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I notice some folks are carrying a 38 Super in the 1911 rather than 9mm or 45acp.
So can you tell me what you are the advantages to the Super over the 9mm?
Any advantage over the 45? Reduced recoil perhaps?
And how potent would rank the 357 Sig against the 38 Super?
 

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I like the .38 super for its flexibility. I can shoot range rounds that are soft as a 9mm, carry defensive rounds with a real punch, and generally shoot anywhere in between. I also think the length of the super being like a .45 makes it feed more reliably than a 9mm, especially when the gun is new and hasn't been tweaked.
 

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I don't know much about 38 super but I know at max loading the 357 sig has about 125 more FPs and 100 FTLBs of energy over the 38 super in 124 grain.. According to under woods specs
 

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,38 Super: .357 mag (low end) velocities in a 10/11 round 1911, less recoil, flatter trajectory.
Or download for soft shooting range/"fun" gun.
 

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I don't find the reliability issues are much concern in the 9mm 1911s anymore. I have 3 of them and have shot probky about 10-12k rounds from them and haven't had any reliability issues to speak of.. They have been every bit as reliable as my 45s. I think the new magazines and tuning have brought the 9mm a long way in last couple decades.. But you definitely have more room to experiment with a 38 super because of case volume ect being able to use heavier and lighter charges.. I generally buy 9mm because I don't reload often enough or have the time to do so to buy a 38 super.for just the purposes of punching paper . I carry either 10mm-357sig or 45 .
 

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In a 1911 (specifically a 1911), the 38 Super generates a recoil impulse that's much more similar to a 45acp. It's OAL is also very similar to a 45acp. These factors, in turn, enhances reliability. Of course, one must recognize that advances have been made towards making 9mm 1911s far more reliable than was typically true just a few years ago. So the "reliability advantage" is not as big of a factor as it once was.

38 Super obviously has some considerable ballistic advantages over 9mm. Here again though, it is fair to say that with today's better designed 9mm SD ammo, a 9mm is clearly a competent round for SD purposes.

Other than higher cost and scarcity of ammo, perhaps the only disadvantage of 38 Super is that it generates very high chamber pressures. The phrase "38 Super Face" didn't come about by "accident" (a bit of pun here, as it actually did come about via accidents) ... i.e., accidents are likely with unsupported chambers/unramped barrels, and all the more likely for reloaders (re-used brass).

If someone seeks deep penetration (or plans to shoot through sheet steel, etc.), the 38 Super may offer more than the 45acp. Some prefer the 38 Super for this reason, although I personally think the 45acp is, overall, at least as good, if not better, for most SD applications. There are tradeoffs, of course, and one must also consider over-penetration risks.
 

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The .357 SIG cartridge is the greatest thing to happen to handguns since JMB.

:rock:

:rofl:

On a serious note, I could never shoot another handgun caliber again and be perfectly happy. The .357 SIG puts a smile on my face like no other.
 

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I don't know much about 38 super but I know at max loading the 357 sig has about 125 more FPs and 100 FTLBs of energy over the 38 super in 124 grain.. According to under woods specs
If you get a chance, you should try shooting 38S. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I recently had my Springfield Loaded converted from a 9 to 38S. It is an extremely flat shooting round and incredibly enjoyable to shoot this gun. Recoil impulse is minimal.

Generally run GECO IPSC ammo, which has a power factor of 155-160 moving 124gr ball ammo at 1250-1300 fps.
 

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If you do a search, you'll find several threads discussing this comparison. I have 1911s in .45 and .38 Super. I shoot the .38 Super better, because the recoil is softer, much like a 9mm, and follow up shots are easier. Cor Bon and Buffalo Bore have .38 Super loads that are significantly hotter than 9mm, but it isn't quite the equal of .357 Sig. Even so, I like it so much that I'm on the lookout for a lightweight Commander in .38 Super for carry.
 

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I've owned both calibers but never got around to handloading the .357 SIG. I've shot and loaded the Super for many years. In factory ammo that I've actually chronographed, the 357 SIG did exceed Super 38 ballistics. I still prefer the straight sided Super over the bottle necked 357 SIG. Reloading for a pistol with a ramped barrel, 1450 fps or so with a 125 grain bullet can certainly be achieved safely with the Super. With it's heavily constructed case head, the 9X23 Winchester safely does this even an unramped and not fully supported barrel.

The 9MM 1911s with ramped barrels have become a favorite of mine. The ramped barrels not only have superior case head support, but really aid in making the 9MM 1911 a very reliable firearm. I've had Springfields, Kimbers, Dan Wessons, and an STI with ramped barrels, and of course Colts with the traditional unramped barrels. Some of the factory 9MM +P+ and similar handloads in the 5" barrels produce some impressive ballistics from this little cartridge. Ultimately of course, the larger Super and 357 SIG loaded to their full potential exceed what the 9 can safely do. In this case size/case capacity does matter. I continue to prefer 9MM, Super 38 and 9X23 Winchester over the bottle necked SIG.......ymmv

BTW, it take quite a fire breathing 9MM/38 Super/357 SIG load to even approach the recoil of a regular 230 grain .45ACP ball load.
 

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I owned my first Colt 1911 in Super .38 in the 1970's. As I soon discovered, accuracy was so-so. I reloaded, but couldn't find anything that really enhanced accuracy. I sold the gun and concentrated on .45 ACP. Years later, when I re-discovered the Super .38, the accuracy issues had been resolved, and it's become my favorite.

I was never a big fan of the 9mm Luger cartridge, but that's recently changed. I've shot pistols from Browning HP's, to S&W Models 39 & 59, to Beretta Model 92's, to Glocks. The downside to the double-stacks has always been that the grip was too wide for my stubby fingers. The performance, in a word, sucked. But, this was before the ammo makers turned their talents to improving the cartridge.

The Super .38 at its best is marginally better than the 9mm at its best. In a 1911 platform, both are great calibers. I reload for the Super .38, so I get better performance than factory ammo, by far. I have a Colt LWT Commander in Super .38, and I carry it almost every day.

I recently, though, started shooting 9mm. At first, I used it as a conversion from .40 S&W in two S&W M&P pistols (Pro CORE and Compact). 9mm brings down the cost of shooting significantly. It's become a great deal of fun to shoot the 9mm, and now I've purchased to Officer size pistols, a Colt Defender and a Springfield RO Compact. The Springer is going to get some carry time.

The Super .38 is still my favorite, but the 9mm is really hard to beat.

I can't say much about the .357 Sig. I've only shot a couple of pistols in the caliber, but I'm not a fan of any semiauto pistol that uses a bottle-neck case. It's always seemed to me that the .357 Sig was the answer to an unasked question. With the 9mm and Super .38, why bother?
 

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I like the .38 Super for a number of reasons - power, capacity, reliability, versatility. In addition, as has been pointed out, a 1911 in .38 Super can be fitted with other barrels like 9mm for more economical practice. I have a custom Colt Super that is fitted with 9mm and 9x23 Winchester barrels. I shoot all kinds of 9mm and Super ammo out of it, 9x23 Winchester for hunting, and even 9mm Largo out of the 9x23 barrel when I can find it cheap. My carry load is Georgia Arms 124gr Gold Dot HP @ 1350fps - good stuff!
 

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I notice some folks are carrying a 38 Super in the 1911 rather than 9mm or 45acp.
So can you tell me what you are the advantages to the Super over the 9mm?
Any advantage over the 45? Reduced recoil perhaps?
And how potent would rank the 357 Sig against the 38 Super?
I don't own a 38 Super anymore; used to, liked it, just moved on.

There can be various reasons to choose any caliber over another. For example, the rules of some gun games may favor one caliber over others.

However, as far as "potent" goes as a defensive cartridge, generally speaking, all of them are just as good as the others.

It is kind of like the "what oil is best for my motorcycle" question: there are lots of dearly held opinions on the matter. But one thing has really changed and that is this: the service loadings available in these calibers today are not the stuff that was available even ten years ago.

Fackler (who just died a few months ago), Roberts, and all the other wound ballistics gurus and geeks have been testing the snot out of small arms ammunition for years now - as have the ammo manufacturers. Not just into media, but because they're wooing the LE market, through heavy cloth, drywall, sheet metal, etc. The short story is generally this: pick a known and approved load in the gun and caliber of your choice, ensure it is reliable, and then quit worrying about caliber, bullet weight, velocity, etc and focus instead on mindset and sufficient training to keep skills sharp.

In my opinion - and feel free to disagree if you wish, I won't argue it with anyone to try and convince them otherwise - if you're carrying a 9mm with 124 - 147 grain HST, Gold Dots, Golden Sabres, Ranger, etc., whether standard pressure or +P, you have a bullet every bit as reliable and similarly performing as somebody using a 40 S&W, 357 Sig, or 45 ACP. That would have been heresy even ten years ago, but the changes in bullet design have been nothing short of dramatic during that time.

In fact, I would have some misgivings about using service bullets loaded by boutique manufacturers i.e. Underwood, Buffalo Bore, and Double Tap. Not because I believe they are sloppy in their manufacturing process - in fact, I think they take extreme care. But because they are pushing a bullet to velocities several hundred feet per second (or perhaps more) faster than the velocity envelope the bullet was designed for and performance confirmed with.

We are a society which generally presumes that bigger, faster, stronger always equals better. That may be usually true, but not always, and bullet velocity/performance envelopes can be one of those situations. I can recall a while ago where the labs tested Underwood's 40 S&W 165 gr Gold Dot load (I think) against Speer's lower velocity 155 and 165 grain Gold Dot loads. I don't remember the comparison of the results for each of the media, but the end story was that the Underwood did not perform as well as the Speer loadings. Probably, precisely because of all that extra velocity which is why most buy it in the first place. Roy Weatherby had a few similar problems with the hunting bullets available in his day when he started launching them at speeds well beyond what they were intended for, so this isn't anything new.

And in exchange for the faster velocities you get by picking the highest velocity ammunition you can buy, what do you get? More recoil (which doesn't help shot to shot performance), blast, flash, and more wear and tear on the gun.

For those who think it is still a better choice, all the power to you. But after having just spent a couple of weeks browsing through all the current data flowing in about the state of things today, I happen to be in the process of moving from 40 S&W back to 9mm. I made that the move to 40 back quite a while ago when it was obvious that 9mms weren't the best that could be had for service ammunition. In my opinion, that has changed. I don't believe I am losing anything in terminal performance going back to 9mm and exchange I am getting more controllability and more rounds.

I think there is one exception, and that is when you are in the less than ideal position of having to use a handgun against furry critters with claws and teeth and the size and strength to rearrange your anatomy - or simply eat you. My belief is that is a job for heavy, hard cast bullets with big meplats and that is where the folks at Underwood, Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, etc are at the top of the pile.

Anyways, if it leaves you curious, you can Google the whole thing and find it covered in exhaustive detail in a number of places in the last three years. Probably more information than you ever wanted to read through or know. Suffice it to say that I think there is more than one reason the FBI has now decided to move back to the 9mm, along with more than a few individual police departments following suit. I'm with them; I'm carrying standard pressure Federal 147 grain HST, but if I was "stuck" instead with Speer Gold Dot 124 grain, I wouldn't lose one minute of sleep over it. The HST just happened to be cheaper and more available when I switched back and better matched my range time ammo as far as sight settings POA/POI went.

I'll leave a few cut and paste teasers to add to the food for thought (acknowledgement to Dr Gary Roberts & associated staff, Winchester, and ATK).

Have fun...:

The following loads all demonstrate outstanding terminal performance and can be considered acceptable for duty/self-defense use:

9 mm:
Barnes XPB 115 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Federal Tactical 124 gr JHP (LE9T1)
Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP (P9HST3)
Remington Golden Saber bonded 124 gr +P JHP (GSB9MMD)
Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 124 gr +P JHP (RA9124TP)
Winchester 124 gr +P bonded JHP (RA9BA)
Winchester Ranger-T 127 gr +P+ JHP (RA9TA)
Federal Tactical 135 gr +P JHP (LE9T5)
Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr +P PT
Federal HST 147 gr JHP (P9HST2)
Remington Golden Saber 147 gr JHP (GS9MMC)
Speer Gold Dot 147 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 147 gr JHP (RA9T)
Winchester 147 gr bonded JHP (RA9B/Q4364)

.40 S&W:
Barnes XPB 140 & 155 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Speer Gold Dot 155 gr JHP
Federal Tactical 165 gr JHP (LE40T3)
Speer Gold Dot 165 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 165 gr JHP (RA40TA)
Federal HST 180 gr JHP (P40HST1)
Federal Tactical 180 gr JHP (LE40T1)
Remington Golden Saber 180 gr JHP (GS40SWB)
Speer Gold Dot 180 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 180 gr JHP (RA40T)
Winchester 180 gr bonded JHP (RA40B/Q4355/S40SWPDB1)

.45 ACP:
Barnes XPB 185 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Hornady Critical Duty 220 gr +P JHP
Federal HST 230 gr JHP (P45HST2)
Federal HST 230 gr +P JHP (P45HST1)
Federal Tactical 230 gr JHP (LE45T1)
Speer Gold Dot 230 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 230 gr JHP (RA45T)
Winchester Ranger-T 230 gr +P JHP (RA45TP)


Notes:
-- Obviously, clone loads using the same bullet at the same velocity work equally well (ie. Black Hills ammo using Gold Dot bullets, Corbon loads using Barnes XPB bullets, etc…)

-- Bullet designs like the Silver Tip, Hydra-Shok, and Black Talon were state of the art 15 or 20 years ago. These older bullets tend to plug up and act like FMJ projectiles when shot through heavy clothing; they also often have significant degradation in terminal performance after first passing through intermediate barriers. Modern ammunition which has been designed for robust expansion against clothing and intermediate barriers is significantly superior to the older designs. The bullets in the Federal Classic and Hydrashok line are outperformed by other ATK products such as the Federal Tactical and HST, as well as the Speer Gold Dot; likewise Winchester Ranger Talons are far superior to the old Black Talons or civilian SXT's.


http://le.atk.com/wound_ballistics/load_comparison/load_comparison.aspx

http://www.winchester.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/flash-SWFs/law_bullit.swf

 

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The .38 super cartridge used in a 1911 carry gun

The gap of "which cartridge" is best to use for self defense has narrowed. 9mm rounds have come a long way in terminal performance. Hot loaded .38 super JHP ammo has often been a favorite for those that handload the cartridge, and use ramped, fully supported barrels to drive velocities higher than max SAMMI pressure recommendations.

At one time, most self defense trainers followed the "bigger is better" bullet theory for terminal performance and the heavy 230 gr. bullets of the .45acp were often recommended..... During that time, lighter and smaller JHP bullets that did not have reliable expansion were often criticized and shunned as a self defense choice.

Times have changed and better powders that can drive higher velocities with less pressure, and better JHP bullets with improved terminal ballistics are now widely accepted for carry use.

I use a .38 super for self defense, handload all my self defense loads, and feel very comfortable with my choice. I know that shooting a light JHP bullet at high velocity produces less muzzle lift than a heavy bullet at the same or sometimes lower velocity. For me, less muzzle lift provides faster follow up shots. Being able to shoot fast and accurately takes skill. Some may never be able to shoot fast and accurately no matter what caliber they choose....:eek: For self defense, I always recommend that people choose the gun, the caliber, and the holster that they shoot the best for speed and accuracy. Only a hit on a threat counts in a gun fight....and the faster a person can do that, the better their chance of survival.....:rock:
 

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Coffee Table Test

The way to get through all the hype on which caliber is best (assuming you can shoot both well) is the coffee table test: Make sure wify and the kids are "in bed"...Lay down on the living room couch...Close your eyes...Clear your mind...See what your "gut" tells you in answer to this question: "If a nasty kicked in the front door while you were napping on the couch, which gun/caliber would you (most) want laying on that coffee table next to you when the nasty is just a few feet away, truly CQB?"

We know the answer to this of course.

Another alternative is to carry both a 45 and 38S...See below, a Turnbull manufacturer's 38S, an a Wilson Elite Pro 45. Both in "commander" size. That would make a nice carry package. (Too bad I can't carry here :bawling:).

Seriously, I like the super for its penetrating qualities, but overall, hard to beat a 45 for civilian SD. (Never shot a 9, have no desire to have one, in 1911, (on-average), they seem to have many more reliability issues than 38S, and about 10% less ballistic capability). YMMV, of course.
C.A.
 

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The gap of "which cartridge" is best to use for self defense has narrowed. 9mm rounds have come a long way in terminal performance. Hot loaded .38 super JHP ammo has often been a favorite for those that handload the cartridge, and use ramped, fully supported barrels to drive [velocities] pressures higher than max SAMMI pressure recommendations.
Fixed it for you. :)
 
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