Background On The .38 Super

posted on May 19, 2009

One of the curious anomalies of cartridge design is the .38 Super. It came along in the late 1920s, when law enforcement was concerned about punching through the heavy steel of automobile bodies of that day. That is an understandable concern, but the means of getting it done is decidedly strange. The .38 Super is the same cartridge (dimensionally) as the earlier .38 ACP. It is just loaded much hotter.

It worked OK, but was never well known for accuracy. That's because it used an unusual semi-rimmed case that headspaced on a small shelf in the chamber. The Super got a major lease on life when Irv Stone of Bar-Sto developed a proper barrel that headspaced on the case mouth. I recall the day I went to the range with a new Commander in .38 Super. With the original factory barrel, the gun shot about a 12-inch group at 25 yards; with the Bar-Sto in place, it was about an inch. Colt's own barrels are now made to headspace like the Bar-Sto. By the way, never shoot .38 Super ammo in one of the original .38 ACP pistols.


M1C rifle
M1C rifle

Sniping In Korea: 1950-1953

When U.S. forces rushed to stop the North Koreans from overrunning South Korea in 1950, there were almost no American snipers. As the battle lines stabilized, that would change, and the war would become ideal for the employment of well-equipped and well-trained snipers.

Preview: Archangel Mosin Nagant OPFOR

Greatly improve the ergonomics and versatility of your old Russian workhorse with the Archangel Mosin Nagant OPFOR—one of the few replacement stocks on the market compatible with most variants of the storied bolt-action.

The Armed Citizen® September 20, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Rifleman Q&A: Bullet & Primer Sealant

From the archives of American Rifleman, one NRA member questions the importance of the colorful or black-colored paint-like coating around the cartridge necks and primer pockets of surplus ammunition.

Preview: Zero Tolerance Knives 0357BW

The U.S.-made Zero Tolerance 0357 Black Wash liner lock features a 3.25" blade of hard, wear-resistant CPM 20CV steel treated with a scratch-hiding blackwash finish best suited for everyday carry.

The French FR F2 Sniper Rifle

Conceived during the Cold War and after thirty years of service, the French are beginning to phase out the FR F2 bolt-action sniper rifle, with the surplus rifles available for sale from Navy Arms.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.