s,
    shootouts with BG's - police wanted a high velocity cartridge
    with penetration into vehicles. Remember this was the day
    of the Thompson Sub-machine gun and Pre .357 Magnum.

    post WWII the popular big ammo makers loaded them down to
    9MM Luger approx. velocity.

    as a primer, for yah.

    R-
     
  5. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    38 Super is a great round that is a joy to shoot. If you plan to shoot a Super you really need to consider reloading because factory ammo is expensive and hard to find. Also, the benefit of being able to taylor your rounds from hot +P to mild rounds is ideal.
     
  6. makarovnik

    makarovnik Member

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    Yup. It is a good round but could be better if loaded hotter like it used to be. You get better penetration and higher capacity in a 1911A1. I want one. I found a RIA 1911A1 in .38super stainless steel a couple of months ago for $399 brand new. I should have bought it.
     
  7. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    FYI - the .38 Super has a slightly rebated rim and Colt pistols until about the 1980s weren't known for accuracy because Colt was trying to get it to headspace on the rebated rim with the extracgtor. WHen they switched to
    chambering on the case mouth the accuracy problem was cured.

    +P ?

    Starline Brass one of the best makers of brass cases only headstamp +P
    on what they offer if SAAMI rates the cartridge at +P. these
    include:

    9MM +P
    .38 Special +P
    .45 ACP +P

    Note Starline specifically states the 9MM +P and .38 Special +P brass
    cases are exactly identical to standard 9MM/.38
    Special, it is simply headstamped +P for case segregation so a handloader
    will know it may have been loaded hot.

    THe .45 ACP +P Starline brass has a thicker base and near walls as it goes toward the case mouth, and infact has 2 grains less capacity.
    This means the same charge of powder in a +P case will have higher pressure. It IS different.

    Any maker of brass that puts +P+ on a headstamp it has no standard by
    SAAMI and could be at dangerous levels.

    just my .02 worth of research.

    Randall
     
  8. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    The original Super load featured a 130 pointed FMJ at around 1300 FPS. Designed for high penetration it does that and most common "vests" are vulnerable.

    Recent factory loadings are greatly reduced, likely due to the Colt 38 ACP pistols out there that will fire the Super cartridge and that's a bad thing as the Super is too hot for this gun. Current velocities run around 1050 making the Super something less than the 9mmP.

    I like the Super and have two. You need to hand load for maximum performance. My favorite load is the 115 JHP at around 1400 FPS. Very close to 357 Magnum performance. This is warm but my guns seem OK with it. Probably no more pressure than the original 130 load produced.
     
  9. DRYHUMOR

    DRYHUMOR Member

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    I've got a Colt 1911 in 38 super, it's accurate, reliable, good to shoot.

    So far, all I've shot is Fiocchi 130 FMJ 130 gr. One day I might try something else, but this ammo is only $17 and change new per 50. The brass is reloadable.
     
  10. nicholst55

    nicholst55 Member

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    The .38 Super was supposedly popular in Mexico because they weren't allowed to own 'military caliber' pistols like the 9mm and .45 ACP. I don't know if that still holds true or not.
     
  11. DWFan

    DWFan Member

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    Just for my own curiousity, can a rimless .38 Super case be made using cut down and resized .223 brass?
    A rebated rim, btw, is when the rim diameter is smaller than the case body diameter as in the .50 AE. The .406" .38 Super rim is slightly larger than the .384" case body.
     
  12. Hunter0924

    Hunter0924 Member

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    Not to be the term police but the correct name is Super .38 not .38 Super.
    Don't believe me then check your loading manual or barrel hood.
    The Super .38 was developed in 1929 and based on the .38 Automatic.
    They are externally identical and the cartridge was referred to as the Super .38 Automatic.
    Externally the Super .38 and .38 Automatic are identical but the Super is loaded hotter.
    The cartridge really comes into it's own on the loading bench.
     
  13. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    The Super case is actually Semi-rimmed, meaning the rim is slightly larger than the case body. Rebated means the rim is slightly smaller than the case body.
     
  14. brokencowboy

    brokencowboy Member

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    I just purchased a RIA in 38 Super. With the proper load, it comes close to .357 Magnum specs in an autoloading handgun. Using a 124 gr HP moving at 1275 fps, there is minimal felt recoil, little muzzle flip & is very accurate. I think this is one cartridge that has gotten overlooked due to the 357 & needs some serious attenion as a carry & SD load.
     
  15. mnw42

    mnw42 Member

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    The case is semi rimmed and Colt did try and head space off the semi rim until the late '80s if IRC. My new Commander has fine accuracy and head spaces off the case mouth.

    The super is a higher pressure version of the old .38 ACP round. The lower powered factory loadings and +P stampings exist because someone, somewhere stuffed a super into an old Colt 1903 military and blew it up.

    The you can trim .223 brass down, but the thicker web and case walls limited capacity somewhat. Rimless versions (.38 SuperComp) work, but are strictly roll your own. You can also get a 9x23 barrel and really up the horsepower.

    I posted a review of my Colt Commander here with some chronograph results. Most of the ball loads I've seen run right at 1200fps out of my 4.25" barrel - which isn't bad considering that is still 9mm+P at lower pressures.
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yep.

    Starline also makes "Super Comp" brass where the rim does not stick out. That is what I am shooting in my two Supers (A Colt and a Springfield.) I bought 100 rounds of Super Comp and 100 rounds of regular .38 Super brass to try first. The Super Comp worked great so I ordered 1000 of them. The idea is they should feed better from a mag than a semi rimmed round.

    I shoot the Zero R161 .38 Super 125 Gr JHP at just under 1200 FPS for my range load. It is accurate and very pleasent to shoot. You can hot rod it a little if you want to. It is very versatile and just as cheap as 9MM to shoot if you reload.

    I really like to shoot my 2 Supers. You can't go wrong with one IMHO.
     
  17. icecorps

    icecorps Member

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    .38 super 1911s are big in Mexico, as civilians are forbidden to own weapons in military calibers (.45 acp).
     
  18. nightruben

    nightruben Member

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    38 super

    I live in mexico and we can´t own the 38 super because it is referred as a "service pistol" we can only own a revolver as poweful as the 38 spl and in a semi auto as powerful as .380 ACP our gun laws sucks because they are obselete and were made very bad:cuss: but Im very happy that im recently found/buy a 38/44 outdoorsman in 95+ conditions so I can load the 38 spl hotter :neener:
     
  19. Eric F

    Eric F Member

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    Ah yes this has been contested many times on THR And you are semi Correct. I have seen guns with super 38 and I have seen others with 38 super. I wont say all but I will say every manufacturer I have seen (new today) say 38 super. I have seen reloading manuals say both also.
     
  20. Cocked & Locked

    Cocked & Locked Member

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    I like the Super .38 1911's. Fun guns to shoot and to carry. I have owned four, but now just have these two....both with original factory finish and ramped barrels.

    RIA Super .38

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Springfield Armory Mil-Spec Super .38 (as sold new by SA with faux pearl)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  21. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Member

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    Yep, I found the listing in Starliine for the .38 Super Comp,
    as well as .38 Super +P.

    R-
     
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