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38 Super Auto


In 1929, Colt belatedly upgraded the 38 Colt load with a higher-pressure version (about 36,000 psi) and designated the round the 38 Super Automatic. This loading was intended for use only in newer versions of Colt pistols and other firearms designed to handle more pressure than the Model of 1908 Colt would handle.

With a longer overall length and about 10% higher pressure than the 9mm Luger, performance of the 38 Super really was super.

While the 38 Super has fallen from favor, it was once among the most cherished of pistol chamberings for USPSA, IPSC, and other competitive pistol-shooting games. With this case, it was feasible for those competitors to use a 9mm round to achieve the Major power-rating originally based on duplicating the momentum of the 45 ACP round launching a 230-grain bullet. With the downgrading of that standard to reflect the momentum generated by the 40 S&W, the 38 SA is no longer important in that regard.



As with any pistol round headspacing on the case mouth, best practice is to apply a taper-crimp after seating the bullet. This helps to lock the bullet in place against chambering forces that might otherwise drive it into the case. I cannot too-strongly recommend getting a second seating-and-crimping die so you can have one adjusted to seat the bullet and the second adjusted to only taper-crimp the case mouth. Generally, attempting to do both operations in one step is a recipe for damaged and destroyed cases.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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