38-44 Special

brass case (L= 29.3), CN bullet (with lead ring at the bottom)
(This has nothing to see with the 38-44 with internal bullet)
I was told this ctge was the ancestor of the 357 Magnum

the hstp is REM-UMC 38-44 Spl
What is the exact designation ?
value please?

In a way it was, as it was simply a more powerful loading of the .38 Special which was an intermediate step prior to the introduction of the still more powerful .357 Magnum. Smith and Wesson made several revolver types for it on the heavy N (or .44) frame, thus the .38/44 designation, beginning in the late 1920s. These were the “Heavy Duty” (fixed sight) and the “Outdoorsman” (adjustable sight) models. The Colt “Official Police” revolver in .38 Special was also considered strong enough to safely fire .38/44 cartridges. Variants of these revolvers continued to be made until the mid-1960s, and were very popular for law enforcement at the time. After the .357 Magnum came on the market in the mid-late 1930’s, there was really no further purpose to be served by the .38/44, as the .357 surpassed it in performance. Those .38/44 S&W revolvers are now very desirable among S&W collectors. Some have been found to have been later rechambered to accept the .357 Magnum cartridge.

thanks Dennik
It is exactly what people told me;
So the correct designation is 38/44 ?

value of the ctge please

Both .38-44 and .38/44 are seen, and I am not sure what the most “correct” designation is, or if there even is one. The use of.38-44 is a little misleading as the “44” could be interpreted as the propellant charge, such as .44-40, .38-40, .32-20, etc. The .38/44 as a designation would be more expressive of its use in a .38 Special revolver built on a .44 frame. Headstamped cartridges are not that unusual, but if one had a full box of .38/44 cartridges in good condition , it would be in high demand as a companion piece by a S&W collector having a S&W Heavy Duty or Outdoorsman revolver. Collectors of old handguns like to have a nice box of correct ammunition of the same period as their revolver for display, not for shooting, and would likely put a higher value on it than would a cartridge collector. Otherwise, I have no idea of the value of a single round. I wouldn’t think very much.

I have some reloading manuals from the 1940s and 50s, and they do not refer to it as either .38-44 or .38/44. They call it the .38 Special High Velocity, noting that it should be “used only in large frame revolvers.” The velocities given are usually around 200-300 ft/sec greater than their standard.38 Special load recipes. That sounds like probably a .38/44 load to me, and I think some Remington .38/44 ammunition boxes of the time are labeled as “.38 Special Hi-Speed.” Others can comment more knowledgeably than I about that.

The official designation of the revolver as introduced in 1930 is Model .38/44 Caliber Hand Ejector. The Service version is known as .38/44 Heavy Duty and the Target version as the .38/44 Outdoorsman. The “official” ammunition for the revolver was the .38 S&W Special. It wasn’t until 1931 that Remington developed the special high-powered cartridge called the .38-44 S&W Special. That designation and headstamp was dropped in 1938 in favor of the designation .38 S&W Special High Speed. A similar high power cartridge was also made during this same period called the .38 S&W Special-X.

So, IMHO, the designation of the revolver stayed the same throughout production but the cartridge is whatever is seen on the headstamp. The revolvers are very collectable while the cartridges are still fairly common.



I have always found the high performance .38 Special loads interesting. I have seen references to the following headstamps:

REM-UMC 38-44 SPL (the topic of JP’s thread here)
(These last two being more recent and perhaps used up to the time of the “+P” era?)

I have not heard of the .38 S&W Special-X before. Was this the headstamp and was this a Western loading perhaps?



My notes say that .38 S&W Special-X was a W.C.C. loading @ 1175 fps. But now I’m wondering. Maybe I wrote it down wrong and it should be SX for Super X.

Western collectors ???

P.S. I am looking at the lineup of WCC revolver cartridges in Elmer Keith’s book and he shows Load No K1379T as the .38 Special SUPER-X @ 1175 fps. So that is probably it??

There was a time in my life when I thought my memory was infallible and I often did not write down the source of my notes. I think it’s starting to back-fire on me. :-(



I have reference to the Western K1379T as: SUPER-X .38 Special (Oilproof) 150gr. Metal Point. I don’t know if that is round nosed or the pointed “metal piercing” bullet. The 1175 fps velocity does show up for the latter in later listings.

Perhaps we can keep this thread rolling with input on early .38 Special headstamps indicating high velocity loading? (How rare is that “U.S.C.Co. 38 SPL.SPEED” I have seen at Guy’s site?) Here is a reprise showing of two I have…


38-44009 38-44012



I have two that I think are high velocity loads, but I’m not positive. Maybe you know? I don’t have photos but the headstamp is the same on both, and the same as the one you show:


Both have a large primer. One has a RN GM bullet, like yours, the other a copper plated lead SWC.

My REM-UMC 38-44 has a RN GM bullet.

And since this is a thread about the 38-44, it’s interesting that no one has even mentioned the 38-44 S&W New Model No. 3 Target which pre-dated the 38-44 Special by 40 years. But, I won’t go there. Nope, not me.



Your WRA Super .38 Specials were listed as follows:

K3862T Lead (“KOPPERKLAD”) 158 gr. @ 1,115 fps
K3863T Metal Point 158 gr. @ 1,115 fps

You mention the “original” .38-44, the S&W Target. It was the good old days before product liability concerns for sure when Remington decided to mark hopped up .38 Specials with a .38-44 headstamp. Based on measurements of the two cartridges, the REM-UMC 38-44 SPL would likely fit and fire in a firearm chambered for the .38-44 S&W Target cartridge. I would guess trying that out could make for an unpleasant day at the range…