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Local LGS has a very nice NIB Colt Commander "Custom Shop in nickel,beautiful gun my question is how good is the 38 Super cartridge as a defensive cartridge ? price $1159.00 which I thought was very attractive given the price of many comparable 1911's. Not excited about adding a new cartridge to my current line up of 27 cartridges, is it cast bullet friendly ?
 

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The 38 Super has a small but loyal following. You either love it or hate it. Personally my Colts are oldest is 1929 (first year) and newest is a 1969 vintage, no Commander size at present but I have had a few and liked them both light weight and steel frame . I also have a Kimber Bright Stainless full size. That said I was lucky enough that when I bought my first one I also got around 3000 of ammo and 6 spare mags in the deal. that made it much easier to handle the change in ammo and mag size. The round shoots much flatter than the 45.
As to a defensive round it is adequate and the mag will carry one more round than a comparable 45. The round was originally developed to provide law enforcement with better penetration of the thicker steel used in car bodies in the 20's and 30's. New loadings are somewhat reduced from the original, probably due to the fact that the 1900/1902/1903 Colts in 38 auto would chamber and fire the 38 Super but their design was not up to heavier recoil forces. When the slide retaining wedge sheared the slide would come straight back at the shooter.
The price is in my opinion ok but not great for a newer gun. Just my 2 cents.
 

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I think the reason for the "Mexican Magnum" moniker was that before the present day total ban on privately owned firearms the government had a restriction of firearms of any caliber used by the military or police. Therefore 38 Special, 9MM Parabelum and 45 ACP were off limits for civilians. The civilians and private security fell back on 38 Super in a 1911 format delivery system. I do know that's still today they are easy to sell as tortillas along the border.
 

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Is it the two tone Talo model? Very few of those made. I would get it if I had any money as I really like 38 Super. A true hoot to shoot. I have had 5 over the years.
 

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Local LGS has a very nice NIB Colt Commander "Custom Shop in nickel,beautiful gun my question is how good is the 38 Super cartridge as a defensive cartridge ? price $1159.00 which I thought was very attractive given the price of many comparable 1911's. Not excited about adding a new cartridge to my current line up of 27 cartridges, is it cast bullet friendly ?
"The 38 Super ranks as one of the more powerful “common” semi-automatic pistol cartridges. (See Table 1. Data is from the manufacturer’s published ballistics and is based on generic ammo typical of that cartridge. Published velocities for a given cartridge vary between manufacturers). With a muzzle energy (ME) of 426 foot pounds, the Super’s sheer power is exceeded only by the 357 Sig, 9X23 Winchester and 10mm. The 38 Super surpasses its larger caliber allies, the 40 S&W and 45 ACP, in raw energy."

Great Gun

 

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I currently have two Commanders in .38 Super a newer XSE LWT and a 1972 vintage with a Bar Sto barrel. The first pistol that I actually bought myself was a Series 70 .38 Super in 1975. Shot it a lot.

As for a defensive cartridge it is a good choice IMO, although ammo selection is limited outside of the 130 MC. Winchester markets a 125 Silvertip and has for many years, and Wilson Combat markets a round loaded with Hornady XTP HP, and it seems like a good round.
 

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Very easy to reload. My Talo LW Commander has never had anything in it but 124gn TC lead from MBC.
Took awhile to get the OAL correct so it would feed reliably, and it needs to run pretty wet.
 

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I'm another fan of the .38 Super. In addition to Colts, I have a Sig-Sauer, EAA Witness, Para-Ord, and AMT Back-up, all in .38 Super. The price is about what I see around here as retail for a new Colt 1991, either in .38 Super or .45 ACP.
 

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Here is one from 1958, 4th issue, nickel of course. I recently have
become interested in the 38 Super. It is a fun round to shoot, and accurate too.
Many years ago an older gent I used to buy guns from tried to convince me that
the 38 Super was the way to go. He had a fantastic collection, and offered to sell me
a few. I resisted as I was mostly interested in 45 ACP at the time. I finally picked up this
nickel about a year ago. No, I don't shoot it, I have another modern one for that.


 

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I love the .38 super. Currently I own two. A safe queen (I have shot it) from '47 and a nice condition shooter from '52. It is however a handloaders cartridge if you want to reach its full potential. I chronographed some factory +P loads and found them to be just a bit better than 9mm+P, not breaking the 1200 FPS mark. However with handloads, safe ones not those used by IPSC shooters, I can reach just under 1400 FPS with the Speer Gold Dot 125 gr .357 SIG bullet. Recoil is very mild by comparison. Cor-Bon does load for it but I have yet to feel the need to spend that kind of money to test a cartridge loading. Yes it loves cast bullets. That is what I use when I am just out shooting.

A .38 super Commander is on my to-do list but money is tight so I will have to wait.
 

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I think the reason for the "Mexican Magnum" moniker was that before the present day total ban on privately owned firearms the government had a restriction of firearms of any caliber used by the military or police. Therefore 38 Special, 9MM Parabelum and 45 ACP were off limits for civilians. The civilians and private security fell back on 38 Super in a 1911 format delivery system. I do know that's still today they are easy to sell as tortillas along the border.
Not just Mexico. The model for this law is also used in numerous countries. Italy comes to mind immediately. It's one reason that some gun mfgs. continue to make semi autos in 30 Luger.

I've always heard that 38 Super was a good self defense caliber. The ft/lbs. of energy at the muzzle is higher than that of standard ball 9mm and 45acp (about 350 ft/lbs.), which are about the same.
I have a lot of 45acp guns because I like it, not because I percieve it as a wonder caliber:) I also like that thick cross sectional density of the big cartridge. Like many, I just don't want to start stocking another caliber. Same reason I keep my 9mms over 40 S&W (I have only 1, a full sized HK USP). I think they are both abundantly lethal in practiced hands.

I try to remember with modern calibers, that the energy delivered on target at close range is completely focused on a spot about a half an inch square and smaller, not spread out. Even 200 ft/lbs. of energy (38 Special or .380) focused on soft tissue and bone at close range has a lot more power than we give it credit for. That's really a lot of damage for mammalian tissue to suffer. I think shot placement is paramount.

The numbers become somewhat abstract to me when reading ballistics figures unless I think of performance in those terms.
 
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