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lacivilian

New Gun 38SC or 9mm

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It’s that time for buying a new gun. I currently have a 9major Open gun but it took so long to get it to run I’m considering a switch to 38SC. The question I would like answered is what should my next gun be? Is there a downfall to switching to 38sc besides initial brass cost? Is 38sc still a better choice than 9 if cost is irrelevant? Can 9 be truly reliable in Open division? If you could only choose one caliber to shoot a major with which one would it be to ensure reliability when competing at a high level? How much should the caliber I already shoot play into the decision? Feel free to name some builders in the comments if so desired. (NOT interested in Akai whatsoever)

Edited by lacivilian

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Good question. I know it’s been discussed before and most 9mm proponents cite the cost of brass as the reason for going 9mm. I didn’t like the unreliability of 9mm open. When it started to get popular was when scope mounts turned the scope sideways to help with reliability and now the miniature red dots have become the way to go. 

 

All my open guns run 38 Super Comp, slide ride mounted sideways, Starline brass, and they run great. More choices of powder to make major and less spillage of powder when loading. Home range I can recover most of my brass and reuse them until I lose them. 

 

To convert my guns to 9mm would be costly (at least 2 guns) and I figured I could use that money to buy more 38SC brass. 

 

I am also wary of buying “once fired” 9mm brass or range brass. 

 

I’ll stick to 38SC in Open until my guns wear out. 

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The freedom of not being a range chicken walking around picking up brass is worth it to me.

 

That being said, 38SC is one of the best cartridges I have reloaded for.

 

Good luck

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after many, many years of 38SC, am now having my gun rebarreled to 9.  i'm liking the idea of just shooting and letting it lay.

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23 minutes ago, TONY BARONE said:

Most are running 9 and reliably thanks to the RTS2.

Mini red dots do make it easier, but truthfully it wasn't that hard to get it to work with a full sized cmore if you understand how to tune the extractor and ejector.

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My son's gun is 9 major with a standard upright C-more, runs 100 percent.  Mine is 38 SC.  38sc is by far the better cartridge but, it is nice to not pick up brass.  I will never go to 9 major, super is just better.  Yes, brass costs more. But, if you can afford to drive a Farrari, put top fuel in it.  My 2 cents.

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38SC would increase my ammo cost by 50% as i would have to buy the cases. picking up the 38 after training sessions is out of the question for different reasons. 

 

that would mean that my yearly round count would go down A LOT.

 

so i will  do more miss  and D than i already do, but reliably

 

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15 hours ago, lacivilian said:

 1. Is there a downfall to switching to 38sc besides initial brass cost?

2. Is 38sc still a better choice than 9 if cost is irrelevant?

3. Can 9 be truly reliable in Open division? 

4. If you could only choose one caliber to shoot a major with which one would it be to ensure reliability when competing at a high level?

5.  How much should the caliber I already shoot play into the decision?  

1.   No

2.  Yes, if cost is irrelevant

3.  Yes, my TruBors both run 100% until they need new springs - that's with the usual upright C-Mores

4.  .38 Super

5.  Yes.  you don't like 9mm so you should choose  .38 Super

 

The advantage of .38 Super is extremely small - if you're shooting at the 96.7% level and want

to get to 96.8%, I'd switch to .38 Super.    But, I can do other things to improve from 61% to 65%.

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I see the following advantages:

 

9mm: 

 -Cost savings overall as brass is cheaper. Depending on the amount of matches, practice, etc. this can total about $300 - $450 in cost savings per year.

 -Easy to leave on the ground and walk away, allowing you to concentrate on the match at hand.

 

38 Super comp:

 -Shoots flatter and slightly softer. 

 -Is slightly more reliable.

 -Easier to reload as brass is more consistent, less powder spillage, etc. 

 -More options for powder.

 -Don't need a 9mm spacer for STI magazines (but this is very minor). 

 

Hope this information helps. 

 

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Powder options are cited for 38 super, but then I see people still using HS6 and the same powder charge as my 9mm major. 

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There are a lot of people running strange loads in 38 Super.  I don't get it.  One of the reasons you run 38SC is for the straight walled case and the capacity.  So you can run gobs of not very compressible powders like 3N38 under 115s if you like.

 

I agonized over this decision when I was deciding what my newest Open gun would be.  All my matches are essentially lost brass, and I'm on a fixed income.  So my decision was 9mm major.  I buy fully processed, roll sized brass for just under 4 cents each and have no problem with them.  My custom 2011 runs them 100%.

 

So to answer the original question, if I thought I could afford to shoot 10,000 rounds at matches each year and lose the brass, it would be 38SC, hands down.  I cannot get enough powder in a 9mm case, even under a 115 to get it to shoot flat AND soft.  38SC allows you to do that.

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17 hours ago, lacivilian said:

 Feel free to name some builders in the comments if so desired. (NOT interested in Akai whatsoever)

I have 3 38SC Open guns.  Never shot 9Major..  I recover ~all my practice brass and about 50% at matches. I have embraced the pain of picking it up.

  I would highly recommend talking to Pat Rafferty of Rafferty Customs.

 

Out of curiousity, why no Akai? (can PM if desired)

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1 hour ago, zzt said:

So to answer the original question, if I thought I could afford to shoot 10,000 rounds at matches each year and lose the brass, it would be 38SC, hands down.  I cannot get enough powder in a 9mm case, even under a 115 to get it to shoot flat AND soft.  38SC allows you to do that.

 

After shooting quite a few open guns I have not found one yet that  consider flat and soft. I can make them shoot flat or soft but not both. There are a lot of threads on this topic already and it is usually the same points made each time. Basically if you want to hunt for brass and pick it up the 38 is fine, I chose to shoot it and leave it. I go to matches to have fun, when I am not shooting I am usually helping run the timer or scoring so I don't want to agonize over losing my brass.

As far as reliability, I have found that to be on the shooter most times when I see an issue. If you shoot 9 major you need to be a detail oriented in your loading practices, and gauge your ammo.

I would also agree with talking to Pat, I just got my build from him last week and am loving it. 

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32 minutes ago, SWprotected said:

I can make them shoot flat or soft but not both

 

In 40 major you can easily do both. In 9mm it's one or the other, or a compromise.  I don't load 38SC, but case capacity is a lot greater, so you can generate a LOT more gas than you can in 9mm.  More gas equals softer and flatter.

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Just now, zzt said:

 

In 40 major you can easily do both. In 9mm it's one or the other, or a compromise.  I don't load 38SC, but case capacity is a lot greater, so you can generate a LOT more gas than you can in 9mm.  More gas equals softer and flatter.

Never tried 40 in an open gun so I can't say for sure, but would not doubt it is possible. 

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9 minutes ago, SWprotected said:

Never tried 40 in an open gun so I can't say for sure, but would not doubt it is possible. 

You can find about 600 posts on the subject here:

 

 

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1 minute ago, ChuckS said:

You can find about 600 posts on the subject here:

 

 

Thanks, but I am all in on 9mm. I don't worry about soft shooting as long as it is flat and accurate I am happy.

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1 minute ago, SWprotected said:

Thanks, but I am all in on 9mm. I don't worry about soft shooting as long as it is flat and accurate I am happy.

Me too 🙂

 

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I shoot 38 supercomp, they main reason you here people shooting 9 is brass. You said if no cost then 38 supercomp is the way to go. Having said that I used to pick up

my super brass but now I just leave it. I buy new load it and leave it. Yes it cost more but I wouldn't swith to 9

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13 hours ago, Hi-Power Jack said:

1.   No

2.  Yes, if cost is irrelevant

3.  Yes, my TruBors both run 100% until they need new springs - that's with the usual upright C-Mores

4.  .38 Super

5.  Yes.  you don't like 9mm so you should choose  .38 Super

 

The advantage of .38 Super is extremely small - if you're shooting at the 96.7% level and want

to get to 96.8%, I'd switch to .38 Super.    But, I can do other things to improve from 61% to 65%.

That’s what I call an answer. I’ve had good reliability with 9mm here recently but it honestly feels like luck. To continue being able to compete close to the top (90%) or so it looks like I should give 38SC a chance for next season. Great reply as it was very helpful in reassuring my thoughts. 

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I have both  9major and 38super open guns.  Just recently switched to 38 with the new gun.  It feels much smoother and less "snappy" than 9m.  The gun is flatter as well but its not the same builder so hard to say the difference is all the ammo.  If brass is not an issue, my vote is 38.  I had no reliability issues with 9major.  Aftec extractor and a 90 degree c-more (eventually a sig romep 1).   

 

As far as a builder is concerned, I really like my new USA edition pro series from Brazos.  It might not be as "modern" looking as some of the other builders but between Frank Garcia from universal and Bob From brazos, they have come up with an incredible shooting gun.    

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1 hour ago, coryf said:

I have 9major and 38super open guns.  Just switched to .38.  It feels much smoother and less "snappy" than 9m. 

 

What are your loads / PF's for the two guns ?

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What I like best about 9mm is that I can get processes brass (roller sized, polished, primer pockets done) for $40-$60/1000 that just whistles through a 650, its amazing how smooth it is when you can skip the sizing station.  With processed brass, a fully reamed chamber and a tuned extractor my 9 ran 100% with everything from factory to major.  

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