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  1. #1
    Contributing Member Aragorn243's Avatar
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    P38 Issues

    I actually went to the range today. My son in law got a new hunting rifle and wanted to check it out and I decided to function test some of my pistols. Took seven but realized when I got there I brought Tokarev ammo rather than 7.65 ammo so three of them went untested.

    The remaining four were my 1914 Luger, my 1945 P38, my P35 and my Spanish Model A Super. three 9mm and one 9mm Largo. I went in order of what I felt would give me the least problems or concerns and the Super A, P35 and Luger functioned flawlessly.

    Prior to going I researched the ammo for them and as I didn't want to stress any of them figured I'd take the 9mm Luger Remington Ammo despite a lot of guys saying it was crap in Lugers due to the bullets being too short. I also took a box of Sellier and Belliot which were longer in length just in case.



    The P38 had problems from the start. First round didn't want to chamber and it jambed. Second round went in fine, third jambed and then the entire magazine jambed, it's a P-1 magazine, Walther made. Round 4 was simply stuck halfway down the magazine and the rounds above it simply fell out when turned upside down. This I'm not overly concerned about as I can fix it.

    Tried again with the WWII original magazine that came with the gun and it functioned but the cartridges still jambed half the time.

    The type jamb was the cartridge was chambering but the getting stuck halfway in and the action would not close like the shell was sitting at an angle. I can see where short cartridges could cause this but would like confirmation from someone with more experience.

    So talked it over with my son in law and while reluctant, I figured I'd try the Sellier and Belliot even though I couldn't find anything about using it in P38's. It isn't +P or anything so I figured it would be alright. It functioned flawlessly.

    So, is it the Remington ammo being too short? Weak springs? Something else? Combination of the two?

    This was the first time I've fired all four of these. This was a function test firing and other than the Super A, I'm not likely to fire any of these often after today. I would like to sort out the problems with the P38 however.

    It is a Walther, ac45 b series with full acceptance marks, probably within the last 500 to be accepted so it had a short service life. Doesn't appear to have been fired much in the intervening years. Was reluctant to fire it due to the horror stories told about late war P38's. Not sure it's deserved but I tend to be cautious. I just thought it odd that the luger is the one that is supposed to not like the Remington ammo and it ate it just fine.

    So, should I order a set of Wolf Springs, or just avoid the Remington ammo?

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aragorn243 View Post
    a set of Wolf Springs
    I wouldn't put over strength spring in, you could be changing the dynamics of the design. Just don't use that ammo.
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    That's an ammo problem, not gun problem. You know which ammo doesn't work, don't use it in that gun.

    Also, check chamber, action, etc for anything that might affect that ammo. Might need a bit of polishing?
    Last edited by Daan Kemp; 03-21-2021 at 04:52 AM. Reason: Add information

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    Contributing Member Aragorn243's Avatar
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    Thank guys. 100% consensus on a facebook group I belong to that it's the ammo. I unfortunately have a lot of the Remington, I just won't use it in the P38. There is a marked difference in the length of the cartridges. I noticed it before I left the house and took the Selier and Belliot along because of that. I read the Remington is loaded lower pressure which is why I wanted to use it. Not overly concerned with the Luger as it's been through two wars and is matching except for the extractor which was replaced probably WWII time frame.

    The P38 is all matching and I don't want to run the risk of cracking the slide so it won't be fired much. I just wanted to know it would work more than anything. It's primarily a safe queen.

    The Super A is one of my go to hide away guns in the house with three full mags with it so that one is actually used, hopefully not in my house but it's there just in case.

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Loved my Star B. Put thousands of rounds through it, replaced ejector and cracked slide.

  9. #6
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daan Kemp View Post
    Loved my Star B.
    I had one of those too. Very nice. I had to make a firing pin for it early on, probably why it was for sale in the first place. I went through tons of ammo with it too.
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    The P38 is designed for 124gr rounds which are the proper length for perfect feeding. I have found the 124gr Federal ammo works flawlessly in my 4/44 Mauser made P38. Beware of +P and NATO ammo which are also 124gr but are much too powerful for any original P38 and will damage the pistol in a very short time.
    The excessively powerful rounds will cause cracking of the slide mostly at the bridge in front and the locking block which will reduce a valuable all original pistols value to that of a low priced shooter.

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    Contributing Member Aragorn243's Avatar
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    Cracking I want to avoid. I don't plan to shoot it much. Maybe a trip to just enjoy it a bit and actually compare it to others. When I'm test firing, that's all I'm doing, firing fast, emptying the magazine.

    In today's climate of expensive hard to get ammo, I probably won't be taking it out anytime soon.

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    Really Senior Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    After using my P38 a couple of times I decided that it would be a lot of fun to use it more often. I purchased a bare refurbished P1 slide for $14 and all the internals as well as P1 locking block using only the original barrel and frame. It's a lot of fun to use with no guilt or trepidation. I ended up reusing the original rear sight so it matched the thin front one. I had a P1 rear sight on at first but the gap was too wide for my old eyes. Incidentally it shoots just as well as it did in its original configuration.

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    Contributing Member Aragorn243's Avatar
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    I've heard about a lot of guys doing that. It is something to consider but it's not something I "need" to shoot. I have other 9mm's I can shoot that are just as fun and nothing to worry about breakage. I suspect it will just be something to take out occasionally with the kids and grandkids so they can say they've fired one.

    I'm not that hung up on the P38, the Luger is my iconic Germanicon handgun and I'm not afraid to shoot that one.

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