38 super 1930's metal-piercing?


#1

I’ve recently come across some scant info on how in the late 1920’s Colt designed a .38 super pistol apparently “around a new 130 grain metal piercing bullet” of that caliber?? I know about the pistol in general obviously, but it was the mention of a “metal piercing .38 auto” bullet which caught my attention… This comes from a July 2005 Guns magazine article by John Taffin titled: “The .38 Super Chief: Les Baer’s lightweight custom carry Comanche”. in which he writes: “Colt, with the New Service .38, already had a revolver able to handle the high-pressure .38 Special loads so they looked in a different direction towards chambering the 1911 with a hotter .38 ACE The result was the .38 Super with a 130-grain metal piercing bullet at approximately 1,300 feet per second.” Maybe I just haven’t noticed all these years because it was an obscure short-lived production, or maybe this is as simple as the people at Winchester & Remington using their existing .38 special metal piercing / metal-penetrating bullets in .38 super loadings (I’m aware of all of the typical metal piercing / metal penetrating cartridges from Winchester, Western, Remington, and Peters in .38spl, .357mag, and .45ACP)… but I can’t find any photos or examples anywhere of .38 super loadings with the typical pointed “metal piercing” bullet. Or maybe the pictured examples below of 1930’s era boxes of round nosed “metal cased” bullets were what the companies intended to be “metal piercing”. Anybody shed any light on this, or have any different pics of boxes or bullets of genuine .38 super piercing ammo? Sorry if this is a waste of time, or a wild goose chase, I just don’t know… Thanks





#2

The term “Metal Cased” (as opposed to lead) was what all metal covered bullets were called from about 1895 to 1940 or later. It is equivelent to our “Full Metal Jacket” bullets today. It has nothing to do with “Metal Penetrating” bullets.


#3

I figured as much, but I’m not too familiar with pre-1940 ammunition and the vernacular of the day. Seeing as how they were already using the term “metal piercing” and “metal penetrating” in the 1930’s I figured there would be some reference somewhere of the so called 38 super of the same design… but nothing so far. At this point I’m assuming that the manufacturers were just using their .38spl M.P. bullet in the 38 super version for a short time?, and that it just didn’t catch on or last very long. Although the .38spl metal piercing cartridges which I’m familiar with from Winchester / Western were 150 grain bullets, not 130 grain like the article mentions. Hence my confusion and search for more info… Google didn’t have much to offer.


#4

DK–I just checked all the Remington catalogs from 1929-1942 and the ONLY .38 Super loads are 130 gr. Metal Case and Mushroom. No Metal Penetrating loads are listed.


#5

Huh… Just goes to show that some magazine articles and some confident sounding forum posts from other sites (firingline, highroad) are not all they’re cracked up to be. Thanks for double checking this!


#6

DK–I did not say it does not exist. I just said it was NOT a regular catalog item. Perhaps it was an experimental or short run item. Or maybe a special order item for the FBI or somebody. I have never seen one in over 50 years of collecting, but then I do not specialize in auto pistol. John Moss would be in a better position to answer this question than I am.


#7

I am just back from the St. Louis show. Aside from modern loads (Post-WWII by American Ballistics and KTW, and perhaps other modern companies), I do not know of any .38 A.C.P. or .38 Super ammunition either made with its own “metal-penetrating” bullet, using the one for the .38 or .357 Magnum, or cataloged or advertised by the manufacturer as “Metal-penetrating” or “Armor Piercing.” I have a pretty good collection of these calibers still, and had a better one before California law outlawed various types of pistol ammunition, but my collection catalog records do not show any such round, other than the modern ones mentioned, ever in my own collection.

The .38 Super was never a popular pistol with LE in the United States, although the F.B.I. used some in the past either for special purposes, or because the agents who had them liked them (regs were a little different about what guns could be carried before WWII than they are now, I believe). The .38 and .357 Revolver reigned supreme with LE in America, with few autos of any description used until relatively current times. I doubt that a metal penetrating load would have found much of a market. Just because of velocity, the .38 Super FMJ loads were more penetrative of hard materials than most auto pistol cartridges contemporary to it.

The kind of hype used in the modern popular gun press, especially about “wonder loads” in ammunition, is not a new phenomena judging by older articles in my files. One does wish that they would stick to factory designations and techical terminology in their discussions, and can the hype. It is probably too much to wish for. Of course, some modern loads have proven to be very good, but they are usually from the major manufacturers. The bulk of them offer little or nothing over conventional types, and prove it themselves by fading rapidly from the scene despite hyped-up advertising in popular gun press magazine articles.

I cannot say MP .38 Super loads were never made by one of the big companies, but if they were, it was, as said on a earlier posting on this thread, either for a special small contract, or for in-house experiments by the manufacturer. I am not sure any such load, even within those parameters, exists.