Shooting Times Magazine  

November 1968


For a long time everyone has talked about the inadequacy of the .38 Special factory cartridge, but nobody has done anything about it. The big ammunition companies have plugged along, turning out the standard, roundnosed version that is old enough for Medicare. At last we have a factory .38 Special that has been doctored up.


The Super Vel Cartridge Corp., Shelbyville, Ind. 47176, is now producing a line of superior performance handgun ammunition that includes three excellent .38 Special Cartridges.


Possibly the most interesting of the three is loaded with a jacketed, hollow-point bullet weighing 110 grains. Super Vel claims a velocity of 1121 fps for this load out of a 4” barrel, and firing my sample lot made me believe they are getting every bit of it. They list 995 fps for this load from the 2” Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special. A real bonus is the expanding bullet, which did yeoman work on the jackrabbits I hit with it.


Super Vel’s other .38 Specials are a 110 grain jacketed softpoint, loaded to the same velocity as the hollowpoint, and an excellent copper washed lead, 158 grain, semi-wadcutter of the type I have been recommending for a long time. Velocity was not stated for the 158 grain round, but it gives the distinct impression of being faster than the standard loading for this caliber, and is an accurate and practical a load.


The Super Vel headstamped cases are of unplated brass, with no cannelures, the type I prefer for reloading.




A rough surface on the front and back straps of your handgun grip is desirable, especially in target work and particularly on the .45ACP. Some budget watchers attain this no-slip grip by wrapping the butt with sandpaper. Others resort to stippling, which is simply the pockmarking  of the metal with a hammer and a three-cornered punch. Either of these methods work, but sandpaper does little to enhance the gun’s appearance and if not properly done, stippling can mutilate a handsome pistol.


R.J. Phillips, a craftsman operationg at RFD #2, Oakdale, Conn. 06370, has sent me a sample of the checkering he is doing on flat mainspring housings for the 1911 automatic. Beautifully excecuted, this checkering is extremely fine – 30 lines per inch. This prevents it from causing any discomfort to the heel of the hand, a common fault of stippling jobs.


Jay will pretty up your flat 1911 housing in this fashion for five bucks, or will send you one ready to install for $6.50. The same coverage of the front strap is done for @12.50. This is money well spent on an expensive target auto.




Recently I returned my old 4 ⅝” .357 Ruger Blackhawk to the factory to have a 6 ˝” barrel installed. I can hold a little better with a longer, heavier tube, and much prefer it for hunting. While the gun was in their hands Ed Nolan had the shop fit an extra cylinder for the 9 mm Luger cartridge.


This inexpensive addition means greatly increased usefulness for an already versatile revolver. A great deal of surplus military 9 mm ammunition is available at bargain prices, and makes a good practice and plinking load. I ran a box or two of Canadian military stuff through the Ruger, and found, as I had suspected, that accuracy was not up to that when .38 Special or .357 ammunition was used. This is due to the fact that the .355” Luger bullet is a bit undersized for the .357” revolver barrel, and that it has a rather long jump through the cylinder before it reaches the forcing cone.


But it wasn’t all that bad. The reworked Ruger, fired from a sandbag rest, will easily keep Federal .38 Special wadcutters in the 10 ring of a 25 yard pistol target. With the 9 mm cylinder in place, it managed to hold the Canadian surplus bullets in the black 9 ring – a feat that is frequently not accomplished by foreign military automatics in this caliber.


Equipped with the .357/9 mm Ruger, one would be pretty well assured of finding ammunition anywhere in the world. If you already own a .357 Blackhawk, the factory will fit the extra 9 mm cylinder for $16.00. The price for a new Blackhawk in .357 Magnum is $87.50 and for $10 more you may buy it with the 9mm cylinder, which I call a sound investment.




Heavy crimps on handloaded magnum revolver cartridges are necessary for two reasons: to hold the bullet long enough to insure more complete combustion of the necessarily slow burning powder in these heavy loads, and to prevent the bullet from being nudged forward from its case by inertia when another hard-recoiling round is fired.


This is especially true of the whomp ‘em – stomp ‘em .44 Magnum, and all good reloaders use a heavy roll crimp on these bullets. The case, of course, is dimensionally the same as the older .44 Special except for the extra length which was decreed mainly for the purpose of preventing the hot magnum round being chambered in tired old .44 Special revolvers.


Many handloaders haven’t noticed that if their crimp is sufficiently pronounced some .44 Magnum handloads will chamber in .44 Special cylinders.


Theoretically, late manufacture .44 Specials would digest a few Magnum rounds without damage if their chambers were long enough to permit free entry of the longer round. But they are not, and this creates a dangerous situation.


In these instances where a heavily crimped .44 Magnum is loaded into a .44 Special cylinder, the shoulder in the chamber will prevent the case mouth from completely opening upon firing, greatly impeding the passing of the bullet. This will elevate pressures enormously, and almost surely wreck the gun.


Make certain that your .44 Magnum handloads stay out of .44 Special sixguns.




My gaggle of handguns contains no prima donnas, and every one in the bunch does its share of hard work. I expect a few nicks and scratches, and some honorable blue wear, but I noticed recently that some of my irons were getting a bit more beat up than seemed justified by a few rides on a car seat and laying alongside other pieces on a shelf in the closet.


I took the problem to Buddy Schoellkopf, the Dallas gun case man, and went home to garb all my guns in his tough little pistol rugs. Made from heavy, grained vinyl, these coverings will stand plenty of use and are quite attractive. They close with a heavy duty zipper and are lined with a thick layer of soft synthetic pile which continues to protect the gun after the case is opened and used to pad the shooting table. Unlike some earlier cases I once owned, they seem relatively unaffected by temperature extremes. Mine were all ordered in the large size so that that they could be used for a variety of handguns.






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