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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I purchased a Colt Super .38 1911. I was told it is a Wadcutter pistol. I asked if I can shoot special .38’s and was told to only shoot Wadcutter? I searched online to try and determine if there is such a thing as a Wadcutter pistol and cannot find any such thing? I have asked several gun collectors and no one is familiar with a 1911 designed specifically and only for Wadcutter ammo? Can I get members of this forum familiar with 1911’s and the Wadcutter ammo to weigh in on this dilemma?
 

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Yes, probably a conversion to .38 Special wadcutter.
 
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It used to be fairly common to convert .38 Supers to shoot .38 Special Midrange Wadcutters for NRA Centerfire (Bullseye) competition. Jim Clark was the best known but not the only gunsmith doing the work. It is pretty much a one way alteration, hard to go back to .38 Super. Surprising all those "collectors" were not familiar with the type.

Pictures would help, show the magazine and the barrel out of the gun.
 

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If a .38 Special case will drop fully into the chamber, then yes.
 
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Does the magazine look like either of these?
Colt .38 Mid Range magazine on the left, converted Colt .38 Super magazine to .38 Special wadcutter on the right.

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If a .38 Special case will drop fully into the chamber, then yes.
Agree with @RickB . If a .38 Special case will fully seat in the chamber, it's a conversion, wadcutter only.

I'd bet a dollar to a beignet, though, that if it's roll marked, "Colt Super .38 Automatic", it's simply a plain ol' Colt Super .38 Automatic, and the seller didn't know what he's talking about. Probably doesn't know the difference between a .38 Special and a Super .38, saw a reference to the Gold Cup National Match .38 Special Mid-Range pistol somewhere, and thought that's what he had.
 

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Well the pic of the magazine pretty much confirms it.
That is an earlier Colt 38 Special Mid Range magazine than mine pictured above. Looks like you have a nice pistol.
Now you have to remove the barrel and see if an empty .38 Special brass case fits in the chamber of the barrel. I would suspect it will and what you have is a converted .38 Super to .38 Special wadcutter. The frame of your pistol is an Ithaca WWII era 1911-A1 frame. Once you have the slide off, look on the bottom flat of the slide and see if there are any builders markings. Conversions like this were common in the 60's. I would suspect it's a lovely shooter. You may find that .38 Special "wadcutter" ammunition is tough to find, but it's out there. Your pistol will not shoot anything else. Midway USA has a couple of brands on their website.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

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Looks like it's not a Colt; FJA inspection would be Ithaca or Remington Rand M1911A1.
 

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Right. It is a Colt .38 Super slide and either a rechambered .38 Super barrel or a replacement barrel in .38 Special mounted on an Army surplus receiver. Adjustable sights, stippled frontstrap, and trigger shoe are marks of a complete conversion for target shooting.
Note the magazine will only hold 5 shots, that is all you need for a string of fire in bullseye shooting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Right. It is a Colt .38 Super slide and either a rechambered .38 Super barrel or a replacement barrel in .38 Special mounted on an Army surplus receiver. Adjustable sights, stippled frontstrap, and trigger shoe are marks of a complete conversion for target shooting.
Note the magazine will only hold 5 shots, that is all you need for a string of fire in bullseye shooting.
Thank you, great information, I really appreciate the help I have received.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
But say, what motivated you to buy a gun that you did not know what it was?
I collect Colts. I primarily have collected Colt peacemakers over the years but recently became interested in the Colt 1911. I wanted to return to shooting. I have a couple commutative Colts 1911 but won’t shoot them. I had a 1911 shipped to a local dealer from Texas and he had this 1911 in the showcase. I thought I did my homework but obviously not so good. He did tell me it was a conversion to Wadcutter. I was just intrigued. In hindsight I would have preferred a 1911 .38 Colt, but I am where I am!
 

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Agree with @RickB . If a .38 Special case will fully seat in the chamber, it's a conversion, wadcutter only.

I'd bet a dollar to a beignet, though, that if it's roll marked, "Colt Super .38 Automatic", it's simply a plain ol' Colt Super .38 Automatic, and the seller didn't know what he's talking about. Probably doesn't know the difference between a .38 Special and a Super .38, saw a reference to the Gold Cup National Match .38 Special Mid-Range pistol somewhere, and thought that's what he had.
Well, sounds like I may owe someone a beignet! :sneaky:
 

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A .38 Super slide/extractor would also need to be modified to accept the larger rim of a .38 Special cartridge.
 
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