.38 Special cluster bomb discharge cartridge

I have seen this cartridge mentioned before, and seen a diagram of one. in C. Yust’s “Cartridge collectors Notebook”. I have also read in that book that is is extremely dangerous to attempt to fire one in a .38 Special revolver, due to the solid steel bullet the same diameter as the cartridge case. Can anyone provide me with a description of exactly what function this this cartridge performs, or a diagram of how it fits into the cluster bomb?

Depending on the exact type of cluster-bomb munition being used, these would have been fired after a time delay to cut one or more cables either holding the cluster-bomb outer shell together, or holding the individual cluster bombs to an internal frame.

Thanks, I understand now. For anyone who has C. Yust’s “Cartridge collector’s Notebook”. There is a drawing of this round on P.21 (Fig. 21). How common are these rounds, and how much do they sell for today over there in the USA?


There are several cluster bomb triggering cartridges, not all the same. The old Forum contained a discussion of them so keep an eye out for when we may be able to access those old threads. As to value - it depends on the specific cartridge and where you are buying it. Some cheap, some not so. The more common ones can usually be bought for no more than a couple of bucks, 5 at most.


Are these found in other calibres or .38 Special only? Are there any others that use cartridge cases intended for guns, or use specially designed cases? That is if there are any other calibres at all. Are these still used today? There must have been at least one case in the past of someone finding one of these and attempting to fire it, I presume the resulting damage to weapon and / or firer would not have been a pretty sight.


I’m far from an exspurt on cluster bomb adapters. The three that I have are all headstamped 38 Special but I’m sure there must be others. It’s interesting that even though they are headstamped 38 Special they are not all 38 Special length. One has a shorter CL and the other two are 38 Special CL. The M6 with the steel plug, is actually 357 magnum OAL. Because of the OAL the M6 can NOT be chambered and fired in a 38 Special or 357 Magnum revolver. The other two could, and probably have been. Whether or not they would result in damage to the revolver is hard to say. I’m not about to try it to find out.

Falcon–All of these types of cartridges come under the heading of CAD’s (Cartridge Actuated Devices). There are many different types for many different uses. Some look like cartridges, some don’t, like explosive bolts to seperate things like rocket booster stages, etc.

I was a weapons specialist in the U.S. Air Force during the Viet Nam war, working on mostly F-4 Phantom jets. We loaded bombs on what are called TER’s and MER’s (Triple Ejection Racks (3 bombs) & Multiple Ejection Racks (6 bombs) These both used an aluminium cartridge about 1 inch in diameter and 1 1/4 inch long to generate high pressure gas in what was called an ejector gun to a piston which punched down on the bomb to kick it out of the slip stream of the jet. Without this punch a 750 Lb. bomb can float beneath the aircraft until the jet slows down to land.
At that point, the bomb falls away, usually not where you want it to.

Another CAD was used in the ejection seat for the pilot. It looked a lot like .38 Spl. It was used to cut the electric cables connecting the seat to the airplane.

We had 25 lb. prictice bombs that used an aprox. 6 inch long, 10 gauge smoke marking cartridge to indicate where the bomb hit.

These a just a few examples of other CAD’s than the Bomb Cluster Release you have.

I don’t actually have one of these, I just wondered exactly what they were for, as I have seen pictures and heard them discussed in the past. However, I do have some .23 and .27 Calibre tool-operating (nail gun) cartridges. I suppose these come under CADs as well.

Yes, stud drivers are CAD’s. If you want to get into stud drivers, they come in a number of calibers: .22 Short, Long, Extra Long, WRF, WMR, .25, .27, 32 short & Long Rimfire, .38 S&W Short & Long Centerfire, .38 Spl., .44 Mag., and 45 Colt. There are probably others I have missed.

I just have a few live stud driver cartridges, as they are blanks and I can legally have them live. I found three strips of ten live .27 Cal rimfire Hilti cartridges on the ground quite near my house. I also got a few loose .23 Cal rimfire tool blanks from the bottom of the box for a stud-driver that someone was selling at a flea market. A stud-driver in .44 Mag or .45 Colt must be a pretty powerful tool. What sort of work would this be used for? I never thought of collecting them, I have just added the ones I have come across to my “everything else” section. I know there are also Cable Spiker tools that use a .44 Cal. centrefire blank, and the .45-70 Mine cable cutter blanks. Do any IAA members specialise in these CAD Cartridges? I suppose they make an interesting field that is overlooked by many. I have seen the recent thread on those Parker Ballistic Flarer tool rounds, which I guess are also in this category.

Here is a photo of 3 of the .45 Colt Stud Driver Cartridges.

Your right when you say these are very powerful. However, they do come in different power levels, usually indicated by different colored lacquer on the head such as green, red, yellow blue, black, etc.

One of the uses of the .45 Colt size in in a device called a SA-2 Press for clamping large steel cables together. There is also a Rivet Remover tool, a Pipe Press, Cable Cutter, etc.

The one in the picture with the long stud was for attaching things to steel I-Beams. It could punch through up to 1 iinch of steel.

The .45-70’s you mention were also use in a Rail Punch by the railroad companies for punching holes through railrod rails. And of course, there is always the Mk-2 Lyle Gun for line throwing discussed in an eariler thread. And a whole line of Harpoon Blanks.

I was familiar with the power level colours for these. I would like to see the tool that the third one goes in. Do those screw-thread like grooves on that third round in the picture grip the side of the hole it punches?

No, they are just threads. Normal use would be to use a large washer that stops the stud at the bottom of the threads. It doesent show well in the scan, but the stud has about 1/2 inch of kneurling just above the threads to hold it in the hole punched by the pointed part. After seating, the plain cylindrical part that connects the threaded part to the cartridge is broken off so a nut can be used on the threads.

Do you need any sort of special licence to buy those things? I know in the UK you have to go on training courses before you are allowed to operate them. Would those blanks damage a .45 Colt chambered Revolver if they were used in one, as with the cluster bomb cartridges, I bet one has been chambered and discharged in a reveolver in the past. I’m sure it wouldn’t do the revolver much good.

Well, I certainaly would not fire one in a regular revolver. I would never fire ANY stud driving cartridge in a regular gun. The lower power levels might be OK, but I am sure the higher levels, even in the .22 Rimfires, could take a regular gun apart.

Here in the US, no license is needed to purchase the cartridges. You do need a certificate from a safety course to use them.

I am surprised they make these in calibres that would even fit regular guns. It would be quite an easy mistake to make if someone was to find a box of loose cartridges and think they were simply blanks. Some of them even have headstamps of regular ammo.

Great answers on the Cartridge Actuated Device/Propellant Actuated Devices! Exactly what I would expect from apparently an old 462X0! I own a couple of these particular rounds: the first is exactly like a .38 with some sort of roll crimp over a sealing wad–nickeled case, headstamp, etc. Then the next one, encountered later in my career, is of aluminum construction, without headstamp, but marked in black ink like the “ARD” carts of the MER/TER ejector gun. These went to the ESCAPAC (sp?) ejection seat from an A-7, and deployed the drogue chute from the seat parachute when timed by an altimeter. These were constantly inadvertently activated, because any motion of the seat survival pack could allow it to activate, although nothing else in the sequence functioned. The most complicated system is the crew capsule from the F-111, which had dozens of CAD/PAD items, several of which never functioned even in a perfect ejection, since options for earth and water landings existed.

Taber10–Yup, 46250. Had a line number for 46270 when I got out in 1971. The ARD-463 was the normally used CAD for MER/TER systems. On the F-4’s the centerline bomb rack used a much longer cartridge in the AERO-27 bomb rack.

What would this CAD be used for? It is based on a .38 Spl. case.

Note the aluminum projectile, brass spacer, pyrotechnic train, brass mesh, brass spacer and powder charge.

[quote=“Ron Merchant”]Well, I certainaly would not fire one in a regular revolver. I would never fire ANY stud driving cartridge in a regular gun. The lower power levels might be OK, but I am sure the higher levels, even in the .22 Rimfires, could take a regular gun apart.

Here in the US, no license is needed to purchase the cartridges. [color=blue]You do need a certificate from a safety course to use them.[/color][/quote]
I suspect this is a matter of state regulation, as they are (or were a few years ago) readily available in NH without any such course. I bought the driver and power loads when building additions on two homes and no one said bupkus about any course or other requirements.