Best 38 Super Pistols (2021): Buying Guide

Best 38 Super Pistols feature image

Finding the best .38 Super Pistol may be tough for some people. However, if you know what these pistols are and how they function, you may have a better chance of choosing a pistol with little to no challenges at all. A 38 Super pistol is chambered to fire .38 caliber rounds – if you should know. Furthermore, they can be used for just about any application you can possibly think of. 

The .38 Super is a vocational round, having a certain following but not being as prevalent as it arguably supposed to be. On written rules, it’s a hot 9mm, flying faster, flatter, and carrying more wow-factor than your boring and stereotypical 9x19mm and without being too much more difficult to shoot. To put it simply, the .38 Super made .40 S&W and .357 Sig inapt and did so decades before they are invented, which makes it an idyllic defensive caliber. Why did it fail to stay irrelevant even outside of competitive shooting? 

A Brief Introduction of .38 Super

The .38 Super was designed for sale to the law enforcement market, offered by Colt in a .38-caliber variety of the 1911 pistol. They named the pistol the Colt Super 38 and the round the .38 Super Automatic, 1st presenting the new gun and the hot new round in 1929. It wasn’t really new; as a matter of fact, the round itself was 30 years old by that point of time. 

The .38 Super Auto was just the imaginative loading of .38 ACP, the original chambering that the M1900 pistol (later amendments produced 1911) was made in. John Browning did not make a .45 caliber variety until 1905. However, what was noted is that the original load has a bit too much zip on it. On top of that, the .38 ACP was downloaded to basically the same airborne specifications as 9x19mm. 

However, it hit some hitches upon release. Factory guns are noted for being a little less accurate than the .45 ACP models. This is due to the barrel and the cartridge itself. The .38 Super, you will notice, is semi-rim. This means that the rim of the case is a little bit bigger in diameter than the case itself. The original M1900 barrel is head-spaced (meaning where the bullet is seated into place) on the rim, whereas the 1911 barrel headspaces on the case’s mouth. That means a “less than perfect” seal and therefore is less than perfect accuracy. 

.38 Super Today

Eventually, the Bar-Sto company created barrels that headspace correctly on the mouth, but not until well after completion. Since semi-autos at the time are less popular than revolvers, a revolver with more dynamism than .38 Special would then make more sense, which happened to be right around its corner. In 1936, Remington introduced the .357 Remington Magnum cartridge, and Smith and Wesson presented the Registered Magnum revolver to shoot it with. A classic was then born, and law enforcement agencies turned to it in hordes. It’s been one of the chief self-defense rounds ever since. 

Yet, there are many who will use these pistols for the purpose of concealed carry so they are prepared for all types of danger that may threaten their lives or their property. While there are many .38 Super Pistols that are currently on the market, we’ve managed to put together a list of some of the best that are currently on the market. Before we start on the list, we’ll be talking about what the best uses are for a 38 Super Pistol and what criteria to look for when you are buying one for your own personal use.

Best Uses For a .38 Super Pistol

Before gun owners own a .38 Super Pistol, it’s good to know what they are used for. You may already have a resolution in mind, however, they vary from one person to the next. Here are some of the applications that are perfect for .38 Super Pistol owners. 

Concealed Carry

Most of the 38 Super Pistols that are on the market have the correct kind of measurements for concealed carry. You can fit these in a holster that can fit easily like a glove. Some of them are smaller in size than others and therefore will have better concealability compared to those that are somewhat larger in size. Find a size that fits you really well and be sure that you are able to have proper and utter control over it. 

Target Shooting 

You may just spend the day or the weekend casually shooting targets at the shooting range or somewhere in the woods if you know of a good spot. A 38 Super Pistol is known for being pretty precise. On top of that, the shooting groups will depend on the kind of rounds your shooting and the specific 38 Super pistol that you are pursuing. 

Competitive Shooting 

If you are a competitive shooter, then there is a pretty good chance that you will use a pistol like a 38 Super Pistol. They are precise, reliable, and will come in through the clutch if and when the situations are to arise. All you need to do is to hit your targets and come out on top against the competition. What better way to use a pistol like a 38 Super Pistol when your A game is on the line.

The .38 Super pistols became increasingly less popular in law enforcement service after the .357 Magnum was introduced, and since the gun-buying public tends to buy what the professionals use. That means fewer and fewer civilians bought them over the years and decide to opt for the .357 Magnum instead. 

What kept the round from entirely dying out? It isn’t really used for handgun hunting and since it wasn’t the preferred pistol like the .357 Magnum is for the police, that isn’t really a recipe for longevity. Colt continued making them in restricted numbers, and the chambering did become common in South America as many countries have the “no military calibers” facility. 

Shooting competitions did quite a lot, too. Practical shooting parties such as IPSC, the IDPA, and the USPSA created the idea of power factors in .357 Magnum handgun shooting. The idea is that you should fire a gun that you’d be likely to defend yourself with, which needs a certain number of power behind the round. Usually, 9mm is too weak to merit a huge power factor. However, not everyone wants to shoot a .45 ACP. The alternative choice arrived at when a few people started using .38 Super pistols in the 1970s and 1980s, which – being more influential than 9mm – presented a very feasible option. After all, .40 Smith and Wesson did not exist yet and 10mm was little more than a wildcat.

The Best 38 Super Pistols Reviewed

Let’s have a look at some of the best 38 Super Pistols that are on the market.

1. Colt Gold Cup Trophy 38 Super 

A lot of newer buyers were quite happy with this pistol. They are quite impressed with the overall looks of the pistol but cared more about its actual performance and quality. They are quite happy with the overall durability and are fairly self-assured that it will work for them for a very long time. To add on, it was quite accurate from distances between 30 yards to 40 yards. One gun user said that it was actually easy to take apart for cleaning and maintenance. 

We kick off this list with a Colt brand 38 Super Pistol. Colt has been around for a very long time and is considered to be one of the categories of trusted names. It’s proven itself from time and time again to provide shooters with reliable and accurate firearms.

​This 38 Super pistol is no big difference. It’s built for the applications it will ace at most (concealed carry and target shooting). As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most preferred 38 Super Pistols that is favored by competitive shooters and self-defense purposes due to some of its excellent qualities. You get light enough trigger pull, superior quality, and unmatched reliability. Roll that all into one 38 superguns and you get a pistol that is made especially for the competitive shooter. If that’s something you are looking for in a pistol, as a gun owner you have definitely got it with the Colt Gold Cup Trophy 38 Super for a 38 Special for competitive shooting and for self-defense rounds.

This 38 super pistol can be a perfect fit for competitive shooters and casual target shooters. But it won’t be condensed useless by anyone who is looking to use it for concealed carry. As a matter of fact, the ability to shoot fast and its inability to jam makes this a real lifesaver in the occasion where you are caught up in a dangerous situation. To put it simply, this 38 super pistol can perform it all – especially in competitive shooting. If that’s the kind of pistol that you are looking for then you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else quite like this one for self-defense. 

The Colt Gold Cup Trophy 38 Super is a pistol that fits on the top of the list and for a very good reason. It shoots really fast, it’s durable, and can certainly give you a good lead over the competition or an attacker who is senseless enough to mess with you. If you want a 38 Super Pistol that is really one of the best in the firearms business, then this might be it. 

2. Colt 1991 Government 38 Super Pistol 

A lot of new users are pretty impressed with how well this pistol is performing overall. For the most part, they are able to shoot rather quickly and had been able to efficiently hit their targets from ranges between 15 yards to 30 yards. One user said that the shooting groups appear to be quite tight with targets located from further distances. The 38 super pistol was also really hard-wearing and they loved what they liked to call “head-turning aesthetics”. 

This pistol is a thing of pleasant aesthetics, no doubt about it. However, it was perhaps, one of the most dependable 38 super pistols that have been trusted by the US Government for many years. Yes, Colts have long been a favorite among military members who uses it for a sidearm (and even federal agents have relied on Colts for many good years). Nevertheless now, they rely mostly on SIG Sauer pistols. If you want a pistol that is a model of the real deal sidearms that are trusted by American soldiers for many years, this may be a pistol that you’ll appreciate. Its performance is top quality and the overall build may just give it the longevity that you are probably looking for in a pistol. 

This will be used more in tactical and home defense circumstances. It will excel in these applications thanks to its durability, reliability, and the light trigger pull that will allow for quick firing. Timing is everything when it comes to these circumstances, so you need to rapidly get a shot off without any jamming issues at all. This 38 super pistol can certainly give you little to no problems at all. 

The Colt 1991 Government is an excellent 38 super pistol that easily stands out as a concealed carry user’s favorite. It will most likely last you many years provided that you take really good care of it. The better the shape that this Colt gun is in, the better the chance that it will take care of you. With a performance that is hard to top, why wouldn’t you want to extra good care of it? 

3. Rock Island Armory GI Standard FS 

Rock Island Armory GI Standard FSA lot of newer buyers of this 38 Super Pistol are able to use this pistol to their advantage in a target shooting condition by being able to hit their targets as far out as 40 yards. Most of them are using it for casual shooting while a good handful of users went a step further and used it for competitive purposes. One of the gun users said that the shooting ability is decent and it wasn’t all that hard to fire off a shot or two. Overall, they are quite satisfied with the presentation of the pistol.  

This 38 super pistol should be worth more than the price tag it sold itself for. However, thankfully for those on a tight budget, it’s affordable enough for those to buy it and give it a go for their anticipated applications. It’s tough as nails and allows for outstanding shooting ability without any jamming problems or any other reliability issues that may come from flimsy and cheap pistols. At the same time, the wood grip gives the 38 super pistol a bit of a classic old look. So if you are a sucker for the old school classics, this pistol may be something you will like on its aesthetics alone. However, don’t let that overshadow the true performance and quality of this 38 super pistol itself.  

This is usually used as a beginner pistol for those who have never fired or used a 38 Super pistol before. So if you are looking for a pistol that will be able to shoot fast, smooth, and without much reliability issues at all then this can be the pistol of choice for you. And it’s also pretty accurate with its accuracy as well. And at a price that you can afford really afford, why not take up the chance to give this a try? 

The Rock Island Armory GI Standard is the pistol for those who are looking for a 38 Super Pistol that will get the job done regardless of any usage. You can shoot targets, defend yourself from any danger, and get an edge on the competition with this one powerful pistol. And at a price that you can afford, what’s preventing you from getting it? Even if you do have the money to play around with, this is a pistol that will not disappoint in terms of its performance. Who knows? It just may outperform any given high-end 38 super pistol you can possibly think of.  

4. EAA Witness Elite Match 

Most of the new gun buyers are quite happy with their acquisition of this 38 super pistol. They first noticed the reliable accuracy with this pistol. One user mentioned that when hitting targets at approximately 35 yards out, he said that the shooting groups are noticeably tighter compared to the shots fired at 25 yards out. Overall, they are quite happy with some of the other secondary features like the high-quality grip. One other user said that it allows for superior groups even in bad weather conditions. 

For a 38 Super Pistol, it has packed a bit of a powerful punch to it. And even better, you have 17 rounds to work this 38 special gun with. So you have a solid amount of grander firing power at your disposal. If you need a 38 super pistol for target shooting (casual or competitive) or when you require it in a life or death situation. Either way, you are ready to use it when the circumstances call for it. Furthermore, you can use this if your palms tend to get sweaty or if you are firing it off in wet weather situations. This synthetic grip will allow you to recollect control without worrying about any slippages. 

This 38 super pistol will be best used for outdoor usage. If you are a frequent visitor of outdoor ranges, you will definitely want a pistol that will make your every experience enjoyable. You can use it for competition purposes or something that you can fire off for long hours so long as you have sufficient rounds. This 38 super pistol that comes with a case mouth got the best reliability, the quality, and the willingness to step up and rise to the test of any target shooting application. This pistol will definitely give some of the others a run for their money in some of the characteristics and features it comes with. 

The EAA Witness Elite Match is a pistol that you will probably use for all of your target shooting and competitive shooting applications similarly. Whether you are using it for fun or when the competition is getting heated, this 38 super pistol will definitely make a name for itself as a concealed carry gun among those kinds of shooters. You get excellent accuracy with this pistol, unrivaled dependability, and the odds to really give yourself complete control over it when the weather outside is not exactly the best. 

5. Dan Wesson Guardian 

Dan Wesson GuardianAs expected, they are quite happy with this 38 super pistol in terms of its performance and quality. They said that the trigger pull is smooth and light (approximately 3 pounds). A lot of the new users say that they are quite confident in using the pistol in situations where time is a definite factor. One of the users said that he was in a timed shooting competition and was able to blow through a couple of magazines while hitting his targets precisely – with the help of the best 38 super pistols he has ever used in competitive shooting. 

This 38 super pistol has the right amount of measurables for it to fit as a concealed carry pistol. All you have to do is search for the right kind of pistol to make sure that you get that perfect glove-like fit and you will be in business for whenever you require it. Even if you are at the range, it’s good to have a holster that can securely carry your 38 super pistol while you are walking around. Regardless of the situation, this pistol will not allow for any bulging no matter where you take it to. If you are looking for the closest thing to maximum concealability in a 38 Super Pistol, then make no mistakes about it. This 38 super pistol can certainly fulfill your concealed carry requirements. However, remember that it can also serve its purpose as a competitive or casual target shooting pistol. So in summary, it can do almost everything. 

This 38 super pistol will be a multi-purpose pistol that has the right kind of measurements for you to transport it in a holster and forget it (and by forget it, we mean you will not feel like you are carrying so don’t confuse that with actually really forgetting that you have it). It is always good to be well prepared for any prowling danger or being able to keep it out of the wrong hands while you are out and doing your own things. However, we digress. This 38 super pistol provides you with excellent concealability and will certainly have your back in any given self-defense situations or target shooting situations. 

The Dan Wesson Guardian is the best 38 super pistol that has proven itself from time and time again why it belongs on this list. You’ll have brilliant accuracy and reliability that will make the other shooters at the range fawn over you. It’s built like a tank and will be the go-to option for even some beginner shooters.


The best Super 38 pistols are definitely out there, one that can really fit what you are looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Which is the best Super 38 Pistol?

It depends on what you are looking for. There are a few on the market that’s worth looking into. 

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