A warning to those who want to shoot WWII-vintage P.38s - Page 2 - WaltherForums
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:36 AM   #11
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Sitting in a museum, it has no use as a car. And when GM gets done rebuilding them, you will have exactly what you had before - a bunch of metal that looks pretty for people to look at.
It has no use as a car if it's sitting in a junk yard, either, especially because GM no longer makes parts for cars that are 70-plus years old..

The same can be said of grandpa's P.38 that was returned from the great war, taken to the range one day, loaded up with high-powered ammo and a gleam in the eye, and ... kaboom.

But again, this thread is provided as a warning of what can happen, not a dictate. Your pistol, your call. Just go in with your eyes open.
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:33 PM   #12
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I agree with Searcher...kinda. I have some numbers matching WW2 P-38s that simply won't see the range ever. That is my choice and I
am sticking to it. I also have a "mostly matching" cyq P-38 that has a non-matching locking block. I took it to the range and it ended up being a single shot pistol. Bummer. But that's a seperate story. It's real easy to tell folks who have dropped a lot of $$$ on a collector P-38 to "just go out and shoot it". But then what do you say to them when a part with a matching number breaks and it can't be replaced with that same number? You say "sorry about that sheet". That's not much comfort to a guy who has just seen the value of his numbers-matching P-38 drop by about half.
As to ammo....the "normal" ammo used to shoot WW2 P-38s is the Winchester white box stuff. I can verify that that is some pretty weak stuff. As a matter of fact, I plan on using some hotter stuff next time I go to the range to see if maybe the wimpy ammo was at fault. At any rate, it is your own personal choice. It's on you if you take a $1000+ P-38 to the range and it self-destructs...well...then you have money to waste
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:41 AM   #13
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.....As to ammo....the "normal" ammo used to shoot WW2 P-38s is thw Winchester white box stuff. I can verify that that is some pretty weak stuff. As a matter of fact, I plan on using some hotter stuff next time I go to the range to see if maybe the wimpy ammo was at fault.....
Try Blazer Brass or PMC 115-gr. It's just a bit hotter than the Wimpchester White Box. I also like the Federal RTP (Range Target Practice) white box 115-gr.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:38 AM   #14
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Given the nature of this thread, I don't think that hotter ammo is the way to go with Deputy's problem with his Spreewerk model. The answer likely lies elsewhere, though a further detailed description would help with a diagnosis.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:06 AM   #15
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Try Blazer Brass or PMC 115-gr. It's just a bit hotter than the Wimpchester White Box. I also like the Federal RTP (Range Target Practice) white box 115-gr.
I have some stuff called "HotShot". I think it is Czech ammo. If it doesn't work with that, then I will have to start investigating further. Could also be a bad mag, so I will take a couple of spares with next time. It's possible the locking block is at fault. It's a replacement.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:42 AM   #16
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I have a cyq all matching with holster. The plastic red grips had a crack so I removed them and stored them and installed a set of cheap wood grips. I have shot maybe 100 rounds of cast reloads without a hitch using canuba wax as a lube just to clean up the bore some. The 104 grain cast pops out at just under 1000 fps according to my chrono at 5 feet from the muzzle. It's a pleasant load and no battering of the action. I - personally - have no reason to fire any full power loads in any of my vintage military arms. I would say for those who intend to do so that springs is a must to replace and a full check over by a smith is a must do.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:29 PM   #17
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I just posted an update to my cyq problems here:
Range report Part 2...my cyq P38

I DO think the ammo WAS part of the problem. I changed to MGMike's recommendation of Federal 115 grain American Eagle and the malfunctions dropped dramatically. I think I can improve performance even more by replacing ALL the springs with a Wolff spring kit and installing a stiffer mag spring.
Quite honestly, I am not a big fan of the alloy frame P38. If you hold both in your hands, you can tell the difference immediately. Besides the alloy frame being lighter (and that lightness transmits recoil to your hand), it is out-of-balance. It is "nose heavy". The steel frame P38 has perfect balance. And there is also the problem with frame cracking. You can pretty much minimize the chances of frame or slide cracking in a steel P38 by changing the springs. The only hope you have for an alloy P38 is if you have one with the hex bolt and stronger slide. And those versions are disappearing rapidly from availability. The word is out about the 1970 and later alloy guns being better and they are demanding premium prices compared to previous versions.

So what do you do if you want to shoot a P38 but don't want an alloy gun? The answer is the Russian mismatch imports. They are available for just a little more than the alloy P38 and will give you many more years of service after a spring replacement. Going price right now is around $550 from Wideners and J&G Sales. The Wideners guns are supposed to be very nice and J&G has a money back guarantee if you don't like the gun. Try getting that with a Gunbroker alloy frame gun!
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Old 08-15-2014, 08:33 PM   #18
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Shooting P-38s

A word of caution from experience....Do not shoot the old stuff in a vintage P-38, especially the German and Italian....it's corrosive. In addition, the Beretta sub-machinegun ammo is hot. Hot enough to blow the top strap off!

Use modern ammo....moderate loads. You should be fine. Better still, go buy a West German police P-1......and shoot the hell out of it.
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Old 08-16-2014, 02:04 PM   #19
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If you can't shoot it, it is not a gun. Period.
[SARCASM] I concur. I also believe that the Spirit of St. Louis is not an airplane. Neither are all of those WWII fighter and bomber aircraft in the Wright-Patterson AFB Museum, nor all of the other aircraft museums throughout this country/the world. Now that I think about it, the USS Constitution, USS Alabama, USS Missouri, USS Hornet & USS North Carolina are not war ships either.

In other news, I didn't drive my car yesterday...therefore, it's no longer a car. Period. [/SARCASM]

Ain't opinions great?

Since my Father passed away, I am the current caretaker of the P-38 and Radom pistols that he picked up from the battlefield during WWII, as well as the German issue belt and belt buckle he acquired (which, coincidentally, I still consider as a belt and buckle, even though it's been decades since they've been used as such.) While he and I did fire them in the past, and I have fired them on one occasion since his passing, I have no definite plans on ever firing them again. It may still happen, but for the moment, they are temporarily "retired". Even if I never fire them again, I still consider them as "guns". To each his own.

Tim
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Old 08-16-2014, 03:18 PM   #20
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I hate doing this, but I will state the obvious...it's YOUR gun and you can do anything you want with it. If you can afford to buy or already own an expensive collectors item that will lose most of it's value if a numbered part breaks on it, be my guest. But you DON'T have to do that. You can buy a much less expensive yet still historical gun and shoot the heck out of it, and if a part breaks, so what. Just replace it. That's the choices. There is nothing inherently wrong with either one. And trying to lecture people to NOT do a certain thing is a sure way to make them do it out of pure spite. I have 2 non-import, numbers matching, WW2 P38s that I PROBABLY won't shoot. I MAY, but probably not. If I do, first thing I will do is replace ALL the springs before going to the range. That is just common sense.
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