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Old 03-23-2012, 05:22 PM   #1
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9mm or 38 super 1911?

I have been thinking of getting a Rock Island Armory 1911 in 9mm or 38 super. I need info the pros and cons of a 1911 in 9mm or 38 super? I have seen both pistol around $450.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:53 PM   #2
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I do not own a full size 1911 in 9mm, but I own a Springfield Armory EMP in 9mm, and a Colt Defender in 9mm, and I LOVE them!! Easy shooting, accurate, cheap to shoot....what is not to like. I stay on the outlook for a Colt Combat Commander in 9mm, but no luck so far.

I don't really care for the Govt. size except in my WWl and WWll guns. I keep hoping that Ruger, Sig, Rock Island, or anyone in a reasonable price range would offer Commander size in 9mm.
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Old 03-23-2012, 07:51 PM   #3
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I own an STI Trojan 9mm 1911, outstanding gun. I am not a believer in buying cheap guns, just my opinion.
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:21 PM   #4
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The full size 1911 frame and springing has in the past required a longer case length than 9mm and early 1911's in 9mm were not fully reliable performers. Today, some manufacturers alter the gun's dimensions to make them reliable for 9mm. The EMP is a sterling example. If you plan to use a 'to specs' 1911 frame in either std 5" or Commander in 4.25", then .38Super would be a better choice than 9mm. Buffalo Bore and Cor-Bon make 38Super ammo that gets the nearly the same bullet weight and velocity as 9mm+P+ ammo currently gets, without the higher pressures.

I have used a 9mm conversion on my .38Super and it worked ok but I was more pleased with the controlability of the .38Super over the 9mm in +P and +P+. Of course one could use std velocity 9mm in the conversion, but if optimal ammo performance is important.....
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:53 AM   #5
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Favorable to .38 Super: Slight edge in reliability in a 1911 due to the longer case length. This may be a factor given your choice of an RIA produced weapon, which are serviceable but not upper tier weapons.

Favorable to 9mm: greater variety and afforadabilty in ammunition. This can be important if you're not a handloader.
"Of every one hundred men they send me, ten shouldn't even be here. Eighty of them are nothing but targets, nine of them are real fighters - we are lucky to have them, they make the battle. Ahhhh but the one. One of them is a warrior and he will bring the others home."

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Old 03-24-2012, 08:44 AM   #6
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After years to trying to get 9mm to be reliable in a 1911, my observations of them in IDPA competition are that many of the problems have been worked out. I see the Springfields and STIs in 9mm with some regularity where they perform well. I also see a few frankensteins used as test beds but that is mainly for the tinkerers amongst us.

38 SUP was all the rage in IPSC back in the 1980's. There were some accuracy issues due to the semi-rim headspace issue and as a result we saw the rise of the custom Nine cartridges (9X21 and others). I think that issue addressed.

I have seen the RIAs in 45 ACP in action at the local IDPA matches. Some work and some don't which may be attributable to crap ammo, bad mags or operator error (maintenance or lubrication). However, I see the same things with very expensive versions.

When I was in my 1911 9mm phase, the issue was magazines. The ones available then were spaced from the rear. Springfield now adds the space (a fold of metal) on the front of the mag. I am not sure what Wilson Combat does for 9mm because I have not seen one.

And, then there is the extraction issue. Most of the extractors I see are marked 9mm/38 Super. That means it will have to be carefully fitted as the shape of the 9P extractor groove is substantially different from the 38s semi-rim.

One thing is for certain, should you go down the path of 9/38, you will get some quality time in issue diagnosis and repair. Did I mention springs? Yep, there is a whole nother world of pain with them.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:25 AM   #7
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Hello - I'd get The Super!

This will get the .45'ers all drawled-up in a knot (Wes Howe, you rascal) but I actually believe that The Super .38 Cartridge (when properly loaded) out performs The Forty-Five when it comes to overall performance.

Steve Camp (God rest his soul) loaded 147-gr. JHPs to around 1200-fps for his Super and a 147-gr JHP clockin' Twelve-Hundred Feet Per Second Makes an Awesome Load - and it's a load that the ammo companies Should Offer as a Standard Defense Load for The Super.

Genuine COLT Parts, Springs & Magazines are what I'd exclusively use in the RIA if you get one - regardless of the cartridge you choose to go with.

One Eye Joe has an interesting Super .38 thread here http://pistolsmith.com/38-super/2294...s-special.html

BTW: Super .38 is the Cartridge's Original & Correct Name - and it's the name that COLT used for cartridge from it's introduction in 1929 untill around 1970 when they started calling it .38 Super and they changed the name "due to fools" loading Super .38 Cartridges into their .38 ACPs.

Long Live The Super .38 ~ it may just be The Perfect Cartridge for The 1911 Pistol.

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Old 03-24-2012, 04:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by oberstlt View Post

When I was in my 1911 9mm phase, the issue was magazines. The ones available then were spaced from the rear. Springfield now adds the space (a fold of metal) on the front of the mag. I am not sure what Wilson Combat does for 9mm because I have not seen one

The Wilson Combat Elite Tactical Mag in 9mm has the spacer in the rear of the mag. It works fantastic in my Defender. The MecGar Mag made for, and marked Colt on the base plate, moved the spacer from the rear to the front of the mag, plus a totally different follower(plastic instead of metal) to correct the feeding problems of the Colt Defender in 40 S&W.
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:10 PM   #9
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Good comments, I had not heard it expressed that way before.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:36 PM   #10
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OK, I'll weigh in on this, but only because Bob Reed prodded me to...;-)

First, handguns generally run best using cartridges they were designed for...one reason I like the 1911 AND the .45 ACP cartridge. Also, there is a proven history there. Both historically, and personnally.

The .38 ACP(now .38 Super) was plagued by accuracy problems and only offered FMJ ammo in the yearly years. Still, it developed a following. My personal belief is that it might have died off if not for the shooting sports and it's ability to make major caliber AND offer higher magazine capacity.

Today, the .38 Super is developed as both a round for gamesmen AND self-defense. Ammo availability is the real issue in the latter. There are only a few loads available and those are not easy to come by.

For the cost conscious the 9mm makes A LOT of sense. As a self defense round it does too. As much as we pontificate about cartridges, pistols, gear, etc. The only real issue is placement. That's what does the job...time after time.

To me, the 1911 and the .45 ACP are a marriage made in heaven. A proper pistol and a cartridge that have stood the test of time...and will continue to do so.

If FORCED to make a choice between the 9mm and the .38 Super I'd vote NEITHER and go for the cartridge I believe is as good or superior to the .45 ACP...the 10mm.

I will now gird for battle, put on my titanium underwear Chealtham body armor and await the incoming storm of protest. Smug in the knowledge that God, John Browning, the 1911, and .45 ACP are the finest combination of ammunition and pistol ever devised.

Feel free to ask me how I really feel.

(The crusty, opinionated, retired jarhead officer...)
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