Colt Super .38 ACP

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by JoseyWales, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. JoseyWales

    JoseyWales New Member

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    Well you guys really rained on my parade with the assessment of my Colt 1908 .25 ACP but sometimes the truth hurts. However I certainly appreciate all the help and info and that's why I come today with my Colt Super .38. From what I can find, the serial number dates it back to 1929 which is the first year these pistols were produced. Any history or potential value you guys could provide would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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  2. wonderwhippet

    wonderwhippet Active Member

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    Your Colt Super 38 pistol is the early first model (four models were produced) and I believe it to be in 85% condition, judging from the photos. The current Blue Book of Gun Values prices it at around $3000.
  3. Jackman

    Jackman New Member

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    430 that's a low serial number :cool: brings the value way up imop
  4. dcriner

    dcriner Member

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    Its condtion looks to be very good to excellent, depending on the bore. I notice an "idiot scratch" caused by trying to remove the slide stop improperly. I'm puzzled by the 2-tone magazine. You can purchase a brand new Government Model 1911 Colt .38 Super for about $1,000+. But your gun might might bring that or more from a collector. As a shooter, I'd prefer a brand new one (which I have).

    .38 Super +P ammo is available, but non +P only shows up from time to time. +P ammo shouldn't be fired in your older gun. .38 Super shooters tend also to be reloaders.

    1911s in .38 Super are very popular in South American countires that ban civilian ownership of .45 ACP or 9mm Luger.
  5. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    The two tone magazine is proper and worth at least a hundred at itself. Colt had a problem with soft steel and deformed magazine lips, so they heat treated the top part of the magazine, as a result, the top half of the magazine would not blue.
  6. JoseyWales

    JoseyWales New Member

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    I can assure you the "idiot scratch" wasn't done on my part. I printed off an old instruction manual that I found online today since I was scared to try and take it apart not knowing the proper way to break it down. It came with a holster that I don't believe is from the same era but could explain some of the wear on the muzzle. There is some rash/pitting that is shown on the left side of the slide that doesn't make sense compared to the rest of the gun's condition. Besides that and some minor scratches along with the "idiot scratch", all screws and pins are in good shape and the gun still attains the majority of it's blueing. Do you guy know anything about obtaining a letter of manufacture from Colt and how to go about that process?
  7. dcriner

    dcriner Member

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    As I previouly told you on your other thread, go to the Colt website. It will cost you maybe $100 for them to reseach their archives, and send you a written report. I'm unsure what value it would add to the pistol - the serial number pretty much speaks for itself.

    Whether you or a previous owner caused the idiot scratch is none of our concern. It does affect the value somewhat.
  8. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Nice Colt, she is a keeper.
  9. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

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    The gun is perfectly fine for "+P" .38 Super ammunition. The "+P" is how standard Super .38 ammunition is marked. The gun was designed for Super .38, not .38 auto.
  10. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Colt's first ads did not mention a new cartridge, only saying that the "new Super .38" which has the "distinct advantage of the .38 caliber automatic cartridge with its exceptionally high velocity of about 1200 foot seconds." The term "Super .38" is clearly applied to the gun, not to the cartridge, though the velocity given is higher than that of the 1040 fps of the .38 ACP. Modern .38 Super (not +P) is listed at 1280 fps.

    The story of the two tone magazine is not quite as RJay says. Colt very early recognized the need to temper pistol magazines so the lips would act as a spring. But the problem was that the bluing used in those days, Carbonia blue, required heating the part to be blued to over 600 degrees in a gas furnace. If they tempered the magazine before bluing, the bluing process took out the temper. So they blued the magazine first, then tempered the feed lips by dipping the top of the magazine in hot salt or molten lead. That, of course, removed the bluing but left the critical feed lips with the necessary temper. Later they went to bluing magazines by the caustic salts (hot tank) process, which didn't affect the temper, so they did the hardening first, then blued the magazine.

    Jim
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  11. JoseyWales

    JoseyWales New Member

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    Dcriner I think you have me confused with someone else but thanks for the help and I'll definitely check into it. Not crazy about shelling out $100 bucks for the letter but it may help seal the deal with a serious potential buyer.

    From what I'm gathering it's not clear to me whether +P ammunition should be ok to shoot through this pistol or not, but in order to be on the safe side I'm going to say it's best to shoot modern .38 super.

    I'm not recieving much feedback on the value and I realize it's only worth what someone is willing to give. So correct me if I'm wrong but based on what I've found from sales of similar conditioned pistols on other sites and taking into account the low serial number here, I'm going to say this pistol is worth $3k plus. I certaily appreciate all the help and info.
  12. dcriner

    dcriner Member

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    OK, you are correct. Thanks.

    There is some confusing info out there. The official instruction manual that came with my one-year-old Colt Series 80 Government Model in .38 Super has this on p. 21: "Note: Extensive use of +P ammunition will accelerate the wear in your pistol."
  13. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

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    TMK all Super .38 ammunition is now marked with "+P" to designate it from standard .38 auto. Dimensions are the same.
  14. dcriner

    dcriner Member

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    Some of my confusion is a result of Colt's lousy manual for my new 1911 in .38 Super. Acutally, the manual, dated 2006, is generic for all of Colt's 1911-style pistols. Nothing is particulary aimed at their .38 Super models, or even .45 ACP for that matter. Colt seemingly can't afford to print a manual specifically for a $1,000 pistol.
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