View Full Version : .38 Super Auto +P

03-19-2009, 15:29
Ive mentioned before that I at one time was an enthusiastic cartridge collector. I'm in the process of purging my collection and sending "The good stuff" to a friend of mine in Colorado, who collects military memorabalia.

I came across this round, and naturally had to research it. The ballistics on the .38 Super Auto +P is impressive. I understand that at one time the Colt Governmen Model 1911 was chambered for this round.

Question is, have any of you fired this round to any extent. And, what is your impression of it, say in comparison to the 9mm and perhaps the 357 Sig?

03-19-2009, 15:42
I believe Colt still chambers a 1911 in 38 super. I have a Colt combat commander elite in that caliber, I like it.

9mm = normal

38 super = magnum

357 Sig = ultra mag.

All three uses .356 bullet (9mm).

It is also popular down in Old Mexico.

It was used in competitions for a while. Just never became a standard issued round and probably why it never got popular.

The Corps used them. Unfortunately I haven't thought about it for some time, so I don't remember much, on why and what happened.

The Reaper
03-19-2009, 15:45
More potent than the 9x19, and providing more mag capacity than the .357 SIG, it is, unfortunately, a semi-rimmed design and can be finnicky about feeding.

The case strength is marginal for the pressures required to make Major, so it had a nasty rep for blowing cases in the unsupported area of the feed ramp of the barrel, leading to an injury commonly referred to as "Super Face".

IIRC, it was designed to provide a more potent semi-auto version of the .38, and one that would not invoke the prohibition on military caliber cartridges popular in Europe and Latin American markets. It has been quite popular down South.

When properly loaded and in a weapon designed for it, it is a decent round. Not sure I would want any +Ps to shoot in it.

Yours appears to be a Winchester Silver-Tip.

Hope that helps.


03-19-2009, 15:52
Shot it in a S&W 52 20+ years ago. One of the only S&W autos I liked. The standard versions were popular as the intermediate cartridge (.22, 38 Super, and 45 ACP) in NRA pistol competition for years. Largely a curiosity now, IIRC Starline makes new brass that corrects the problems TR referred to.

03-19-2009, 22:43
Here is some good info on the round. I know it came out in the 1920's and was tried in LE for a while, but with FMJ bullets they had a problem stopping people. It came back in race guns in the 80's I believe for IDPA type shooting. I am not Sure if they use it as much as they used to or not.


Yup, it is/was popular in IDPA and bullseye shoots. I have a clark custom 1911 in .38 super. It is the most fun and accurate handgun I own. Sadly with ammunition availability not being what it was and my current finances not being what they were I don't get to take it to the range as much as I used to. Recoil was very minimal, but the gun has a compensator on it so it should be.

Now that I think about it, I only get a chance to hit the range once a month or less now. My practice is pretty much just dry firing and going to the range to remember what recoil is every once in a while. :(

Sadly the cartridge didn't seem to stick around either during its introduction or in IDPA. I'll probably end up selling the gun and getting a handgun in 357SIG.

03-19-2009, 23:19
Sadly the cartridge didn't seem to stick around either during its introduction or in IDPA. I'll probably end up selling the gun and getting a handgun in 357SIG.

Have you contemplated getting into reloading? 38 Super is not that much more to reload than 9mm.

03-20-2009, 05:39
Have you contemplated getting into reloading? 38 Super is not that much more to reload than 9mm.

I was planning on doing that as a family project with my dad and sister. Unfortunately my dad who works in finance and my sister who works in real estate are incredibly busy at the moment due to our happy fun economy and I don't have the spare space at my place.

Never have I been so glad to work in the oh so simple field of call center data analysis and call routing.

Blitzzz (RIP)
04-30-2009, 20:59
I do a lot of reloading but am always looking for simplicity. I have now begun to load all my rifle rounds with IMR 4064 and am happy. I want to know who if any load strictle with Unique for all pistol cartridges. I load 9mm, .40cal. .45acp, 44Spl, 44Mag. They all seem to be ok with Unique. I'm not a pistolaro and only am concerned with getting a bullet down range with some respect. Not a match or competition guy. my rifle rounds is a different story,(very Accurate) all weights and measures weighed and measured. Blitzzz

The Reaper
04-30-2009, 21:30
Unique is one of the dirtiest, greasiest powders ever developed.

Yes, it will work for most of the rounds you listed, but two or three wisely chosen ones will do a much better job, and you will save time and have fewer malfunctions by using the cleaner powders.


Blitzzz (RIP)
05-08-2009, 16:23
What do you use for general pistol rounds. Any suggestions?

The Reaper
05-08-2009, 17:51
What do you use for general pistol rounds. Any suggestions?

Most of the current JHPs will work, depending on the range.

One way to go is to carry what the local cops do, since they should work and may be easier to defend in court.

My first choice, if I have them, is the LeMas.

For conventional JHPs, I used to prefer Hydra-shoks, then Black Talons, now, all other factors being equal, I like the LEO Ranger +Ps for most calibers.

Nothing wrong with the Golden Sabers, Gold Dots, Hydra-shoks, etc.

Bottom like is, it all comes down to shot placement, and with a moving, bobbing, weaving, cover/concealment taking target who may be shooting back at you, is not as easy as most people think it is.

How are you doing, hermano?


Blitzzz (RIP)
05-08-2009, 22:52
I was asking bout the powders you prefer. I'm doing fine, feel pretty good.. Back to loading I am trying to minimize the powders I buy. The Unique is doing Okay and I'm no real Pistolero, more the long gunner type but do play with pistols some. learned all the early CQB stuff in Berlin. I tend to want to simplify my loading recipes to one powder for all pistol and perhaps one for rifle. I;m more than pleased with the performance of IMR4064 for my rifle rounds. I tend to shoot heavy. Dave

The Reaper
05-09-2009, 07:42

I may have misunderstood.

I thought you were asking about rounds for tactical carry, or for practice.

There is no single powder that will cover all pistol calibers, and be optimal for each of them. In .45 ACP, I like WW231, but I have used 700X and a couple of others. It covers a lot of different calibers, but not as many as the Unique. For .44 Magnum, I like Blue Dot, 296, or 2400. Pistol cartridges span the range from .22 to .50. If you try to use a single powder to cover that, you are going to be running low velocities and excessive pressures for many of them due to the burn rate.

If you could tell me the pistol rounds you are loading for, I can make a recommendation or two.


Blitzzz (RIP)
05-10-2009, 21:37
reaper, I will chrony all my pistol loads to find if they're in good velocity ranges. I can clean my pistols if there is no problem with dirt and malfunction with Unique. Here's a funny story I should post under "comedy zone'.
I went out to Chrony some 30-06 and 8mm rounds last week and set up everything. Loaded the 30-06 and was aiming through the Chrony ...and..."Bang". I shot the chrony, seems I forgot (and this is no excuse) that I had just installed a new Timney trigger in the 30-06 and well ...oops!
I didn't kill the Chrony but laced a bullet through the top of the box not hitting any functioning parts and was able to continue my speed checks. The Chrony now has some good personality on it. thought I'd share. Blitzzz