Match grade?


What is match grade? Is it official or a marketing gimmick?



Match or Match Grade ammunition is generally ammunition that is loaded with specially selected components, sometimes by hand, and is tested against a specified accuracy standard.

Unfortunately, there is no law against labeling cartridges as Match Grade when they are not. I am not familiar with the Samson line (I believe it’s made by IMI) so cannot say whether their boxes represent the real thing or advertising hype. But I can say that a 357 Magnum +P cartridge is not generally one used in competition unless it’s a “police” type match where high powered ammunition is required by the rules.



Yes, Samson was a tradename used by IMI. If the manufacturers had any particular handgun sport in mind, it would have probably been Handgun Metallic Silhouette.


That’s a pretty heavy bullet for a combat .357. Do Handgun Metallic Silhouette competitions have any specific rules on bullet weights?


I have about a dozen “EAGLE” and “SAMSON” Brand IMI 9mm Para boxes in my collection, and only the earliest five say “Match Grade” on them. I suspect it was just Hype, and that they finally dropped it from their boxes. The ammo was very good and they really didn’t need that printed on their boxes for the ammunition to get a good reputation.

Regarding the loading from the box in question, I agree with Dan Watters. I can’t see what use a hot .357 load with a 170 Grain FMJ bullet, very heavy for that caliber, would be except for knocking down those steel animals at fairly long pistol ranges. It would be illegal for hunting most everywhere, and would have little self-defense application. If not factory intended specifically for Metallic Silhouette shooting, it should have been.


No, but momentum is your friend when you are trying to tip over an ~80 pound steel silhouette of a ram at 200 meters. If the target doesn’t fall, it doesn’t count for score.

.357 Magnum was marginal for IHMSA before the introduction of the ‘topple point rule.’ Previously, you had to move the target back along a length of rail before it could fall. Afterwards, the targets were set at the point where they could be tipped over with a solid, heavy hit. However, the less powerful the cartridge, you need to hit higher on the target to successfully tip it over. With a powerful enough cartridge, you can hit the target pretty much anywhere, including the feet, to knock it over. This is part of the reason why some IHMSA members use the SuperMag revolvers and even single-shot pistols chambered for rifle cartridges.


OK, I asked before what “match” ammo was. Now, what is “mid-range match”? Does the bullet hit the ground half the way to the target?


Firstly, the Wester Super Match .38 148gr Wadcutter ammunition is most certainly the real McCoy. It is match grade ammunition. I have fired literally thousands of rounds of it in both auto pistols (Custom Colt Govt. 6" barrel “Long Slide match pistol) and revolers with barrel lengths 2”, 4" and 6". It is extremely accurate out to at least 50 yeards. In fact, the handloader is hard-pressed to match its accuracy. When I was bullseye shooting, it was common practice, in matches (not jduring practice sessions due to expense), to shoot our handloaded .38 WCs at 25 yards, but shoot 50-yard slow fire with the factory match loads, of which in our area anyway, Winchester-Western was far and away the preffered round.

Regarding the definition of “Mid-range,” I had never thought about it. While not defined there, the 1922 Western Catalog has a note regarding their .38 S&W Special Mid-Range “Clean Cutter” round: Recommended for indoor mid-range work up to 20 yards." As mentioned, we now know that at least the fairly modern .38 WC is supremely accurate well beyond that range, but that may be what the term “Mid-range” alludes to.

The 11th Edition of the Western Cartridge Company’s “Western Ammunition Handbook” defines the term as “Mid-Range - Usually used with reference to trajectory, designating a point halfway of the muzzle and target, or point of impact.” The AFTE publication “Glossary of the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners by the AFTE Standardization Committee”, First Edition 1980, copies Western’s definition and adds as a second one “A reduced velocity, centerfire cartridge used principally in target shooting.”

Truthfully, none of these definitions really fully reveal the intended meaning of this term, in my opinion, but I can offer no other definition.


Vlad & John

I’m also an old pistol shooter but I could never afford to shoot factory ammunition so had to make my own. It’s true that it is hard to beat the accuracy of the factory Match ammunition.

To the question - Western sold 38 Special “Target” cartridges in 2 forms. What they called Full-Charge and Mid-Range. The Full-Charge cartridges were loaded with 158 grain round nose bullets and were recommended for the 50 yard slow fire stage of competition. The Mid-Range were loaded with the lighter 148 grain wadcutter (and a lighter powder charge) and were designed principally for timed and rapid fire stages that were shot at 25 yards. The lighter recoil of the Mid-Range cartridges supposedly made for more accurate rapid fire shooting.

I believe that Western also loaded the Full-Charge cartridges with the lighter wadcutter bullets but I’m not positive about that.

But, most shooters found that the Mid-Range cartridges were equally or more accurate, even at 50 yards, and the Full-Charge rounds were seldom used. I’m not certain when the term “Full-Charge” stopped being used but can say that by the late 1950s shooting was done almost exclusively with the “Mid-Range” ammunition. The great S&W Model 52 was designed around the Mid Range ammunition.

Having said all that, I can’t honestly say that I have ever seen a box of factory cartridges labeled as “Full-Charge”. I believe they were identified simply as “Match” or “Super Match” cartridges. But, not being a Box collector I could be completely wrong.



All right, and what kind of an animal is this? It claims to be a 1996 special. Why 1996? Any info?


Not postive on this, but I seem to remember that these were made for the Olympics shooting team.