Early .38 Spl. HV

Is this the box that would be for a “W.R.A. SUPER 38 SPL.” headstamped round with a metal point bullet? Found this picture on an S&W forum along with a catalog section showing a K3863T listing for a .38 Special 158 gr. MP Lead Bearing @ 1115 fps.

If this is the right box for the “SUPER 38 SPL.” headstamp, does anyone have an end flap view or anything that would link the K3863T designation to this round?

What other interesting “.38-44 Spl.” type HV items do others have that they might be interested in sharing pics of?


The box labeling indicates the cartridges were loaded with metal point lead bearing bullets - the metal jacket covered only the front portion of the lead bullet. These were often called metal capped bullets, and are usually recognizable by the lead being visible just above the case mouth. My 1933 and 1934 Winchester catalogs only show two catalog numbers for the Super Speed .38 Special, # K3862T for the metal point bullet and K3863T for the lead bullet. The attached picture shows a rather tattered lead bullet variation of this box, along with the cartridge with its W.R.A. SUPER 38 SPL headstamp. The flat nosed bullet would make this cartridge more like the .38 Colt Special rather than the .38 S. & W. Special.

I have two variations of the Super 38 Special .

The first has a round GM nose very much like the later military cartridge, and a purple primer seal. It is the standard metal point, lead bearing design.

The second has a kopper klad semi-wadcutter lead bullet. The case has only a very faint cannelure. It must be a later version of the Super 38 Special. ??

Nobody has mentioned one characteristic of these cartridges - the large primer.



Thanks for the info. Nice “mature” box. Even shows the headstamp! (nice if they all did that!) That end flap number works with the reference I have. I went back to that post on the S&W forum and it indicates the catalog to be from 1938. Listed as “Super Speed” .38 Special are:

K3862T (as you show) Lead 158 gr. @ 1115 fps
K3863T (as the box I showed?) Metal Point 158 gr. @ 1115 fps
K3898T Metal Piercing 150 gr. @ 1175 fps

If we assume the Metal Piercing load headstamp is the same, Ray’s SWC version would seem to make a forth variety of loading on the “SUPER” headstamp (possibly a later modification of your “Colt” bullet type keeping the same cat. #?)

And yes, Ray, the big primer makes it look old and “heavy duty”. Same cool look the early .357’s had…


Here is an image slide from my presentation done at SLICS showing the headstamp and box of the metal piercing version of the 38 Super-Speed variety:

Am I correct on the the 1934/1935 time frame?

I should have mentioned that I also have a 38-44 Special with fmj round nose bullet. Small primer. hs is REM-UMC 38-44 SPL. That hs dates it to 1931 - 1938.


The box in the first picture of the thread is great. thanks for posting it. In 45 years of collecting and 36 years in the retail firearms profession, I have never encountered that box pattern. I wonder if it existed in any auto pistol caliber? I have no specimen in any auto pistol caliber of a box of that pattern. I don’t collect revolver ammo boxes, but despite being somewhat senile and not too bright, I have a fair memory for basic patterns of boxes and headstamps I have seen, if not for the tiny details.

Thanks again for putting the picture up for us.

John Witt pointed out to me, thru his dad otto, that Giles book on Winchester boxes shows the style of box in the initial photo on this thread as having been printed and used only with the .38 Special caliber HV rounds.
I have that book and should have thought to look it up myself.

Thanks John. Like father, like son! What a great family!

Always found this era of “High Speed” .38 Special loadings interesting. Does anyone have a conical “Metal Piercing” load with the brass cased, large primer “SUPER 38 SPL” headstamp?. Or did the Winchester “Metal Piercing” load start out like the box and example shown by DK Configuration?

So far we’ve documented via this thread the Lead Flat Nose Plated, Metal
Point and Lead SWC Plated loadings for the “SUPER 38 SPL” headstamp.


Seems that is a rare Winchester box!


I think the REM-UMC 38-44 SPL is also a Metal Point bullet per another picture I found on that S&W forum.

These are copper rather than nickel nosed I have seen. Looks FMJ but I think the lead part starts down inside the case?


Remington produced a high speed 38 Special headstamped REM-UMC 38 SPL HS. I have two examples in the collection, one with nickeld case and copper full metal jacket and the other with brass case with a lead bullet.


That’s good information to have. I suppose I could pull the bullet partway to see, but it has a heavy roll crimp and I’d never be able to reseat and re-crimp and have it look correct. Maybe someone else has a spare or two and can pull and verify.

I have a 38 Special metal piercing exactly like DK’s. I also have, somewhere, a Western Ammunition Handbook that describes their entire line and I think the metal-piercing cartridges were introduced about that time period (1934-35). I’ve never seen a Super 38 Special Metal Piercing.

There was a thread on the Forum a while back that discussed the metal piercing cartridges.


[quote=“Ray Meketa”]I’ve never seen a Super 38 Special Metal Piercing.
There was a thread on the Forum a while back that discussed the metal piercing cartridges.

When you guys say “super 38” metal piercing, are you referring to the “super speed” line of .38spl having a particular headstamp different from the one I posted, or are you talking about 38 super auto cartridges which might have been metal-piercing? If you are talking abut whether or not there were 38 super cartridges that were metal piercing, then I have wondered this same thing based on a blurb from a July 2005 Guns magazine article by John Taffin titled: “The .38 Super Chief…” where a mention of such a cartridge is made, but I nor anyone else in this forum has ever seen one apparently. The forum post about the 38 super M.P. cartridge is here: http://iaaforum.org/forum2/viewtopic.php?t=3793r

DK is right on with his question. I was thinking of asking for clarification myself. I had never heard the term “Super 38” or “.38 Super” applied to the .38 Special cartridge. The sub-brand names “Super-X .38” and “Superspeed .38” yes - but “Super” standing alone, no.

Referring to the year-old thread, I still have never seen a metal-penetrating (by factory specification or appellation) for the major pre-war manufacturers, only from the various smaller post-war companies like KTW. The fact is, the .38 Super FMJ round probably does a better job of penetrating non-armor metal than many calibers, as it is, simply due to velocity/bullet weight.

Who produced a .38 Special round with the headstamp “SUPER 38 SPL” alluded to earlier on this thread? Does it really exist. I have never seen one, but then, I don’t collect that caliber. Did the poster actually mean “SUPERSPEED 38 SPL” or “SUPER-X 38 SPL”?

DK & John

We are talking about cartridges with the headstamp WRA SUPER 38 SPL. They were HV cartridges with a large pistol primer. Go back and look at Guy’s photos. The 38-44 SPL was another of the HV cartridges.

John, I’m not clear what you meant when you referred to a major pre-war manufacturer not having made metal penetrating cartridges. Big W made three Metal Piercing cartridges in the mid 1930s, the 38 Special, 357 Magnum, and 45 ACP. I’m sure you are aware of these so you must be referring to something else?


Here are the various Remington bullet types for Pistols and Revolvers from the 1949 catalog. Note the differences between Metal Point, Metal Case and Metal Penetrating.

The Winchester/Western Metal Piercing bullet was of different construction than the Remington. It had an extra heavy GM nose over a lead slug. DK’s photo shows the 38 Special.


Ray - John was referring to the 38 Super only, saying that there were none made as metal-piercing or armor-piercing variants at a commercial level pre-war, but there was post-war production such as KTW for 38 super (auto). I see what you mean now anyway about the headstamp and type. I have only seen the metal piercing Super-speed 38spl with the headstamp shown in the photo that I posted and I don’t know of other headstamps for it. I like the Remington bullet description for their metal piercing type: “for stopping bandit cars”

This is from the Western Ammunition Handbook of 1937:

The ability of “red-hots” to make quick getaways in fast automobiles because older cartridges available to law enforcement agencies did not give sufficient metal penetration led to the development of Western Super-X Metal Piercing cartridges. With this ammunition, police officers now can “turn the heat” on the hoodlum. The deadly effectiveness of these cartridges has been definitely proved by police in actual combat with dangerous killers."

Remington first listed the Metel Penetrating loads in 1939 in .38 Special and .45 ACP. They were listed as:

.38 Sp’l, “Hi-Way” Master, Metal Penetrating Bullet, Kleanbore with 110 gr. SPECIAL BULLET (#R260)

.45 Auto, Hi-Speed “Hi-Way” Master, Metal Penetrating Bullet, Oil-Proof, Kleanbore with 173 gr. SPECIAL BULLET (#R398).

The SUPER 38 SPL headstamp definately exists, as can be seen in the second box picture above. Note that this headstamp is on the illustration on yhe side of the box, as well as on the cartrige pictured with the box. Winchester listed it seaparately from the ‘regular’ .38 Special in their catalogs .38 Special Super Speed (Lead or M.P.).