Remembering the .38 Super


Remembering the .38 Super

John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications


Back in the 1970s attending college at the University of Missouri in Columbia, a friend of mine got me interested in serious handgun shooting. He joined a local shooting club back in those days that hosted a number of shooting matches at a range near Columbia that eventually became known as the Chapman Academy.

I was introduced to the gentleman that started that shooting club but little did I know until much later that Ray Chapman initiated the IPSC or International Practical Shooting Confederation at his range in Missouri. I met Mr. Chapman many times at his range and witnessed his shooting performances, instructional talks, and gun discussions.

Ray went on to become one the Top Six IPSC shooters of the day and that half dozen gun slingers included none other than Jeff Cooper who I was also lucky enough to meet once at a SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Both genuine gentleman with great contributions to the practical shooting sports. He died in 2008 in Texas after starting the Southwest Pistol League.

But, I digress a bit for history sake. Though I never shot IPSC because I did not get into competitive shooting, I attended many of Chapman’s matches and developed an interest in pistols that has not been rebated since. What I remember at the time was that the Colt 1911 or clones chambered for the .38 Super (Auto) was the hottest ticket going at the time. You were a nobody without one. I had one for a short time that was bargained off of me for something else.

Undoubtedly there was a time back in Chapman’s days when the .38 Super was the cat’s meow and the wag in the dog’s tail. The .38 Super Auto was developed by Colt to upgrade the .38 Auto. At that time when the .38 Super came out it was the most powerful semi-auto pistol in existence. Though it was extremely popular for IPSC shooting matches, it was also an excellent hunting round when loaded with hunting type expanding bullets.

Typical .38 Super loads used a variety of bullet types in weights from 115 to 130 grains. Those loads created velocities of 1200-1300 feet per second. The impact energy of the .38 Super ranged from 462 to 500 foot pounds.

Besides roles in sports shooting and hunting, the .38 Super was also considered an excellent and powerful load for self-defense uses. Guns and ammo are still available in .38 Super. Might be interesting to get one of these pistols chambered for the classic .38 Super.

Avatar Author ID 67 - 1450317238

Award winning outdoor writer/photographer since 1978. Over 3000 articles and columns published nationally. Field & Stream Hero of Conservation in 2007. Fields of writing includes hunting most game in American, Canada, and Europe, fishing fresh and saltwater, destination travel, product reviews, industry consulting, and conservation issues. Currently VP at largest community college in Mississippi in economic development and workforce training with 40 years of experience in Higher Education. BS-MS in wildlife sciences from MO. University, and then a PhD in Industrial Psychology. Married with two children and Molly the Schnoodle.

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