Wilson Combat Super Sentinel | 1911 .38 Super Pistol Review

The Wilson Combat Super Sentinel pistol is a subcompact 1911 .38 Super that shoots soft but hits hard with scalpel precision!

With pistols getting smaller it becomes important to maintain effective power. The .38 Super provides excellent ballistics and works well in small pistols like the Super Sentinel from Wilson Combat

The .38 Super is anything but new, but it’s experiencing a bit of a resurgence. First introduced in 1929, it is described by most as an improvement to the .38 ACP, a cartridge that many are unaware had ever existed. The .38 ACP was used in early automatic pistols, producing velocities just over 1,000 feet per second (fps) with 130-grain bullets. But Colt was looking for a bullet with better penetration. It bumped up the .38 ACP’s velocity and created the .38 Super.

Initial loadings sent the same 130-grain bullets downrange at nearly 1,300 fps, rivaling that of what would later become the .357 Mag. It was the Magnum’s arrival, in fact, that ultimately signaled the .38 Super’s unpopularity. The two rounds had similar ballistics, but the law enforcement world was simply unwilling to give up its revolvers.

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The .38 Super also suffered from some accuracy issues when the move was made from the Colt M1900 to the 1911 platform: in early designs, the semi-rimmed cartridge would not headspace properly. But with the introduction of a barrel that would headspace on the case mouth, this all changed. In a single-stack magazine, the .38 Super proved to be accurate and powerful, gaining large approval among competitors in the action-pistol game. It also grew extremely popular in Latin America—especially Mexico—where civilian ownership of “military” cartridges was not permitted, making pistol ownership problematic. However, the .38 Super was a powerful cartridge in the 1911 platform, one that was compliant with their firearms laws.

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.38 Super Today

The .38 Super remains a favorite among many IPSC competitors, especially in the Open division. Modern components yield some impressive ballistics: most 125-grain loadings are making close to 1,400 fps, and some custom ammunition companies are getting over 1,500 fps with lighter bullets. For those looking to make major, it is hard to beat. The recoil impulse is rapid, enabling some amazingly swift repeat shots. And full-sized pistols equipped with compensators are quick, accurate and apt for the action-pistol sports.

As the .38 Super remains a preferred round in Latin America, it has also taken hold in Australia. In America, the cartridge is increasingly used as a self-defense chambering, particularly with more shooters now on the 1911 platform. Several custom pistolmakers are chambering their guns in this caliber in just about every size. Colt offers it in several of its pistols, as does Springfield Armory, and Kimber offers it in their mid-sized pistols. Because the .38 Super has a somewhat different recoil impulse, it is controllable and accurate in even some of the smaller frame sizes. And, in my opinion, one of the best such handguns is the Wilson Combat Super Sentinel.

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  • Karsten

    I called Wilson Combat today and was today they have never made this Model. I was told it was designed and they have some orders but it could be 1 1/2 to 2 years if then.

    Putting $500.00 down on and If We Make it gun is rather questionable to me.

    Karsten