38Super for Ladies?
Although I am a practicing attorney, I also spend a lot of time giving seminars on Texas Self-Defense Law and teaching NRA firearms courses, as well as the Texas Concealed Handgun Course. In almost every class or seminar, I am asked “what gun should I get for self-defense.” That’s much like asking “what kind of a car should I buy?” I go through the questions most instructors ask, then I explain the advantages and disadvantages of several different revolvers and semi-autos. I strongly recommend that people try to shoot several different handguns before deciding what they want to buy for self-defense.
The best way for me to help accomplish this is to bring a wide variety of guns to the range and let students shoot them all. I’ve noticed that one of my 1911s in .38 Super is frequently a crowd favorite, especially with the ladies. The more I watched the ladies take to the .38 Super like proverbial “ducks to water,” the more I became convinced that a Commander length 1911 in 38 Super may be a perfect defensive handgun for many of the ladies. The 1911 trigger is hands down the best trigger on any handgun, and it makes it easier to shoot accurately, all other factors being equal. It’s also slimmer than other semi-autos, making it easier to conceal.
I always carry a 1911 in .45 ACP, as do my wife and both sons. However, a .38 Super is no slouch in terms of a self-defense pistol round. Check any reloading manual and you will see that the .38 Super is ballistically equal to or superior to the much-vaunted .357 Sig, and it doesn’t have a bottle-neck case. This is important for reloading purposes, but I’ll get to that later. If you reload, and you’d better if you’re going to shoot a .38 Super, then you can load ammo even hotter, without exceeding SAMII specifications. If you want to add a ramped barrel, then you can join the ranks of the IPSC shooters who load their .38 Super competition guns to rather “remarkable” velocities.
So why all of this talk about reloading? Well, that’s the only downside to selecting a .38 Super; there is very little factory ammo available for them and when you find it, the price tag will give you sticker shock. And I’m talking about the “cheaper” practice ammo, not premium self-defense loads. But you do have an option to reload. The pistol can be fit with a 9mm Luger barrel allowing the use of much cheaper ammo for practice. A barrel change in a 1911 is very simple and no other components need to be changed when switching between calibers.
Some people have reported either extraction problems or feeding problems when trying to use the same extractor for both 9mm Luger and .38 Super in the same gun. External extractors seem to cure the problem, but I do not believe this is a widespread problem. Plus, “standard” internal extractors are cheap and easily installed when changing the barrel, so this is hardly a deal-breaker. The newer 38Super Comp brass by Star Line is a rimless 38Super and it may, note “may,” make is possible to shoot 38 Super with the same 9mm extractor.
So whether you want to reload .38 Super for a fraction of the cost of factory ammo, or have a 9mm barrel fit to the gun, the .38 Super provides an economical way to get the practice we all should have to maintain proficiency. And with quality factory hollow-point ammo for self-defense use, the .38 Super is more than equal to the task. All of these benefits combined with a milder recoil, less muzzle flip and a thinner profile for concealed carry make the 1911 in .38 Super an excellent choice for the ladies. Don’t just take my word for it, come to the range with me and watch people try a variety of guns and keep coming back to the Super.