Building a .38 super - Pistolsmith

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Old 07-09-2004, 07:59 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 5
Building a .38 super

What is the difficulty involved and tools required to build a .38 super?

I have built flintlock and percussion rifles and pistols from the ground up. Grew up with my grandfathers .38 super from his days in the Army. Well it recently had a crack begin to form on the frame, and as I dont want to change the gun due to its many memories, I do however want to continue to shoot. He put this together about 50 years ago from extra Colt parts at the base he was stationed at.

I would like to do the same whether it be a kit or something else, and build my own pistol that I may some day pass on to my grandson.

Any suggestions, or places where I could start to look to learn about this?

I am a graduate student so my budget is somewhat limited, but what is possible with around $600?

I would love to do something similiar to an Trojan, but that is out of my budget.
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Old 07-10-2004, 02:50 AM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 161
I have found that to assemble a gun from gathered parts does not necessarily save you money in today's market. Check with the manufacturer's and ask them directly. Dan Wesson puts experimentals on that may be in your price range. I believe Caspian or Essex components can also be purchased.
Personally, I would look for a used .38 Super.
Good luck.
Old 07-10-2004, 09:15 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 5
The main reason I wanted to build it, is thats what he did. When I was younger he taught me how to build bolt rifles. When he passed I was left all his old guns, and shoot them as regularly as I can. Mainly the now unsafe .38 super and a pre-'64 model 70 in .270 win.

Building one is something I have allways wanted to do, just never had a reason.

You think it would be better to purchase a used .38 super and then go from there? I know that he would allways complain how loose the military ones were, and that he had went through frame after frame and slide, till he found a tight pairing and built the gun from there.

If purchasing a used then slowly building up from there is the best, till I can have my own pistol that I can somehow pass down similiarly, what is a good model to start with?

I just target shoot and plink, so accuracy is very important to me.

Thank you for the help.
Old 07-10-2004, 02:05 PM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 5
Well it seems here in Cali that you cant buy incomplete pistols. So it looks like my best bet would be to buy a milspec and build it up.

What is a good base to slowly build up a .38 super as funds allow?

Looking at a Springfield 1911-A1 38 super, or maybe a Colt 38 Super 1911A1 Government non enhanced.

This would seem to be something that I could purchase now and shoot and then build it up as money allows.

Any advice?
Old 07-11-2004, 08:28 AM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 161
Try and take a look at what they have on
Old 10-29-2004, 09:36 AM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5
Buildable base 38 super single stack

Springfields 38 super military spec is the way to go for a number of reasons:

1. Blued Steel
2. The factory barrel is a ramped fully supported unit so you can shoot full power loads, unlike Colts, and is a pretty decent unit.
3. Mag well is beveled from the factory

Believe it or not, $2000 later it still has some of the original factory parts well maybe Part (singular) might be closer. I never did feel a need to change the slide lock.
Old 03-23-2005, 10:21 PM   #7
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 693
38 super frame?

Will a 38 super top end fit a 1911 frame that originally shot 45 or is there a dedicated 38 Super frame with different dimensions?
Old 03-24-2005, 05:52 AM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Virginia
Posts: 964
Many 45 ACP frames have the frame feed ramp cut deeper and steeper into the magwell than on 9mm/38 Super/40 S&W/10mm frames. I won't say it can't be done, but it could prove to be a challenge. A frame set up for a ramped barrel will make it much easier. Now if you plan to switch between 45 ACP and 38 Super you will need to swap ejectors every time you change calibers. You can get away with a 45 ejector when shooting 40 S&W/ 10mm, I have done it, but the rim of the 9mm/38 Super is even smaller and the skinny 45 ejector is not going to have much of a contact area on the rim.
Old 04-01-2005, 07:13 PM   #9
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7
38 Super Build

I just finished building one! :-)

I used a caspian frame and slide, all Wilson Combat and Ed Brown guts, with a nowling barrel. The picture I've pointed to is before I bead blasted the frame, so you can see the sanding on the bottom... I need to get more pictures after the blasting, it looks a lot nicer without the sanding marks.

I'm building another one, close to this one, for my wife, since I already know what's going to happen when she shoots it.... I'll probably give her this one, and build another one for myself. I really want to try a damascus slide, but I'll have to work up to it, maybe after this next super I'm building.... :-)

You can buy a good Kimber for just about the same as the parts, but I really enjoy building them, and have the mill, blaster, and all the other parts, so I've been rolling my own.

What I want now is a revolver in 45ACP, but not a smith (just one of my idiosynchrocies, there, I prefer rugers). I'm not certain what I'm going to do yet, probably get a readhawk in 45LC, shorten the barrel, and have it ground down to handle the moon clips.


Old 08-25-2005, 09:14 AM   #10
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2
cracked 38 super

Depending on where the crack is- it may not be an issue- many gv't model frames crack along the slide stop hole- so many that the factories have started just cutting this area out all together- I have seen several frames with small cracks in this area survive thousands of rounds with no ill effects- if the crack is in the feed ramp area I'm afraid there is no hope of repair-as this is the thickest part of the frame- cracks in the dust cover can be rewelded and cracks in the slide require slide replacement-hope this helps.

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