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Old 10-07-2020, 06:54 AM
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Default 38 Super Conversion

Back in early June of this year, I bought my first 1911 in 9mm. It is a Kimber Stainless LW(light weight). I have enjoyed many 1911s in .45 ACP over the years, but it was really nice to shoot a gun with significantly less recoil and the same accuracy as my other 1911s in .45 ACP.

After a while, I started toying with the idea of getting a .38 Super barrel for it. As most .38 Super barrels are not cheap, I was extremely lucky to find a SigSauer .38 Super barrel for so little $$ that I would have been a fool NOT to buy it, so I did. I also bought two .38 Super magazines, 200 pieces of brass, and a heaver(14lb)recoil spring. I already had 1500 124gr bullets for the 9mm and 9mm dies can be used to load .38 Super. I lucked out in that the barrel bushing fit the new barrel better than it fit the 9mm barrel.

I took the new setup to the range last week just to do a simple function test to see if any fitting was needed and after about 50 rounds I was satisfied that all was good as is. I went back this week to do some accuracy testing and I am very pleased with the results.

First target: Xtreme 124gr plated FP 4.5gr American Select
Next target: Xtreme 124gr FMJ 5gr W231
Next target: Xtreme 124gr FMJ 4.7gr W231
Last target: Xtreme 124gr plated FP 4.8gr W231

All were shot at 10 yards, 19 rounds each

Garry
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Old 10-07-2020, 07:51 AM
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Nice gun!!

...my favorite caliber...hence my callin' name...SuperMan...Man of Many Supers....

Have been shooting Supers since 1980 and have carried a Commander in .38 Super daily since then.

Some reading for you...

38 Super

Corbon

How Does

Trail gun perfection: Kimber's .38 super stainless target II. - Free Online Library

Super Powders for the .38 Super

https://www.shootingtimes.com/editor...r-loads/326242



My Kimber(s)...

https://www.1911forum.com/threads/fo...r-stii.777762/


To me the greatest semi-auto round of all time....especially in a 1911... Makes a MUCH better round in a snubbie than a .38 Special...

Bob
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Old 10-07-2020, 08:15 AM
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Thanks for sharing. I have a NIB Colt Commander born in 1972. I probably will never fire it, but hand it down to a grandson.

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Old 10-07-2020, 08:26 AM
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Is the Kimber stainless lightweight an alloy frame? If it is you probably should do some checking on how much it can stand with a more demanding caliber. There would certainly be no problem if you are staying with moderate loads.

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Old 10-07-2020, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geno44 View Post
Is the Kimber stainless lightweight an alloy frame? If it is you probably should do some checking on how much it can stand with a more demanding caliber. There would certainly be no problem if you are staying with moderate loads.
The same gun comes in 45 ACP also, so I would think it can take a pounding. Today's alloy frames are much stronger than most ones made just a few years ago. I called Kimber and the person I talked to said they are definitely rated for 9mm +P loads, just maybe not a steady diet of them. I don't intend to load anything above SAAMI specs (36,500 psi). Max pressure for standard 9mm is ~35,000 psi.

Garry
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Old 10-07-2020, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geno44 View Post
Is the Kimber stainless lightweight an alloy frame? If it is you probably should do some checking on how much it can stand with a more demanding caliber. There would certainly be no problem if you are staying with moderate loads.
I have a Colt Lightweight Commander in .38 Super and my friend has a LW Dan Wesson in .38 Super. I don't think the Super would be a problem in a LW Kimber.
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Old 10-07-2020, 10:15 AM
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Mark me as another fan of the 38 Super.

I believe the cartridge to be inherently more accurate than the 9MM Parabellum.

All of my 38 Supers are great shooters, they turn in visibly tighter groups than their 9MM Parabellum counterparts

I have been shooting 38 Super in an alloy frame since the 1980s. I do not believe there is anything more damaging to the frame when compared to the 9MM Parabellum cartridge.

In addition the OP increased his spring weight which would have reduced the slide velocity
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Old 10-07-2020, 11:48 AM
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I have been doing that for years. I have a 1911 set up to shoot .45 Auto, 9x19, .38 Super (and 9x23 Win), and .400 Cor-Bon. Also have a .22 conversion unit for it. One gun for all purposes. Of course a 9mm slide will handle both 9mm and .38 Super, the only differences being the barrel chambering and magazines. The .400 Cor-Bon actually shoots the best of the lot, but it is pretty much exclusively a handloading proposition. No trick to get 10mm performance from the .400 Cor-Bon, but I usually keep my loads milder. I have always been surprised that most know nothing about the .400 CB and what a neat round it is. All you need is the barrel. The only drawback is the smaller magazine capacity.
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Old 10-07-2020, 01:09 PM
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garryj, good to hear the Super barrel dropped in without any hair pulling complications. I bought one of the SIG 38 Super barrels and had similar results. It just dropped in my Kimber, and never a malfunction, etc.

BTW, while I do not believe aluminum alloy frames are as durable as steel frames, I wouldn't personally lose any sleep over potential damage to the frame due to shooting 38S. As long as the breeching system is robust enough to contain the pressure, and the 1911 system obviously is, it is recoil impulse that beats up pistol parts and pieces. The hottest 38S ammo you're likely to load or buy, has less recoil impulse that standard 45ACP ball. Even the high pressure 9X23 Winchester cartridge produces no more recoil impulse than .45 ACP ball.
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Old 10-08-2020, 12:19 AM
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Early in my LEO career, I had a partner that carried a Colt L/W Commander in 38 super. He was an older officer from deep South Texas he told me the 38 super was, by far, the most admired round by old time lawmen. This weapon was blue steel and had a beautiful set of silver grips made by Nelson-Silva of Houston, Tx. He told me he had 5 Colt 1911's, all in 38 Super and he graciously invited me to his house for coffee to view his collection . The collection consisted of 3 Commanders, 1 prewar government model and 1 prewar 38 super target. All had beautiful custom grips, some had custom engraving and all had leather made by S.D. Myres and A. W. Brill. Of course, all holsters were beautifully carved.

He told me the prewar Government model belonged to his father who served as a U.S. Customs Inspector along the Rio Grande and was involved in several gunfights in the 1930's.

Needless to say, I was impressed and at my young age of 25 I began to understand what it meant to be a Texas Peace Officer.
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Old 10-08-2020, 12:42 AM
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In Stephen Hunter's book "Havana", Earl Swagger's gun was a .38 Super GM, which figures prominently in the story.

Havana (Earl Swagger, #3) by Stephen Hunter
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Old 10-08-2020, 02:04 AM
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I picked up the Sig 38 Super barrel ($39.99 - I think we're talking about the same on line seller) and dropped it into a 9mm Springfield Armory Range Officer and it's worked fine. Barrel bushing diameter, barrel diameter and the hood measurements were just right too.

Probably no real reason to have the 38 Super, especially given my "hate to lose good brass" tendency. But it's nice to have conversion set ups.
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Old 10-08-2020, 02:17 AM
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I have always believed that having caliber conversion capability is a good thing, even though you may never use it. In addition to my 4-caliber 1911, I also have the large frame EAA Witness set up to use .45 Auto, 9x19, and .38 Super/9x23 Win. Most of the time it shoots 9x19. If I had a pistol chambered for .40 S&W (I don't), I would still want to get a .357 Sig barrel for it, even though I care nothing about the .357 Sig.
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Old 10-08-2020, 04:21 AM
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Default Dan Wesson Pointman 9 conversion to 38 Super

I wanted to get a Dan Wesson Pointman PM-38 (38 Super) at the beginning of the year (before CV-19) but waited too long & their limited run was sold out.

So I decided to just buy their PM-9 (9x19) & then buy a 38 Super barrel from DW later but found out that Sig was selling off their 38 Super barrels cheap ($29.99+$9.95 shipping) & went that route.

The Sig barrel was not a drop-in unfortunately as DW has a slightly different external chamber design & the lower lug also needed some fitting.

Bought a Wilson Combat barrel link kit & link pin (because the Sig barrel doesn't come with them) as well a some of their ETM 10rd magazines.

Upgrade the bushing to EGW's S/S match carry bevel model & went with an Ed Brown arched mainspring housing & Maxi-Well.

Topped it off with a set of gray Pachmayr G-10 Tactical grips.

Been slowly breaking it in, first with some white box 9x19 ammo & lastly I've been working up some very acurate 38 Super handloads in it.

I lucked out & found some Starline 38 Super Comp brass on clearance (no idea why but it was in old style bags) at Brass Pro & bought all they had.

A 14# recoil spring doesn't seem like enough spring as it really throws the brass a long way. Going to try a 16# next trip to the range.

CV-19 has slowed down access to the indoor range but I'm really liking this pistol so far.

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Old 10-08-2020, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsf View Post
I picked up the Sig 38 Super barrel ($39.99 - I think we're talking about the same on line seller) and dropped it into a 9mm Springfield Armory Range Officer and it's worked fine. Barrel bushing diameter, barrel diameter and the hood measurements were just right too.

Probably no real reason to have the 38 Super, especially given my "hate to lose good brass" tendency. But it's nice to have conversion set ups.
ME TOO.... altho, being anal, I did fit a new bushing to both the 9 and the 38.
For that price, you absolutely could NOT pass up the bbl/caliber. The Sprg. Armory tech told me that this conversion could not be done on a SA 45ACP, so I bought a 9mm 1911....(something about needing a 'supported' bbl being required).
J.
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Old 10-08-2020, 10:02 AM
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The Sprg. Armory tech told me that this conversion could not be done on a SA 45ACP, so I bought a 9mm 1911....(something about needing a 'supported' bbl being required).
J.
I don't understand, maybe you can explain. I have a SA 9mm slide on my Colt 1911 frame (it is a real WWI 1911 frame), it fits perfectly and there is absolutely no problem in using stock .38 Super or 9x19 barrels with it. It required no fitting for the SA slide, barrels, or barrel bushing. I did discover that .38 Super magazines are somewhat unreliable for use with 9x19 cartridges. As my .38 Super barrel headspaces on the case mouth, the Starline .38 SuperComp brass works well. I occasionally load it to the 9x23 Win levels. I checked with Starline, they said the Super Comp brass will take the high pressure. I think I read that Starline no longer calls it .38 Super Comp. Fine with me as I have 500 .38 Super Comp cases already.
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Old 10-08-2020, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
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I don't understand, maybe you can explain. I have a SA 9mm slide on my Colt 1911 frame (it is a real WWI 1911 frame), it fits perfectly and there is absolutely no problem in using stock .38 Super or 9x19 barrels with it. It required no fitting for the SA slide, barrels, or barrel bushing. I did discover that .38 Super magazines are somewhat unreliable for use with 9x19 cartridges. As my .38 Super barrel headspaces on the case mouth, the Starline .38 SuperComp brass works well. I occasionally load it to the 9x23 Win levels. I checked with Starline, they said the Super Comp brass will take the high pressure. I think I read that Starline no longer calls it .38 Super Comp. Fine with me as I have 500 .38 Super Comp cases already.
I really don't know enough about it to explain what she said. I did notice that my SA 45ACP Range Officer has it's feed ramp attached to the frame (if I recall correctly); however, the 9mm Range Officer has it's feed ramp integral (attached) directly on the barrel. I BELIEVE that is what they are referring to as a 'supported' barrel. The Sig bbl ($39.99) in 38Super has the feed ramp attached to the barrel just like the 9mm RO barrel that came with my 'new' gun.... That's the best I can do...hope it helps.
J
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Old 10-08-2020, 08:03 PM
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I really don't know enough about it to explain what she said. I did notice that my SA 45ACP Range Officer has it's feed ramp attached to the frame (if I recall correctly); however, the 9mm Range Officer has it's feed ramp integral (attached) directly on the barrel. I BELIEVE that is what they are referring to as a 'supported' barrel. The Sig bbl ($39.99) in 38Super has the feed ramp attached to the barrel just like the 9mm RO barrel that came with my 'new' gun.... That's the best I can do...hope it helps.
J
Also, be aware that there are two(that I know or)types of ramped barrels. There is the Wilson/Nowlin and the Para/Clark. The differences are subtle, but enough that they are not interchangeable. Here is a link that explains how to tell the difference: http://schuemann.com/Portals/0/Docum...rel%20Ramp.pdf.

Garry
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:58 PM
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This is an interesting thread. Let me ask if any of you have had the opportunity to use the Sig .38 Super barrel in a Colt 1911, either a 9mm or an older .38 Super that head spaced off of the rim, rather than the case mouth and if so, did it work?

Thank you in advance for your responses.
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Old 10-09-2020, 05:09 PM
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BLUEDOT37, The 38 Super barrel I bought from CDNN has a W/N ramp cut, but the PM-9 has the C/P frame cut. My PM-9 is several years old so perhaps DW has changed to the W/N frame cut? If not, I'd sure be interested in a photo of the modification you had done to the SIG 38S barrel ramp for it to work on the PM-9 frame.

jdlii, The SIG 38S barrel is the Wilson/Nowlin ramped type. It will not work on an unmodified factory Colt frame. Your Colt frame would have to be machined for the SIG type barrel. If machined for a ramped type barrel, you will then be unable to use the stock Colt barrel again.
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Old 10-09-2020, 06:42 PM
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Thank you for saving me from frustration and preventing me from modifying a pre Series 70, Colt .38 Super!
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Old 10-09-2020, 07:27 PM
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You guys are spelling it wrong. It's 38 Superb.
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Old 10-09-2020, 07:29 PM
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Great set up. I have an EAA Witness with complete slide assemblies in .38 Super, .45 ACP and .22LR. I'm thinking the Super set up in a shoulder rig might be the ticket for a long road trip I have coming up.
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Old 10-10-2020, 05:04 AM
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Default DW-PM9 -vs- SIG-38S, 1911 barrel differences

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rock185 View Post
The 38 Super barrel I bought from CDNN has a W/N ramp cut, but the PM-9 has the C/P frame cut.
My PM-9 is several years old so perhaps DW has changed to the W/N frame cut?
If not, I'd sure be interested in a photo of the modification you had done to the SIG 38S barrel ramp for it to work on the PM-9 frame.
Well, I hope you're proud of yourself, you made take the pictures I normally take when I'm actually doing the project.

Dan Wesson is using the fully supported & ramped (Wilson/Nowlin style) barrels currently, as is SIG, however there are several points on the assembly that are different & needed to be modified/profiled for the SIG barrel to fit.

Points "B" & "C" need to be filed back ~.028", from the chamber's face, which is almost to Point "A" (which serves as a loaded cartridge indicator on the SIG). The corresponding opposite side of the chamber face also has to be recessed back by the same amount also.

Points "E" on the lower lug need to be profiled/contoured to match the shape of the DW's.

Point "F", where it contacts the frame, needs to have ~.005" removed to lower the barrel & allow it to not contact the inside top of the slide.

Point "D" needs to have ~.003" removed from the hood to fit & clearance the slide properly, as well as a little profiling.

(The SIG barrel in the picture is an unaltered barrel. I bought two barrels from SIG (such a good deal, how could I not) & it's the second one.

In retrospect the easy way would have been to pay DW $199 for their 38 Super barrel, but what fun would that be.

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Last edited by BLUEDOT37; 10-11-2020 at 02:11 AM. Reason: .correction about Point "A"
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Old 10-10-2020, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLUEDOT37 View Post
Well, I hope you're proud of yourself, you made take the pictures I normally take when I'm actually doing the project.

Dan Wesson is using the fully supported & ramped (Wilson/Nowlin style) barrels currently, as is SIG, however there are several points on the assembly that are different & needed to be modified/profiled for the SIG barrel to fit.

Points "B" & "C" need to be filed back ~.028", from the chamber's face, to Point "A" (which serves as a loaded cartridge indicator on the SIG). The corresponding opposite side of the chamber face also has to be recessed back by the same amount also.

Points "E" on the lower lug needs to be profiled to match the shape of the DW's.

Point "F", where it contacts the frame, needs to have ~.005" removed to lower the barrel & allow it to not contact the inside top of the slide.

Point "D" needs to have ~.003" removed from the hood to fit & clearance the slide properly, as well as a little profiling.

(The SIG barrel in the picture is an unaltered barrel. I bought two barrels from SIG (such a good deal, how could I not) & it's the second one.

In retrospect the easy way would have been to pay DW $199 for their 38 Super barrel, but what fun would that be.

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Bluedot37 that ramp on your Dan Wesson barrel is a Clark /Para cut ramp. See the difference here:http://schuemann.com/Portals/0/Docum...rel%20Ramp.pdf. If the Sig barrel works in your Pointman frame, you have figured how to modify a Wilson/Nowlin ramped barrel to work in a Clark/Para frame and are very lucky indeed.
I have a Dan Wesson Vigil CCO bought about 15 months ago and it also has a Clark/Para ramp.

Garry
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Old 10-10-2020, 06:33 PM
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BLUEDOT, Just as garryj indicates, the DW barrel you show is not a W/N ramp, it is a C/P ramp just like on my older PM-9. That you were able to get the SIG barrel with W/N ramp to fit and Function rather amazes me. I've read that since the barrels with the C/P ramp have more material, they can be machined back to duplicate the W/N cut. But this is the first I'm aware of anyone anywhere using a W/N type barrel in a C/P cut frame. No offense, but I wonder how durable such a combination could be? It would appear the squared off portion of the W/N ramp would impact against the rounded C/P frame cut, that is profiled to stop the rearward movement of the rounded C/P ramped barrel. Thus damaging the frame more with each shot fired, unless the barrel link is actually being used to stop the rearward movement of the barrel? Thank you for the added photos and information, but I admit I am lost on this one.
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Old 10-10-2020, 07:20 PM
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I bought a 9mm DW Specialist with the intention of fitting it with a .38s barrel. I simply bought a Kart .38s bbl and after minimal fitting I had H & M black nitride it for me. Boy, what a sweet shooting rig!
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Old 10-11-2020, 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Rock185 View Post
But this is the first I'm aware of anyone anywhere using a W/N type barrel in a C/P cut frame.
It would appear the squared off portion of the W/N ramp would impact against the rounded C/P frame cut, that is profiled to stop the rearward movement of the rounded C/P ramped barrel.
Thanks guys for the terminology on the lower lug, I was only aware of the W/N name but saw the obvious differences.

First off, there is no "squared off face" on the modified SIG's W/N lower lug anymore. As I stated I contoured the corners where the "E" arrows point to.

Basically imagine the shape/contour that the lug would be if it was the (full) C/P rounded shape & only remove the amount from the square corners to obtain that shape/contour. A majority of the curved/contoured lug still ends up contacting the frame. Only a small portion of the apex is absent.

As you profile the corners you can see how much needs to be removed by installing the barrel only into frame, & the lug's frame channel, and seeing where the lower edge of the barrel's ramp aligns with where it meets the frame's ramp cut.

Remove just enough to match the same point that the factory barrel's lower ramp aligns to.

I've only got about (100) 38 Super +P handloads thru it but it's shot & functioned perfectly & there are no marks or indications in the frame's lug channel (where the barrel's lower lug sits & contacts it) of any problems, but I'll definitely keep an eye on it.

One correction to my post #24 above, Points "B" & "C" were filed back ~.028" but not fully to Point "A". About .022" of the notch of the loaded cartridge indicator still remains.

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Old 10-11-2020, 07:52 PM
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My Ruger SR1911 10mm converted to 38 Superb.
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Old 10-13-2020, 02:51 AM
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Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
I have always believed that having caliber conversion capability is a good thing, even though you may never use it. In addition to my 4-caliber 1911, I also have the large frame EAA Witness set up to use .45 Auto, 9x19, and .38 Super/9x23 Win. Most of the time it shoots 9x19. If I had a pistol chambered for .40 S&W (I don't), I would still want to get a .357 Sig barrel for it, even though I care nothing about the .357 Sig.
Picking up an EAA "small frame" in 41AE put me on the road to conversions. I was gifted about 600 rounds of 41AE ammo when I bought the thing but considering how expensive the stuff is bought a 9mm barrel from Numrich and use that instead. Added a 22lr conversion to it. Then last year or so bought an EAA Witness in 9mm with a 22 lr conversion. Added 45 ACP and 40 S&W. I'd like to add a 10mm longslide, but darn EAA charges alot for them.

Not to go way off topic, but I have a Browning MKIII in 40 S&W and picked up an Olympic Arms MkIII barrel in 357 Sig. Dropped in just fine. The heavier MKIII fame can handle the Sig, while the BHP frame is a tad too light.

Last edited by dsf; 10-13-2020 at 02:57 AM.
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