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  #1  
Old 09-22-2007, 11:44 AM
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Sgt Art Sgt Art is offline
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The Old Super .38 Barrels




For those of you who have never seen one, here's the head spacing problem with the old Colt Super 38 barrels. Due to the head space being controlled by that little rim on the cartridge, they would slip off of it and go further into the bbl when struck by the firing pin. Only the extractor would hold the cartridge in place. This caused lots of accuracy problems and gave the cartridge a bad reputation. Eventually, somebody figured it out and most newer barrels head space on the case mouth like a .45 or 9mm does. Old style on the left, newer after market replacement on the right.


Last edited by Sgt Art; 09-28-2007 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:55 PM
Brian Dover Brian Dover is offline
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Very good. This subject comes up enough that I'd be tempted to suggest a "Sticky" thread, with that picture included.
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  #3  
Old 09-23-2007, 12:37 AM
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Good idea.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.
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  #4  
Old 09-23-2007, 08:19 AM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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Nice...but isn't there a "slight" problem with the headspacing on the right hand "headspace on the case mouth" barrel....???? Why isn't the head of the cartridge at the top of the barrel hood...all mine are...

Bob
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Old 09-23-2007, 08:04 PM
PsychoSword PsychoSword is offline
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I had not even known about this problem. Do the 9 X 23's have this same problem? I wonder what would happen if you tried to shoot 9 X 23 through the above barrel?
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  #6  
Old 09-23-2007, 08:42 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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No, all 9x23 barrels are headspaced on the case mouth.... Should you try and fire a high pressure round like a 9x23 in a headspace on the rim .38 Super barrel it would either not fire at all because the round would be out of rech of the firingpin OR if the extractor jast happened to catch the rim enough to hold it, when the firingpin hit the primer it would drive the cartridge forward as it was igniting...the base of the case then slamms back against the breechfase and the still extended firing pin pierces the primer....and inturn burns the firing pin hole... Had it happen to me several times with my 1969 GM before I found out about BarSto barrels...

Bob
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Old 09-28-2007, 08:12 AM
mightyike mightyike is offline
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amazing

What great pix....I remember when my father gave me a 38 super in the box in 1965 (I just bought a NIB Colt 1911 MSRP for $95.00) and he explained why it was not as accurate as a 45: headspace on the rim and variations in thickness, brass, etc....

Your pix and information brought back fond old longago gone memories.
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Old 09-28-2007, 02:02 PM
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[QUOTE][but isn't there a "slight" problem with the headspacing on the right hand "headspace on the case mouth" barrel....???? /QUOTE]

Yes, there is. That's why guys who shoot in competition will trim cases that have stretched or use all the same types new and measure them! I made it a habit after reloading a batch for a match, to test each round by dropping it into the chamber of the bbl I was going to use for the match. That way you know where you are with regards to headspace and crimping. Over crimping will cause the cartridge to drop a little further in the chamber, under crimping (btw, we're are talking a taper crimp here not a roll crimp) can cause feeding problems. The barrel on the right is one that I picked up on Ebay fairly cheap, as opposed to a $200+ Bar-Sto, to replace an older barrel I had. It's okay for everyday or defense shooting but I wouldn't use it for serious target shooting.

Sometimes you can drop a cartridge in a rim headspaced barrel and it will sit right in place where you want it, it will fool you. Then you drop another and it goes in like the one on the left. Most all of the newer barrels do headspace on the case mouth but depending on who made it, it may have a bit too much tolerance (a bit oversized) which is better than undersized that would require a smith to ream it some.

Last edited by Sgt Art; 09-28-2007 at 02:09 PM.
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  #9  
Old 12-11-2007, 11:36 PM
dahermit dahermit is offline
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.38 head space

I wish to respectfully disagree.

When you drop a .38 Super cartridge in an unmounted barrel as shown on the left, you can indeed wiggle it until it slips past the head space shoulder on the hood.

However, when the cartridges are being fed from the magazine the semi-rim of the cartridge case comes up under the extractor as it enters the chamber. Once in the chamber, the combination of the extractor and the head space shoulder supports the rim to the point where it cannot slip down into the barrel. Once in the chamber, there is not enough clearance for the round to slip down into the barrel. Those with .38 Supers, please examine this to see if I am correct and let us know what your observations are.
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  #10  
Old 12-12-2007, 06:15 AM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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Having had two Supers that would blow primers with the stock barrels in them I can tell you that it is possible that some Super barrels are loose enough chambered that when the force of the firing pin hits the primer the round can be driven past the headspace rim.

You also need to remember that the headspace rim of the barrel is in the 12 o'clock position and the extracor is at the 3 o'clock. Although it "should" create enough tesion to hold the rim correctly headspaced it sometimes does not. What happens at that point is that the case slips off the rim and into the chamber as it is ignighting. The firing pin is overextended and as the cartridge ignites the base is slammed back into the breechface with the firing pin still protruding. This results in a pierced primer...been there done that with only two of the Supers I've had but it does happen.

Bob Makowski
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  #11  
Old 12-12-2007, 12:57 PM
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Some of the problem may be due to slight differences in the brass itself. I have found that some cases are thicker than others. For instance, if you reload .45 hulls, you'll find that those made by Federal take a greater effort on your resizing step than other manufacturers. Possibly, one case may have .001 of an inch more material on the rim than another. Not enough to cause problems due to barrel tolerances but enough to keep it from moving forward.

The problem with older barrels is not folklure or urban legend. AFAIK, all .38 Super barrels made for quite some time went to headspacing on the mouth of the case ala .45, 9mm et al.
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Old 12-12-2007, 01:19 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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From what I have read and seen Colt was the only manufacturer who used the headspace on the rim chamber design. Of course they were about the only maker of Supers other than Llama when the problem was discovered in the late 1970s.

Colt denied there was any problem even through the mid-1980s. I talked to them at one of the mid 1980s SHOT Shows and even sent them a letter about it...their respose was so condesending and I was so mad I threw the letter out...I really wish that I had kept it. It basically said that their barrels were within SAMMI specs and there was no problem. At the same SHOT Show I spoke to the people at I believe Springfield Armory who were just about to start making .38 Supers and they said they had never heard of the problem..and the guy was nice enough to even take notes. They must have listened because a few years later their guns came out with headspaced on the case mouth chambers and their accuracy kicked Colt's butt.

The 1986 Super Elite for AccuSport Corp. was the first Colt Super with the headspace on the case mouth chamber...it wasn't till 1989 or 1990 that all Colts starting coming from the factory with the new headspacing and they didn't even make any announcement about it.

bob
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  #13  
Old 12-15-2007, 02:31 PM
ghipower ghipower is offline
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super

I got a mark 5, series 70 38 super.Ive never really looked at it.Also have not fired it yet,bought it 28 years ago on 21st birthday.Do you think ive got the old style barrel
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  #14  
Old 12-15-2007, 09:09 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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...no doubt about it....

Bob
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  #15  
Old 12-16-2007, 01:33 PM
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Here's a cheap & easy way to find out

I made these gauges for testing headspace cheap and easy. One is a Super 38 spent cartridge that I resized and ground off the rim almost completely. The other is a .38 Special cartridge with a mark measured from a Super .38.



The next is a 1956 vintage skinny barrel and beneath it is a Series 70 you can see the collett bushing.



Here's a close up of them



In both cases, the cartridges go noticeably past the end of the barrel hood. You can see the mark on the .38 Spl and the Super .38 is really obvious.



This last one is an after market barrel of unknown manufacture that I bought on Ebay for about $50.00. It head spaces perfectly on the case mouth. The chamber is actually pretty tight.

I think we need to do some testing and see what kind of groups we can get using both type barrels. I don't think practical shooting, i.e. defense shooting that normally takes place within 7 yards (per FBI stats) either barrel would matter. However, I think the people who are shooting bullseye and looking for real tight groups, it did. Apparently Colt gave in because it's my understanding all their barrels now head space on the case mouth. I'm not sure why they didn't do this from the get go as their .45 pistols always were.
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:19 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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Nice guages....

I did some testing of the two headspace methods back in the 1980s when I first bought my first two Supers, an unfired 1969 Government Model and a 1952 Commander that had been fired very little.

At 50 yards from the seated backreat postion with Remington factory 130 ball groups with the GM ran 3 FEET...with the Commander 12". After the BarSto barrels were fitted to both guns using the same box of ammo groups ran 3" for the GM and 3.5 for the Commander.

I've shot probably 15 GMs and Commanders with the original style chambers and in some cases at distaces under 10 yards the groups were "ok" but once past 10 yards you could really see the groups start to spread. When I would touch off a perfect shot and the hole appeared no where near where called I knew it was the barrel not me. And in every case when the barrel was replaced even with a bought off eBay dropped in the gun no fit barrel the groups improved dramaticly...

This is the 1952 Commander with a target shot a few years ago...this gun had probably 7K rounds through it since the barrel was put in...10 rounds at 10 yards.



A 1951 9mm Commander with a Colt .38 Super barrel bought off eBay. It was a 90s vintage headspaced on the case mouth barrel. 27 rounds at 50' offhand. The ones that began to spread from the center group was me getting tired not the gun.




Combat Commander 18 rounds at 7 yards...



Bob Makowski

Last edited by SuperMan; 06-14-2011 at 06:35 AM.
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  #17  
Old 12-16-2007, 04:05 PM
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Bob, those are nice groups. Although I've been messing around with .38 Supers for over 20 years and read a number of articles regarding the head space problems, I've never really ran any tests. Instead, I ran right out and bought a Bar-Sto barrel to fix my first one. Looks like you've saved me some time. I have purchased one Fusion barrel and from what I see, there's no difference between it and the Bar-Sto (these are both drop in barrels with tight bushings). For the price difference, I'd probably stick with the Fusion.
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:54 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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Since Fusion is the old Dan Wesson owner you probably are not loosing anything in accuracy or reliability... A friend bought two sets of his sights and they are excellent.

Bob
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Old 01-13-2008, 01:11 PM
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Bob, what was the history on the original Super .38 skinny barrels? From what I've read and seen, they started off with skinny barrels then from after WWII they went to fat barrels until 1954 and then back to skinny bbls? Is that correct? I know Series 70 barrels are a breed all their own being fat on the end and skinny to the chamber due to the collet bushing. How about in between.
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:05 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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COLT SUPER .38 The Production History...page 41

Prewar .530 thickness

1947 "Fat barrel" .580 thickness

1955 "Thin Barrel" .500 thickness

Bob
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:22 PM
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And none of them head space on the case mouth, is that correct?
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:26 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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Correct. The first headspaced on the case mouth barrel made by Colt was the 1986 Super Elite. AccuSport, the distributor who contracted for the gun, demanded that. It was not until about 1990 that all Colt Supers coming from the factory had headspaced on the case mouth barrels.

Bob
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:03 PM
Ugly-Jeep-Truck Ugly-Jeep-Truck is offline
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My brand new Colt headspaces exactly like this, hopefully that is kosher.

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Old 02-18-2008, 12:14 PM
SuperMan SuperMan is offline
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...just what you are looking for...

Bob
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:46 PM
Chuck556 Chuck556 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperMan View Post
No, all 9x23 barrels are headspaced on the case mouth.... Should you try and fire a high pressure round like a 9x23 in a headspace on the rim .38 Super barrel it would either not fire at all because the round would be out of rech of the firingpin OR if the extractor jast happened to catch the rim enough to hold it, when the firingpin hit the primer it would drive the cartridge forward as it was igniting...the base of the case then slamms back against the breechfase and the still extended firing pin pierces the primer....and inturn burns the firing pin hole... Had it happen to me several times with my 1969 GM before I found out about BarSto barrels...

Bob
------Some years back Colt changed their head spacing on their 38 super barrels to the case neck. I've got two of the newer Colts XSE series in 38 super (1) Goverment & (1) light weight Commander. I have fired 9X23 in both of the weapons with out any problems. Colt and Winchester got together and marketed the 9x23 (Colt has never made a supported chamber barrel). Winchester made the case web extra heavy to with stand the extra high pressure. The 38 Super has a straight wall case where by the 9x23 has a slight taper to the case but both are the same length. Even though the cases are the same length, the 9x23 has less volume inside due to the thick case web. When loading the 9x23 it requires small rifle primers because standard small pistol primers will not handle the pressure. Both of my barrels must have larger chambers due to the 9x23 fitting the chamber and the 9x23 is slighter larger around at the case head.

I was also concern about shooting the 9x23 in the Colt barrels and bought a Nowlin 9x23 barrel for my Goverment size Colt. I got the drop-in 9x23 Nowlin barrel with the link and bushing, costing me in excess of $200. it then wouldn't fit and had to have the barrel hood and barrel foot fitted which cost me an extra $40. There's not a bid of difference in accuracy between the Colt and Nowlin barrel with factory 9x23 ammo. I guess my billfold is just a few buck lighter in weight. Everybody has to live and learn sometimes. It just hurts to throw good money away like that.

Starline makes a 38 Super case called the 38 Super Comp which doesn't have a semi-rim. The semi-rim some times can cause a problem getting stuck in the mag due to the rim getting caught behind the case that's under it. That can cause a person to loose a match due to FTF problems.

Chuck556
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