Rambling Thoughts on the .38 Super +P
by Greg Ritchie
The Colt M1900 chambered for the 38acp was a hot little number, firing a 130 grain bullet at 1260 fps. Too hot, in fact, for the M1900 and the velocity was reduced to 1040 fps.
In the 1920's the call went out from the law enforcement agencies for a round that would defeat the automobile. The 32's, 38's, and 45's in use, while good for soft targets, would bounce off the shell of the automobile.
In 1929, Colt responded to this call by taking the 38acp and loading it to original specs and chambering it in the 1911. Thus the 38 super automatic was born. In 1974 the name was again changed. This time to 38 Super +P.
The 38 Super +P never caught on in a big way, being overshadowed by the 357 Magnum that came along a few years later, but it held on in the 1911 platform. It was very popular in Mexico and other South American countries where military rounds were prohibited from private ownership.
The 38 Super +P found new popularity however when IPSC came on the scene. The rules of the game gave severe penalties to cartridges that did not make "major power factor", a rule that was put in place to keep competitor's from using weaker cartridges to reduce recoil and increase speed. At the time most used the 45acp, the 38 Super +P "race gun" tamed the recoil and increased magazine capacity while maintaining power factor.
The 38 Super +P does have a flaw. The cartridge is semi-rimmed and headspaces off the rim. Accuracy suffers because of it. A problem easily solved by the reloader by headspacing off the case mouth.