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American Handgunner March/April 2011 - Page 28
TAFFINTESTS John Taffin Colt has been offering the 1911 in .38 Super since 1929. This latest version is the Colt Custom in high polish stainless steel. Colt .38 Supers: THE SIXGUNNER HIMSELF: GUNS, GEAR AND MORE Properly loaded the .38 Super Commander is the equivalent of the 4" Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum and offers nearly double the capacity. Stainless steel Commander, Government Model, and Commander all with stocks by Herrett’s. Texas Bar-B-Q gun: High polished stainless steel Colt Custom .38 Super with genuine Mother-ofPearl grips. Belt slide by Black Hills Leather. Playin’ Favorites: The Other 1911 Super .38 Supers Wilson Combat builds superb 1911s. Here we have a .38 Super with giraffe bone stocks by Scott Kolar, .45 with Herrett’s stocks, and leather by Milt Sparks. From Casull Arms the Model 3800 .38 Casull. WhAt’s Better? mericans have basically been revolver shooters and this was especially so among law enforcement until the 1990s when semiautos really took over. All the time shooters looked to the .357 Magnum as the ideal self defense choice, very few of those really in the know carried a .38 Super, including one Texas Ranger by the name of Frank Hamer. The .38 Super has been hampered for a long time by the lack of anything except hardball style ammunition. This has changed today with several A ’m going to take advantage of my advancing years and look at my favorite handguns. These articles will definitely not be objective but rather entirely subjective. These are the guns I have used and prefer; your choice may be entirely different. Choosing favorites is not always easy. Sometimes I can pick one favorite and other times it will be several. With that in mind we herein look at Taffin’s Top .38 Supers. The .38 Super chamber in the 1911 arrived in 1929 and actually pre-dated not only the .357 Magnum of 1935 but also the .38-44 Heavy Duty of 1930. Crime was rampant in the Roaring ’20s and peace officers found themselves at a disadvantage when armed with revolvers firing the standard round-nosed .38 Special. Both Colt and S&W went to work to come up with a better solution. Smith & Wesson’s first answer was the .44 framed double-action revolver made to handle the first Plus P .38 Special, the .38/44 Heavy Duty. Colt, with their New Service .38, already had a heavy-framed revolver able to handle higher pressure .38 Special loads so they looked in a different direction, chambering the 1911 with a hotter .38 ACP. The result was the .38 Super with a 130-grain metal piercing bullet at approximately 1,300 fps. Beginning in the 1930s and lasting until the 1990s, the .357 Magnum was the number one choice for peace officers desiring something more powerful than the .38 Special, while the .38 Super remained virtually unknown except to a small group of shooters. This would not change until the advent of action shooting matches in which the lower recoil and higher capacity of the .38 Super compared to the same pistol when chambered in .45 ACP gave a decided advantage to competitors, who virtually saved the cartridge. companies offering JHP +P .38 Super loadings. Long before the advent of high capacity magazines we already had a Commander-sized .38 Super which was the equivalent of a short-barreled .357 Magnum revolver with 2/3 more capacity — 10 rounds compared to six in a cylinder. I wrote the following 20 years ago: “As a defensive weapon, is the .357 Magnum that much better than a .38 Super?” To answer this question, I compared a 3½" Model 27 with a .38 Super Commander as to the guns themselves, ammunition performance, and accuracy. Fully loaded, the Model 27 .357 Magnum weighs 45 ounces, the .38 Combat Commander goes 41½ ounces, and if one goes to the lightweight Commander, that drops to I Continued on page 84 28 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2011