Box of Remington .38 Super Ball cartridges


#1

I’m sitting here at our local gun show and am in need of information. I have spotted a box of .38 Super Auto cartridges made by Remington in what appears to be a military box. The box is marked:
50 CARTRIDGES
COLT, SUPER
CAL. 38 BALL
LOT RA 5001
REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY, INC.

The cartridges are headstamped REM-UMC 38 AUTO.

Can anyone tell me anything about when and for who this ammunition was made? Is the commercial headstamp correct for this amunition?


#2

Guy - a dear friend of mine, now departed, was an FBI Agent from the late 1930s until he retired in the 1960s, or thereabouts. He got me one of these boxes from the Bureau. He said that they had some .38 Super Colt Autos in the inventory and that he had seen some of this ammo around over the years. He could not confirm whether or not it was an FBI contract or originally made for some other agency, since the numbers of pistols about was small, and few of his fellow Agents knew their history with the Bureau, including him.

HWS Volume II, page 229, discusses Remington Lots 5000 and 5001 and mentions “procurement specifications for this type of ammunition required that the bullets be with full metal jacket, and as this was the normal commercial loading no special bullet needed to be developed for the military service.” Another line tells us “At least two lots, however, (Lots RA 5000 and RA 5001) made in 1945 were packed in special tan cartons…” The same paragraph mentions that “the ammunition was for issue to general officers who used side arms of these calibers.” That statement appears to be open to questions.

Douglas G. Sheldon’s fine book, the Colt’s Super .38, The Production History from 1929 through 1971," on page 93, discusses various Department of Justice deliveries of Colt .38 Super Pistols during the period of 1933 to 1936, including one specially noted to the F.B.I. in April of 1935. Many of the individual shipments are noted to be for the Department of Justice, or as having been shipped to the “Department of Investigation,” Justice Building, Washington D.C. Most of the shipments, even those with Agency not specified, were shipped to a Mr. Joseph Lorch, which would indicate that most of these shipments were for the Department of Justice, since his name is connected to those shipments as well.

Sheldon also discusses military purchases on page 107 thru 112. The story is too long to relate here. However, the major shipment coincides with HWS’s dates for the ammunition. Some 376 pistols were shipped to a warehouse of the Military Administration and Property Officer, in Rosslyn, Virginia. This was known to be an OSS facility. No documentation for their use, however, has been found by collectors according to Sheldon.

Importantly, there is no mention anywhere in the book about any use of the .38 Super Colts by General Grade Officers. It is clear that if a General desired one such pistol, it probably would have been procured for him, but again, Sheldon’s book does not chronicle any wide issue of .38 Supers for that purpose.

The ammunition is briefly discussed in a photo caption, the photo for which shows the Lot 5001 50-round box, but also an opened Spam Can for lot RA 5002, not mentioned in HWS II. The author mentions that he never encountered any lots other than 5001 and 5002, nor have I, so it would seem that the Lot 5000 mentioned in Woodin is not often seen.

The book “The Colt U.S. General Officers’ Pistol,” by Horace Greeley IV, mentions nothing about any procurement of .38 Super auto pistols of any make or model for General Grade Officers. It is true, though, that the practice of issuing a special pistol for General officers began during WWII, probably in 1944 as there are no records of such pistols before that time.

While I can give no definitive answer to the question opening this thread, I hope the above will be of some help. These white contract boxes from the period towards the end of WWII are interesting, and exist in other auto pistol claibers, such as .32 A.C.P. and .380 A.C.P, as well.
They also exist, of course, in 9mm and .45, but those boxes are far better known than are the ones for the “odd” calibers.

John Moss


#3

Does this box have the general appearance of the Remington .38 Special Tracer boxes with the lot number stamped on the front? Just trying to picture it as I don’t think I’ve seen a military type box for that caliber.

Thanks,
Dave


#4

Dave,
I don’t have a Remington tracer box at hand, but it is very similar to a 1960s Remington .45 ACP box. The printing is all on the top of the box, in the 5 lines that I included at the start of the thread. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it, but I had expected that I would be able to talk the seller down to a more agreeable amount.


#5

These boxes are plain white (buff) boxes with the various lines of information, as typed out by Guy in the opening of the thread, in plain black print on the top of the box. A typical Remington contract box from the 1940s/1950s era.

John Moss


#6

John Moss was kind enough to forward me a scan showing some Remington boxes including a .38 Super as discussed in this thread. I’m pleased to post it here per John’s suggestion.

Dave


#7

That’s the box, only John’s is in far better condition than the one at the gun show.