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(Old) Range Report: STI Trojan .38 Super...

3200 Views 1 Reply 1 Participant Last post by  Stephen A. Camp
(This is a bit dated, but with SOCKMAN's thread on the .38 Super, I hope some find it of interest.)

Hello. I recently purchased an STI Trojan in the 5" barrel chambered in .38 Super. I ordered the gun with their Bomar-like adjustable rear sights and a plain black front post. The barrel uses a tightly fitted bushing as per most 1911 pistols. The OD of the barrel from the muzzle rearward about 1.46" is 0.58" with the remainder being 0.575." STI lists the pistol's weight at about 36 oz. Normally, these come with STI's thin stocks, but I ordered this one with standard thickness grips. According to STI, the pistol's approved for folks liking to shoot IPSC, USPSA, IDPA, and SSSA matches. It comes standard with a FLGR and a 12-lb. conventional recoil spring. I didn't measure the trigger pull, but estimate it at about 4-lbs, perhaps a little less. The barrel uses a 1-piece feed ramp and the case is very well supported.

In .38 Super, a 1-piece feed ramp is used. The same has been the case with my 9mm. The .45 ACP uses the conventional, two-piece ramp. The barrel is of stainless steel, has a 1:16 twist, and is designed to use 9mm diameter bullets.

STI has recently changed from the flat front straps to the rounded ones favored by most folks. They've continued with their proprietary "STIppling." I didn't really have a preference other than for looks between the two, but do note that the more rounded front strap seems to let the STIppling take "hold" better. I think this is an improvement over the older Trojans like my other two.

You can see the more rounded front grip strap, STI's standard thickness stocks, and their "STIppling" in this picture.

The .38 Super Trojan uses Metal Form 9-round magazines with the rounded follower and comes with one. My older Trojans came with Mec-Gar magazines. This pistol is very comfortable to shoot.

The pistol has a flat mainspring housing that is plastic as is a trend these days and an extended single-side thumb safety.

The STI magazine release typically holds the magazine about 0.02" higher than is the case with most other pistols in an effort to improve feed reliability. Just for grins, I'd substituted conventional magazine releases in both my 9mm and .45 Trojans; reliability was not affected. Such was not the case when I tried it with the .38 Super. My gun, at least, requires the "lift" provided by the STI magazine release.

Earlier I mentioned that this pistol comes with a Metal Form magazine. While my other Trojans work fine with Mec-Gars, such has not been the case with the Super. It definitely "prefers" the rounded follower. The flat ones on my Mec-Gar spares ride forward when the last round's chambered such that the magazine will not drop free. Fortunately, the Mec-Gar .38 Super magazines work fine in my 9mm Trojan. I've not tried any other make .38 Super magazines....yet.

While my other two Trojans worked great out of the box, such was not the case with this one. It had a disturbing habit of engaging the thumb safety on ocassion during strings of fire. This turned out to be a very minor problem that I corrected after a discussion with Chris Schirmer of STI. A little work on the detent of the the safety where the plunger meets it solved the problem. If I shot "high thumb" as do many folks, I'd never have known there was a problem.

I did remove the FLGR and replaced it with a standard GI recoil spring guide and spring cap. I did the same thing with my 5" .45 Trojan as I just don't care for them. The gun runs just as smoothly with the GI rod as with the full-length.

Ammunition: This was done over several days as I didn't have my reloading gear when the pistol arrived and factory loads besides being expensive compared to either 9mm or .45 were pretty limited in choice.
The following loads were fired and average listed velocities are based on 10 shot strings and given in ft/sec as are extreme spreads and standard deviations.

Corbon 100-gr PowRball +P:
Average Velocity: 1583
Extreme Spread: 36
Std. Deviation: 11

Corbon 115-gr JHP +P:
Average Velocity: 1467
Extreme Spread: 43
Std. Deviation: 13

Corbon 125-gr JHP +P:
Average Velocity: 1448
Extreme Spread: 31
Standard Deviation: 10

Remington UMC 130-gr FMJ +P:
Average Velocity: 1224
Extreme Spread: 64
Std. Deviation: 20

PMC 130-gr FMJ +P:
Average Velocity: 1091
Extreme Spread: 35
Std. Deviation: 12

Hornady 147-gr XTP*
8.4 grains Blue Dot
Remington UMC Cases
Winchester Small Pistol Primer
LOA: 1.235"
Average Velocity: 1143
Extreme Spread: 24
Std. Deviation: 8
(*I was very surprised at this velocity. Two days earlier, I'd chronographed it on two ocassions at over 1300 ft/sec. I suspect that those figures are in error, but have no idea why I got such differing results. I THINK the figure above is correct and is more closely aligned with expected results based on various loading data.)

Rainier 124-gr Plated Round Nose
Same as above for powder, primer, etc, except that the case used was PMC.
Average Velocity: 1172
Extreme Spread: 59
Std. Deviation: 23

Shooting: All groups were fired slow-fire. Distances were 15, 25, and 50 yards. All shooting was done two-handed with the 25 and 50 yard groups being fired while using a rest.

Though not "premium," these two brands shot well in the STI Trojan. There was quite a difference in their velocities and the Remington did have a bit more felt recoil, but either was very, very easy to shoot.

All of Corbon's .38 Super loads grouped well.

I didn't fire these farther than 25 yards. I guess I just forgot!

All of Corbon's .38 Super loads grouped satisfactorily for my purposes.

This 50-yd group is with the 147-gr Hornady XTP and the handload mentioned above.

Fired into water, the 147 grain XTP expanded well and consistently. I might have to try this load on a whitetail this year.

Fired into supersaturated newpaper, the results are very similar.

Fired into the soaked news print, Corbon's ammunition expanded well.
From left to right: Corbon expanded 115-gr JHP's, 125-gr JHP's, and their 100-gr PowRball.

These recovered bullets fired into water reacted very differently. Though the same powder charge was used and the same gun, the XTP was consistent in performance while the Remington 147-gr JHP refused to expand at all.

Observations: Overall, I'm quite pleased with this STI product. I believe I'll be doing quite a bit more load development as I do believe that the .38 Super best serves the handloader. Compared to 9mm or .45 ACP, there are relatively few choices in ammunition types. I do think the cartridge shows pretty nice potential for the small game hunter. With proper defense loads, it would make a capable pistol for "serious" matters as well.

None of the loads fired resulted in much recoil. Some seemed to be similar to standard 230-gr ball from a 5" 1911, but w/o quite as much muzzle flip. In any event, recoil is not "bad."

I wound up going with a Wolff conventional 18.5-lb. recoil spring and find that with most loads, cases land about 3' or so away, with the warmer loads ejecting 8 to 10.' This pistol works fine with or without a recoil buffer, or has so far.

I see this one as a "range gun" or one for the hunting field.

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Hello. I recently acquired an STI 5" Trojan 1911 pistol in .38 Super. I learned from STI that their pistols' barrels are for the 9mm size bullets so I've been using bullets of that diameter in testing.

The two bullets for which data's given today are in the heavy end for this caliber, both weighing 147-grains. One is Hornady's XTP and the other is Remington's Golden Saber.

The first time I chronographed the 147-gr Hornady, I ran two 10-shot strings and got extremely close shot-to-shot variations, MUCH closer than what I've gotten with about anything in the past. I ran the same test another day and got significantly different figures, but they "felt" true and seemed in line with loading materials I'd checked. In any event, I'd decided to bump the load a little with the XTP. Today, for both loads tested, I ran 3 strings of 10-shot each and recorded the high, low, and average velocity as well as the extreme spreads and standard deviations. I then averaged the three for a result that is probably more accurate in the long run.

The powder charges given are at the top end for Blue Dot and the 8.6 grains with the Hornady is a published maximum in some loading information. My gun has a 1-piece ramp and is fully supported. If you opt to try these loads and have a standard 2-piece ramp and less case support, you might want to back off a bit and work up. I've not fired these in any other pistols.

Hornady 147-gr XTP
8.6-gr Blue Dot
Federal #100 Primer
Starline Case
LOA: 1.235"
Average Velocity: 1229 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 41
Std. Deviation: 15

Remington 147-gr Golden Saber
8.4-gr Blue Dot
Federal #100 Primer
Starline Case
LOA: 1.230"
Average Velocity: 1182 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 37
Std. Deviation: 13

I fired 3 of each into water to see expansion characteristics.

Both of these hollow point bullets showed similar expansion characteristics. While it doesn't really show in the picture, the Hornady XTP's are showing signs of the lead bullet wanting to separate from the jacket. Water will cause this more than other mediums like "wet pack" or 10% ballistic gelatin. One of the Golden Sabers did separate, but the lead bullet remained pretty well together. The Golden Saber jacket is tougher than standard gilding metal and is designed to enhance "wounding." The Golden Saber did go to slightly larger diameter than the XTP, but all were very obviously trying to slip their jackets. I won't be bumping the velocity on the GS. Neither bullet lost virtually any weight in the water. The Golden Sabers expanded diameters ranged from 0.69 x 0.64" to 0.58 x 0.57". The XTP's expanded diameter was usually more close to the .58" range.

I've shot the XTP over 8.4 grains of Blue Dot for accuracy and it's great. I'll shoot both the XTP/8.6 grain and the Golden Saber/8.4 grain loads for group in the near future and will go with the one that groups the best.

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