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In the market for a competitive .38 Special semi automatic

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Post by MarkThomas 5/1/2023, 9:13 pm

First topic message reminder :

15 years ago I was at a range with my wife and a friend shooting my friend's 9mm cannons.  My wife was shooting my Remington .22 single shot rifle.  The fellow in the next lane was shooting an automatic that was ejecting .38 revolver brass, which I found intriguing having never seen such a thing before.  I started a conversation and after chatting for a while he asked me if I wanted to shoot it.  Of course I said yes.  He had put 4 rounds in the clip when I told him to stop.  I didn't want to use up all his ammo.  He put a new paper target on the clothesline and ran it out about half way.  With my arm length the front rectangular site exactly matched the rear rectangular notch.  I lined them up on the center of the black and pulled the trigger.  The recoil was completely controllable, the sites came straight back down and lined up perfectly and I pulled the trigger again, and again, and again.  He ran the target back and there were 4 holes on the corners of a half inch square centered in the black.  lol  He said, "I thought I put 5 in there".  I wish he had.  We chatted some more and he gave me some tips if I ever wanted to shoot competitively, which I do now.

I can't remember the manufacturer of the pistol.  I seem to remember it was two words, like Charter Arms, but I always thought Charter Arms made junk (I could be very wrong about that).  It wasn't a Smith & Wesson 52, -1, -2.  And it wasn't a Colt.  Does anyone have any idea what I had in my hands?  The fellow seemed really pleased with himself when he said he paid $750 for it in the box some years before.  I would like one just like it.

Trying to find anything on the web is hopeless these days.  I went to a local gun shop, but they were too busy selling plastic pistols and assault rifles to pay me much mind.  The man I talked to behind the counter had never heard of a .38 Special semi auto.  So, I looked around for a forum that didn't seem to be too populated by idiots and here I am.  Can anyone help me?

MarkThomas

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Post by Merick 5/11/2023, 12:29 pm

Also there are Desert Eagles in 357. I doubt their gas system would tolerate our low pressure shenanigans and I have no idea if their trigger is acceptable. However accuracy might not be too bad being you can mount a dot sight directly to the barrel.


Last edited by Merick on 5/11/2023, 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Wobbley 5/11/2023, 12:50 pm

A football is moving so slowly (unless the thrower is Tom Brady) that it’s very likely only in the laminar flow region. Bullets are faster than that so the flow becomes turbulent. A laminar flow body tends to weathervane better this means that footballs will usually fly “point on” throughout the arc… in a supersonic rifle bullet, the laminar flow region emends about 1/3 of the length of the bullet. So they can stay “nose up” until they approach the sonic barrier, but there is still some weathervaning which I believe is caused by the base turbulence.
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Post by Jon Eulette 5/11/2023, 1:39 pm

How about scientific thread somewhere else?
Let’s stick with original post and stay on track. This isn’t helping anyone choose a caliber or shoot any better.
Thanks
Jon
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Post by Drawman623 5/11/2023, 2:55 pm

The primary options for match accurate 38 special semi autos are the S&W 52 and converted Colts. Sig Sauer (Hammerli) P210 is a less common 3rd option.
Respectfully, I’d worry less about finding that forgotten pistol of the past…it isn’t a mainstream option now. Try a 52-2 and cut out a few X rings. Yes there may be other pistols than the Smith or colt but such alternatives are solutions to non existent problems. The two primary pistols will shoot flawlessly for one who is practiced

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Post by MarkThomas 5/11/2023, 10:09 pm

I'm not too worried about the lost pistols of the past.  I shot something that was more accurate than I was, and I am looking for something along that line.  I'll find a 1911 somewhere and see how it fits my hand.  I've chosen my caliber.  .38 Special.  Round nose or semi wadcutter.  Jon could probably build me a gun I would like.

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Post by Buzz 5/12/2023, 6:25 am

MarkThomas wrote:I'm not too worried about the lost pistols of the past.  I shot something that was more accurate than I was, and I am looking for something along that line.  I'll find a 1911 somewhere and see how it fits my hand.  I've chosen my caliber.  .38 Special.  Round nose or semi wadcutter.  Jon could probably build me a gun I would like.
Agree with previous posts, I’ve shot the S&W 52-2 and it is a pleasure to shoot, very accurate, but my go to is a S&W 686.

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Post by WesG 5/12/2023, 9:50 am

MarkThomas wrote:I'm not too worried about the lost pistols of the past.  I shot something that was more accurate than I was, and I am looking for something along that line.  I'll find a 1911 somewhere and see how it fits my hand.  I've chosen my caliber.  .38 Special.  Round nose or semi wadcutter.  Jon could probably build me a gun I would like.

Round nose or semi wadcutter equals an auto eject single shot. May as well dig up a Contender, or a Merrill.

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Post by Sc0 5/14/2023, 11:26 am

Not sure about current pistols but, the older Springfield Range Officers had ejectors that were never drilled or pinned. Didn't cause any issues until I was cleaning the pistol and it fell out...

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Post by Jon Eulette 5/14/2023, 1:53 pm

Sc0 wrote:Not sure about current pistols but, the older Springfield Range Officers had ejectors that were never drilled or pinned.  Didn't cause any issues until I was cleaning the pistol and it fell out...
They’re glued in normally requiring heat to remove. Sounds like yours wasn’t glued.
Jon
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Post by Colt711 5/16/2023, 6:44 pm

Jim Clark guaranteed 3" 50 yd Groups and 2.5" w/his 38's back in the day.

AND  There has been a lot of good advice in this thread......pretty much boiled down it's 38 Super, 9mm, or possibly a .32.

At 73 you may spend the rest of your life looking for what you can't quite identify. If you find "this one and only" it's gonna cost a lot of money.

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Post by MarkThomas 5/16/2023, 9:17 pm

I used to shoot a .32.  

I'm not expecting to find whatever it was I shot in the past.  I'm more expecting to find someone who can build me something that fits my hand, is match grade accurate, and shoots .38 special semi wadcutter ammo.  That should be doable for 4 figure$.

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Post by troystaten 5/16/2023, 9:47 pm

While I have the hots for a 1911 in 38 special the gunsmiths I know that build them charge over 4k for them.  I ended up with an S&W model 52-1 and it is a nice option for the cost.  I have seen used Clark 1911's in 38 special sell for under 2k. Other than the Coonan and Desert Eagles I have not seen any semi automatics that shoot a 38 special with a semi wadcutter I should say that those two pistols shoot 357's I don't know about 38 specials  .  If you are at the range in San Leandro when I am and if I have my 52 with me you are welcome to try it out.

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Post by RoyDean 5/16/2023, 11:06 pm

OK, so now it gets down to "brass tacks"!

Can someone build this gentleman a semi-auto (most likely a 1911), capable of reliably cycling a "38" caliber round that is a LSWC or LRN, or whatever?

52's, P240's, etc, don't qualify because they only shoot full wadcutters (even though the Buyer, as best I can ascertain, only shoots up to 25yds, where those full wadcutters are in fact perfect!). And, in any case, it seems that the Buyer has not yet participated in any significant Bullseye competition and may not yet be perfectly clear on the relative competitiveness of different calibers - or maybe he does not care about all that - OK too.

The Buyer appears to be offering 4 figure $. If I am not mistaken that means anything from $1,001 to $9,999.

I can think if at least one gunsmith, close to my heart, who would jump at that kind of money.

But is the Buyer serious?

Over to the gunsmiths...............

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Post by WesG 5/17/2023, 10:04 am

Maybe a custom short nose SWC. Not likely anything off the shelf will work ... other than wadcutters ...

Drawback to that is the price of factory ammo, and loading your own is a a bit more complicated than SWC or RN.

No idea of the feed angle of a 38 in a 1911, but if it lays down flatter than a 45 the effective length of the magazine is reduced.

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Post by Jon Eulette 5/17/2023, 10:33 am

This year alone, so far I’ve rebarreled four 9mm to 38 Supers. All shooting excellent with 115 HAP bullets and 150 lswc. Using 10 twist barrels and light charges has been soft shooting and grouping excellent from hand. Much easier to build than a 38 Special, but 38 Special is still my favorite.
For ease of reloading and function I recommend the 38 Super. Bullets are available!

If your ready for a new build or rebarrel, so am I.
Jon
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Post by bruce martindale 5/17/2023, 12:55 pm

A La Fred Monetti (NY, RIP), you CAN shoot SWC in a wadcutter gun.

You need to seat them flush, and reduce the charge. For 32s with small bores (like .308 instead of .314), the charge reduction even for normal wadcutters is significant due to increased bore resistance. You also need to pay attention to the case interior design so the case doesn't bulge during seating. And yes, even with increased freebore, they're precise and accurate. Good luck

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Post by rich.tullo 5/17/2023, 3:52 pm

+1 on the 38 super with a 1:10 Barrel, 147gn bullet with a faster powder shoots soft and as accurate as anything. I used 4.0 CFE under a 147gn bullet in my 9mm and it shoot soft it just was not as accurate as 125gns in my 9mm. 

SWC will not work in a 1911 or M52 because the magazines are too small 

The military played around with a rimless 38 S&W and called it 38 AMU but there is no brass available if you find such a gun.
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Post by Foundryratjim 5/17/2023, 4:15 pm

Jon Eulette wrote:This year alone, so far I’ve rebarreled four 9mm to 38 Supers. All shooting excellent with 115 HAP bullets and 150 lswc. Using 10 twist barrels and light charges has been soft shooting and grouping excellent from hand. Much easier to build than a 38 Special, but 38 Special is still my favorite.
For ease of reloading and function I recommend the 38 Super. Bullets are available!

If your ready for a new build or rebarrel, so am I.
Jon
This thread has piqued my interest... Jon what diameter bullet are you recommending for the barrels you install? In my research on this cartridge today I am finding three sizes .355,.356 and 357?  What 9mm pistols out here would you recommend for a conversion to a 38 super wad gun?  Thanks

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Post by Jon Eulette 5/17/2023, 4:33 pm

I've mostly been rebarreling SARO from 9mm to 38 Super. KKM barrels are 0,355" bore. I've only tried 0.357 bullets so far. I've done Colts and Caspians as well. 
Base pistol doesn't matter, the barrel fit is most important part of the build.
I'm working on a new location to use my RR..........
Jon
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Post by S148 5/17/2023, 4:35 pm

Jon Eulette wrote:This year alone, so far I’ve rebarreled four 9mm to 38 Supers. All shooting excellent with 115 HAP bullets and 150 lswc. Using 10 twist barrels and light charges has been soft shooting and grouping excellent from hand. Much easier to build than a 38 Special, but 38 Special is still my favorite.

And I'm going to jump in here, too, and ask what load data you recommend - for 38 Super and 9mm.

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Post by john bickar 5/17/2023, 4:42 pm

troystaten wrote:Mark, I live in Alameda CA and shoot at the range in San Leandro. We have a once a month informal bullseye league that shoots on the 3rd Sunday morning once a month.  The league is called the 600x league  http://www.600xleague.org/ we shoot in the morning and then have pizza and shoot the breeze. For the league we shoot .22 and air pistol but I also shoot a S&W 52-1 that shoots 38 special wadcutters.  Check it out if you are interested.

I have lived in the SF Bay Area for more than 15 years and have never heard of this. Cool!

Wes mentioned this: https://www.sunnyvalegunclub.com/activities/bullseye. League first and third Wednesdays; 2700s on Memorial Day and Labor Day.
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Post by Jon Eulette 5/17/2023, 4:57 pm

S148 wrote:
Jon Eulette wrote:This year alone, so far I’ve rebarreled four 9mm to 38 Supers. All shooting excellent with 115 HAP bullets and 150 lswc. Using 10 twist barrels and light charges has been soft shooting and grouping excellent from hand. Much easier to build than a 38 Special, but 38 Special is still my favorite.

And I'm going to jump in here, too, and ask what load data you recommend - for 38 Super and 9mm.
I'm not reloading the cartridge, I've been using customer supplied ammunition. Various powders and typically 115 HAP or Brazos 150 LSWC. Let's just say everything has grouped at 25 yds nicely. 50 yds from hand I'm calling my shots on call. 2.8 BE 150 LSWC has shot well. I build the gun to the desired load. In other words. I loosen barrel fit to get it to function with lighter loads. 2.8 BE 150 LSWC a bit feels warmer than 38 Special 148 hbwc. I would try 2.5 BE and see how it shoots if given the opportunity.

Here's a 50 yd pic from a new build. 4.5 BE 115 HAP. The small group pic is first five shots fired from the pistol at 25 yds.
Considering I hadn't shot 50 since January it's not to bad.

This is KKM 1:10 twist barrel!
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Post by Merick 5/17/2023, 10:38 pm

Abuse free postal supplies => shoot a 7.

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Post by crbyrd 5/29/2023, 8:35 pm

Mark,

I have three .38 wad guns for bullseye shooting and I can part with one. If interested, please contact me outside of the forum and we can discuss. All three of mine are .38 conversions on 1911 frames and shoot the mid-range wadcutter projectiles (the ones flush with the case). Thanks. -Clif

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Post by MarkThomas 5/29/2023, 10:40 pm

Thanks for the offer, Clif.  My wife told me we don't need another gun when I brought it up.  So I gave $900 to the local cat rescue just to spite her.

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