Converting a 9mm to 38 Super

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weste

Bearcat
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Nov 17, 2013
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I have a Ruger Lightweight Commander in 9mm. I have had a couple of issues with the magazines where ejecting a magazine after charging the pistol to top off the magazine resulted in a loose round from the magazine. I have a couple of 38 Supers and have never encountered this issue. I am looking at converting the pistol to 38 Super. Any suggestions?
 

Mike J

Hunter
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Are the magazines that you are having an issue with Ruger magazines or after market? I suspect it is a magazine issue. Of course if you just really want the pistol to be .38 Super.....
 

weste

Bearcat
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Nov 17, 2013
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I have tried Ruger, Kimber, Wilson and McCormick magazines with the same results. And yes, I really like the 38 Super. 9mm plus ballistics with a cartridge the length the pistol was designed for.
 

ptypegreen

Bearcat
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Get a 38 Super barrel the headspaces on the case mouth, not the semi rim. I converted my Dad's Colt GM 9mm with just a barrel and magazine swap.
 

weste

Bearcat
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Nov 17, 2013
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With the help of a gunsmith friend we got the barrel installed and test fired on Friday. Minor problem with the last round a ball failing to fully chamber out of an Ed Brown magazine. Switched to Colt magazines and the problem went away. Also fired 5 rounds of Sig V Crown without any issues.
 

Bret

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Oct 23, 2001
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weste said:
I have a Ruger Lightweight Commander in 9mm. I have had a couple of issues with the magazines where ejecting a magazine after charging the pistol to top off the magazine resulted in a loose round from the magazine.
Some 1911's and other pistols do that. It's odd, but not really a problem unless it causes a reliability issue.
 

BiloxiBob

Bearcat
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Jan 14, 2022
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Was going to that to my Ruger 9mm Commander but a 38 Super rim was to big for the breech face. Seeing that it is a ramped barrel which style of ramp was needed? The stlye of ramp needed was my major hang up. I've been using the 10 round 9mm magazines from Brownell's. Years ago I went the other way converting a full size 38 Super Colt to 9mm.
 

weste

Bearcat
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Nov 17, 2013
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The ramped barrel is the Wilson style. I had an issue with my fired 38 Super brass. The primers looked like they were way over pressure. I have reverted to the 9mm barrel for now.
 

Oro

Bearcat
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May 25, 2010
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I am sorry I am late to this dance. I do have a lot of 1911 experience (not so much Ruger tbh).

What you are describing is *probably* a classic magazine issue. It's not the gun at all most likely. It's like swc rounds in a hybrid feed lip magazine. Does just what you are describing. If you aren't familiar with 1911 magazine feed lip designs and issues, google that and read up.

Two sources of the issue are spring rate but more likely feed lips. Feed lips and bullet/projectile selection are critical here. I should also mention OAL as it matters. As a caveat, I've tuned 45, 9mm, and 40 s&w with the same issues to work, but not .38 Super (would love to do so, though!). But it's the same issue.

Ramped barrels are a big headache as they require tuning the cartridges' meplat length to replicate the projectile meplat length they were designed for. It's not a clearly intuitive process. I built some guns with Clark barrels and they helped me work through this, as did Herb Germaine, a noted past 1911 builder, who was then local to me and a friend.

First question is what magazines are you using, what bullets, and what OAL are they loaded to?

There was an amateur gunsmith who made a great blog post about this issue. I am also certain I bookmarked it but right now can't lay eyes on it. I'll try to find it tomorrow night when I have time again.
 

weste

Bearcat
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
26
With the 9mm barrel I was using Ruger, Kimber, Wilson and McCormick magazines, with commercial ball ammo, both 115 gr and 124 gr, and Hornady 135 gr Critical duty ammo. I haven't measured the OAL cartridge length. All ammo and magazines had the same result. When I chambered a round, and then removed the magazine to top it off, the top round in the magazine would come out of the magazine and drop out with the magazine. This is not an issue I need to deal with right now. I have stepped back to a Colt Wylie Clapp lightweight Commander in 45 ACP and a Dan Wesson Guardian in 38 Super.
 

RCA1504

Bearcat
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Jul 14, 2014
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I have been a 1911 armorer since 1964.
A 1911 should feed a clip full of empty brass without a hiccup. In other words it should feed any loaded round, start to finish in every clip, fitted to the gun. Please, get your gun and magazine setup properly by someone that knows how to set up a combat 1911.
 
Joined
Sep 7, 2022
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Location
Rochester, NH
Was going to that to my Ruger 9mm Commander but a 38 Super rim was to big for the breech face. Seeing that it is a ramped barrel which style of ramp was needed? The stlye of ramp needed was my major hang up. I've been using the 10 round 9mm magazines from Brownell's. Years ago I went the other way converting a full size 38 Super Colt to 9mm.
You can put a .38 Super in a 9mm,,,they both have the same breachface cut...

Just got done putting .38 Super barrels in three Kimber 9mms and all run like a champ. Have also done a 9mm Colt Commander and a friend just did a DW Guardian in 9mm to Super...

As to which ramped barrel...pull yours out and do a search for the Wilson/ Nowlin or PARA/Clark and you should see which one is correct for Ruger...or call Fusion, BoMar, Nowlin and they will tell you...

Bob
 
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