Standard BLAZER (dot) 357 Magnum headstamp (second from right) compared to BLAZER (no dot) 357 Magnum headstamp (right).
Recently acquired ten Federal-made BLAZER-headstamped 357 Magnum cases. One had the expected dot before the 357, the other nine didn’t but all had the interior ring around the flashhole, a characteristic of Federal Cartridge manufacture. Is this a bunter error or something else?
To understand the difference, some background information is needed. First, the interior of early Federal Cartridge 38 Special, 38 Special HV, 38 Special +P, and 357 Magnum cases are pretty plain having no distinguishing characteristics. Later cases have a noticeable ring around the flashhole, such as that found in all Federal 40 S&W cases. Unfortunately, I’ve studiously ignored commercial Federal 38 Special/357 Magnum cases so I don’t know when that changeover occurred in their commercial cases. Their dated cartridges, however, before 1980 are of the plain interior type. About 1/4 of my FC 80 cases have the ring as do all subsequent dated FC 38 Special cases. So I figure the change to ring-around-the-flashhole occurred “about 1980.” That ring is one way to identify Federal as the manufacturer of cases such as Speer, CCI, Independence, and Blazer after “about 1980.” Another way is the dot before the caliber, as can be seen on the left three headstamps above.
Second, beginning before “about 1980” until the present, Federal has supplied the vast majority of SPEER-, CCI-, and I-; and all BLAZER-headstamped 38 Special, 38 +P, and 357 Magnum cases I’ve seen. Other suppliers of SPEER- and CCI-headstamped cases were Olin (Winchester-Western), IMI (Israel Military Industries) and Starline; plus PMC and perhaps Amron supplying SPEER-headstamped cases. Speer-made 38 Special, 38+P, and 357 Magnum cases are, in my experience, quite rare.
Third, quite interesting mixes of components can be encountered. Two boxes of 38 Special ammo I got are worth mentioning: each contained 50 Federal-made SPEER-headstamped cases with CCI primers in an Independence color scheme box with Speer lot number. Also worth mentioning is a picture of a Speer-made (dot) I (dot) case in Otto Witt’s Guide to 38 Special/357 Magnum Headstamps, something I have not encountered.
So I’m left wondering since Federal is making all the BLAZER-headstamped 38 Special and 357 Magnum cases anyway, why don’t they just drop the dot before the caliber?