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Thread: 9mm Luger fired from .38 Super pistol

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  1. #1

    9mm Luger fired from .38 Super pistol

    I was out at the range today with a friend and I was firing my Llama .38 Super and he was shooting his 9mm Taurus PT1911. Somehow he had inadvertently loaded one of my magazines with his 9mm Luger ammunition. Without knowing it I had loaded that magazine and started shooting. I noticed the recoil was less than what I was use to so I checked the magazine and found I was shooting 9mm Luger in my .38 Super Pistol. The ammo fired fine, the pistol cycled fine and the cartridges loaded and ejected fine. My Llama has a barrel that headspaces the cartridge on the case mouth and the 9mm Luger cartridge would be about .142 deeper in the cylinder than the .38 Super. I was surprised the firing pin would extend that far to hit the primer. Needless to say I finished the magazine without any problems.

    I respect your opinion. Have I found an inexpensive way to practice with my .38 Super?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by patriotic
    I was out at the range today with a friend and I was firing my Llama .38 Super and he was shooting his 9mm Taurus PT1911. Somehow he had inadvertently loaded one of my magazines with his 9mm Luger ammunition. Without knowing it I had loaded that magazine and started shooting. I noticed the recoil was less than what I was use to so I checked the magazine and found I was shooting 9mm Luger in my .38 Super Pistol. The ammo fired fine, the pistol cycled fine and the cartridges loaded and ejected fine. My Llama has a barrel that headspaces the cartridge on the case mouth and the 9mm Luger cartridge would be about .142 deeper in the cylinder than the .38 Super. I was surprised the firing pin would extend that far to hit the primer. Needless to say I finished the magazine without any problems.

    I respect your opinion. Have I found an inexpensive way to practice with my .38 Super?
    What happens in these cases is that the extractor holds the cartridge against the breech face closely enough that the firing pin works as intended. The bullet then has ~0.142" of "freebore."

    Back in the day George Nonte, in his book, "Pistolsmithing," described how to shoot 9mm in a Super, when a 9mm barrel was unobtainable. The technique, briefly described, was to create a chamber sleeve that filled the gap between the 9mm cartridge case mouth and the Super-length chamber. However, this presupposes that you can get another .38 Super barrel for your Llama to convert!

    Alternatively, find a Star Model B (they can be had inexpensively) for you 9x19mm shooting.

    Regards,

    Walt
    Author, The M1911 Complete Assembly Guide,
    The M1911 Complete Owner's Guide,
    The M14
    and M1 Garand Complete Assembly Guides
    and The AR-15 Complete Assembly and Owner's Guides

  3. #3
    Join Date
    2nd June 2004
    Location
    Terra
    Posts
    19,008
    Quote Originally Posted by wjkuleck
    Back in the day George Nonte, in his book, "Pistolsmithing," described how to shoot 9mm in a Super, when a 9mm barrel was unobtainable. The technique, briefly described, was to create a chamber sleeve that filled the gap between the 9mm cartridge case mouth and the Super-length chamber. However, this presupposes that you can get another .38 Super barrel for your Llama to convert!
    Heh, heh.

    I tried that, to shoot .380 ACP out of a .38 Super barrel. I got hold of some 9mm Wolf steel cases, and carefully cut the end off one to fit into the chamber and set proper headspacing for the shorter cartridge. I thought I was pretty clever.

    Worked great -- for about three rounds. Then the impact of chambering crushed my insert and I was out of business. It might have worked better if the sleeve had been hardened, but I didn't feel up to trying a second time.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkmoon
    Heh, heh.

    I tried that, to shoot .380 ACP out of a .38 Super barrel. I got hold of some 9mm Wolf steel cases, and carefully cut the end off one to fit into the chamber and set proper headspacing for the shorter cartridge. I thought I was pretty clever.

    Worked great -- for about three rounds. Then the impact of chambering crushed my insert and I was out of business. It might have worked better if the sleeve had been hardened, but I didn't feel up to trying a second time.
    Ol' George used a steel insert that was permanently installed .

    Regards,

    Walt
    Author, The M1911 Complete Assembly Guide,
    The M1911 Complete Owner's Guide,
    The M14
    and M1 Garand Complete Assembly Guides
    and The AR-15 Complete Assembly and Owner's Guides

  5. #5
    Join Date
    4th February 2005
    Location
    3rd Rock from the Sun
    Posts
    13,707
    I've also heard that 38 Super will chamber in a revolver meant for 38 special or 357 but since it isn't meant for that I don't consider trying it.
    Just because something might work doesn't mean it's a good idea to do it.
    Lynnie, "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. "
    - Albert Camus

  6. #6
    Join Date
    25th March 2005
    Location
    Western Kentucky
    Posts
    362
    Some .38 Super cartridges will chamber in some .38 Spls and some .357 magnums. The semi-rim will some times catch enough to keep the primer close enough to be hit by the firing pin. I agree that it is not a good idea to do it, if for no other reason than the .38 Super is loaded to much higher pressures than a .38 Spl. When fired in the wrong chamber, who knows what pressure levels it reaches? .38/.357 chambers are usually tight compared to .38 Super dimensions. Not all will even accept a cartridge.

    As far as 9mm in a .38 Super, I would expect poor accuracy and low velocity. That's a lot of jump to get to the rifling.

    My other favorite no-no is the 9x23mm in a .38 Super chamber. The 2 cartridges are close, dimensionally. Some people get away with it, but I won't even try it.

    All of these cartridge swaps will potentially work, I just don't think they are a good idea.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    2nd September 2007
    Location
    Middle of AZ
    Posts
    1,161
    My .357 Blackhawk will not accept .38 Super, and though I'm sure there are .357 pistols that will chamber the Super, I haven't encountered one.

    I was shooting a friend's 9mm Radom once, and ended up firing about three magazines of .380 through it. Aside from moving the group about 4" down on the target, I saw no ill effects. Once I discovered the mistake, I alerted the pistol's owner that he had bought some mis-marked reloads and needed to quit using them. Everything turned out OK, but the incident taught me to load my own mags, even if shooting someone else's pistol.
    "Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid."- Ronald Wilson Reagan

    "Mmmmm.....tasty burglar......"- Tonka the Large Dog

  8. #8
    Join Date
    4th February 2005
    Location
    3rd Rock from the Sun
    Posts
    13,707
    38 Super (Winchester) will chamber in my S&W 340PD but I have no intention of trying to fire it that way.
    Just because you might be able to do something doesn't mean it's going to be prudent to do so.
    Lynnie, "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. "
    - Albert Camus

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