.32 Rimfire Short by Union Metallic Cartridge Company

Found this on the floor of the shop today, can anyone tell me how old it might be?

Remarkably, it appears to retain much of its lubrication!

No one?


Not sure just how old your cartridge is but I would think what looks like old lube is actually lead oxide. It can have a yellow wax like look to it and the white surface of the lead projectile I believe is lead carbonate(?).

The features of the case head you show may help a rimfire collector date your item as that seems to have a recessed face and raised rim.


I confess to being a bit of a neophyte with antique cartridges. The substance is waxy feeling, and a light film coats the entire cartridge.


That may well be old lube. I made the comment based on my own observations of old lead projectiles and a very little bit of reading on the subject.

Here are a couple .44 Henry Flat cartridges that illustrate two types of lead deterioration I have seen.

No chemistry expert here, but…
The one on the left has what I think is lead oxide occurring both above and below the nominal surface of the bullet. It is yellowish in color and has a wax like feel about it. On the right the bullet shows what I think is the more common lead carbonate that is rough and seems to be harder than lead. There may also be some oxide forming on the lower portion as it is a similar color and texture. (Could be lube?)

I could be way off on my thinking here and would be interested in the thoughts of those more knowledgeable in the subject!

I looked at all my .32 Short RF with “U” headstamp and they are all flat based unlike your interesting version. I’m sure someone will come along with some information on age.


There’s definitely lead oxide on the bullet, but there is another substance, which might also be corrosion, that is in a large blob on the bullet, and a similar feeling filmy substance coating the entire cartridge.

I’ll take better pictures later today and post them. My camera phone’s macro function is not the best.