My thoughts on cartridge collecting thus far


#1

Some of you may recall that I am new to cartridge collecting. It was not that long ago that I knew absolutely nothing about the hobby, or ammunition for that matter. But it has been a fun few months and I have learned a lot (relative to nothing)!

When I started out all I knew was that I liked cartridges. They fascinated me. But I had no sense of direction as to what I wanted to collect. As I examined the specimens that I had on hand (not yet an official collection) I discovered that I had an abundance of .38 Special cartridges. So, I figured that my specialty would be .38 Special headstamps, but that I would continue to collect anything else I came across.

So far that has worked; I have about 80 different .38 Special headstamps. My collection so far is 186 cataloged cartridges (photo below) and I have probably another 50 that I need help identifying or still have no way to organize. I have finally acquired a caliper and I hope to begin cataloging more very soon.

Some random thoughts on my experience thus far:

  • I want to begin collecting large caliber handgun cartridges (.500 S&W, .50 AE, etc.) but they don’t fit into my storage trays so they are on hold until I get larger trays.

  • Also on my list to start collecting is the cartridge which goes with the beloved M2 Machine Gun: the .50 BMG. Again, I have no way to store them yet, but the real roadblock is cost. Most of my cartridges thus far have been acquired for the cost of shipping or for just a few dollars, so $5 or more per cartridge is high for me.

  • Just mentioning my new hobby sometimes elicits donation offers. A friend of mine at work gave me some old paper shotshells that belonged to his father after I told him that I collect. Also, my extended family seems very eager to pull a sample or two out of each box of ammo they have at home. This works great for me!

  • I seem content enough just picking up whatever I can, old or brand new. Even if it’s not officially collectible, all cartridges are just cool and worth having.

  • I have found a website that sells cartridges to collectors. For some reason I prefer to grow my collection ‘organically.’ That is, instead of buying them in a store, I like trading for them, receiving them as ‘gifts’ (AKA just pay shipping), or buying from individuals. However, I probably will eventually buy from the aforementioned site (say, to complete a series).

  • Acquiring trade fodder is not difficult! Rather it seems unavoidable. This is good because I’ll need it to get what I still want and need!

  • Some folks seems confused by this hobby: “You collect ammo for guns that you don’t own?” Yep. It’s a cartridge collector thing, you wouldn’t understand. Heehee.

  • Researching the cartridge is fun! There is so much I didn’t know I didn’t know.

Finally, my fellow cartridge collectors are really cool! Since joining the IAA I have been astounded by the support I have received from fellow members. I have been given many of the items in my collection from other members, as well as advice on various aspects of the hobby. I say “thanks!” to you (you know who you are) here, but I’ll leave out names to prevent blushing.

Thanks for reading.

  • Rich


#2

Looking good Rich.


#3

The variety of .38 Special boxes is tremendous. Go to small local gun show, they are a good source of .38 Spl and their boxes.



#4

Sounds like you are off to a great start. I started by collecting everything military and soon realized I would run into a serious space and financial issue. I then specialized in 7.62x39mm and over the years amassed a collection large enough and full of the commonly available, that eventually the only way to acquire new additions was to pay $20.00 or more per cartridge. My wife has tolerated my shooting and cartridge collecting hobby for going on 18 years now. Just wait until your signficant other says “you spent $50.00 on a bullet you are’nt even going to shoot?!”. I have met some very nice and interesting people over the years, but the advent of this forum has been the biggest boon to the hobby. There is so much good and interesting information here every day that I find myself being less interested in my old specialty and wanting to learn more about everything! Good luck!

AKMS


#5

Hi Rich
Great to have you on board as fellow collector & very glad you are enjoying your / our new hobby.
I might suggest you obtain a copy of Otto Witt’s book from Lew Curtis about the .38 Special. (names & etc. are in your IAA directory). It’s a super book and when you are at shows or just browsing a catalog/list/website/ or whatever, you can use it as a check or want list. It covers headstamp variations, gives some information about the company who manufactured it and even shows packaging.
As to the .50 BMG look up Ron Fuchs as he has an excellent CD covering that caliber, and even has notes about the markings on links.

As to storage try to find some old “Cardex” files (drawers are about 3/4" deep) they were once used mostly for inventory keeping, with hinged 5x8 paper cards which laid flat & could be flipped through to access the information. Remove the old card, hinge, and flap out, then put down some corrugated paper & you have a display cabinet.
For .38 spl. upright display, as you now have, works a treat as you can easily see and arrange (and re-arrange) the headstamps. You might want to use flat trays to display the 38’s which have uncommon bullets / case materials / uses.

PS My best advise - Get to a (any) cartridge show & BUY / OBTAIN BOOKS, not every answer is here on the web.


#6

Just a note about plastic storage boxes. There are plent of sizes out there. I recently bought 10 round plastic boxes for 50 BMG and also pistol boxes for 50 caliber handgun ammo and other boxes for 600 Nitro sized cartridges.


#7

What part of the world are you in Rich?
Over here in New Zealand most beginners that attend a cartridge collectors meeting
usually end up with more than they can carry in “donations”.
It was like that when I started out over 20 years ago, and its still the same today.
I had a meeting at my place last year and probably gave away as much as I swapped
because of the cartridges I gave to a new club member.
Pete is right about books, you get more enjoyment out of cartridges if you know what they are :)


#8

Thanks all, for the replies.

[color=#0000FF]I do try to go to as many guns shows as I can, especially since I am also a hoplophile.[/color]

[color=#0000FF]Wow. I suppose that I should be glad I have a long way to go until that day since I am currently poor :-)[/color]

[quote][i]I might suggest you obtain a copy of Otto Witt’s book from Lew Curtis about the .38 Special. (names & etc. are in your IAA directory). It’s a super book and when you are at shows or just browsing a catalog/list/website/ or whatever, you can use it as a check or want list. It covers headstamp variations, gives some information about the company who manufactured it and even shows packaging.
As to the .50 BMG look up Ron Fuchs as he has an excellent CD covering that caliber, and even has notes about the markings on links.

As to storage try to find some old “Cardex” files[/i][/quote]
[color=#0000FF]Thanks for the info. I will follow your advice![/color]

[quote]Just a note about plastic storage boxes. There are plent of sizes out there. I recently bought 10 round plastic boxes for 50 BMG and also pistol boxes for 50 caliber handgun ammo and other boxes for 600 Nitro sized cartridges.
[/quote]
[color=#0000FF]Thanks, rem. Yep, I have some shopping to do![/color]

[quote]What part of the world are you in Rich?
Over here in New Zealand most beginners that attend a cartridge collectors meeting usually end up with more than they can carry in “donations”.

[/quote]
[color=#0000FF]I’m in San Antonio, Texas, USA. I definitely DO plan on attending cartridge shows (I am already planning my SLICS trip!) but, unless I missed it, I don’t think there were any shows in my area yet (since I’ve been collecting).[/color]

Again, thanks all for the responses!