New .38 Super Competition by Eley

New .38 Super Competition (.38 Super rimless) cartridge made by ELEY Group Ltd., UK. Brass is Starline with ☆-☆ 38 SUPER COMP. headstamp.

Action-.38-Super-Comp-Major-TDS-1.pdf (2.2 MB)

In the description, why is the case described as a ‘rimless’ case?

What am I missing?

Jack, the .38 Super Competition is a modification of the .38 Super Auto having a rimless case instead of semi-rimmed.



That is what I presumed, but is it really, or, why is ‘rimless’ in quotation marks, like it really is not?

The .38 Super Comp is, by designation and measurement, a rimless cartridge. That is why it was given a separate name .

I don’t think anyone but the Eley employee who wrote their Technical Info bulletin referenced here could explain why he put the word Rimless in the text with apostrophes (they are not really quotation marks, but are sometimes used for that with quotes within quotes, which is not the case here). Note that in the table to the right, under the picture of the box, the word Rimless stands alone, with these marks.

John Moss

It’s interesting that this cartridge was developed by a UK company.

Almost all breechloading pistols were seized from UK civilian shooters by the government in 1997.

I can only assume it was developed for the American market.


The .38 Super Comp cartridge was not developed in England, but rather in the United States. In an attempt to make a .38/9mm cartridge meet IPSC Major Power factor, there have been a number of cartridges introduced. The order in which they were introduced is somewhat muddled but it is possible that the first effort at a Rimless .38 Super catridge was was named simply “.38 Super Auto +P Rimless,” the proprietor of which Was Matt McLearn’s Custom Machines, of Claremore, Oklahoma. Cases were made for McLearn by Starline, and headstamped " M.C.M 38 SUP.+P R " and it seems all theat McLearn’s sold were the cases, so they can be found with all sorts of bullets and primers, as all will be either from custom ammunition loaders, or home reloaders. Do NOT confuse the “M.C.M” headstamp with that of the Italian firm of S.p.A. Munizioni e Cartucce Martignoni, of Genova-Mollasan.

The cartridge named " .38 Super Comp" apparently originated with Starline, of Sedalia, Missouri in about June 1997. In 2001Lapua of Finland began marketing empty brass in this .38 rimless cartridge, but for reasons unknown, headstamped them " LAPUA .38 SUPER," adding to the confusion of this cartridge. Literature would indicate they planned to offer loaded ammunition in this caliber, but to date, I have seen none.

There have been others: 9 x 23 mm Devel, 9 mm Super Comp, a Starline cartridge they indicate is one and tghe same as Winchester’s 9 x 23 mm Winchester caliber. In 2000, Hornady announced the production of the .38 TJ, another minor variation of the .38 and 9 mm 23 mm case length cartridges for IPSC. They are Headstamp " HORNADY 38 TJ + being named for Todd Jarrett, and IPSC World-Champion shooter.

Again, its hard to pin down who was first with this .38 Super Rimless concept, except to say, of course, that while not loaded to the pressures of the modern rounds, the 9 x 23 Bergmann-Bayard and 9 mm Steyr predate them all by many decades.

I agree that it is odd that Eley should make this cartridge. Do they load any other auto pistol rounds? I don’t recall seeing any with ELEY headstamp made for decades. This seems a strange choice considering all factors to be a first auto pistol caliber choice to manufacture in many years.

John Moss

reference: “The 9x23 mm Rimless Pistol Cartridges,” by John Moss, Woodin Laboratory, page 14 thru 21.


In retrospect, when mentioning 9 mm BB and 9 mm Steyr as examples of 9 x 23 Rimless cartridge much earlier than the one in question here, I feel I kind of slighted John Browning.

In my opinion, I think we must mention the .38 ACP Cartridge as being the granddaddy of the .38 Super Comp, even though the former was semi-rimmed. The .38 ACP goes back to at least as early as February 1900, when UMC began to make this cartridge. There was certainly design and development, as well as tooling up for ;production for this round prior to that. It would certainly be safe to say it dates to sometime in 1899, at least.

John Moss

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My original post was badly phrased. I did not mean to imply that Eley developed the calibre. I thought it was an odd choice for them to load such a niche calibre as what appears to be their only pistol calibre offering. I assume that it would be difficult to even obtain permission here in the UK for them to possess pistols to test the loadings. They would need to apply for a “Section 5” license for prohibited firearms with permission from central government.

Eley has a “full bore” section on their website where the only cartridge listed is the .38 Super Comp. Everything else is various loadings of .22 Rimfire.

I would like to know if these have an Eley headstamp, and who is manufacturing the brass. The image quality is not high enough to be able to see the headstamp clearly. If they are Eley headstamped, it would be the first time in decades that the Eley name has been used on a centrefire metallic case.

My earliest reference for the .38 Super Competition is a price list/ad published in November/December 1996 indicating “Prices effective July 1, 1996”. It also says: “ATTENTION: IPSC Competitors using 38 Super+P, call for information and availability on 38 Super Comp.”. In the next bimester of 1997 (January/February) it is listed as a new product along the 9 mm Super Comp.

As stated in the first post, the brass is made by Starline with their headstamp on it.

Being a huge fan of Eley rimfire ammo, when this was announced, I just had to get a box for the collection. It has the same starline headstamp.

Thanks, I completely missed that the second time I opened the thread as it goes straight to the latest post.

Falcon - I agree completely with you. Considering they don’t seem to offer any other auto pistol ammunition, it strikes me, also, as being a rather strange choice, especially since I suspect a fairly large proportion of serious IPSC shooters use their own reloads.

IHMSA - Is this Eley .38 Super Comp actually available in the USA?

John Moss

Yes it is John, I got mine from my favorite source of Eley rimfire ammunition - Killough Shooting Sports, in Texas. They have a website under the same name and sell it by the box of 50 and case of 1000.

Thank you. Hope they have it awhile. Right now, with California law requiring ammo go to a dealer (may companies now will not deal with anyone in California), and my friend’s gun shop closed because of the “quarantine in place” we have here, I have no one to receive it.

I really appreciate the information, though.

thanks again.


US retailer:

They also have new .38 Super Comp. cases headstamped “ELEY 38 S. COMP”.

Their add takes credit for Eley developing and designing this cartridge. That is, in my view, false. I suppose you could say, like any company can with any caliber of ammunition for which they “designed” and “developed” the specific loading they are selling, but that is not the intimation in their hype about this cartridge.

I would be more interested in the cases only, with Eley headstamp, than ammunition loaded in cases with the Starline headstamp. However, for collectors who need one of a new commercial case in a caliber relatively few people shoot (meaning most cartridge collectors will not be loading this caliber, which would justify buying brass for the dual purpose of collecting and shooting), the price is prohibitive. The ammo is priced where even a collector could afford to buy a box, but the absence of the Eley headstamp makes this a rather uninteresting cartridge. A classic case where the box is much more interesting than its contents.

Edited only to improve wording and correct typos.

John Moss

Fede - thanks for the good headstamp picture.

You are always there with great information for all of us. Muchisimas gracias.


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