I did this .38 Super for myself in 1988 and shot the Steel Challenge with it. I literally burned midnight oil on this, I can remember working all day and all night several times and there being some marital stress over it— and rightly so! I believe it was my first .38S compensated gun and I remember having trouble getting it to run at first, due to the comp weight and the fact that Steel Challenge loads are super wimpy. In the end, due to the rush, I said screw it and went with factory .38 Super 130 FMJ loads. This startled RO’s every time I shot a stage because they had come to expect pop-pop-pop and this thing was, well, way louder.
Later I used it in USPSA for 2-3 years with a handload featuring a bullet of my design at about 160 grains, loaded to Major which at the time was 175000, so about 1100 FPS using AA#7 as I recall. This thing was always totally reliable and a pleasure to shoot. With a lighter recoil spring I used factory .38 ACP’S to shoot the 9-pin event at the old Second Chance Police Combat Shoot aka the pin shoot, which is now—The Pin Shoot. In this event the pins were placed just a foot from the back of the steel-topped table so 9 and .38S could do it, but I later shot the event with mild .45’s, too. I won the event the last year of Second Chance with either a 3.6 or 3.8, but I never reached the range record which as I recall was held by Blake Gann at 3.2 or 3.4.
Magwell made from a piece of Crucible CrMo steel. At the time, Colt owned Crucible so I kept it “all Colt”.
A stud is pocketed into and silvered to the frame, for the big mag release paddle to pivot on.
Magwell detail. It is sliver-brazed on and it looks like I got this a little hotter than it needed to be but thirty-four years later it is holding well.
The front is funneled out so far that no existing floor plate could act as a stop, so all mags got extended plates made from aluminum and bolted on from the inside. They stop the mag from over -insertion at the rear, not the front. Why did I leave the lanyard loop on, you ask? What a coincidence…. I’ve been asking myself that! All I can say is, I did this thing in such a hurry that I just didn’t take the time. With those thick floor plates it never got in the way. I wish it wasn’t there.
The comp. It started out as a piece of 2” round, 6” long Crucible steel-- prehard 4130 or 4140. It’s all once piece, threaded and then silvered to the barrel—I never liked betting it all on thread locker. The bar across the top? To prevent empties from landing in there and causing a disaster as happened to TC with his giant Delrin-comped .50 GI recently. The first blast face on this and others of that time period, is a piece of 3/32 ground stock slid down into a slot that I EDM’d into the comp, then it is silvered into place— you can see the outline of the silver joint in this pic. The front sight is machined from the comp, it is not dovetailed or pinned or soldered in place.
Threaded-in front blast face and the spanner for same. The larger holes are just for getting a little weight back out of it.
Like I say, “had trouble getting it to cycle” and this was part of the cure. That was something new to me; I might do it differently today but it sure worked.
Rear of the slide; I liked Witchita sights in those days, I felt they were more robust than a Bomar. This might be the first time I did the forward, “protected” installation. I had never seen that done, it just seemed like a good idea, and I did several guns that way. I still do it once in a while.
Rear sight installed “no base” style, I have done a bunch of these but none in the last…. long time. The base is discarded and the sight mounted directly to the slide, by bending and welding the front of the tang downward and cross-pinning. You can see that the weld does not match. Getting TIG done at that time was a little sketchy.
This thing had not had a deep cleaning for a while when I photographed it! I have turned up my nose to ultrasonic cleaning for a long time but then I got a small Lyman unit and WOW. For something like this it is very effective.
The slide was cut short a bit, not much though. The stem of the comp rides in the slide bore. I filled the locking cut for the bushing with a piece of steel, silvered it in, and rebored the slide to for the comp stem for a good fit.
Close-up of the mag release paddle and what I would call an early version of Conamyds, maybe the second or third time I used this pattern. "Frustal cones" is what the patent lawyer called them