.38 s&w


The .38 S&W (.38 Colt New Police) was originally loaded with black powder. Would anyone have a picture of a box so labeled? Does anyone have information about the nature of that loading and when the change to smokeless powders began? Was there a change in headstamp?


Winchester started loading smokeless .38 S&W in 1894 according to WRA Co Headstamped Cartridges and Their Variations by Dan Shuey. I imagine the other ammunition makers introduced smokeless loads about the same time. For most makers, headstamps would not have changed, although Peters did use a special headstamp for some of their cartridges (.38 S&W included) with ‘QS’ added to indicate they were loaded with Quick Shot powder, which I believe was a semi-smokeless powder.


Darkgael–U.M.C. lists the Smokeless .38 S&W in their 1895 catalog. I don’t have the 1894 catalog, but I think it was introduced in 1894. The smokeless load can be told by a “U” on the primer. On Winchester loads it is a W in a circle for smokeless loads. Peters always loaded smokeless from the beginning.