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Thread: Convert 9mm Rock Island 1911 to 38 Super.

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Convert 9mm Rock Island 1911 to 38 Super.

    I bought a new Rock Island 9mm Tactical 1911. I want to convert it to a 38 Super. I bought a new barrel from Rock Island and installed it and it has failure to feed. I have Colt 38 super magazines and the 9mm rock island magazines. If I chamber and fire one round it fires and extracts just fine.

    Any ideas??

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Ideas: Is the feed ramp polished? Are the bullet noses too blunt? Is the overall length of the ammo too long? Is the recoil spring too weak?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Handloader109's Avatar
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    Yep, what ammo? Stick with ball, rn until you get it working. Tweek mags, tweek again. Feed ramp? Polish, lower bottom radius well if it isnt.

    I've two 9mm-22tcm and my reloads can be finicky. Depending on the bullet.

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Boolit Man
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    What kind of FTF are you having? Is the feed ramp on the barrel/chamber over hanging the frame feed ramp? If that happens, the bullet will catch on it and not be able to slide up into the chamber. Is it entering the chamber but the rim not sliding up under the extractor? If so, you may need to pull the extractor out, and polish the hook, and maybe re-arch it a bit. Remember, the rim of the 38 Super is slightly larger in diameter than the rim of the 9mm. .406" vs .394".
    Remember also, that the ejector needs to be trimmed a bit to handle the longer 38 Super round. Many 9mm ejectors are very long, and are designed to be used with mags that have the spacer in the back. You may need to trim it so that the nose of a loaded 38 Super round just barely clears the front of the ejection port. If you do this, you may find that 9mm will work just fine out of a 38 Super mag.
    I've done this conversion several times, so it is easily doable. In fact, with one of mine, I can go from 9mm up to 10mm without a problem.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    In answer to all of your questions, I did install a 14 pound recoil spring instead of the 12 pound stock spring. Tried both. I am using Armscor 38 super ammo.
    The feed ramp fits identical from one barrel to another. I did polish the feed ramp. The round is hanging up on the top of the inside of the hood goes in about 1/4 inch and sticks. I did not know Sailormilan2 about trimming the ejector. I have Rock Island 9mm mags and Colt 38 super mags. It is entering the chamber, but stopping, not nose diving. Thanks guys.

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by drw View Post
    The round is hanging up on the top of the inside of the hood goes in about 1/4 inch and sticks. I did not know Sailormilan2 about trimming the ejector. I have Rock Island 9mm mags and Colt 38 super mags. It is entering the chamber, but stopping, not nose diving. Thanks guys.
    It sounds like the extractor needs to be polished a bit. You might want to take it out, and on the bottom and front corners, round the corners just a bit. Polish a little with 400 grit paper. There might be a burr that is not allowing the 38 Super rim to slip under.
    My Rock Island 1911 ejector on my switch caliber gun. It's about 1.075" long. Measurement in pic is not correct. Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    Make sure the breechface is wide enough for the .38 super cartridge. With the difference in rim diameters there will be a slight difference in extractor tension. Is the cartridge being stopped by the extractor as it starts up the breechface. A small bevel on the bottom of the extractor groove may help if that is the problem.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master




    bruce drake's Avatar
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    go find some 38 Super Comp brass from Starline for you to reload. Its doesn't have the semi-rim that the 38 Super has but it has the same rim diameter as the 9x19. I did the same conversion you did but stuck with the 38 Super Comp/9x23mm cases. I never had any issues with FTF/FTE with this brass combo as the extractor didn't have to be tweaked or have to recut the slide's breechface either.

    Bruce
    I Cast my Boolits, Therefore I am Happy.
    Bona Fide member of the Jeff Brown Hunt Club

  9. #9
    Boolit Master




    bruce drake's Avatar
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    and the 9x23 brass has a very thick web at the base which helps since my older 38 Super barrel has the older feed ramp and link pin design which leaves a good piece of the cartridge base unsupported unlike the modern ramped barrels.
    I Cast my Boolits, Therefore I am Happy.
    Bona Fide member of the Jeff Brown Hunt Club

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    My first impression is that you are having extractor issues with your feed-up. This is easily tested. Remove the slide from the frame, then remove the extractor from the slide. Test your ammo to slip into the breech face (as if they were feeding up from a magazine) to confirm they will enter that area of the slide. If they do NOT enter the breech face, that is 1 of 2 possible areas to address. If they will enter the slide, install the slide (without the extractor) on the frame. Insert a loaded magazine and test for feed-up. If the round locks into battery the extractor is your challenge. If the round does NOT lock into battery we go back to the drawing board. Since you bought a barrel from Rock Island they should sell you an extractor as well. This way you will have both a correct barrel and extractor pair for your "caliber of the day" selection. Your replacement extractor may require tension adjustment even as a new part. Tension can be changed without any tools, you just have to know how to do it. Find a local 1911 tech to make this correction if it is needed. Side note - use only dummy rounds for these tests. If these are not available to you, simply remove the firing pin and return spring from the slide for the above tests. One can never be too safe when making function tests.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check