Friday, July 23, 2010

.38 Super

There is an article in the American Rifleman about the .38 Super on a 1911 platform, written by author Stephen Hunter. Who sorta lives near me.

The .38 Super is what I thought of when I think, “The 9mm NATO round is underpowered, but the concept of higher velocity has some value, maybe if it had more oomph?” and Hunter alights upon this same thought. But the round fell out of favor during the war. I bet if they had called it the 9mm Magnum or .38 Browning Magnum (as though it were an extension of the shorter .380, which is enjoying a resurgence of popularity) we’d be seeing a lot more of it today. Browning did design the parent round, I believe. The .38 ACP. .38 Super is an evolution of the .38 ACP, which is not, repeat not, the same as a .380 ACP. The case on the .38s are semi-rimmed and 4 mm longer than the .380. These distinctions can confuse a slow-head like me.

The choice has always been between a 45mph bowling ball, and a 100mph fastball. The .45ACP lumbers at you like a bowling ball, and the 9mm types scream at you like a fast baseball. You don’t want to be hit with either but which is more effective? Well they are doing different things, so we get into the whole ‘which is better’ gun forum argument.

But the article in the magazine is a send up from a big fan. And it sort of makes me fall in love with it, too. A 1911 with a better round than the 9mm, and it holds 9+1 rounds. That’s attractive.

Ok, what’s WRONG with it, though? What would the detractor’s magazine article read like? Since I don’t think I’ve SEEN a .38 Super firearm and known about it, I certainly don’t know how it shoots. Maybe the round malfs a lot more than it should in a 1911. That would make the platform less attractive, but I am going on the assumption that it runs just fine. 1400 fps and 500 foot pounds of energy is ok, certainly (for the +p variety, but I think ALL .38 Super are considered +p). [compare: it’s power is a bit more than a 9mm, and a bit less than .40, and it’s energy is only a bit below the .357 Sig. But you don’t shoot things with charts, graphs, and tables, granted. There are other graphs that won't like it, I bet. Like using Joules or Frenzeling units times the square root of the Hickenbluber Constant.]

"But T-Bolt, are you seriously considering GETTING one of these types of pistols. What with your constant battle and insistence of keeping your ammo inventor commonality as simple as possible?" Probably not, but it's a shame that the

It's just a neat round and the article made me think it neater. I guess if I were to carry a 1911 I'd want it to have 7 or 8 bowling balls vis 9 or 10 fastballs, tho. Kudos to my quasi Maryland neighbor, Mr. Hunter at any rate.


Boat Guy said...

Cooper - of all people - had many good things to say about the .38 Super in the 1911. He used to carry one in Mexico (back when people could actually have firearms in Mexico - that whole "disarmed populace" thing is working REALLY WELL for them these days dontcha think?) since it was not "military-caliber".

Tam said...

All .38 Super is +P. It is simply a hot-loaded .38 Automatic.

It is very important that I don't get any of Bobbi's .38 Super (she has a Colt and a Witness in the caliber) mixed up with the .38 Auto for my 1902.

The only factory .38 Super that gets me excited for self defense was the old Georgia Arms load of a 147gr Gold Dot @ ~1200fps.

Stretch said...

Yo T-bolt. I have 1911s in both .45 (face Ogden and bow) and .38 Super. What say we get together and have a slide by slide comparison? I'm over in No. Va.

Mike W. said...

Being a .357 SIG fan .38 Super certainly has some appeal.

My issue with it, other than ammo avaliability is that factory defensive loads seem pretty anemic. the Winchester Silvertip .38 Super load runs ~1240fps. That's only 40fps more than 9mm +P HST's.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Sounds like a plan, Stretch, but It'll have to be a month or 2 from now.

Bubblehead Les. said...

NJT, read that article the other day, and it got me to thinking. Broke out the Speer #10 from 1979. Most of the 1300-1600 fps handloads were using 88-100 grain hollowpoints. Get into 115-125 grain range, you're down to 1100-1200 fps. Also, during the 80s-90s, the was some work by the ISPC crowd to use .38 Super to make "Major", but it never really got far. Don't know if it would be a cost effective thing to do. I mean, if some one gave me one, or I got it really cheap, then maybe work up some loads and go for it. But to buy new, with the cost of ammo? Just don't think its cost effective. YMMV, of course.