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Can 1911 38 super be converted to 38 special?

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Joey S., Apr 15, 2010.

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  1. Joey  S.

    Joey S. TS Member

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    I have been told that the 1911 pistol was once offered in 38 special wad cutter. Can a 38 super be converted to 38 special wad cutter? Is it simply a barrel change or is there more involved? thanks, Joe S.
     
  2. Steve W

    Steve W Well-Known Member

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    It's more than a barrel change, the .38 Spl has larger rim dia. Magazine is quite different too.
     
  3. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Look for a nice used S&W Model 52. More accurate than a .38 Wadcutter 1911, at least in my experience. After I quit using mine for Bullseye and PPC I started using it for small game. Accurate, kills well, and you can eat right up to the bullet hole.
     
  4. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    If you reload.. I make a 357 Longneck.. based on the 10mm mag..necked all the way down to 357 sig size..without trimming the neck.. You can load it exactly like a 38 wadcutter.. but it feeds far better.. uses common 10mm magazines..and brass lasts forever with 12/15000 psi loadings..Any standard 40 S&W or 10mm 1911 slide will work fine.. barrels can be a 38 Super.. or a ramped..(which I perfer) 9mm/38 Super..
    [​IMG]
    I'm also looking at shortening a 357 Sig die to have a yet longer neck for hollowbase wadcutters..
     
  5. Joey  S.

    Joey S. TS Member

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    Perrazzibigbore - I do not yet reload. I was looking to start and since I own both a Colt Python and a Ruger BlackHawk in 357, I was thinking it might be good to reload in 38 special.

    Unfortunately at this point in time your concept is a little to advanced for me.
    Your Ideas however are quite facinating, I always enjoy reading your posts.

    I would also like to thank you and others for help with a jamming problem I was experiencing with a series 70 Colt gold cup. By switching to a lighter recoil spring and using Chip McCormick magazines I was able to eliminate any jamming with some very light SWC ammo I was using.

    Thanks,
    Joe S.
     
  6. 221

    221 Banned User Banned TS Supporters

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    MKIII Colts in 38special, are a cool variation of a 1911.....I would never ruin a good 38 super by having it converted to 38 special.......It used to be done until target shooters realized 38's were obsolete for Bullseye....I'd leave that super alone and shoot the SWC loads like you have been doing.

    38super to 38special.....Bad Idea. BUT if you must, please don't butcher a good Colt.....Someday you'll thank me.

    Magazines for 38special....100.00+
     
  7. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    My only arguement with the 38 Gold Cup is the magazines cost over $75.00 each and are real tricky to set up.. Other than that.. they are pretty much like any other 1911.. Some versions are straight blowback with a fluted chamber.. some have regular lockup..

    I bought a slide designed for straight blowback.. with the firing pin hole .050 lower.. because the barrel does not arc up.. It has a 40 cal. boltface.. One day I will build it for my 357 Sig extra longneck.. strictly for paper punching.. I need a really short chamber so a factory 357 Sig can't be fired.. The Sig.. at approx 33,000 psi is far to much for a non locked barrel..

    OK.. lets answer your question.. Your 38 Super barrel can be rechambered..to 38 Special.. You'll need to open your boltface to 38 Special.. You'll need to change your extractor.. You'll need to get and fit a few magazines in 38 Special. Probably need a lighter recoil spring for light wadcutters..

    I think the ramped barrel would help feeding..but I'd check with Bar Sto.. as they still make the correct 38 Mid range barrel..

    Once you get into reloading.. you might look into the 38/45.. It's real fun to shoot..and deadly accurate in a properly set up barrel..

    Saying all this..a good barrel in 9mm/38 Super will be every bit as accurate as the 38 Special without the headaches.. My personal experience is the 357 Sig has rewritten my accuracy records// It's just atupid accurate..very little recoil in a 1911..and easy to build/convert.. If you start with a 40 cal. slide..everything else in your 38 Super can be used.. the barrel gets rechambered.. I'll be building a 357 Sig light STI slide that's been bobtailed.. If you like the pistol games.. I'll keep you posted on its progress.. All Good.. Mike
     
  8. Bob_K

    Bob_K Well-Known Member

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    I have a Springfield Armory 9MM that was converted to .38 wad. It has a Wilson match ramped barrel, and the breech face was opened for the .38 Special rim. Very pleasent to shoot but as noted above, getting reliable feeding from magazines is a challange. Clark made some magazines that were reasonablly reliable. Mine you have to drop one in the barrel, then the four in the magazine will feed normally. With five in the magazine, the top round nosedives when you close the slide. I don't shoot pistols much anymore, so if anyone wants to make an offer, I'm willing to part with it. ...Bob_K...
     
  9. Joey  S.

    Joey S. TS Member

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    Let me clarify - The gold cup I was refering to, is a 45acp. I was just thanking all who had helped me with some jamming problems I was experiencing.

    I do not at this time own a 38 super. My original post should have read; I am thinking of a 1911 in 38 special. What size frame and slide would one start with or if converting an existing pistol what caliber would you start with.

    Thanks, Joe S.
     
  10. k1200ltc509

    k1200ltc509 Member

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    I would agree with Brian. Get a Mdl 52 if you can. A 52-1 at that. No feeding issues with it, and small game hunting with it is a ball! Headshots on a squirrel are easy within resonable distances.

    PBB, have you been loading full wadcutters as of late? Is that shortened 357 Sig going to be a self defense round? I would like to know. Rick Gibbs
     
  11. WNCRob

    WNCRob Member

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    Ditto on the model 52...probably cost less than converting, and is a fine gun with a great trigger.

    WNCRob
     
  12. Joey  S.

    Joey S. TS Member

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    O.K. guys what is the difference between the S&W model 52, 52-1 and %2-2.
    Thanks, Joe S.
     
  13. Chichay

    Chichay TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Ditto on the S&W 52-1; fun to shoot and super accurate. Magazine limited to 5 rounds. Chichay
     
  14. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    The 357 Sig Longneck has been loaded with full wadcutters.. It also feeds empty shells flawlessly.. I built it for paperpunching.. Why create a wildcat for a carry gun.??. The factory 10mm or 357 Sig does just fine..

    I've found that the 357 Sig does not have as much neck as I'd like to grasp a bullet..especially a reloaded one.. The Longneck version does just fine..

    The shortened die for the 357 Sig is to make the neck even longer on the 10mm.. Hopefully deeper than a 148 HBWC.. I think there is bullet distortion when you expand the base..inside a larger diameter case.. and then shoot it out the barrel.. My testing showed the 148gr DEWC to be more accurate.. and I think that is the reason..


    To answer the other question.. I'd start with a 9mm/38 Super frame.. because you have a little more in the feedramps.. I've seen some made on 45 frames too.. but often the smith had to weld up the feedramps and then recut.. Personally..I'd start with a 9mm..sell the slide on GB.Com and get Caspian to make a correct 38 Special slide with standard lockup.. From there.. its just parts and fitting.. No special tricks to build the gun.. How.. mags that feed.. It's still an issue..
     
  15. Chichay

    Chichay TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Joe,

    rcmodelApril 17, 2008, 07:57 PM
    52 - introduced in 1961 - SA/DA Model 39 frame parts with the DA locked out with a set-screw.
    52-1 1963 = Changed to SA only.
    52-2 - 1971 = Change to new extractor system.
    Discontinued = 1993.

    I did not check the accuracy of this posted information.

    Chichay
     
  16. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    I just spoke to Caspian/Foster.. They have 38 wadcutter slides in stock at no additional charge.. Also.. I see that the 40 S&W extractor can be modified to work with the 38 Special.. The only problem is good magazines..
     
  17. Joey  S.

    Joey S. TS Member

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    Wow you don't fool around! Thanks for the info! I briefly did a little searching and found that Clark offers a match barrel and a magazine for 38 special. The mag is $75!
     
  18. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    Trying to build a 38 Special you must be careful.. There were 2 kinds of barrels.. one locked up like your 38 Super.. the other was straight blowback.. The bottom lug is vastly different..as is the top lugs on the 2 different types.. They are NOT interchangable.. Now.. IF you have a 40 S&W.. which should have a .422 bolt face.. If you turn the rim on a 38 Special to the same size.. It will function as well as any.. but it will not use uncut 38 Special cases.. For that.. you'll need a 38 Special magazine.. barrel with locking lugs properly fitter.. and the ramp might need to be tweeked..I've done 1 of those and it came out pretty good..
     
  19. larryjk

    larryjk Member

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    Read up on the 38/45 Clerke! It was developed a long time ago for the center fire stage in bulleye where a .45 isn't required. They may call it a 38 but it is really a .355 barrel that is rechambered. Shooting .357 cast bullets in it gives you early signs of pressure problems. I shoot the .355 bullets in 124 gs. and 147 grs. It is the .45 ACP "simply" necked down to .355. Four forming dies and then a full length die. After I got all of the quirks figured out it is a hoot to shoot, as long as you don't mind chasing your brass or losing it. I don't use it as a field gun very often because of the fun making the brass. At one time Freedom Arms was playing with a .38 Casull which is almost identical.
    I wish I had contacted them about a thousand or so of the brass.
    Making the brass is a lesson in patience. You will want to learn how to anneal your brass so it lasts more than about 6 loadings. I had real good results with military brass that was thicker. You need a new barrel, a lighter recoil spring,and slightly modified magazines (lips cut back about 1/8 inch). I also found a combat ejector makes it quite stovepiping.
     
  20. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    The shorter cartridge is the 38/45 the shell next to it.. is my 9mm Supermag.. which is no more than a necked down 40 Super..

    I know of no 38/45 form die set that works well..as is.. My form set is a combination of RCBS/CH and Hollywood.. I load 6 dies in my Dillon 1000.. and just run thru the brass.. I like Federal or Winchester once fired.. but everything goes thru..

    Bullet wise.. either a HARD wadcutter.. not hollow base..or the 158 grain semi-wadcutter with about 6 grains of Unique work well..

    At the end of the day.. the 357 Sig can easily do what the 38/45 can do.. with cheaper brass.. so other than using an existing 45 slide.. It's fun.. but extra work.. Let me know if I can help... All Good.. Mike
     
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