A (.38) Super Idea

A (.38) Super Idea
Taurus 1911 in .38 Super

I was preparing Stan Trzoniec's review of the STI Eagle prior to posting it on the website when I realized what was missing in my life. It's not riches or fame; I'm in the wrong line of work for that. No, what I'm really missing is a .38 Super.

When I was a kid my dad turned me on to Mickey Spillane's tough guy hero, Mike Hammer, and by extension the Model 1911 pistol. While I was many years away from being old enough to buy a 1911, that didn't stop me from poring over the Shooter's Bible that lived on the nightstand next to my bed. The choices for manufacturer back then were pretty much Colt, Colt and Colt, and I agonized over whether I should get a basic Government model, a Commander or maybe a Gold Cup Match.

Mike Hammer, of course, shot a .45 ACP, but in my feverish study of ballistics of cartridges available for the 1911 I took one look at the .38 Super and thought, "This is it! Why wouldn't everyone shoot this?" It was fast and offered lots of energy, relatively speaking (Winchester's 125-grain Silvertip load spits out of the barrel at 1,240 fps for 427 ft.-lbs. of energy). Also attractive to a kid: It has the word "Super" in it. A no-brainer.

Nowadays I know maybe a little bit more about guns than I did then and understand all the reasons why the .45 and 9mm are popular in the 1911 and other autos while the .38 Super is not.

But guess who loves the .38 Super? Speed/action shooting enthusiasts. They love it because the bullet gets out of the barrel and to the target quicker and because the low recoil lets them transition to the next target faster.

I've had only one opportunity to shoot a Super over the years, a Para 1911 with a shiny chrome finish and faux ivory grips (a style said to be popular with shooters south of the border, in countries where owning guns chambered to military cartridges such as the .45 and 9mm isn't permitted). I tested it and loved shooting it but wasn't taken with the look, so I sent it back when I was finished.

Do I need a .38 Super? No. Do I still want one? Oh, yes. Will I be able to justify the purchase to my wife? Dicey. But the choice fits with my predilection for "oddball" calibers, and it will be fun shopping for one. My choices here in California boil down to Smith, Para, Taurus, Springfield, Kimber and Armscor.

Recommended for You


Ruger Security 9 Compact Review

J. Scott Rupp

The Ruger Security 9 Compact 9mm (model # 3818) is a shootable, dependable gun with a low...


SIG P210 Standard Pistol: Legendary and American Made

Handguns Online Staff - April 23, 2019

SIG SAUER has introduced the American Made P210 Standard pistol to the U.S. Commercial Market.


8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Dealing with Subcompacts

Jim and Rich cover the benefits and the challenges presented by very small pistols.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review

Jeff Chudwin - January 29, 2019

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol...


Kahr Arms Breaks Ground on New Pennsylvania HQ

Handguns Online Staff - June 04, 2014

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in...


SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades

James Tarr - December 14, 2017

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.

See More Stories

More 1911


Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review

James Tarr - May 01, 2019

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a...

SIG 1911 Ultra Compact 9mm Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft

The 1911 Ultra Compact pistol from SIG SAUER is offered in .45 ACP and 9mm with an all-black...


Review: Browning Black Label Medallion Pro Compact

Eve Flanigan - January 30, 2019

The Browning Black Label Medallion Pro Compact is pleasing to look at, pleasing to operate and...

See More 1911

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.