.38 Short Colt Questions


#1

I recently picked up (cheap) two full boxes of new primed .38 Short Colt brass. HS is WESTERN 38 SHORT COLT, and are packed in the Winchester -Western (big W) yellow boxes typical of the 1970s, both of which are marked as containing .38 SC primed cases. Case length is about 0.76"

In a previous posting here about the .38 SC, the advantages/disadvantages of using the .38 SC in CAS were discussed. Starline makes .38 SC cases now, presumably for CAS shooters that want very light loads for their .38 Special revolvers. That was not the situation in the 1970s as I don’t think CAS had been invented yet. I can’t imagine there would have been enough of a market for .38 SC cases or loaded ammunition during the 1970s to justify their manufacture. So how could the .38 SC survive that long?

These cases are copper-ish in color rather than brassy. I have previously noticed the same metallic hue in other boxes of revolver-caliber Winchester primed cases of the postwar period. So why is this - a different alloy? Also, why not a W-W HS? I’m reasonably certain the boxes are post-1960. Old stock in inventory?


#2

Dennis–Back in the 1970’s the Post Office Inspectors Dept. used copper looking cases in, if I remember correctly, .38 Short Colt. Your cases could be over-runs from that contract. However, I just searched my collection catalog and did not find this cartridge, so, my memory may be incorrect as to the case type.


#3

That’s interesting, never knew that - why would Postal Inspectors use .38 SC? In what? To be sure no one would be hurt?


#4

Dennis–No idea why the odd caliber. And, as I said, I might have the case type wrong. I am positive about the copper cases through and 90% sure it was the Post Office Inspectors Dept. I do remember that when they first starting showing up in the market place that they were an odd caliber, whatever it was.


#5

The previous copper-colored primed cases I’ve seen were all definitely in .38 S&W, and I am reasonably sure they were from Western also, but in white (or off-white) 2-piece full cover boxes with black printing, of the 1945-55 period (Olin Industries legend). I didn’t have them , but just saw and examined maybe 3 or 4 boxes of them. I don’t remember the HS. This was 3 or 4 years ago. I thought the color of the cases was very odd then for relatively modern ammunition.

Strange are the courses these postings take, now we’re into what postal inspectors used.


#6

Dennis–That may be what I remember. I do have a “WESTERN .38 S.&W.” headstamped copper cased round in my collection. It is loaded with a red wax wad-cutter style bullet. So, assuming this is what I remember from almost 40 years ago, maybe the P.O. D. Inspectors were using them for indoor target practice with .38 Special revolvers. That would make sense.


#7

Ron, I have a box of 38 S&W primed cases which are copper cased/plated ? with opened up flash hole for propelling the red wax bullets. The box is yellow with large red W bisected by a band which reads; cartridge cases. The stock number is GQ7156C . Lot number is 01ED03.
The address reads; Winchester-Western Division,New Haven, Conn, East Alton, Ill. OLIN
Box has no Child warning, Zip code or Bar code.
I was told years ago that these were used by Carriers for unfriendly dogs ! How true this is, I have no idea.
I have a few boxes if anyone is interested. M. Rea


#8

Ron, I have a box of 38 S&W primed cases which are copper cased/plated ? with opened up flash hole for propelling the red wax bullets. The box is yellow with large red W bisected by a band which reads; cartridge cases. The stock number is GQ7156C . Lot number is 01ED03.
The address reads; Winchester-Western Division,New Haven, Conn, East Alton, Ill. OLIN
Box has no Child warning, Zip code or Bar code.
I was told years ago that these were used by Carriers for unfriendly dogs ! How true this is, I have no idea.
I have a few boxes if anyone is interested. M. Rea[/quote]
Forgot to mention that there is no headstamp on the cases !!


#9

To continue the story, my .38 SC primed case boxes are the same as previously described, having the large red W with a blue band through it. Product code stamped is C38SCP (the C meaning Copper or Case, perhaps?), with lot stamping on the inside end flap tongue of 69VG52. Flash hole appears normal, not enlarged, and mine are headstamped.

I can’t imagine a letter carrier being allowed to use any kind of firearm, even with wax bullets, to ward off hostile dogs. I knew a letter carrier back in the early 70’s, and he carried a little aerosol spray can of mace, or pepper spray, whatever was used back then, as a dog repellant. I also wouldn’t expect the Post Office to be loading their own wax bullets, or for that matter, any type of ammunition.

To me, these .38 SC cases present a mystery - for an obsolete cartridge, having no revolvers chambered for it (or converted to it) since the late 19th century (and likely few even then), to still be available in the 1970s, seems strange. I can see their present CAS (and ICORE, see following) use, but not in the 1970s.

After probing around the internet to find more about the .38 SC, I found little I didn’t already know. However, I did find something I had not previously heard of - ICORE, which is the International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts. This is a group organized in the 1990s to use only revolvers in competition, sort of like IPSC, IDPA, Bianchi Cup, and similar “Practical Pistol” events, but no semi-autos allowed. The goal is use of basic factory-production revolvers, no race guns, etc. The use of light .38 SC loads seems to be common in ICORE competition. Outside the US (which has many clubs), ICORE seems to be most active in Australia. But like CAS, ICORE did not exist in the 1970s to foster a rebirth of the .38 SC. Live and learn.


#10

I have some .45 Colt cases that are copper-washed. They have a normal flash hole, and a case cannelure, but are NUPE cases. They are headstamped “W-W 45 Colt” and came in a white box with big, red “W” o the top, under the name, in red, WINCHESTER WESTERN.

Cartridge case index number is 045c (yes, the small letter “c” is correct). I have never seen these anywhere else, nor have I ever seen a loaded round in such a case. I have no idea for whom or why they were made.

Just thought I would report them here since the “.38 Short Colt” blossomed out into a discussion of copper-washed Winchester-Western brass.


#11

I should add to my previous posting that catalogs contemporary to the .45 Colt Box I discussed indicate that the normal index number for .45 Colt umprimed brass was U45C. So, unless the use on the box of a smaller letter “c” has some significance, which I doubt, there is nothing special about the index number to indicated copper-washed cases.


#12

So as it has been established that Winchester and/or Western produced copper-washed primed cases (presumably brass) in at least three revolver calibers, more or less recently, there are some obvious questions: (1) Why the copper washing - identification of primed cases, perhaps? (2) Are there other copper-washed case calibers known besides .38 S&W, .38 SC, and .45 Colt? (3) Did any other manufacturers copper-wash their primed brass or loaded ammunition? And my original question remains as to the reason why ,38 SC primed cases were even made at a time period during which there was likely no more than a microscopic market demand for them.


#13

I have a box of Remington 38 S&W copper washed NPE. I got them along with a S&W Victory Model.
I also have a recent (1990’s) box of Remington 38 SC. Picked them up at a show for a friend looking for cases before Starline was making them.