Colt 1911 Special Combat Gov’t 38Super, Walking through the Cabelas Gun Library recently, a pistol caught my eye. A base model Colt Government Model Series 80 normally wouldn’t get a second look. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s because I already have them, and I know the guns well enough.
The USGI configuration Colt is what I compare all other 1911s to. Not as an ideal, but an average. A basic Colt 1911 is what I consider a perfectly mediocre 1911. And that’s pretty good.
This stainless steel model was unusually well polished for a base model, but that wasn’t it either. A pair of numbers and two simple words kept my attention. “.38 Super Caliber” was neatly stamped on the left side of the slide.
The .38 Super, in one form or another, has been around almost 100 years. It has a lot going for it, but bad timing and America’s general infatuation with bigger projectiles has always kept it from being more popular. Almost a century later, the .38 Super still has a relatively small but dedicated following. It’s a fast, flat-shooting round with a lot of potential for deep penetration, mild recoil, and the more modern chamberings provide great reliability and exceptional accuracy.
A higher pressure version of Browning’s .38ACP, the .38 Super gained popularity when shooters realized they could take advantage of the new 1911 pistol. The 1911 was capable of handling higher pressures than the older M1900. Way back then, people figured out that a lighter bullet traveling faster could produce less recoil and a plenty of energy delivered on target.
By 1933, Remington was putting out a .38 Super load for the Colt 1911 pushing a 130gr round at 1,300fps. Nowadays, Remington is selling the same 130grain bullet, but it’s moving about 100fps slower. Armscor sells a dirt cheap ($14.75 for 50 rounds) .38 Super pushing a 125grain bullet at 1,200fps. SIG’s V-Crown is pretty much the same, but Buffalo Bore is pushing that same weight at an advertised 1,450fps.
Does that sound a whole lot like the .357 SIG? It should. With most commercial rounds, as well as what’s in the reloading manuals, the fastest 124-130 grain loads for the .357 SIG run between 50 and 75fps slower than out of the .38 Super. Not much. For the 115gr loads, you’ll see even less variation, if any at all.
MODEL: 1911 Special Combat Government
TYPE: Semi-Auto Pistol
ACTION: Single Action
STOCK/GRIPS: Black/Silver Composite
CALIBER/GAUGE: 38 Super
OVERALL LENGTH: 8.5″
SIGHTS: Bomar Rear/Heine Front
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