View Full Version : .38 Super to .45 conversion?
20th June 2004, 07:14
I am unschooled in these pistols, inherited a Colt 1911 in .38 Super from grandfather. At a gun show, a guy selling barrels was telling me all I had to do to be able to shoot .45 ACP ammo was drop in a .45 barrel and switch to a .45 magazine. Is that right? Is anything further needed? I have no wish to damage or permanently alter the gun. Thanks. :confused: muse144.
20th June 2004, 09:00
He was wrong.
Or lying to make a sale to somebody he would not likely see again.
The breechface of the slide is the width of the case rim, plus a little for feeding and tolerance. A .38 slide will not accept a .45 cartridge.
To change from .38 Super to .45 ACP would require a complete upper assembly, slide, barrel, recoil spring, firing pin, etc., etc.,
a .45 ejector, which is pinned firmly to the frame and is not something I want to swap out every weekend.
some luck in the frame feed ramp cut for one calibre handling the other. Some will, some won't.
So the changeover would not necessarily be a permanent alteration, but it might be; and in either case is expensive and troublesome. Check around with the mailorder houses, PMC .38 Super ammo is not terribly expensive and you can keep grandpa's gun as he used it.
20th June 2004, 16:49
OK, I appreciate your filling me in. I have shot it just like it is, and although I am strictly an amatuer, I liked it. I did look around for ammo, and it has been a long time since I have. It seems like more brands of 38 Super ammo are available these days and the prices are OK. What would you advise about getting a new 38 Super barrel and using it when I am plinking with it? To save wear and tear on the old original. It is still in good shape, and maybe I should keep it that way. I have printed out several people's versions of disassembly and reassembly instructions and that's no problem. Thanks again.
21st June 2004, 08:34
Service life of a pistol barrel is in the tens of thousands of rounds, so I would not worry about wear and tear unless you planned to shoot Grandpa's gun in regular competition. However, a new .38 Super barrel made to headspace on the case mouth (like a .45 ACP) will be enough more accurate than the old style that depended on the semirim to show up in an otherwise stock gun. I have heard reliably of cases of 8" groups coming down to 3" just by putting in the new type barrel. A better fit is part of that but most is due to the headspace method. A good quality barrel won't be cheap and should be professionally fitted but it will cost much less than a whole new upper to change caliber.
23rd June 2004, 19:16
What Jim said. I expect my raceguns to keep grouping (instead of patterning) through at least 125,000 rounds or so, and I run those pretty hot. I think I replaced the barrel in my oldest P14 at around 150,000, but not because it was shooting all that badly. .45 doesn't put all that much pressure on a barrel.
Personally, I'd keep the .38 as it is and just buy another .45. You should be able to get into a fairly nice one for around $500 if you shop around the used market a bit.
24th June 2004, 05:44
In the long run, it is cheaper and easier to just buy another 1911 chambered in 45 ACP. I have a 10mm Delta Elite for which I built a 45 ACP top end. It works ok, but I am planning on building a new lower end for the 45 ACP and making the 10mm a dedicated 10mm! The only multicaliber 1911 I might try again would be a 22 long rifle conversion, but even that just doesn't seem all that economical these days.
28th June 2004, 05:22
I hade a barrel/comp assembly in 38 Super go bad and I wanted to use the frame as it had a dot scope mounted on it. I had a spare .45 top end, so I made the swap. Never again! The barrel didn't fit so the bed had to be deepened and the feed ramp reconfigured, and it still doesn't feed 200gr swcs with complete reliability. Funny, I forgot to replace the ejector and it seems to work ok, but it might be hitting too close to the larger primer. I am going to cut the frame for a ramped 38 barrel and put a new 38 barrel and comp on. Don't do it!
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