35 S&W and 38 Colt Special


Going through my collection, i re-encountered two cartridge types that have long piqued my curiosity. The first is head stamped REM-UMC 35 S&W. Cartridge OAL is .969", bullet dia at case mouth is .308"-.309", GM jacket bullet with what looks to be two ports (.015" x .045") which i assume indicate bullet is inside lubed. The case length is .670", case dia is .347", has a copper U primer and is pretty well straight walled with a cannelure .055" down from the case mouth.

The second type is the .38 Colt Special. I have three manufactures and four variations with the following dimensions:


REM-UMC 38 COLT SPL____1.530" 1.150" .432"___.376"______.385"____________LRFN________SP Nickel cup
REM UMC 38 COLT SPL____1.551"1.150".432"______.376"______.385"____________LRN_________SP Nickel cup
W.R.A.CO. 38 COLT SPL____1.523"1.150".436"______.376"______.365"____________LRFN________SP Copper cup
PETERS 38 COLT SPL 1.527"1.152".431"_.376"______.397"____________LRFN________LP Nickel cup

I’m wondering how common these two cartridges were and the time frame they were in. Thanks for any help.


REM-UMC 35 S&W headstamp used from 1912 to 1944

REM-UMC 38 COLT SPL headstamp used from 1912 to 1930

I think there was an old thread that told what those two “ports” were on the 35 S&W Auto cartridge but I don’t remember what it was.

Neither cartridge is rare or uncommon, AFAIK.



On the 35 S&W the jacket covers only the front part of the bullet’s core so that the lead core actually is in contact with the bore as the bullet is fired. Lead is forced into those ports in the jacket as the bullet is assembled, thereby locking the jacket onto the core. Jack


bacarnal–The type of bullet used in the .35 S&W is called a “Metal Capped” or “Metal Point” bullet as opposed to a FMJ or “Metal Cased”. It gave better penetration than a plain lead bullet, but still allowed for lead to ride in the bore, presumably making the barrel last longer and to seal the gases behind the bullet better than a FMJ.

The .38 Colt Special was developed in 1906 specifically for the Colt “Officer Model” revolver. It has the same dimensions as the .38 S&W Special. The differences being, normally, a flat nosed bullet and a larger primer. At least by Remington, it was listed until 1950.


A question for Ron - If Rem-UMC used the 38 COLT SPL headstamp only until 1930, what headstamp did they use from then until 1950? Or, is that 1930 date wrong? I got it from the JOURNAL.

My 38 COLT SPL ctg has a small primer?

It must be a slow day. I’m asking questions about a revolver cartridge. ;)


Ray–That 1930 date you quote is about right. The 1923 catalog shows the “.38 COLT SPL.” headstamp with a large primer. My next catalog with pictures is 1933 and shows the small primer with the headstamp “.38 SPL” for the standard velocity loads and “.38 SPL HS” for the High Speed loads (first listed in 1932). I think both of these headstamps continued until 1950.

Not sure when the primer size changed, but would guess 1926 with the introduction of “Kleanbore” priming.


Thanks all.



The list I have says: REM-UMC 38 SPL from 1930 to 1960. REM-UMC 38 SPL HS from 1931 to 1940. REM-UMC 38 S&W SPL from 1912 to 1930.

So it appears that Remington continued the manufacture of the “38 Colt Special” until 1950 but the cartridges were not headstamped so after 1930.



I know this is an old posting, but I can add a little regarding the .38 Colt Special. Today, among other old items, I picked up a full box of .38 Colt Special by Winchester. It was a Type 2 1932 style blue box, clearly labeled as containing .38 Colt Special, and the bullets were flat pointed lead. Headstamp is WRA 38 SPECIAL, with small nickeled primer. So apparently by that time (1932-35), Winchester had also dropped COLT from the headstamp (assuming they at one time included the COLT). As the box is missing endflaps, I’ll probably fire some of these rounds next week to see if they still go bang after 75 years, and maybe chronograph them.


If I understand well 38 Colt Special is the same ctge as 38 S&W Special.
Is 38 Short Colt the same ctge as 38 S&W ?
If yes till which date was 38 Short Colt hstp used ?


Not quite. There are the .38 Colt New Police and Super Police cartridges, which are dimensionally identical to and interchangeable with the .38 S&W cartridge, much like the relationship between the .38 S&W Special and the .38 Colt Special… The .38 S&W has a case diameter of about .386" and a case length of about .78" with a bullet diameter of .360". I have measured many pulled antique .38 S&W lead bullets, and they actually run about .357-.358".

The .38 Short Colt is very close to the British .380 revolver, which has a case diameter of .377" and a case length of .76" with a bullet diameter of .357" according to COTW.

Being that close together, I’d guess the .38 Short Colt would chamber and fire in a .38 S&W revolver, but it does not have the same dimensions as the .38 S&W. It’s more like a shortened .38 Long Colt or a centerfire version of the .38 Short rimfire.

I don’t know about dates, but someone here must. Donnely says the cartridge dates from 1892.



The 38 Short Colt seems to be an old ctge, it was at least what I thought.
If yes why do we find nowadays this ctge on modern grenades ?


I did some additional checking and changed some of the dimensions previously given. I don’t know about its use in modern grenades. It apparently does not use a heeled bullet, but the .380 Revolver does.



Surprising. Looks like a Starline case. I can’t imagine there would be enough demand for the .38 SC to justify tooling a headstamp for it. It’s basically a short .38 Special case, and I really have to wonder about the need for any headstamp at all in this application. I haven’t looked at Starline’s website to see if they list .38 SC as an available caliber offering, but will later.

Stranger things have happened. I know the Navy at NSWC-Indian Head was loading .38 Special ejection seat igniter loads (and may still be), and were actually making their own primers instead of buying them. I personally saw their primer production line in operation back around 2000. I understood they fire about half of what they produce just for QC purposes. Must be the world’s most expensive small pistol primer. I don’t know/remember what headstamp is on the Navy’s .38 cases, if any.

Sure enough - this is what’s on Starline’s website:
“38 Short Colt Brass (Small Pistol primer) .754”-.761" O.A.L. (Backordered expected availability: 08/15/2011 ) "
"Basically a shortened 38 Special. NOT a substitute for 38 S&W. Can be fired in most guns
chambered for .38 Special or .357 Magnum. " (comment - why would anyone want to?)

By the way, there was at one time a 9mm Federal produced, for, I believe, a Charter Arms revolver. Sort of a rimmed 9X19, but it would chamber in a .38 S&W revolver (although far too hot for most of them). I ran across several full boxes at a gun show awhile back, seller wanted $75 each for them. Might have been worth it, I don’t know. Anyway, it was not a success in the marketplace.


Thanks Dennisk.

It is modern and american.
Perhaps somebody can give the explanation ?


“…loading .38 Special ejection seat igniter loads (and may still be), and were actually making their own primers instead of buying them. … I understood they fire about half of what they produce just for QC purposes. Must be the world’s most expensive small pistol primer.”

How expensive do you think it would be if the ejection seat didn’t function and we lost a pilot?


DenniK - Some CAS shooters use short cases in their guns, .38 special included, to get better ignition with the light loads of pistol powders used, and to avoid that elusive but real chance of detonation. Personally, with powders like Trail Boss available now, I am not at all sure it is necessary now, but the practice continues with some. Most of us use normal cases for the calibers of our guns (except many of the .38 guns are actually .357, and only a very few use .357 cases loading for them - or I should say, only a very few of the groups I shoot with). In principle, I agree with you comment “why would anyone bother,” but then, I don’t like the use of ultra-light loads in CAS either. To me, not in the spirit of the game, harder to time (shots from rifles don’t register on the timer all the time - enough of a problem that SASS recomments rifles NEVER be the last guns fired on a stage), and sometimes harder to count hits and misses, if you can’t hear the plate being hit or even see it move a little. May be off topic, but pertains to why short cases still sell, and therefore why they are made.


Taber10 - That’s exactly why the Navy made (makes?) their own ejection seat cartridge primers. I understood that there was one mishap attributed to a dud commercial primer, causing the failure of an ejection seat to function. I don’t know the details.

Having said that, I fire probably 5,000 rounds a year (rifle, pistol, shotgun), minimum, all being handloads. I don’t remember the last time I had a dud primer. That says a lot about commercial primer reliability. However I don’t shoot in the stratosphere where conditions are different.

There is a brief writeup with not much detail on the .38 Short Colt on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_Short_Colt It mentions one of the reasons which I would consider it inadvisable for use in .38 Special or (especially) .357 revolvers, namely excessive bullet jump and resulting inaccuracy. CAS use is not mentioned. I was a CAS shooter up until about 2000, and don’t remember anyone using the .38 Short Colt at that time. I myself used a .357 Ruger Blackhawk as one of my CAS revolvers, with 148 grain lead bullet wadcutter .38 Special handloads (about 800 f/s) to good effect. My other CAS revolver was a Super Blackhawk .44 Mag, in which I used .44 Special-level handloads, same ones were used in my .44 Mag Winchester 94 carbine.

Back to my original posting. As I said, last week I obtained a full box (sort of raggedy) of Winchester .38 Colt Special ammunition, the box being 1932-35 vintage. This morning, I took a random 5 rounds to the range and fired them in my S&W K-38 (6" barrel). I chronographed each round, and each round was fired from the same chamber for consistency. The average velocity (about 3’ from muzzle) was 798 f/s, with an extreme velocity spread of 46 f/s. No hint of any hangfires. Pretty good performance (very close to original specs) for ammunition nearly 80 years old.