.38 Short Colt Questions

Here is a photo of the cartridges I’m referencing with these questions. First is a typical .38 Short Colt, next appears to be an inside lubricated .38 Short Colt the last two appear to be .38 Short Colt, Short Case (ref - Suydam’s U.S. Cartridges and Their Handguns p.154)

Does anyone know when and why the .38 Short Colt was changed to an inside lubricated bullet from the original heeled bullet? I have one of recent manufacture with an R-P headstamp which has a bullet diameter of roughly 0.355", very similar to the .38 Long Colt and .38 S&W Special. I’m trying to narrow down when this change was made by looking at box labels and bullet shapes. Recent green and yellow boxes seem to have the same load index number for both bullet shapes - R38SC. From the headstamp on my example ‘R•P’, I suspect it’s after the move to Lonoke, AR which I believe occurred in 1986.

Disclaimer: The following photos came from closed online auctions-

Here are photos of the most recent box I could find with heeled bullets. It was shown with a styrofoam insert.

Here are photos of the earliest box I could find with inside lubricated bullets. It was also shown with a styrofoam insert.

About the ‘Short Case’ cartridge - Any idea what the purpose behind this one was? Suydam’s book offered little insight as to why this cartridge was created but I have one with an ‘R-P 38 SH COLT’ headstamp and the short case length (0.668") so it does not appear it disappeared in the 1920’s.

If anyone can shed some light on these it would be much appreciated!

Has anyone had any luck with asking Remington questions of this nature? I’m not even sure who to field it to, but I suspect records for the date and reason for the change must exist somewhere. I’ve been wondering if the change had something to do with revolver shooting sports such as ICORE as the modern .38 Short Colt seems to be popular for use in .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers in competitions.

Hello Drake, the .38 Short Colt with outside lubricated bullet was last offered by Remington in 1979 and the inside lubricated version was first offered in 1980. The .38 caliber 125 gr bullet with a diameter of .374" (outside lubricated) for the .38 Short Colt was last offered as a separate component in 1980.

I have no idea as to when the inside-lubricated .38 SC load came about. Some time back, I speculated that about the only current market for these cartridges I could think of was for use in ICORE (International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts) matches, where their use in .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers produces very little recoil, allowing rapid recovery during rapid fire. I have loaded light bullet .38 SC cartridges for firing in one of my .38 target revolvers, and it’s not much worse than firing a .22. The short case would be advantageous for making up very light loads for use in .38 Special/.357 Magnum revolvers. I know very little about the ICORE organization, but have read that it came into existence in the early 1990s.

Fede - thank you very much for the date information, that’s precisely what I was hoping to learn. It was interesting to see both versions bore the same load index number.

Dennis - Do you happen to know if the current .38 SC’s are hollow base bullets? I can’t imagine they would shoot very well in an early 0.375" bore revolver if they weren’t. I’ll have to look around to see if I have any spares to disassemble as I haven’t got a full box of the modern Remington ammo. That detail is what made me suspect their intended use was for .38 Special or .38 LC revolvers as you also mentioned.

I do not know if the factory inside lubricated bullets have hollow bases, as I have not pulled a bullet. It would be logical to believe they did, for use in the early larger-bore revolvers (just as inside-lubricated bullets used in more recent factory .41 Long Colt cartridges have hollow bases). My .38 SC reloads use 125 grain flat-base .358 lead bullets, and would be most suitable in .38 Special/.357 revolvers.

Drake, As to sending a question to the Remington factory I am a member of the Remington Society and collect Rimfire cartridges along with centerfire. Even using that a an opener several questions to the factory about rimfire ammo were answered almost like did or do we make rimfire ammo? Just read an article where when factory representatives were asked why American rimfire cartridges were giving such poor performance for target shooters the rep replied target shooters were a pain in the you know what and to buy Eley ammo if they wanted good performance!