.41 Extra Short Colt Centerfire

A group of cartridges were included in the Ward’s Collectibles Auction that just ended last night, described as unheadstamped US Cartridge Co .41 extra short center fire. This is a cartridge that I am not familiar with. As shown in this picture from the auction, these appear to be a .41 Colt single action short case loaded with a very short belted bullet.

I was unable to find it in my usually dependable references (Buttweiler, Suydam, Brandt, Logan), but did find it illustrated in the US Cartridge Co 1891 and 1908 catalogs, but was not in the 1881 catalog. Does anyone have any information on this cartridge/

Does your extensive database of UMC and REM-UMC information include anything on this cartridge?

Guy–I have the listing completed from 1865 to 1923 and there is no .41 Extra Short listed. Only .41 Short, S.A. and .41 Short, D.A. are listed.

Thanks. Looking in the few catalogs and books that I have reveals that Winchester did not produce it either. As the USC Co catalogs have separate listings for the .41 double action cartridges, the .41 extra short was apparently intended for a single action revolver, likely Colt’s New Line which was introduced in 1874. It was loaded with a 130 grain bullet and 20 grains of black powder, the same as Winchester’s .41 long center fire, but has a shorter case. US Cartridge Company’s .41 Short had a 165 grain bulllet and 22 grains of powder - is it possible that the .41 extra short was developed as a lighter alternative to the short cartridge? I’ll need to wait until I can get my hands on one of the cartridges to weigh the bullet and powder charge and try to ascertain if it was actually made by USC Co. I do enjoy a mystery.

I don’t know if I can be helpful,but Brandt reports " 41 extra short colt" as another name of the cartridge " 41 short,S.A.".He says it was listed in the 1875 winchester catalog

Pivi - The only .41 revolver center-fire cartridge shwon in the 1875 Winchester catalog is the “.41 Long.” whether or not this is the cartridge referred to by Brandt, I simply don’t know. There is nothing in the 1875 Winchester catalog that uses his terminology of “.41 Short Colt, S.A.”, or the word “Short” or “Extra Short”. The drawing in the Winchester catalog appears similar in proportions to the cartridge 392 in Brandt, but the bullet is not the same, nor again, is the terminology.

The .41 Extra Short is also not shown in the UMC manufacturing register, although several versions of .41 Revolver round are.

The 1879 Winchester catlog is the first to show two lengths of the .41 Revolver round. In that catalog, the cartridge previously shown as the “.41 Long” is referred to simply as the “.41” with no modifier, and a longer-cased round is shown as the “.41 D.A.”, the picture of which shows a bullet with a deep groove above the case mouth not present on the shorter round’s projectile.

I can find no mention of a .41 Short Colt S.A. nor of the .41 Extra Short up to and including the 1881 catalog, which is far as my time right now would allow me to go.

Guy et al

I’m wondering if the key is in the wording “Adapted to Colts Revolvers”. The 41 S. D. A. is usually loaded with a longer bullet but the ones you show have a bullet that is very similar to the short blunt bullet used in the 41 L.D.A. Could it be that the regular 41 S.D.A. cartridge was too long for Colt revolvers such as the New Line Models, and so a special loading was made just for them?? Or is it possible that some of the House Model revolvers were refitted to fire center fire cartridges.

Just a SWAG.


I failed to notice that .41 Extra Short Colt was listed among the synonyms for the .41 Short Colt, Single Action in Brandt. However, because of the very light bullet (130 grains rather than the 157 to 165 grains) that he lists and the lack of a headstamp that would show it to be one or the other, I question whether the .41 Extra Short should be included under the .41 Short Colt, SA heading. I don’t have one available to measure the case length, so I can’t say whether it is the same as the .41 Short Colt.

John & Ray,
I believe the only place the designation .41 ‘extra short’ will be found is in the US Cartridge Company catalogs. I suspect the boxes of these indicated they were .41 Extra Short cartridges, but I have never seen the box so can’t say with any certainty. I’d sure like to se a box. Also, I’d appreciate it if anyone with USC Co catalogs earlier than 1891 would look and see at what point this cartridge (.41 Extra Short) shows up, and what other .41 cartridges were listed at the same time.

Brian Clark sends his greetings and this picture of a beautiful US Cartridge Company .41 Extra Short box.

I’m surprised that they are for the Colt Model 1877 Double Action revolver. This makes Brandt’s classification questionable, at the very least. I suspect the RIFLE CARTRIDGES overlabel was to get around the tax on handgun cartridges that some Southern states levied, and had nothing to do with whether or not they were actually intended to be used in rifles.


I agree with your assessment of the “RIFLE” label. Some ammo exported to South America used the term “Rifle Ammunition” on pistol cartridge boxes as well, in that case to get around stricter import laws on pistol ammo in the receiving countries.

Erlmeier-Brandt is a good book - I have worn out my copy on metric pistol cartridges (Volume I), to the point is is held together with tape, and I bought an extra copy to keep one half-way decent. However, it is not without errors, like any work. Perhaps more than its share.

Brandt had a chance to correct many of the errors in the combined version - why he didn’t is beyond me. Regrdless, the basic work is a “must-have” for any ammunition or firearms library.

I checked White & Munhall (Pistol & Revolver Cartridges) and they have also included the .41 Extra Short as a synonym for the .41 Short Colt Single Action, like Brandt. Given that a box exists for the .41 Extra Short, wouldn’t a separate listing for the cartridge be warranted? Is there an ‘official body’ that makes such decisions?

And speaking of Brandt’s Volume I (metric), I have a copy in excellent condition that I’d be willing to trade or sell if someone needs it. For anyone not familiar with it, each page is devoted to a cartridge, with both German and English text giving dimensions, headstamps, and some history. As John said, its a good book and a must have for anyone interested in metric pistol and revolver cartridges.

Guy - I don’t know of any “official bodies” other than SAAMI and CIP, and doubt either of them would care about this. However, if the .41 Extra Short is in truth, a shorter case than the other versions of the .41 Colt cartridge, than I would agree it should be considered a separate case type and separate listing. Otherwise, what would be the sense in .38 Short and Long Colt, .32 S&W & .32 S&W Long, .22 Short, Long, Long rifle, etc., being listed as separate cartridges and case types?

When i case is only different becuase of a special purpose loading within a given caliber, or because of slight manufacturing specification differences, it shouldn’t be considered a separate case type, but even if U.S.C.Co. was the only company in the world (not saying they were - I have no idea) that actually made an .41 Extra Short, it is, without question as far as I am concerned, a different case type of dimensionally different from the others. I only qualify that because I am not a student of revolver cartridges, and am somewhat confused with the data given if it really was a shorter case, or was simply a different name given to the same cartridge that others made and called the .41 Short.

I don’t want to appear picky, but the .22 long and long rifle use the same case. Other examples are the 32 (and 38) S&W and M&H; the only way to really tell the early unheadstamped S&Ws and M&Hs apart is by the boxes.

Guy - you’re not being picky at all. My example was dead wrong! A mind f–t on my part, something that seems to be increasing with my age. When I was a kid, I had a little Winchester Model 1906 rifle that would only feed .22 Long, so I am really familiar with that round, aside from selling the stuff for a major part of my adult life. The concept of the bullet from shorts and the case from LR didn’t make for much of a cartridge. Another one of those cartridges that (if it were not for tube loaders) should probably have never had its own name. After all, there is no different in concept between a .22 Long and .22 Long rifle than between a .30-06 loaded with 110 grain bullets and a .30-06 loaded with 220 grain bullets, other than feeding through some magazines. There have been long-bullet match loads that wouldn’t feed through a magazine, but didn’t garner the cartridge a new name. They are both the same breed of cat with simply OAL differences due to the bullet length. Oh well, JMHO as the computer geeks say.

Good catch Guy.

I should have examples of this cartridge by Monday and will post dimensions and a better picture at that time.

I finally received the .41 extra short cartridges, one of which is shown on the left in this picture:

Dimensions are:

bullet - .408"
case mouth - .408"
base - .408"
rim - .440"
case length - .611"
overall length - .925"

It has a small rounded copper primer, and a high copper content case typical of early USC production. The dimensions of the case indicate that it is likely the .41 Short Double Action Short Case, rather than being a variation of the .41 Short Single Action, which Brandt as well as White and Munhall classified it as. I weighed the bullet from one of these at 126 grains; the standard bullet weighs around 160 grains. The bullet has a flat base.

The cartridge on the right in the picture is a .41 Short Double Action Short Case by USC Co. The cases of the two share very similar characteristics, although the headstamped example is slightly longer (.630") and does not have the coppery appearance of the other.

Thanks to Otto Witt for directing me to a picture of another of the .41 Extra Short CF boxes, this one published in the December 1980 issue of Gun Report Magazine:

The label on this one duplicates the other, and even has the RIFLE CARTRIDGES overlabel. Included in the picture is one of the cartridges from the box, which matches the cartridge pictured above. Also included in the picture is an insert from the box indicating the cartridges are target loads. This explains why U.S.C.Co. went to the effort and expense to load and catalog the .41 S.D.A. cartridge with a reduced powder charge and lighter bullet.