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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Could someone give me an idea of what is involved in converting a 9mm pistol to .38 Super? Specifically, I'm thinking about starting with either a Para 18.9, or a Springfield Range Officer (9mm). Would I be better off to just start with a frame, and build it from scratch?

Thanks.
 

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A 9mm/.38 super is the easiest conversion there is. A barrel and magazine is all that is needed.

The Springfield would be the best route.
 

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converting 9mm to .38 super....

A barrel and magazine is all that is needed.
Maybe....maybe not.... If your current 1911 9mm uses magazines with the spacer in the back, you may have the original long 9mm ejector on the frame. If this is the case, you may have to swap out a shorter .38 super ejector......
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks. I had hoped it would be easy. Changing an ejector would be a small price to pay.

I agree, in principle, on the Springfield, but I also like the capacity and feel of the P18 (an STI just isn't in the budget right now). I have two Para Pro Customs (9 & .45), and a couple of Springers, and I like all of them. I'm guessing that, if I want a ramped barrel, the degree of difficulty goes up?
 

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I sent my 9mm Wilson back to them to fit a barrel and extractor. The 9mm extractor actually handles the .38 with no problem. You have two guns for the cost of barrel etc. That runs just south of $500 thru Wilson.
 

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Ramped barrels...

I'm guessing that, if I want a ramped barrel, the degree of difficulty goes up?
If you are buying a 9mm that already uses a ramped barrel, then replacing and fitting a .38 super ramped barrel is not an issue. Most all of my 1911 guns that use high pressure rounds, such as 9mm, .40, and .38 super, I have made with Wilson/Nowlin ramped barrels. I recently received from Brownell's a W/N 9mm ramped 5" Kart barrel, that had been backordered for over 2 months....:scratch:

STI sells single stack 1911 guns with W/N ramped barrels in 9mm, and the least expensive is the Ranger II, which is a Commander length pistol....This guns retails for roughly $1,200. However, if you purchased a SA Range Officer and ordered a ramped barrel and had the frame cut, it would most likely be very close to the same cost.

I like the length and balance of a Commander length gun, and my everyday carry is an all steel 1911 Commander in .38 super. I reload my own and make .38 super +P+ JHP ammo for self defense.....

You may look at the Rock Island Armory line-up of guns to find out if they offer a ramped barrel in any of their 9mm or .38super 1911 guns.....you may have to call them to find out if they use ramped barrels or if this an option with any models.

https://us.armscor.com/

Good luck!
 

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Agree with Rwe, by the time you rebarrel a 9mm to .38 Super, you could have bought a Super in the first place.
But then you wouldn't have the option of going back to 9mm when you got tired of scrounging up .38 Super ammo and brass.

And we just got through several years of rebarreling .38 Supers to 9mm until the makers caught on that there was a market for a 1911 shooting the cheapest centerfire ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to all who answered. The depth of knowledge and experience here never fails to impress.

I think I've made my decision, and I'm going to give it a try. Since it doesn't require any permanent changes to the frame or slide, and I just acquired (a Christmas present - I have a great wife) 9mm Para Pro Custom (and, according to Para, the magazines will work with both cartridges), it now seems like a no-brainer to order a barrel and bushing. Happily, Novak is only about an hours drive from me, and it needs a trigger job, anyway.

It does raise some other questions, however; Which barrel (Bar-Sto, Wilson, et al, and realizing that there will be differing opinions); do I need a different recoil spring and/or buffer, and most of all; is there anything important that I don't know to ask about?

Sorry if these are elementary questions. I'm an experienced shooter and reloader, and own eight 1911's, but the only thing I know about working on Browning's masterpiece is that I need to let a gunsmith do it.

Thanks again

Old Fed
 

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Which barrel....?

I am somewhat surprised that Para told you their 9mm mags will also allow proper functioning of the .38 super round. Most mfgs. of 1911 style 9mm guns use a spacer in the back of the mag to allow better reliability and functioning,and those that do, often use a longer extended ejector. An original Colt 1911 in 9mm uses an extended ejector that is roughly .375" (3/8") longer than a .38 super ejector. The longer ejector in the 9mm helps to eject the fired brass faster, so the round being stripped from the top of the mag does not interfere with the fired brass.....there is a reason why Colt engineers designed their 9mm guns this way.....!

However, if you use a Metalform ramped front type follower 9mm mag, you may not require a longer ejector, since the 9mm round does not ride as close to the front of the mag as the mags with spacers in the back. Perhaps the Para mags are made by Metal form and have the ramped front....:scratch:

As far as ordering a standard (non-ramped) barrel, the three I most often use are Kart, Barsto, or KKM barrels. If you order "drop-in" type barrels, these are usually fully chambered so no finishing reamers may be required. If you order a gunsmith fit type barrel, you will need to check if their barrels have short chambers, and if they do, you will need a reamer.
 

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I am somewhat surprised that Para told you their 9mm mags will also allow proper functioning of the .38 super round. Most mfgs. of 1911 style 9mm guns use a spacer in the back of the mag to allow better reliability and functioning,and those that do, often use a longer extended ejector. An original Colt 1911 in 9mm uses an extended ejector that is roughly .375" (3/8") longer than a .38 super ejector. The longer ejector in the 9mm helps to eject the fired brass faster, so the round being stripped from the top of the mag does not interfere with the fired brass.....there is a reason why Colt engineers designed their 9mm guns this way.....!

However, if you use a Metalform ramped front type follower 9mm mag, you may not require a longer ejector, since the 9mm round does not ride as close to the front of the mag as the mags with spacers in the back. Perhaps the Para mags are made by Metal form and have the ramped front....:scratch:

As far as ordering a standard (non-ramped) barrel, the three I most often use are Kart, Barsto, or KKM barrels. If you order "drop-in" type barrels, these are usually fully chambered so no finishing reamers may be required. If you order a gunsmith fit type barrel, you will need to check if their barrels have short chambers, and if they do, you will need a reamer.
I believe the Para Pro Custom is a double stack so the 38 super rounds may indeed work in the 9mm mags. Being a double stack, the Metalform ramped front type follower 9mm mag is not an option.
 

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Double stack Paraordnance mags....

I believe the Para Pro Custom is a double stack so the 38 super rounds may indeed work in the 9mm mags.
They will most likely work, but the question is how reliable will they be.... STI 9mm double stack guns use magazines with a spacer in the back, so using a longer ejector is desirable. However, the nylon spacer used in the mag is easily removed to allow .38 super rounds for a double stack .38 super gun.
 

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They will most likely work, but the question is how reliable will they be.... STI 9mm double stack guns use magazines with a spacer in the back, so using a longer ejector is desirable. However, the nylon spacer used in the mag is easily removed to allow .38 super rounds for a double stack .38 super gun.
Para 9mm mags are extremely reliable. The difference between Para's 9mm and 38 Super mags is the depth of the transition groove, which affects cartridge angle. The tapered 9mm requires a deeper transition groove to avoid a nosedive gap. http://38super.net/Pages/Para Magazines.html

I've used 38 Super in Para's 9mm mags with good effect. However, if the OP reloads, the rimless 38 Super Comp brass will provide more reliable feeding in double column magazines. Some double column magazines don't like the semi-rimmed 38 Super brass. That's why the rimless versions were created - to get some double column magazine to feed.

The OP should have no concerns with the mags, until there is a problem. In this case, the most likely problem will be the semi-rimmed brass. http://38super.net/Pages/Brass.html
 

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For what it's worth, I have a couple of Para's in 9mm/38 Super. All I do is switch barrels. I use the same magazines and ejector and extractor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you, gentlemen. This is great information.

The Pro Custom has, as noted above, a double stack magazine. For clarification, Para didn't actually tell me that the mags would work, but the mags are advertised as 9mm/.38 Super. After reading your concerns, I loaded one with .38 Super rounds, and there seems to be adequate clearance within the magazine. Of course, I can't tell about the feed angle.

I do reload .38 Super, to feed my single-stack Commander, and already use rimless brass, so I'm covered on that score.

On re-inspection, I also realized that the 9mm barrel is ramped. While I know (at least, I think that I know) that there are different ramp configurations/cuts, I have no idea how to tell which is which. I've been unsuccessful at contacting anyone at Para-USA who can answer my questions, probably due to their move to Alabama.
 

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Back in 2009 I picked up a slightly used Colt XSE LW Commander in 38 Super. A friend bought it and did not reload. I picked it up at a good price with the thought of putting a 9mm (9x19) barrel in it. I fit a Nowlin barrel and bushing to it and did have to play with the extractor a bit to get it to work with both rounds. By the time I found out you can use 38 Super mags with 9mm I had bought a few 9mm mags.

Anyway, all this was funny as heck during the last panic when you couldn't find 9mm but 38 Super was all over for a buck or two more for 50 than pre panic. I also bought some loading dies and was saving brass and never put the 9mm barrel back in the pistol.
 

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Back in 2009 I picked up a slightly used Colt XSE LW Commander in 38 Super. A friend bought it and did not reload. I picked it up at a good price with the thought of putting a 9mm (9x19) barrel in it. I fit a Nowlin barrel and bushing to it and did have to play with the extractor a bit to get it to work with both rounds. By the time I found out you can use 38 Super mags with 9mm I had bought a few 9mm mags.

Anyway, all this was funny as heck during the last panic when you couldn't find 9mm but 38 Super was all over for a buck or two more for 50 than pre panic. I also bought some loading dies and was saving brass and never put the 9mm barrel back in the pistol.
I have the full size 38super its about 30 yrs old like new,have to check if the barrel/bushing is for full size or CC.
Thanks
 
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