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I was lucky enough to pick up a P220 in .38Super but had a couple of questions and thought the collective might be helpful.

I am getting into .38Super and enjoy the round, even though I don't hand load for it.

So far, it is all off-the-shelf ammo.

I have 2 1911 handguns in .38Super and now a P220 in .38Super.

In my research, I've found a lot of discussion of how the 1911 standard barrel is fine for factory loads, but if the .38Super is loaded for maximum power [think shooting competitions, to make 'major' category], then a ramped barrel is better.

That got me thinking about the P220.

The P220 has a ramped barrel, so my first thought was that the gun can take the higher pressure loads. HOWEVER, this is an older folded-steel slide, with the breech block attached by the double-pin method.

Am I right in thinking that I should stick with the factory loads for this as well, due to the potential to bend/break those pins and cause failure of the gun?

Or are the pins fine?

I wish there was a one-piece slide I could install to run the .38Super on the P220, but this pinned breach block is the only design I know of.

Anyone have any tips?

Thank you

Sigs and Non-Sigs: I enjoy having options!
Posts: 684 | Location: South San Joaquin Valley, CA | Registered: September 21, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The ramped barrel is one part of the equation. Slide weight and springs are another. Do you have a means to weigh and compare a 1911 Government slide versus your 220's? If those are comparable something else to consider would be a heavier mainspring and recoil spring.
Posts: 482 | Registered: February 01, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Buy that Classic SIG in All Stainless,
No rail wear will be painless.
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I run an Infinity 2011 pistol in the USPSA Open Division.
It's chambered in .38 Lapua which is .38 Super in a completely rimless case configuration. True .38 Super is a semi-rimmed cartridge. (rimless usually feeds better than semi-rimmed)
BTW, Lapua brass is the only brass recommended for the Infinity.

I can't buy factory ammo for the Infinity, reloading for it is the only option.
I won't tell you exactly how much powder or brand of powder goes in each case, but it is essentially filled to within 0.050" of the case mouth before seating a projectile.
I will say the case is so full, using a progressive reloading machine, using automatic indexing of the shell plate spills and slops powder on top of the shell plate.
You MUST manually index the shell plate so as not to spill powder when reloading on a progressive reloading machine.
It is a well compressed powder charge when the projectile is seated and crimped in the Lapua case.
This Infinity pistol was built around one load, with only one powder and one brass case manufacturer making a suitable powder/brass case.

It is a classic case of "performance" without any regards for cost. Think Formula One cars, NHRA Top Fuel dragsters, modern Liter class superbikes.

The Infinity has multiple ports in the top of the barrel, in addition to the ports in the compensator.
The projectile moves about 0.750" out of the case mouth and the series of "popple" holes begin venting expanding powder gasses while the projectile is still engaged in the barrel rifling.

When I began reloading for the Infinity, the maximum powder charge listed in the powder manufacturer's reloading data was at least 250 feet per second slower than I needed to make USPSA "major power".
Apparently, when you vent powder gasses out the top of the barrel while the projectile is still engaged in the rifling, you won't get the velocity numbers expected from a solid/non vented barrel.
I contacted Infinity and they told me work the powder charge up going a tenth of a grain at a time until I reached the "major power" velocity I was seeking, plus a small margin to ensure staying major.
So my particular loading is well above published data and is seriously overpressure.

The Infinity is insanely loud and concussive, due to full chamber pressure being vented up while the projectile is still engaged in the rifling.
The solid ordnance steel slide on the infinity has a removeable/replaceable breech face insert.
As far as I know, they are the only company that makes a 1911/2011 slide with a user replaceable breech face.
Why would that matter? When the high pressure .38 Super loadings begin to peen the breech face from the brass case head.
When you can read the brass case head letters & numbers in the steel breech face, then you know that you have some pressure!

I haven't had any issues with my Infinity, but it was designed and manufactured strictly for using high pressure .38 Lapua cartridges.

Why am I giving you these details?

You have an older Sig P220.
A classic.
It has an aluminum frame.
It has a (bent) folded sheet steel slide with a welded in nose, and a breech face that has it's only connection to the body of the slide in the form of the doubled up roll pins.

I wouldn't shoot a single round of ammo in that P220 with a higher chamber pressure than standard SAAMI pressure rated ammo. I also wouldn't shoot any +P .38 Super in that gun.

It's your P220, do what you wish. But if you want that P220 to last, shoot ammo in it at pressure levels that it was designed for.

It is my opinion that a SIG P220 in .38 Super is the wrong firearm choice to be shooting "Hot Rod" .38 Super ammo.

It's also a good reason to purchase something more suitable for the task at hand if you chose to go down the path of "Hot Rod" .38 Super reloading.

After all, there is a good reason they called a USPSA/IPSC competitor's damaged human face >>>".38 Super Face".<<< (imbedded brass fragments and partially burned grains of gunpowder/case head separation)

Get an opinion from Bruce Gray (GRAYGUNS) if it will make you feel better. Send him an email or call him.

DSC00734 by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

DSC00737 by cee_Kamp 32ACP, on Flickr

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Posts: 1553 | Registered: December 14, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
3° that never cooled
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bczrx, P220 .38 Supers are neat guns, and collectable in high condition. FWIW, I have owned and reloaded for .38 Supers since the '70s. I preferred steel framed 1911 type pistols for this cartridge. All current production .38 Super I have seen, except the GECO, is marked +P. The +P designation was just an administrative change by SAAMI back in the '70s to differentiate .38 Super ammo from lower pressure .38 ACP ammo. The +P .38 Super is not loaded to higher pressures than older .38 Super that was not marked +P. It was a change for safety's sake, to reduce the likelihood of shooters loading .38 Super ammo in their old Colt 1902/1903 series of .38 ACP pistols.

All that being said, my thinking on "max loads" in a 220 Super is similar to cee_Kamp's. Factory and factory level .38 Super reloads; certainly. Max loads; No. I've loaded .38 Super/Super Comp/.38TJ to 1500 FPS with 124/125 grain bullets, 1250 FPS with 147 grain bullets. I've shot and loaded for 9X23 Winchester, and years ago experimented with the 9MM "Super Cooper", using .223 cases trimmed to .900". Never had a problem with any of this in steel frame and slide 1911s. But wouldn't do this stuff with a nice P220 with aluminum frame and folded steel slide...

NRA Life
Posts: 1567 | Location: Under the Tonto Rim | Registered: August 18, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I started with nothing,
and still have most of it
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I own a P220 38 Super, and in the past have owned 2 9mm P220's, both of them now moved on. I found it strange that the 9mm slide weighed one ounce more than did the Super slide. I shoot only factory Super ammo in mine, and would not personally push the limits on reloaded stuff.

"While not every Democrat is a horse thief, every horse thief is a Democrat." HORACE GREELEY
Posts: 1862 | Location: Central NC | Registered: May 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
My other Sig
is a Steyr.
Picture of .38supersig
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I also shoot the +P 38s in mine with no issues so far. The 7.65mm is also fun in many a Sig.

Posts: 9190 | Location: Somewhere looking for ammo that nobody has at a place I haven't been to for a pistol I couldn't live without... | Registered: December 02, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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