ORDCO .38? Now w/Pics

Interesting .38 SPL question. Here’s the link:

forums.gunboards.com/showthread. … post586585

Jon,you should copy and post here the pictures posted in the other forum because they can’t be seen by a no forum member

Here’s the original question, from a guy that goes by Fatelk:

"I’ve had a few of these for years. Like an idiot (long ago) I tried to fire one in my Dan Wesson .357. The aluminum piece lodged in the forcing cone and a reddish glow came from the cylinder gap for a second or so, as I recall.
The headstamp is “REM-UMC 38 SPL” with white paint over it. The markings on the side are “BER-LOT 1 DEC. 59 ORDCO B-4635-3"
The aluminum “bullet” and the small brass pieces are all precisely machined and stacked inside the cartridge.
I’ve showed them to a lot of people over the years, but have yet to find anyone who knows for sure what they were for.”

Jon, that is a really interesting specimen. I have no clue what it really is but have a wild guess. Could it be some type of safety cartridge that if fired is designed to lock up the gun? Kinda like the round John Moss wrote about called the, “SAFETY BULLET”, in Journal #460, page 33? Just a guess, I am probably way off :-)


I don

Yup! I was way off :-) You rule Pepper!


Thanks both. I did post for the guy that I thought it was some kind of tool or actuator round. Next step will be to try to get some!

well fellas I have the same round right down to the lot number and it is sectioned (by Paul). I will post the photo tomorrow. Send some of those folks over “here” (from that other Forum) and they will see a smattering of engine starter rounds (some sectioned) as well (they were guessing this round was an engine starter)

not sure what it is just yet…but we’ll find out…no question it belongs in my “CAD” drawer 9where it is currently filed)

Box pic:

Your box photo pretty much confirms it as a 1.5 sec delay (classic nomenclature for a


Can you explain the specific use for these cartridges?

I have no inside info on how these various “.38 style” delay rounds worked, (or better said, “what they did”) but suspicion would be such that the delay is part from a mechanical function (such a munitions “parting ways”), before the smaller round actuates “the next step”. I am getting more active in the “CAD world” and want to better understand the relationship/rational for an electrically primed vs a percussion primed round. (I have assumed that electrical primed rounds provided a level of security apart from the jostling an aircraft might subject a percussion primed round to…just speculation on my part). I have seen the mechanism of how the CCU-107/B impulse cartridge works under a F-18 to

The original Poster did say something about ORDCO being involved with Apollo re-entry systems. Could these rounds be used in a parachute release mechanism?

I only have a limited knowledge of these CAD devices. Those used in USAF aircraft are procured and managed by OO-ALC at Hill AFB UT. All these devices have a shelf life and they are bought in lots based on the estimate of the number that will be consumed and aged out over a period of time. The shelf/installed life of these cartridges will differ to some degree from one lot to another. Since these items must function 100% of the time, each lot procured includes enough extra CAD devices to be used as part of life survallence program where each year a number of the devices are tested ot confirm that the lot is still good. At the end of the shelf/installed life of a particular lot, the devices are all removed and destroyed.

In USAF aircraft, there are three common uses for the CAD devices. The ejection system (all the operations involved in the aircrew’s ejection seat including seperating the canopy and tightening the restrant harness to hold the aircrew member in the correct position (like pulling in the legs up against the seat) before the seat ejects, and moving any obstruction that may injure the aircrew (like stowing the navigator table on the B-47 before ejecting the navigator)). The ejection system includes the CAD devices that seperate the aircrew member from the ejection seat once they are clear of the aircraft. This is a complicated system with lots of CAD devices. In my experience, most time delay devices are associated with the ejection system. I have seen many of these devices and most of the current ones do not look like cartridges, but the older ones do and I remember a funny 38 special that was, I was told, part of an old F-86 ejection seat.

Other CAD devices are installed in all pylons used to carry weapons and other stores like fuel tanks. Normally the weapon or store would be released by the normal operation of the pylon hooks which hold the weapons. If these fail to release the stores, then the pilot can eject the stores and pylon by activating the CAD device in the pylon. This is a general statement and it operated differently on different pylons. I seem to remember that some early pylons (Korea vintage and earlier) used CAD devices to release the weapons.

The final general use is to fire the Fire Bottles that are part of the fire control system on an aircraft. Many aircraft (particularly multi-engine aircraft) have fire bottles which contain fire suppression chemicals, that can be fired and release the chemicals into the engine area to put out a fire.

There are other cartridge devices on aircraft, but in my experience they are all much larger than the small arms size we are talking about.

There are engine starter cartridges which tend to be about 30mm or larger. These are usually limited to the older fighters because they cause such a mess when used

There are flare and chaff cartridges used to decoy and confuse IR and radar tracking and there use to be large (75mm) flare cartridges used by the RF-4s in SEA for night photo missions. The RF-4 had two racks of these on either side of the upper fuselage about half way from the cockpit to the tail. Each contained about 20 or so flare cartridges whoch were like giant flashbulbs for low level night photo work. We use to take some of the fired aluminum cases and drill out the base and weld in a plate with a hole in it inside the case so it would hold a chaff cartridge of about 25mm. That way the RF-4s could fire a chaff cloud to confuse SA-2 missile tracking.

There are other uses, including things like firing a det cord that was used to cut a large hole in the side of the early AC-130 gunships so the gunners could escape in an emergency. I believe that there were CAD devices used to destroy classified gear on aircraft.

Some air dropped weapons also use CAD devices for things like opening the wings or whatever, or so I’ve been told—but have no first hand experience.

I suspect there are Army ground systems and Navy Ships which also use CAD devices.

A really obscure area, but very interesting. Somewhere I have a listing of all the CAD devices that the AF had type designated when I got a copy back about 20 years ago—boy time flies. Sadly, I don’t think there were any illustrations.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Lew

Lew, that was really interesting & amazing all at the same time. It is nice learning facts like this but to learn from such a distinguished and honored military hero like you who learned and used this information in real life just makes it that much better! Thanks big time!


Since there seems to be so much interest in this subject here the regarding manual: