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Colt .38 Super revisited

AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 2,708 ✭✭✭
edited February 2013 in Ask the Experts
Reading the earlier post got me thinking of the one I inheireted from my Father. According to the paper work in the box, he bought it in 1957. I don't know the DOM but it's #111839 so some one on here probably has that info. I have some factory ammo, loading dies, etc. but for some reason, I haven't fired it much. I found the old boxes of cartridges and looked them over. There's an old box of Super-X that's NOT marked +P; it's 130 gr. FMJ, the cases are nickel plated. Among the printing on the box is the OLIN trade mark and "Muzzle velocity 1280 ft./sec.--". The Remington 130 FMJ boxes ARE marked +P, have the DuPont trade mark and the cases are also nickle plated.

There are also a couple of boxes of .38 Auto. The Western 130 FMJ box is marked, "for Colt Pocket Model & Military Model Automatic pistols--". The Remington 130 FMJ box is marked, "Not for use in Colt 'Super .38'". The cartridges are headstamped REM-UMC. The .38 Auto cases are not plated. I find it interesting that the warning is not to fire .38 Auto in .38 Super but not the other way around. Maybe we were supposed to be smarter then than we are now?

My notes indicate that I have only chronographed one 5-round batch of .38 Auto. It was Win. 130 gr. FMJ fired in a friend's Astra 400 and clocked 1038 fps.

Comments

  • nunnnunn Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 35,088 ******
    edited November -1
    I inherited a Colt Commander in .38 Super that was made in 1952. When I first got it, I shot the few .38 Super cartridges that I had on hand. I also had a few boxes of ancient .38 ACP cartridges. I found that the springs in the old Colt had relaxed enough over the years that it would handle the .38 ACP rounds just fine.

    I have since replaced all the springs in it and it runs fine with factory .38 Super ammo.

    In my earlier post, when I referred to "older Colts," I meant older Colt 1911 pattern pistols, made to take the .38 Super, not the old Colt 1902 guns chambered for .38 ACP.
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    David,
    You being in law enforcment you probably know that John Dillinger carried a 38 Super. I truely enjoy the ones I have.
    I didn't mean to imply you where old enough to remember Mr. Dillinger.[;)]
    W.D.
  • nunnnunn Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 35,088 ******
    edited November -1
    When the .38 Super was introduced, it was the hottest factory loading available. It would defeat car bodies and car windows, and the primitive car and personal body armor of the day, better than the .45 ACP or .38 Special. That's why Dillinger liked it. Some of J. Edgar Hoover's boys also liked it for the same reasons.

    A few years later, the .38 Super's ballistics were exceeded by the .357 Magnum.
  • beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 13,137
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by nunn
    When the .38 Super was introduced, it was the hottest factory loading available. It would defeat car bodies and car windows, and the primitive car and personal body armor of the day, better than the .45 ACP or .38 Special. That's why Dillinger liked it. Some of J. Edgar Hoover's boys also liked it for the same reasons.

    A few years later, the .38 Super's ballistics were exceeded by the .357 Magnum.

    Interesting. If we're talking about historical "magnum" like rounds dating back to the pre-WWII era, I think "honorable mention" should probably go to the 7.62x25 Tokarev, which as a small bottleneck cartridge was arguably the "357 SIG" of its day!

    Admittedly this one fires a smaller 85 grain .30 caliber round, so it lacks the momentum of the heavier .38 super. But the standard load would fire this this round at a screaming 1575fps from the muzzle of the Soviet TT-33 pistol (and even faster from a submachine gun), giving it a well-deserved reputation of being an armor penetrator.

    Nowadays, .38 super isn't quite as "super" as it once was. Even apart from the fact that current factory offerings are watered down, 357 SIG gives more or less identical ballistics, and even the hot 9mm+P rounds will get you about 90% of the way there, in a double-stack platform that typically holds 15-20 rounds.
  • AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 2,708 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I guess I should get Dad's old gun to the range and clock some of the cartridges I have as well as some reloads. I don't know if 130 gr. FMJ's are available as a reloading component; I'll have to check.

    In an earlier post, I indicated that a commercial Colt was more properly called a Goverment Model than a 1911. I looked up a Colt ad in a 1950 (they sold for $65 that year!) edition of the Stoeger catalog and I was wrong about that. It appears the Goverment Model designation was reserved for the .45. The .38 was called the "Super .38 Automatic". The slide on my gun is so marked. There is no reference to "1911", either. Incidently, when Dad bought this gun, I figured he made a mistake in not choosing the .45. So I stopped at my Gunsmiths and bought the necessary parts to convert it to .45 so my inheritance includes an Ithaca slide, High Standard barrel, as well as several magazines. Those, of course, were GI surplus and I don't believe I gave more than $10 including a box of GI hardball!!
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,296 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Yes but there weren't many Tokarevs in the USA until the commies started dumping their surplus long after the .38 Super and .357 Magnum came out.
    Henry Stebbins had a .30 Mauser legend in 1960, though.
  • MichibayMichibay Member Posts: 816 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Back in 1958...I was deer hunting with my dad in the U.P. of Michigan. In "those days" it was legal to shoot a bear on a deer license in the U.P. At the time, I was 16 years old. On the 2nd day of the season I was carrying my dad's .348 Model 71. A bear came along...I shot...he spun around...got on his feet and came right for my dad and I. We stopped him about 10 feet in front of us...still alive...my dad pulled out his 38 Super Commander LIGHT WEIGHT (1952)...and put a bullet into the head of the bear...that finished him off. My dad was carrying his Model 94 .32 Special...between the two of us...he was hit 9 times! When we skinned him we noticed bird shot in his pelt...No wonder is was annoyed! I now have both the Commander and Model 71.
  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 7,348 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Winston Churchill had a 30 Mauser. The Thompson could be had in 38 Super.
  • machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
    edited November -1
    The Russians still make an SMG in 7.62x25 (the 'Bizon'). Perfect for depriving a perp, who is trying to hide behind a vehicle, of his cover.
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