CF Pistol Options question - 1911 in .38 Special

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Post by Oleg G on Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:38 am

Folks,

Looking for help to make a decision.
All this year I have been shooting a .22 conversion 1911 pistol with a 3.5 lb trigger. I am doing it for two reasons:

1. Get my fundamentals well developed and prepare myself to shooting a .45 and
2. Give myself time to recover from tendonitis in my elbow. I had a PRP procedure done at the end of last year and want to have the elbow heal properly.

A couple of weeks ago I took my .45 for a live ammo training session at the range. After shooting 90 rounds, my elbow felt uncomfortable. No pain, but something did not feel quite right. I don't yet know, if this is something that I will have to be mindful of for awhile, or whether I will be able to train with and shoot .45 in the matches.

Looking at the worst option, I can choose to either:
1. Resign to shooting .22-only and not even think  of picking up the .45 or,
2. Find a low-recoil option for CF and hope that my elbow will hold up to 90 rounds of .45 at a match and very limited live fire training with .45

For option 2, an additional factor is that I don't reload and have no plans to start reloading in a foreseeable future (for a variety of reasons). Therefore, I am looking at an auto-loader in .38 special. I can purchase the ammo from Zero and couple of other good brands for reasonable cost and the ammo is readily available. 

I am leaning towards a 1911 in .38 Special. From this forum and other shooters, I hear that model 52 is very difficult to shoot well - "unforgiving" is the word I keep coming across. Additionally, I can stay with the 1911 platform for all 3 guns in a 2700 match and don't have to learn different triggers, grips, etc.

Of course, the best option would be to shoot such a pistol and determine for myself how my elbow reacts and how I feel about shooting the pistol. Alas, these appear to be very rear and I don't know anyone with such a pistol. Therefore, I am asking the sages on the forum to validate my options or to offer different ones.

Thanks,
Oleg.
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Post by Wobbley on Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:52 am

38 Specials in most autoloaders are difficult to shoot well, it isn’t just the 52. The reason is the barrel time. Now a 1911, built up as a 1911 (locked breech) is a slightly better platform but the barrel time is still a problem.

Now, if you want a decent CF trainer that will be a nice soft shooting pistol and really hone your fundamentals, you can’t beat a 52 or 1911 in 38 Special.
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Post by Lightfoot on Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:07 am

I can load 160gr swc button nose with 3.8 gr. Bullseye and the recoil is so low.  This is an option if you'd reload.  I don't think a 38 or 9 could be any lighter to be honest.
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Post by zanemoseley on Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:07 am

I've got a 1911/38 being built right now by Jon. Truthfully the bore time isn't too far off a 45acp, the FPS of a 38 and 45 aren't all that different but depends on your load, we're probably talking milliseconds if that. You could calculate it if you really wanted to know.

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Post by oldsalt444 on Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:38 am

Although I'm not an expert on the subject, the trend now is 38 Super in a 1911, not 38 Spl.
Using 38 Super Comp brass, the feeding is much more reliable than rimmed 38 Spl cases.  But, it has to be reloaded to soft 38 Spl levels to be suitable for bullseye.  Since you don't reload, that's a problem.  You might want to think about getting a European gun in 32 Long or 32 ACP.  But, they are optimized for 25 meters for Euro style competition.  They don't do well at 50 yards.
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Post by Oleg G on Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:40 am

If the bore time is truly a problem? If so, would shooting a revolver be subject to the same issues? 
In training, my revolver slow fire groups are on par with .22 and .45 groups. Sustained fire is another story and re-cocking the hammer seems to aggravate my elbow.
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Post by dronning on Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:24 pm

+1 on the .38 Super, mine has a frame mount optic and I can load down almost to .38 Special loads (2.8 of WST 147g bullet) super soft shooting.  Very accurate and no problems with function.
- Dave


Last edited by dronning on Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Dr.Don on Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:41 pm

I have used both a 52 and a 1911 .38 Special. Although I don't use either anymore, I would choose the 1911 hands down.  I have not tried a 38 Super.
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Post by Outthere on Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:47 pm

The 9mm 1911's are pussycats with the Atlanta Arms Elite 9mm JHP load.

https://atlantaarms.com/products/products-case-9mm-115gr-jhp-match-html/

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Post by PhotoEscape on Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:06 pm

In one way or another issue boils down to you reloading your own ammunition, Oleg. Without such done by yourself IMHO your best option would be indeed M52-2 with barrel changed from OEM to one from either Clark or KKM with 1:10 twist rate. I agree with above mentioned 38 Super direction. However I'm not aware of any company that loads ammo for Precision Pistol. Plenty that do such for IDPA, USPSA, Bianchi, etc., but none for low power / velocity applications, TMBK.
AP
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Post by Wobbley on Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:09 pm

PhotoEscape wrote:In one way or another issue boils down to you reloading your own ammunition, Oleg.  Without such done by yourself IMHO your best option would be indeed M52-2 with barrel changed from OEM to one from either Clark or KKM with 1:10 twist rate.  I agree with above mentioned 38 Super direction.  However I'm not aware of any company that loads ammo for Precision Pistol.  Plenty that do such for IDPA, USPSA, Bianchi, etc., but none for low power / velocity applications, TMBK.
AP

I dunno where the KKM 52 barrel rumor started, but I called them 3 months ago and they didn’t have any plans to make any. So if someone has better info, I’d be happy to hear it.
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Post by PhotoEscape on Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:18 pm

I dunno where the KKM 52 barrel rumor started, but I called them 3 months ago and they didn’t have any plans to make any.  So if someone has better info, I’d be happy to hear it. [/quote]

True, I don't know either. I might be one off special order. I had 38 Super barrel made by KKM for my Glock 40 this way. It a bit of waiting, but I have it. Both of my 52s have Clark's 1:10 barrels.

AP
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Post by Oleg G on Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:43 pm

AP, what would be the benefit of the Clark barrel for model 52? Would it somehow make the pistol less "unforgiving"? (I know next to nothing about model 52, hence the question.)

Oleg.
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Post by PhotoEscape on Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:06 pm

Oleg G wrote:AP, what would be the benefit of the Clark barrel for model 52? Would it somehow make the pistol less "unforgiving"? (I know next to nothing about model 52, hence the question.)

Oleg.

Faster barrel definitely improves accuracy.  I'm not sure what defines M52 as "unforgiving" pistol.  If we are talking about type of projectile, then "yes", gun would be less "unforgiving".  If we are talking about i.e. MY OWN ability to shoot every shot with good precision, I'm yet to find "forgiving" pistol.  Otherwise 38 Special WC is quite accurate round, and leaves quite sizable holes on the paper.

AP
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Post by straybrit on Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:44 pm

Having just bought an elderly, albeit almost unused, Clark heavy slide 38 special conversion - for exactly the same elbow related reasons - I can attest to it being very very accurate. It's also a really good way of showing up your poor follow-through. I am told this is also the case with a Model 52. Of course - fixing that also improves the performance with the other guns. At least I'm telling myself that in order to keep going.

One thing to mention - getting brass to work with the reloads is being a bit of a 'journey'. New starline brass has a taper which means it really won't work with the full length sizer for the wadcutter. I'm hoping that the precision delta brass will work - it should arrive this week.

One other thing - when you have very light loads (I'm currently using 2.9g Titegroup) using a slide mounted dot is also a challenge. To get it to function I'm on an 8lb recoil spring, 15lb mainspring and a vortex venom sight (that being the lightest one I can find). It does function flawlessly as long as I keep it pristine clean.

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Post by Oleg G on Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:46 pm

Straybrit,

And how does the pistol treat your elbow? Smile
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Post by Jon Eulette on Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:50 pm

Bone stock 52 in my opinion just doesn't have right twist rate for acceptable 50 yd accuracy. I tried one when I got into BE shooting (was shooting master scores) and couldn't get decent SF with Federal Match to save my life. Picked up a Clark Longslide and shot PB 889 and many high 880's with it. Won a US Team selection match with it and set a team Nat'l record that still stands.
Shooters with poor fundamentals shoot 38 and 45 equally bad. It's not the pistol. 52 typically puts bullets in the target keyholed at 50 even from a good shooter. I haven't tried the 10 twist in a 52 so cannot comment on that. Euro gripped guns drive the recoil straight into the arm/elbow. 1911 has higher bore so more whippy recoil and less elbow pain.
I have several 1911 38's and love them.
Jon
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Post by straybrit on Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:03 pm

Oleg

My elbow prefers the 22 (also a 1911) but the 38 is a *lot* better than the 45. I was going to commission one from Jon then this Clarke fell into my lap. I shot my first match in 18 months at the weekend. Was fine up to the 45. Slight reaction to that but went away after 36 hours so I guess I'm just about there. I certainly have no intention of shooting 180 rounds of 45 when I can do 90.  The joys of increasing age :-)

Derek

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Post by Oleg G on Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:36 pm

Straybrit,

Your thoughts and experience exactly mirror my own! I have shot 1911/22 all this year in matches and training with no ill effects. That is why I started this thread. Looks like I need to start saving for a 1911 in .38 special. Smile
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Post by ser2711 on Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:29 am

I have also S&W 52-1 and as many shooters said that is not a "forgiving" pistol and I agree , I overcome the problem or re barreled the S&W 952 in .30 Luger , first more accurate and as fast locking time, so no more "forgiving" as S&W 52 on .38 WC.

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Post by James Hensler on Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:16 am

Who says a 32ACP doesn’t shoot good at 50yrds? Mine sure does
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Post by Spurls on Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:24 am

I went the 9mm 1911 route and have no regrets.

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Post by radjag on Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:48 am

I agree with Jon Eulette that the standard grip angle on Pardini (etc.) euro 32's sends the recoil straight along the arm to the elbow. And 32ACP factory ammo is very sharp. I really feel the recoil much more harshly than with a softly loaded 45 (160 Brazos) or the 52 with standard wadcutters (now sold - maybe I should have kept it. Grrr...).

After consultation with Thomas Rink I've recently ordered their more upright grip and hope that I will find it more comfortable.

My previous GSP 32SWL was much less snappish and the grip was more upright, but difficult to find ammo that works perfectly at 50 yards.

Bottom line - if you have sensitive elbows don't buy a Euro 32ACP.

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Post by mikemyers on Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:34 pm

Oleg G wrote:.................A couple of weeks ago I took my .45 for a live ammo training session at the range. After shooting 90 rounds, my elbow felt uncomfortable. No pain, but something did not feel quite right. I don't yet know, if this is something that I will have to be mindful of for awhile, or whether I will be able to train with and shoot .45 in the matches.............
A question from left field.   Some evening, with your 45, dry fire for 90 rounds, taking the same time as if you were shooting live rounds.  When you finish, see if your elbow is comfortable or not.  If your elbow still feels fine, ignore this response.  On the other hand, if your elbow feels uncomfortable, it might be that your elbow just doesn't like holding up that much weight for that long.
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Post by straybrit on Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:48 pm

Which, if you think about it, would show up after shooting the 1911/22 for a match. Or even the 38 special. As Oleg points out he's been shooting the 22 all season and I had no reaction through the CF stage. So yeah - up to a point but in this case we've both been shooting 'non-45' without issues.

When I was rehabbing my elbow issues I worked with a PT who had never dealt with shooting related issues before. So we spent a lot of time looking at where the various forces were at which point in the action and how to mitigate the effects of them. Turns out (for me at least) the trick is to have a 'micro-bend' in the elbow and to lower the shoulder blade. Having a forced straight arm (the archetypal military stance) with the elbow crease facing upwards just dumps all that recoil energy into the elbow tendon(s) as they fight to hold the arm straight and 'pass on' the energy to the shoulder. A slight bend and dropping the scapula mean that the energy is spread out more evenly throughout the arm and shoulder. It's still there - but not concentrated. It's easy to get the hang of - until you get to rapid fire - where the old habits tend to take over.

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