9X23 Versus 38Super - Pistolsmith

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Old 02-10-2002, 10:11 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 951
I been around a little. Know "platoon halt! from 'bout face!" Got a handle on come 'er and sic 'em. Some say I've climbed the mountain, swam the river and rode the elephant. I'd like to think I've spent enough time in the ditch that I'm hard to BS. One thing I'm having a hard time getting a handle on is the 9x23 against the 38super. Old friend came by the shop. We policed together long time back. Shot a lot, competed against each other. Lookin at some pistols, he asked "what you shootin' now?" Since I found the Paul Miller match in Colorado and saw that I had a better chance to finish higher using a 9mm or a 38super versus the 45, I built a 38super on a Caspian frame and slide, and it's what I shoot. It's carry, practice, compete, truck gun, all of it. When I told him 38 super, I can't remember all the reasons to him the 9x23 was better. One comment was "Ray Charles could see that the 9x23 outclassed the 38super". Now I've never built a 9x23. Built a ton of 38supers, neck a 38super to .224 for my .224Zipperer. So I'm sorta like Ned in the first reader. Thinking Jerry could be right, I dug up what I could on the 2 cartridges. Both are .900-(.010)long. Chamber dimension I came up with for the 9x23 is base dia .3921, case mouth .382, .010 taper in .900". 38super is .3887 base dia, case mouth is .3872, .0015 taper in .900". I don't think the capacity of these 2 could be much closer. Anything I build, especially if it's hot, and some of our wildcats like the .308 and .257 are, I'm gonna use ramped barrels. Old days using nonramped barrels, hot 38's and 45's would blow cases at the feed ramp. One reason we shortened .308 cases and used them with 45's. My point of all this is Raymond must have me on the shoulder, leading me toward the ditch. I just can't see where the 9x23 beats the 38super. Maybe with factory loads, living in the piney wood hills of North Louisiana, I guess there's a lot the factory does that I don't know about. I've said all that to say this, help me people, help me to see what it is that I'm blind to here. Where does the 9x23 beat the 38super. What ways? Understand one thing, I'm not saying the 38super is better than the 9x23, this has got me curious enough to build a 9x23 to compare the two.

Bill Caldwell
Wild Bill Caldwell Tactical Weaponry
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Old 02-10-2002, 11:49 PM   #2
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Location: Issaquah, WA
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Easy answer. No rim and a case made to shoot at major power levels. Instead of building the gun to take a round...they build the round to work in the gun...makes more sense to me.

Not saying a 38 Super won't work, because that would be silly...just saying that a 9x23 case makes more sense in most ways IMO.

Old 02-11-2002, 12:41 AM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 555
Hey Bill...Since you said you built your super for Paul's match..the 9x23 doesn't out shine the super...Pauls match is a minimum power factor 1000 round leave in on the ground match..I would build up a 9mm or a super over a 9x23 for that match any time...

The 9x23 shines as a better performer for carry, IPSC competition...It meets the power factoring for IPSC and the factory loading from Winchester are phenomenal compared to the super..

I think it is a better round, for some applications..
Old 02-11-2002, 10:18 PM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 951
Dane & EERW,
Don't want to sound like I'm arguing with you hands, I'm still trying to get a handle on the 9X23 deal. I appreciate you taking the time to help me out. 38Supers I've built, I've never had a problem with rims. Can't remember how far back I started using the 38Super Nonte reamer. Using 38Super comp brass takes care of the rim problem, but practicing, I use and mix any brand of brass. 38Super, old 38auto, anything I have. No problems. The Nonte reamers cuts a groove for the rim and still headspaces on the case mouth.

All I know about 9x23 factory loads is that I can't afford to shoot factory loads. My girls keep my 550 loading. Now I wonder if I can load a 38Super to run as fast as a 9X23. Since both are very close to the same capacity, only drawback here that I can see is, can a 38Super comp case handle what a 9X23 can? Only thing I know to do is disect a 9X23 to see how much thicker it is. So far all I can see the 9X23 has that the 38Super doesn't is faster factory loads. What am I not seeing here? I'm wondering if Winchester designed this 9X23 with a case mouth dia .005 smaller than a 38Super to keep us from rechambering 38Supers to 9x23.

Bill Caldwell
Wild Bill Caldwell Tactical Weaponry
Old 02-11-2002, 11:03 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 96
9x23 brass is substantially thicker than the .38 Super brass. You can probably reach 9x23 velocities with a .38 super but only with a fully supported ramped barrel. The 9x23 was designed with a heavy brass case that doesn't need the use of a ramped barrel. A standard 1911 pattern barrel is fine.
Old 02-13-2002, 04:14 PM   #6
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Here is what you aren't seeing:

Winchester's 9x23 cases are MUCH, MUCH stronger than .38 Super. It isn't just an incremental improvement. Think an order of magnitude stronger and you are on the right track. As a result, you can actually USE all that case capacity without the case failing. Using a ramped barrel with lots of support can only take you so far. Compared to .38 Super, 9x23 either lets you load alot hotter than .38 Super in any configuration, or gives you a bigger margin of safety with equivalent loads.

Same point, different angle: since you don't have to build the gun around the cartridge just so the thing doesn't blow up with routine use, you can abandon the ramped setup with maximum case support entirely to gain an extra measure of potential feed reliability. Naturally, getting rid of the silly rim also, at least in theory, will allow for improved reliability.

Of course, this isn't to say that you AREN'T getting reliable results with .38 Super now, just that 9x23 is a potentially better way to go.
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Sean Smith on 2002-02-13 16:18 ]</font>
Old 02-13-2002, 10:02 PM   #7
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 951
Mr Smith,
Here's what it looks like I'm seeing. I can polish feed ramps as well as most smiths, better than some. Sayin' that, I still prefer ramped barrels and disagree with you, that a non ramped barrel gains an extra measure of potential feed reliability. I believe a properly fitted and ramped barrel will feed better, and don't like to build a gun any other way.

To get the much, much stronger case you say the 9X23 has, can only happen one way. That I know of. Much, much thicker brass. If that is the case a 38Super might have more case capacity and if so, could be loaded to run the same weight bullet faster than a 9X23. Provided the ramped barrel is included, which I prefer.

If I can get out of these hills tomorrow and get to town, and if the hardware store has 9X23, I'll buy a box to check case thickness and capacity against the 38Super comp.

So far, all I see is the 9X23.... has a faster factory loading versus the 38Super. If speed counts for much, maybe the 38 Casull at 1800 FPS is the final answer, but I don't think so.

Bill Caldwell
Wild Bill Caldwell Tactical Weaponry
Old 02-17-2002, 10:38 AM   #8
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First of all, looking back I can see how my post might seem a bit abrupt; that wasn't my intention & apologize if it seemed that way.

Second, like I said it is entirely possible that you can duplicate 9x23 results just fine with .38 Super, provided you take great care in how you put the gun together. You can make a ramped barrel run reliably, of course, and odds are know a hell of a lot more about how to do it than I do.

It is just that with 9x23 you don't have to design everything around near-100% case support so the gun doesn't grenade when you hot-rod the cartridge. To alot of people that is a substantial virtue, but in your case it may very well not be.
Old 02-17-2002, 10:39 AM   #9
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AND don't ask me why I used italics so much in that last post.

:grin: :grin: :grin:
Old 02-13-2016, 02:53 PM   #10
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Hey Bill... I'm from north Louisiana originally -- Lake Bistineau area mainly. Since you haven't logged onto this site in a bit over 6 years, I guess you won't see this message...

I have a RIA .22 TCM / 9mm combo mid-size double stack and I've been considering either converting it to 9x23 or .38 SUPER. I'm planning on making my own brass from .223 since the .22 TCM is from .223 anyway and thus I won't have to be concerned about any differences in the extractor or adjustments.

I'm currently thinking of rechambering the 9mm barrel in .38 SUPER and then resizing the cut-down .223 brass to .38 SUPER. I'm not really sure what that gives me though. Probably some sort of hybrid caliber...

According to the wiki and SAAMI pages...
The 9x19 has a bullet diameter of 0.355".
The .38 SUPER has a bullet diameter of 0.356".
The 9x23 has a bullet diameter of 0.356".

I would have expected that the 9x19 and 9x23 to have the same bullet diameters.

So, if I go this way, I'm probably going to end up with a chamber that is expecting a 0.355" bullet, but has brass the size of .38 SUPER or 9x23. Considering the thicker .223 brass, this might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Unless the 9x19 dies can be used to reload 9x23, I'm thinking of cutting a .38 SUPER chamber in the existing barrel so that I can use the Lee .38 SUPER dies.

Still just kicking around different ideas though...

Last edited by NavyVet1959; 02-15-2016 at 03:00 AM.

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