.45 vs. .38 Shoot-Off

Having tested the 9mms the other day I decided to test the Detonics Combat Master .45 using the same tests. I also decided to try the Combat Master slide on a full-size 1911A1 frame. In the 9mm test the Beretta M1951 was the dark Horse; today I included my custom 3″ barrel S&W Model 1902 .38 Special.

The loads used were a .225gr LFP bullet over 4.2gr. of red Dot in .45 ACP. The .38 Load were 125gr. SJHP defensive ammo. These standard-pressure loads make FBI standards in testing from a 2″ gun, so they are a good choice in a 3″ gun.

So, without further ado…


Exactly as yesterday. The first drill was three shots at three yards The drill was to load three rounds in each of the guns for each string, then the guns were set on the table next to my phone. When ready I would press the ‘start’ button with my right hand, grab the gun and fire three shots without using the sights, repeated this with both one and two handed grips.

Somehow the targets for the Combat Master didn’t make it home with me to be photographed but they were noticeably less good than the Detonics slide on the 1911a1, as you might expect. The longer grip just gives better control.

Not bad at all.

This ‘hybrid’ performed very well, and was very quick even taking into account the heavier recoil of .45 ACP compared to 9mm. It was in fact just a hair quicker than the CZ P-07 yesterday.

Adequate, but not as good as the 9mm CZ P-07 or the Hybrid .45

The .38 was surprisingly fast, but accuracy suffers compared to the autos.

Once again shooting two-handed was more accurate rather than faster. Here are the averages:

Combat Master- 1.42 seconds

Hybrid .45- 1.31 seconds

Model 1902 .38- 1.47 seconds

The .38 was not as good as the autos, but it was closer than I’d have expected.


For this test each gun fired five timed shots at a rate of 1 shot per second. Guns were fired standing unsupported using a two-hand grip. All shots fired with the S&W .38 were Double Action.

Not bad, but I had one miss just off the top edge of the target.

Not bad; the short sight-radius was not as much of a disadvantage as I anticipated. The Combat Master’s shots were more scattered, but all on target. Again the shorter grip impeded control.

The Model 1902 was the surprise of the bunch, turning in the best group of any of the guns tested. I did mess up and without thinking I loaded six rounds instead of five, but that really doesn’t change anything. I really do like this revolver!

Five-Yard Rapid-Fire

Though none of the guns we DA/SA I adhered to the same standard as with the 9mms. One fast shot followed by two matched-pairs of shots.

The Hybrid’s performance was very good indeed. The sights are very fast to pick up and the gun stayed dead on through all five shots even though the last four shots were actual double-taps rather than a ‘matched pair.’ I attribute hitting low to me rather than the gun.

The Detonics was similar but larger; well within acceptable limits but not as good as the Hybrid.

The model 1902 was not tragically bad, but not as good as the autos.

The Conclusion-

The Hybrid was the winner by a significant margin, with the Detonics second and the revolver a surprisingly close third. The hybrid’s performance even surpassed the CZ P-07, so it’s the overall winner.

Now, I am not going to snag the Detonics slide to mount on the 1911a1; that’s not a band I’d break up. But I think it’s worth pursuing a full-frame/3.5″ barrel 1911a1, either in .45 ACP or 9mm. The 9mm allows two more shots, so that’s the best option but I might have a line on a 3.5″ complete slide assembly with a barrel in .45 ACP that might be significantly more affordable.

In the meantime the CZ came in a close second and has significantly greater capacity, so it will be taking up the EDC duties until I get the Hybrid together.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 30 May 2022

1 thought on “.45 vs. .38 Shoot-Off

  1. Brett

    Not part of this story but I watched your vid on the 1902 Colt Auto. I have a1903 Pocket Hammer that did the same thing. I think the trigger sears are soft. I redressed the sear and now I have a heavy pull that’s at least functional. I also think your not getting light hits. I think the hammer is falling to first cock. Watch your video closely. Load data is available in some early Hornady manuals. I love shooting my Pocket Hammer. I grew up on 1911’s and early lock breech Colt are just fascinating to me


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