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Old 09-25-2010, 08:15 PM   #1
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Western Tennessee
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

Having read on the net so many reservations about the Taurus in .45 or .38 Super and after reviewing Robert Campbell's experience with the RIA in both calibers, I opted to buy another standard RIA in .38 Super. I was able to locate 1100 rds of .38 Super ammo and several Metalform magazines all also priced right.



With experience with three RIA's already (in .45), this one is by far the cleanest, tightest and best finished overall of the lot making me wonder if Armscor goes to extra lengths to produce "best of the breed" in this caliber. The grips, for example, are very darkly stained rather than being the very light color typical of the other three -- still uncheckered but much classier looking.



The military MSH and trigger that had resided for years in my parts box required no fitting at all, and the new trigger is just as crisp and light as the original one that came with the gun. It now looks very much like an original Colt. I'm still debating whether to install an old military thumb safety and slide release; I'd never trust myself to do that but have a gunsmith who'd like no better assignment.



My only complaint is that the grip safety is just barely doing its job. The trigger surges very little when I perform the function test, but my smith could easily correct this relatively minor problem.



Still recuperating from surgery I'm not quite up for a trip to the clay pits yet but am teething at the bits to do some blasting. I bought a digital camera a couple of months ago, and maybe I can get some help from my young'un to show me how to share some photos of this very handsome piece with you folks.



I must admit that there is some kind of mystique and a peculiar appeal for me associated with this caliber all of a sudden. Mr. Camp's article on the .38 Super was mesmerizing, and I may even try reloading again in order to be able to afford shooting it over time.



--Ray
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Old 09-25-2010, 08:27 PM   #2
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

Hello. When you do get the opportunity to shoot your Super .38, let us know how it performs.



Best and thanks in advance.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:31 PM   #3
 
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

Well I just couldn't wait any longer to get out to my usual spot to try the .38 Super, and I almost wish I hadn't. With a box of Aguila 130gr FMJ only the first 3 or 4 rounds fed and functioned normally. Most of the rest of that box was one shot at a time with the fired round remaining in the chamber and the next round in the magazine having started up the ramp. To undo this jam I found that the standard drill of stripping the magazine out and then racking the slide to eject the empty worked well; I about wore myself out doing this. I had to thumb the top round back into the magazine each time.



When I tried the nickel cased 130gr FMJ Federal American Eagle, the functioning was flawless again for the first few rounds but then started doing exactly the same thing. I am really puzzled by this. Does this sound like an extraction problem? Does the chamber need polishing?



What ejected rounds there were got tossed all over the place. I really didn't get a chance to check out the accuracy very much. At the five paces I started shooting it was acceptable I suppose, but then I got distracted by the constant jams.



Does this particular kind of failure to feed, extract, and eject properly indicate any particular remedial action short of being rebuilt completely by a competent 1911 artisan/mechanic? I had cleaned the gun thorougly when I stripped it to install the arched mainspring housing and military trigger.



HELP!!!



--Ray
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:47 PM   #4
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

Hello. Sorry to hear about your problems. To me, it sounds like an extraction problem is a possibility. I think the extractor in your pistol might need to be tensioned or possibly replaced. If the extractor claw is getting but a minimal "bite" on the case rim, it might work for the first few shots or until the pistol heats up or gets dirty but then begins to slip over the case rims, failing to extract the fired case. This sets the stage for the jam you describe when the slide strips another round from the magazine.



It might be that the extractor is "clocking". This means it is able to rotate slightly in the tunnel it rides in which would allow less of the claw to be in contact with the case rim. IF this is the problem, an oversized firing pin stop can be fitted to your pistol to prevent this.



The only other thing I can think to ask is what strength recoil spring are you using? If it is too much for the load (and some .38 Super loads are actually lighter than might be suspected), the slide will not move rearward enough for the rear of the case to strike the ejector and be kicked out of the gun.



It's just a tough nut to crack without actually being able to witness the malfunctions.



Best.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:31 AM   #5
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

I was thinking extractor too (both the feeding and erratic ejection pattern point to that) but Mr Camp makes a good point about the ammo. It is often loaded to 9mm performance, if even that stout. I'd think it would have to be awful weak and perhaps oversprung in addition for the fired round to essentially slide part way out of the chamber, but possible.



As I typed the above, I started wondering if it was mechanically possible. If the slide doesn't travel far enough for the fired case to clear the chamber, can the slide pick up a new case, or will it be short? I don't know, and started to dig out a Super to check... but basically got lazy when I realized I had to move some stuff from in front of the safe. I am curious, so will dig it out later if nobody else checks.
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:44 PM   #6
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

While I have no specific 38 SUP experience, I have messed about with the M1911 platform for a few years. They are demanding. First, and I am assuming a properly put together gun, cleanliness is next to Godliness. All of the nooks and crannies have to be cleaned out of graduew (technical term for caked on dirt). Next, they have to be properly lubricated. They will run dirty and wet but not dirty and dry. Third, use good (and clean) magazines. Spending $ on a nice 1911 makes no sense to give it cheap crappy mags made over a dung fire in Peshawar, NWFP (next to the Ran of the Hindu Kush). And lastly but not leastly (?) use quality ammo. Aquila is in my experience, quality blasting ammo.



Then we begin our trouble shooting. If the gun works for a few rounds and then craps out, take a look at the recoil spring. They have to be changed every 2500-3000 round. And because your RIA is a 38 SUP, I would insure that you have a 38 SUP factory recoil sprang in there. This solves most failure to feed issues.



Failure to extract issue in my experience are the result of a badly fitted, broken or tired extractor. This being a turn of the last century item means you will have to fit one or have it fitted correctly to tension. Also if somebody had put the wrong (45 ACP) extractor in... or tried to make one of those fit...A high quality (Wilson, Brown, etc...) extractor does not live forever but it should be cleaned and inspected after every firing.



Finally, the classic double feed in the 1911 (a Type III malfunction) can be caused by a broken extractor as well. Or the magazine spring has gotten tired or put in wrong or the mag is filthy. I have also seen this caused by buffers. And, they also may be caused by the "clocking" of a badly fitted firing pin stop.



These are just my guesses. Use only high quality parts.
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Old 10-09-2010, 09:35 PM   #7
 
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RIA .38 Super -- Just Maybe My New Best Friend

Thanks to all of you who responded. My first move was to take out the extractor and just look at it. I hadn't removed it in the initial cleaning. Mercy Me!!! What a piece of junk. There was not even a pad on it, the hook -- what there was of it -- was very dull, and it was completely straight -- no apparent tensioning at all. Whichever assembler was responsible for extractors on this gun really messed up. It honestly looks like a reject part that was put into the gun by mistake. Anyway, I ordered a Cylinder & Slide .38/9mm extractor, and it arrived today. I think I'll be taking this one to my gunsmith for fitting and tensioning; the grip safety also needs some work. On the outside it's lovely, but at least some of the internals are the pits. I will have him check over all the ignition parts as well just to make sure they are fully functional, and I may have some other military parts I had on hand fitted to this gun. Once the project is completed I'll provide a range report and maybe pics if I can swing that.

--Ray
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