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Weak factory 38 Super loads

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by tark, Dec 7, 2013.

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  1. tark

    tark Member

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    Am I the only one that has noticed the castration of the 38 Super by the Ammo companies? For decades the standard load was a 130gr bullet at 1300fps. All of a sudden Im seeing 124gr hollowpoints and 125 gr fmjs at 1240. Federal loads a 130gr at 1200 and they call that +p..?? I know the IPSC crowd has loaded this round to white hot pressures in the past, but I am at a loss to explain the weakened factory loads of today. Anybody know the answer to this?
     
  2. wally

    wally Member

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    Too many lawyers looking to sue and old .38ACP pistols still in circulation.
     
  3. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    That is still +P when you consider that the original .38ACP was pushing the 130gr bullet at just over 1000fps.

    The .38ACP has a SAAMI standard of of 26,500 psi vs. 36,500 psi for the Super
     
  4. tark

    tark Member

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    I suppose Wally is correct about the shysters and the old 38 supers out there. The current loadings are so weak that I am almost tempted to shoot them in my Astra 400. 9mm Largo is hard to find in my part of the world, and my 400 stovepipes and shortstrokes with 38 ACP , I guess I'll try pulling the bullets on the sissy loaded 38 Super ammo out there and drop the charge enough to get reliable functioning out of my Astra.
     
  5. IdahoLT1

    IdahoLT1 Member

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  6. tark

    tark Member

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    Thanks for the tip on where to get Supers loaded to actual Super ballistics. You can bet when they are in stock I will have some. I was in Idaho once, damned pretty state, better that the Peoples Republic of Illinois!
     
  7. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    I shoot the .38 Super a lot, however I hand load for it and I load it like it should be loaded. For just plinking stuff, I found that the Remington +P 130 grain FMJs were decent, but they're all pretty expensive for plinking.

    My normal loads with VVN105 get a 130 grain bullet up past 1300. It's a good load. The other day I had some little bitty 90 grain 9mm Hornady XTPs sitting there, so I loaded them up in the .38 Super just for fun. 1525 FPS. :) They were a lot of fun and really more accurate than I figured they'd be.

    You're right though - the readily-available .38 Super factory loads don't do much more than a 9mm, and I don't see a lot of point in shooting them. You should take up hand loading!
     
  8. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    They did same to 38 spl the 38 special +P is now about what a normal 38 spl used to be. I shoot +P in my old S&W 38's Puts me back to a real 38 spl again.

    Lawyers they need to be pop up targets. :D
     
  9. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

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    If you shoot 38 super you really need to be reloading. Underwood loads hot but GD and xtp bullets are a major problem still.
     
  10. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    You can read more on what factory loads are available for the Super here...

    http://www.38super.net/Pages/Factory2.html

    As well as some on handloading for the Super.

    You can also compare velocity and energy of commercial loads by going here and clicking on the technical specs for each brand of ammo.

    http://www.midwayusa.com/find?sortby=1&itemsperpage=24&newcategorydimensionid=15427

    Buffalo Bore, Wilson, Cor-Bon, Double Tap and others all load rounds that come close to what the Super can do.

    tipoc
     
  11. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    You are hard pressed to find too many loads that do original ballistics today. 1300 with a 130 is pretty hot by today's standards and not common in many manuals.

    The boutique ammo shops churn out some original ballistics loads but the big boys don't even get close. I have chrono-ed modern ammo in my Super's and most are best going 1200 or so.

    Reload is my advice. 1300 with a 130 is easily obtainable with many different powders and combinations. You just have to get some older manuals and work up carefully.
     
  12. Rock185

    Rock185 Member

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    tark, yes, over the years, I have noticed what you're talking about, with both the Super and 10MM. I suspect there is more than one reason for what we're seeing. I have old notes on chronographing the Super back at least as far as the mid '80s. More recently, I've chronographed Winchester, Remington and Federal 130 grain ball at between approx. 1140 and 1240 FPS in 5" barrels. I also chronographed the Winchester 125 Silvertip in three different pistols with 5" barrels. Only averaged ~1160-1175 FPS. It's advertised at 1240 FPS, IIRC. Among "Boutique" manufacturers, I've only tried Cor-Bon's 125 JHP in the Super. I tried the CorBon in a Kimber with 5" barrel. It averaged about 1315 FPS. I had an indentical Kimber in 9MM, and tested Cor-bon 125 JHP 9MM the same day. The 9MM averaged about 15FPS faster then the 38 Super. Not the results I expected...

    I've reloaded the Super for quite a few years. Some factory 38 Super brass I sectioned was VERY thin in the case head area. I can underatnd why they would want to load the Super down given the case construction. But, never could understand why they produced brass so thin in this vital area. That same manufacturer produced the thinest 9MM cases I ever sectioned at both case mouth and base. Even so, that manufacturer's 9MM cases were more robust in the area of the case head than in the Super. Things are better with the Super now days IMHO, since we have things liked ramped barrels and .38 SuperComp brass,etc. Anyway, the Super is capable of being safely loaded to velocities and energies quite a bit more impressive than displayed by most major manufacturer's offerings...ymmv

    Ps, I agree with tipoc on the 38Super.net site. I have visited there several times. It contains the most comprehensive and detailed information on the 38 Super I have ever seen...
     
  13. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Member

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    [​IMG]

    This test was done some years back, 125gr XTP fired from a Colt 1911 in .38Super, MV 1491fps. Don't know how the range cow met its demise, but this tough/very hard cow leg bone showed extensive damage....... after the XTP penetrated a 14 ply semi truck tire, bullet not recovered.

    A number of old timers in this part of the Southwest, including myself, literally consider the Super as a .357mag in a 1911. The .357cal 125gr XTP has hardcover published data by Hornady and chronographing the 124gr(.355cal)/125gr XTPs with same loads resulted with a 4-6fps MV difference during build up testing.

    Sierra and VihtaVuori have overlapping N105 powder data for the Super and N105 powder is in a different powder category than most handgun powders. Most handgun powders are classified as degressive, ie, high pressure spike (Pmax). Single perforated N105 is a neutral powder that has a lower Pmax than degressive powders, yet it basically has the same area under the pressure curve. This neutral powder allows the Super to achieve velocities @<33,350psi that take the .357SIG/9x23mm Winchester 40,000+psi loaded with degressive powders.

    If you handload the Super, try N105 (data at VihtaVuori website) and Federal small pistol primers. R-P +P brass does not bulge when fired through 'unsupported' Colt barrels using published Sierra/VihtaVuori data.......and Sierra uses Winchester small rifle primers. :)
     
  14. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Member

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    I HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH YOU, SIR. I have chronographed original 38ACP and SUPER 38 ammunition in a ballistics lab and all of it did 1050 to 1100 at the most. MOST !!!
    The new 38SUPER ammunition from several companies is FAR superior to that.
     
  15. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    I load a 130 grain FMJ to about 1343 FPS (estimated - no chrono) with 9.4 grains of VV N105 powder. I've really gotten to like that stuff. It's expensive and hard to come by, but it certainly works well... and I certainly like shooting a .38 Super that does something more than my 9mms do.
     
  16. scramasax

    scramasax Member

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    Not just the super. I have found that a lot of the mm ammo that I have taken the time to chrono is downloaded. Been wondering if that extra grain less is to help the profit margin.

    Most people won't notice it a the range.
     
  17. tark

    tark Member

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    Will if you look at any of the old ammo cats, or gun digests, you will see it listed as 130 @ 1300. I think the ammo you chronographed was ALL 38 ACPs When Colt first chambered the round in 1911s they upped the load quite a bit, from 1050 to 1300. The FBI supposedly liked it because it would penetrate car bodies better that anything else Any way, the 130 @ 1300 is not a figure that is debatable, it is historical fact, which can be verified by any number of historical records. You can start with any old "Cartridges of the world" book. As an aside, I find it amusing that that book lists the 30 Mauser round as faster than the 762x25 Tokarev, with the same weight bullet!!!!????
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  18. tark

    tark Member

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    oops I may have to eat some of Will,s crow, here. My 1964 Gun Digest lists the 130 gr Super load at only 1280. I think my point is still valid, The ammo companies have weakened the round somewhat, for reasons unknown to me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  19. zaphar

    zaphar Member

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    Most of the offerings from major manufactures are too expensive for what they are IMHO, I reload for that reason. The smaller manufacturers look to have good offerings but not something I'd want to plink with, SD bullets are $$$. Currently working with 158gr FP bullets (I like them better than the 115gr) and will also work up a corresponding 158gr HP XTP loading.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  20. calaverasslim

    calaverasslim Member

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    To me, the 38 super factory load is nothing more than a 9mm on steroids
     
  21. Saleen322

    Saleen322 Member

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    I agree with those that load the 38 Super to make it effective. Mine is compensated and you need to have some velocity for that to even be effective. I shot some factory rounds mostly to get the brass and nothing made the compensator work right. The lightest load that works right is a 124 @ 1243 and my target load was a 150 @ 1198.
     
  22. tark

    tark Member

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    Saleen, you are certainly right about needing a heavy load with a comp gun. We don't build many comp guns these days, but a five inch 1911 in 38 super had a 13 lb spring installed by us. A comp gun requires a 9 pound spring and they STILL won't always function with factory loads.
     
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