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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I started this to reply to Pds03003's great Colt Archives posting but decided kind of out of place & too long winded --

I've often wondered why the .38 Super in the first place, considering hazard when used in the many thousands of 1900s, 1902s & 1903Hs out in public hands.

Need to perforate car bodies might have been met by a bottle-neck .45ACP to .38 or .40ACP-B.

Colt was very adept at hybrid gun design in configuring the 1905 .45ACP with minimal change to the above .38 cal series -- so why not just a barrel & mag design change to get more velocity it needed in the hundred Ks of 1911 WW1 survivors out there.

My suspicion is that Colt Marketing deliberately obsoleted the .38 auto by its same cartridge on steroids, the now dangerous .38 Super without affecting physical intrchangeability. Same Marketing suspicion Colt avoided the change of cartridge, barrel & mag, a simple conversion of the 1000s of WWI bring-backs that would stymie the sale of 1911s renamed .38 Super.

All this in the 1930s mindset of very few people interested in or equipped for DIY as exists today, recaling a 1930s gunsmith's thrill finally getting a lathe -- even though it was a foot powered one from the 1860s that only turned, no threading ----->
 

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I started this to reply to Pds03003's great Colt Archives posting but decided kind of out of place & too long winded --

I've wondered why the .38 Super in the first place, considering hazard when used in the many thousands of 1900s, 1902s & 1903Hs out in public hands.

Need to perforate car bodies might have been met by a bottle-neck .45ACP to .38 or .40ACP-B.

Colt was very adept at hybrid gun design in configuring the 1905 .45ACP with minimal change to the above .38 cal series -- so why not just a barrel & mag design change to get more velocity it needed in the hundred Ks of 1911 WW1 survivors out there.

My suspicion is that Colt Marketing deliberately obsoleted the .38 auto by its same cartridge on steroids, the now dangerous .38 Super without affecting physical intrchangeability. Same Marketing suspicion Colt avoided a simple change of cartridge, barrel & mag, a simple conversion of the 1000s of WWI bring-backs that would stymie the sale of 1911s renamed .38 Super. All this in the 1930s mindset of very few people interested in or equipped for DIY as exists today.

I recall a 1930s gunsmith's thrill finally getting a lathe -- even though it was a foot powered one from the 1860s that only turned, no threading ----->
Robert,

I believe the development 0f the 38 Super cartridge had to do with the gun laws South of the border, at least from what I've read on the subject.

It seems Mexico would not allow 45 caliber weapons or ammunition (for some reason), and thus the 38 Super popularity down there! The last I heard, that is STILL the case!
 

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Can you point me to Paul's posting to which you refer? I'm apparently too dumb to find it.

Colt had little to do with the development of the so-called .38 Super ammo. There is a lot of confusion about this but when they announced the new Super .38 pistol in 1928 and starting shipping in 1929 there was no mention of a new cartridge or higher velocity ammo to go with it. The pistol shot the same .38 ACP ammo as the prior designs. The original spec for that ammo (from 1900) called for a velocity of 1260 FPS from a 6" barrel. Most loadings fell in the range of 1160 to 1280 and Colt's ad for the pistol at the time listed the velocity at 1190 FPS. In late 1932, when Remington introduced their new line of high speed oil proof cartridges they pushed velocity up to 1300 FPS and other ammo companies followed suit. It eventually became apparent that this load was too much for the earlier pistols and the ammo manufacturers began labeling their boxes appropriately. They also loaded .38 Super in nickel plated cases while the old .38 ACP used unplated brass. Colt finally took a position in 1944 that the higher velocity cartridges should be used only in the new Super .38 pistol.

All of this is documented in Sheldon's excellent book, Colt's Super .38. There used to be an excellent website with even more detail and history about the development of the .38 ACP and .38 Super cartridges but it has gone dormant.
 

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Mexico and some other countries south of the border make possession of military and law enforcement calibers illegal so it de facto makes other calibers popular. The .38 Super is reasonably powerful but still legal which keeps its popularity high.
 

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"There used to be an excellent website with even more detail and history about the development of the .38 ACP and .38 Super cartridges but it has gone dormant. "
That's too bad about that web page, there was some good useful data there, especially for those that do not have Sheldon's book.
 

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The .38 Super exists because there is market demand for it.

If, based on your fallacious premise of "safety", cartridges existed or failed to exist based on claims of product safety, no one would be able to buy any firearm in any caliber because the government would consider them all inherently unsafe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] has previously tried to control firearms and ammunition in that very manner.

Do you advocate for the elimination of handloading ammunition? That activity has caused far more injuries and damaged firearms than loading .38 Super cartridges in .38 ACP caliber pistols.
 

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The .38 Super exists because there is market demand for it.

If, based on your fallacious premise of "safety", cartridges existed or failed to exist based on claims of product safety, no one would be able to buy any firearm in any caliber because the government would consider them all inherently unsafe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] has previously tried to control firearms and ammunition in that very manner.

Do you advocate for the elimination of handloading ammunition? That activity has caused far more injuries and damaged firearms than loading .38 Super cartridges in .38 ACP caliber pistols.
Who are you addressing? I see nothing in your post that is relevant to the topic being discussed. No one said anything about handloading or even "safety" for that matter. Are you asserting that older pistols are safe with ANY modern load?
 

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Well, I was going to post my same reply here that I gave to you on the S&W Forum, but I see kwill has beat me to it (and did a better job). ;)

I sure do miss that website he mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The .38 Super exists because there is market demand for it. ---If, based on your fallacious premise of "safety", cartridges existed or failed to exist based on claims of product safety, no one would be able to buy any firearm in any caliber because the government would consider them all inherently unsafe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] has previously tried to control firearms and ammunition in that very manner. Do you advocate for the elimination of handloading ammunition? That activity has caused far more injuries and damaged firearms than loading .38 Super cartridges in .38 ACP caliber pistols.
Seems you're reading more into my post that I wrote. I don't/didn't mention product safety, erroneous or other wise. It is a fact seen almost daily about the hazard shooting Super ammo in the early .38 autos. Your apparent concern for procuct safety would be more appropriate else where.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I do appreciate the interests in this post with s bit of new info & much maybe of interest to Colt pre-1911 neophytes. I am probably as up-to-speed on the Colt pre-1911s as anybody. I have done extensive work all the types pictured below --


Of all these I have done simple & major repairs & alteration & assembled 1902s & 1905s from parts I collected --

I'm disappointed in some replies, quite a lot was mentioned about foreign popularity of the .38 Super while my notion of .45-38 or .45-40 was ignored -- likewise Colt Marketing questions.
 

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I am not clear on what exactly you're asking. Colt was in no way trying to create anything other than a more modern platform for an existing cartridge. They promoted it for hunting, not law enforcement. Their early ads are quite instructive on all this. By using the existing Model 0 frame and slide they only had to change 16 parts to adapt the gun to fire the existing .38 ACP. That allowed them to create a "new" gun with no capital expense while retiring old tooling for the pre-1911 pistols that were no longer popular. The ammo manufacturers are the ones that created the .38 Super cartridge. Was Colt ever in the new cartridge development business?
 

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I am not clear on what exactly you're asking. Colt was in no way trying to create anything other than a more modern platform for an existing cartridge. They promoted it for hunting, not law enforcement. Their early ads are quite instructive on all this. By using the existing Model 0 frame and slide they only had to change 16 parts to adapt the gun to fire the existing .38 ACP. That allowed them to create a "new" gun with no capital expense while retiring old tooling for the pre-1911 pistols that were no longer popular. The ammo manufacturers are the ones that created the .38 Super cartridge. Was Colt ever in the new cartridge development business?
That poses an interesting question. Given the "acp", I always assumed (you know about assume) that Colt was involved in the development of the .38 and .45 acp cartridges.
No???
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I am not clear on what exactly you're asking. Colt was in no way trying to create anything other than a more modern platform for an existing cartridge. They promoted it for hunting, not law enforcement. Their early ads are quite instructive on all this. By using the existing Model 0 frame and slide they only had to change 16 parts to adapt the gun to fire the existing .38 ACP. That allowed them to create a "new" gun with no capital expense while retiring old tooling for the pre-1911 pistols that were no longer popular. The ammo manufacturers are the ones that created the .38 Super cartridge. Was Colt ever in the new cartridge development business?
%%%%%%%%
Apparently I needed to make clearer my notion of a .45ACP round necked down to bottle neck .45-38 might need only the barrel & mag replaced. That could provide an economical higher performance 1911 which would likely kill the .38 Super as a new gun ---->
 

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Mexico and some other countries south of the border make possession of military and law enforcement calibers illegal so it de facto makes other calibers popular. The .38 Super is reasonably powerful but still legal which keeps its popularity high.
Ah...no.

http://www.sedena.gob.mx/pdf/leyes/ley_rfa.pdf

The largest/most powerful handgun cartridges allowed in the ROM are .380 in semi-auto and .38 special in wheel guns. Super has been unlawful since the 1972 amendment.
 
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