I always carry a 1911 in .45 ACP, as do my wife and both sons. However, a .38 Super is no slouch in terms of a self-defense pistol round. Check any reloading manual and you will see that the .38 Super is ballistically equal to or superior to the much-vaunted .357 Sig, and it doesn't have a bottle-neck case. This is important for reloading purposes, but I'll get to that later. If you reload, and you'd better if you' re going to shoot a .38 Super, then you can load ammo even hotter, without exceeding SAMII specifications. If you want to add a ramped barrel, then you can join the ranks of the IPSC shooters who load their .38 Super competition guns to rather "remarkable" velocities.
So why all of this talk about reloading? Well, that's the only downside to selecting a .38 Super; there is very little factory ammo available for them and when you find it, the price tag will give you sticker shock. And I'm talking about the "cheaper" practice ammo, not premium self-defense loads. But there is another option besides reloading. The pistol can be fit with a 9mm Luger barrel allowing the use of much cheaper ammo for practice. A barrel change in a 1911 is very simple and no other components need to be changed when switching between calibers.
Some people have reported either extraction problems or feeding problems when trying to use the same extractor for both 9mm Luger and .38 Super in the same gun. External extractors seem to cure the problem, but I do not believe this is a widespread problem. Plus, "standard" internal extractors are cheap and easily installed when changing the barrel, so this is hardly a deal-breaker.
So whether you want to reload .38 Super for a fraction of the cost of factory ammo, or have a 9mm barrel fit to the gun, the .38 Super provides an economical way to get the practice we all should have to maintain proficiency. And with quality factory hollow-point ammo for self-defense use, the .38 Super is more than equal to the task. All of these benefits combined with a milder recoil, less muzzle flip and a thinner profile for concealed carry make the 1911 in .38 Super an excellent choice for the ladies. Don't just take my word for it, come to the range with me and watch people try a variety of guns and keep coming back to the Super.