August 18, 2010

Springfield Armory Milspec PB1132 38 Super, $682

The Springfield Mil Spec is in some ways a commemorative pistol without getting gaudy or expensive. It has classic styling including a basic military style grip safety and solid hammer tang.

Sights are certainly not snag resistant but are tall and clear with a modern upgrade to a three-dot system. The mainspring housing is arched, something we don’t see much of anymore and the hard plastic, fully checkered grip panels are held in place by standard slotted screws. The trigger is solid metal, but the ejection port is flared and the entire package comes in a no-glare Parkerized finish. This gun also includes Springfield’s safety system that key locks the mainspring.

Courtesy Gun Tests

Courtesy Gun Tests

This basic black gun is a softer-shooting version of the .45 ACP, which some shooters will appreciate.

Fit and finish is first rate. There are no cast parts on this pistol, but it sells for the same amount as the High Standard Crusader. Before high winds and cold temperatures forced us to take our tests indoors, we had already completed field tests with this pistol firing at 25 yards. We found that the traditional 130-grain ball ammo was nowhere near as accurate as the hollowpoints.

Including the aforementioned first round flyers (which were less prevalent with this pistol), five-shot groups were in the 4-inch range. While ball ammo runs and shoots very well in the .45 ACP 1911s, the venerable 130-grain round nose leaves much to be desired in the Super. The Cor-Bon rounds (even when producing more than 500 foot-pounds of energy) did not seem to kick very hard and delivered the best accuracy.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

In some ways this is a throwback design with a long hammer spur, brief sights, and a short beavertail.

At twenty-five yards from a seated rest, groups of less than 2.5 inches were common. This showed us the gun had consistent lockup, quality magazines, satisfactory slide to frame fit, and suitable sights.

Comments (31)

Well, as for my Supers, My RIA loves that 9x23. Too simple, it prefers it. NO signs of over pressure, nothing. Perks perfectly. My Super Witness likes the Super just fine and I've had no need to use the other, far more expensive when I can find it, x23. I've also got a couple of 45 1911s. Just depends on where I'm going and what I'm doing which I carry. When I go pig hunting I use the Witness because it carries 17+1. People worries? Any of them will do just fine thank you.

Posted by: cmblake6 | August 21, 2011 6:37 AM    Report this comment

Comparisons using factual/personal experience have been hard to find TILL NOW- glad I wandered into this blog.......

Posted by: Jim T | August 20, 2011 5:53 PM    Report this comment

I own a Springfield Armory .45,Model M1911A1 and I keep it on my headboard at night, one just like it saved my life more than once in Vietnam(65'-67) and i sleep very nicely, knowing it is there. Hope i never have to use it, but i would not hesitate if i had to. NRA Life Member

Posted by: Always Armed | October 30, 2010 1:06 PM    Report this comment

tmaca. Thanks. I appreciate the technical input. That sort of info drives me on gun purchases. I am one of those people that are more interested in the internal quality and accuracy of the gun. And it has to fit my hand. And thanks to all you other folks. I guess I am on a quest.

Posted by: VW | August 22, 2010 4:05 PM    Report this comment

Quote: "9mm Ball (hard and pointy) penetrates better than .45 Ball (wider and round), but nobody use any ball ammo for defense if they have a choice because 9mm penetrates through the bad guy and leaves him standing. Hollow-point is better except through armor. I don't think any 9mm or .45 is recommended for deer hunting", Quote

Few people that make game laws are hunters. P.O. Ackley found the best deer caliber ever was the .220 Swift but few if any states have legalized it for hunting deer. As far as a person not being killed by a 9mm solid or expanding, I beg to differ. The major military's of the world still us the 9mm in a fmj bullet. Solids do kill, believe me. Its bullet placement that is the key. Many Old time African hunters used the 6.5mm with fmj bullets and they killed even elephants very well.

Posted by: wild romanian | August 22, 2010 7:46 AM    Report this comment

They're all really about the same quality, just some makes have something that certain people like over others. The thing about the Llamas is that they never were a big seller, they don't make them anymore, and they're cheap. But while they're an almost exact copy of a Colt 1911 (some parts are even interchangeable), they had intermittent Quality Control problems with their finish work after about 1976, especially with their more popular models like the .380 and 9mm. Those and their attempts to become more "modern", like with the minimax models, and the Omnis, are good ones to stay away from unless you can get a hands on look before buying. But the straight 1911s, especially 1976 and earlier, are usually good quality guns. The 1911 .38 Supers were unfortunately a later gun, but I haven't heard of anyone having problems with those. They aren't anything fancy, but they're a reliable and unusually cheap (like often under $300) gun. In fact, back when I was a cop, back in the days of the mandatory .38 Special Revolver, my off duty gun was a Llama, either a .380 or a .45 depending on how I was dressed.

Posted by: tmaca | August 21, 2010 8:10 PM    Report this comment

tmaca Thanks! I'll start looking! Is the Remington the best alternative if I can't find a Llama?

Posted by: VW | August 21, 2010 7:21 PM    Report this comment

For the guy wanting a .38 Super, a hint. IF you can find one, and want to save a lot of bucks, get a Llama .38 Super. It's a (usually) well made copy of a 1911 in .38 Super and is really inexpensive, but it's really hard to find.

Posted by: tmaca | August 21, 2010 6:36 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for all the input. As I reload everything I shoot,(excep for PD) over the years I have developed loads that are the most comfortable and accurate for me and the individual guns I use. I ask all you experienced relaoders out there (for the Super.38) for your advice. I shoot mostly at paper, but like to have the self defense option when necessary. I always shoot plated bullets at paper (Rainier or Remington) , but keep the things loaded with factory defense ammo otherwise. As always, I appreciate any advice I can get.

Posted by: VW | August 21, 2010 6:29 PM    Report this comment

9mm Ball (hard and pointy) penetrates better than .45 Ball (wider and round), but nobody use any ball ammo for defense if they have a choice because 9mm penetrates through the bad guy and leaves him standing. Hollow-point is better except through armor. I don't think any 9mm or .45 is recommended for deer hunting, a .44 Mag revolver or .30-30 carbine is better. "Mil-spec" refers to the external appearance - original size controls, small black sights, etc.

Posted by: BenjiMac | August 21, 2010 4:29 PM    Report this comment

74man, I also live in California (sad Isn't)and in up purchasing a Taurus PT 38S (for the same reasons). With that said I put thousands of round thru it and never had a feed problem using Aguila 130 grain FMJ and Winchester 125 grain silvertip HP. The Winchester gave me the best group and was easy to find. Hope that helps.

Posted by: howie_35 | August 21, 2010 12:39 PM    Report this comment

I would like to own a .38 super but don't know what make is the best deal for the money. I subscribed to Gun Reports for many years and put a lot of stock in their testing. However, when they gave a bad review of the Remington 870 several years ago I cancelled my membership immediately. One of the best selling and finest guns ever made and they found fault with it which made me doubt the rest of their reviews. Mine is 30 years old and has never given me 1 one bit of trouble which I assume ia why the military and police depts still use them to this day

Posted by: rico903 | August 21, 2010 12:40 AM    Report this comment

I called springfield customer service yesterday about the 38 super and they said that it would be indefinate. The rep said it could be anytime from 6 months to never. If they decided not to produce the 38 super anymore then you could wait along time and still never get one. I am in a bad situation because I live in California so the model I wanted was the MilSpec PB9113L. Guess for my price range I will have to look to Taurus.

Posted by: 74MAN | August 20, 2010 5:55 PM    Report this comment

After reading Stephen Hunter's write up on a 38 super in the American Rifleman a month or so ago I would like to get one. Recoil seems to be much easier. Just don't know what brand to get.

Posted by: rico903 | August 20, 2010 12:24 AM    Report this comment

Its always pure foolishness to shoot any round out of a pistol that it was was not originally chambered for. This goes double for Springfield Armory guns because their barrels are made in two pieces and silver soldered together. So where do they get off on calling this a "mil spec pistol". Advertisement hype to sell pistols I guess. Having said this I will still praise the Springfield because they do not use junk cast parts like many other modern made clunkers do. I wish they would make it chambered for the 9x23 as the .38 super has for years has suffered from accuracy problems due to its head-spacing on the rim instead of the case mouth. Still when you consider the fact that John Browning wisely and originally designed the 1911 gun to be made in a .38 cal. not a .45 acp this should tell you something, which is that the .38/9mm etc. has proven in U.S. military testing to have superior penetration v/s the .45 acp. The 9x19 tested in 1945 out of a Englis High Power penetrated a G.I. helmet at an astonishing 125 yards while the anemic .45 acp bounced off of same helmet at 35 yards. Lets face cold hard facts you don't get a kill when the bullet fails to penetrate. In hunting deer I have had numerous failures at penetration with the .45 acp especially with the 185 grain bullets. No problems with the 9x19 using 125 grain bullets.

Posted by: wild romanian | August 19, 2010 7:04 PM    Report this comment

Thanks folks for the input. I've had some interest in the Super .38 for a while. Any recommendations for the best provider? I think (correct me if I'm wrong) Remington may be re-introducing this gun? I have been a wheel gun shooter for 50 years but have been shooting a Hi-Power for the last couple of years as well. Any thoughts or recommendations will be most appreciated.

Posted by: VW | August 19, 2010 12:39 PM    Report this comment

i don't know about the rest of you guys but to me the 45 is hard to beat. i just love reading these comments. it helps me keep in touch with what the rest of the gun community is thinking. can't beat it.

Posted by: pa-cman | August 19, 2010 11:06 AM    Report this comment

9x23 is supposed to operate near rifle pressures, as opposed to the 38Super which operates a lot lower. OTOH, the dimensions of the steel surrounding the chamber are probably near-identical in 1911's produced to shoot both. The 9x23 genuinely delivers 357mag power in an auto, for what that's worth.

Also, the 9x23 (like the 9mm Luger) is a tapered case, while the Super is straight-walled. They are not really interchangeable even if the former fits into the latter chamber.

@CDMillion, the 9mm SuperComp is 9x23 dimension brass but it does not appear quite as thick-walled as Winchester's 9x23 brass. Some IPSC guns use rimless 38Super but that's a specialized product.

The problem with both the Super and 9x23 is that on game and ballistic gelatin they work about the same as 9mm Luger. The 9x23 would be a whole new game if loaded with a bonded 147gr JHP to 1250 fps, but no one makes such a load.

Posted by: David C | August 19, 2010 10:12 AM    Report this comment

Anyone who wants to see a .38 Super run only needs to watch Doug Koenig (S&W professional shooter) shoot. He uses an S&W 1911 in .38 Super and there seems to be little or no recoil, plus it's accurate.

Posted by: dgray64 | February 6, 2009 8:56 AM    Report this comment

Forgot to ask, how does the Colt.38 Super compare to the Springfield. I have seen 10rd magazines for the Springfield but not the Colt.

Posted by: CDMillion | February 5, 2009 3:20 PM    Report this comment

I have several >45's and would like to try a .38 Super. Starline has Brass called .38 Super Comp. It is a true rimless cartridge. Read in one article it can funtion in a .38 Super , has anyone tried this Brass?

Posted by: CDMillion | February 5, 2009 3:18 PM    Report this comment

I have an older version of this one in chrome and with imitation ivory grips. Very good shooter, but online ammo is cheaper in 38 super than 9X23. Also has adjustible rear sights both elevation and windage.

Posted by: djb | January 15, 2009 7:04 AM    Report this comment

Might be the extra .01 has something to do with the chambering. Anyway, PRESSURE!! EEK!! Kind of, that is. This MIGHT be dangerous, or it might not be. Depends on the giun and how much overpressure the specific 9x23 Win you're using is compared to what the gun is designed for. The best way to find out is to check with a good gunsmith who knows a lot about handloading. He should know how much over "normal" is usually safe because it's a common issue in handloading, and as a gunsmith he should know what the gun is capable of. The problem is that most any gun can handle overpressure for a while, and that sometimes fools people into thinking it's safe. For example, a 9mm Largo pistol will shoot .38 Super because the cartridge dimensions are the same, and you'll get away with it for a certain number of rounds. Then the gun will fail, probably catastrophically. It depends some on the make of gun, but it'll probably be a case of the slide shattering as it cycles. How much overpressure a certain gun can take more or less permanently is a matter for experts, and if you're gonna use 9x23 Win regularly in a .38 Super, you really need to find one and determine whether it's safe or if you're just begging to become a one-handed person who owns a broken gun.

Posted by: tmaca | January 14, 2009 11:27 PM    Report this comment

Yeah, I'd spoken of this elsewhere, and people went bonzo. Some say "the pressure, eek!" others would say "no worries". What I meant by "not bad, needs shot-in" was the fact that for the Super, it has some failure to chamber problems. Quick smack on the back of the slide and it's in, but I shouldn't have to. The accuracy is very good, but it got great when I changed the round. Not to mention, if you have CorBon @1450 vs WW @1450, in a heavier case, it just makes sense.

Posted by: cmblake6 | January 14, 2009 8:46 PM    Report this comment

That sounds reasonable since the diameter of the round is the same and the length of the Super 38 is .90" while the 9x23 length is .91". Which round costs less? Enjoy.

Posted by: dgray64 | January 14, 2009 10:33 AM    Report this comment

I have an RIA in .38 Super. Not bad, needs to be "shot in" a bit more. But, and I know this may cause great furor, it eats 9x23 like it was made for it. Reliability went instantly to 100%, group sizes cut in half or less, and the specs for the WW Silvertip are the same as for Cor-Bon Super. Ammo may be more expensive, but ballistics are our friend!

Posted by: cmblake6 | January 14, 2009 4:13 AM    Report this comment

I'll stay with my .45

Posted by: Cava3r4 | January 10, 2009 7:41 AM    Report this comment

.38 Super is a great round, HP & speed are best. With these old hands of mine, softer recoil than other caliber 1911s, is nice.. Down side is there are fewer factory ammo choices.

Posted by: Sagebrush | January 9, 2009 3:18 AM    Report this comment

OK, so it costs the same as a High Standard Crusader. That still doesn't tell me what it costs in dollars and cents.

Posted by: tmaca | January 8, 2009 6:46 PM    Report this comment

I concur w/David in Texas no doubt this is a fine weapon as in 36 yrs as an officer I have'nt found a bad Springfield but give me the big, slow .45 acp

Posted by: johnlaw | January 8, 2009 5:43 PM    Report this comment

This is a great pistol, but since the ammo costs about the same as a .45, I'd rather have the .45. With a standard (heavy weight) 1911, the .45 is is also very comfortable and has the necessary knock down power. David in Texas

Posted by: dgray64 | January 8, 2009 11:16 AM    Report this comment

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