As the title says, I have a cartridge marked REM-UMC 38-44 SPL. Dimensionally it is identical to the 38 S&W Special. It has a CN bullet, and nickeled primer. I tried a search here but nothing came up. Any ideas? Thanks, Bruce.
38-44 was a high velocity load of the 38 Spl developed in the 1930s for use in heavy frame revolvers.
bacarnal–The Rem-UMC .38-44 was first listed in the 15 Jan. 1932 catalog and was last listed in the 2 Jan. 1940 catalog. It is not listed in the 1 July 1940 catalog. It was available in 158 gr. Lead and 158 gr. Metal Point loadings. This round was in many ways the forerunner of the .357 Magnum, introduced in 1937. By 1940 the .357 Mag. had largely replaced the need for the .38-44, so it was discontinued.
The S&W .38/44 revolver was called the “Heavy Duty” (or “Outdoorsman” with adjustable sights) and was a .38 Spl. on a .44 caliber frame. I think that model was made up until at least the 1950’s though I’m not sure when the specially loaded and marked ammunition was dropped. Check out Guy Hildebrand’s very nice web site for some interesting variations of this type of loading by other manufacturers. oldammo.com/pictures.htm
Went and looked at what scant material I have for catalogs from the era and found some interesting listings in the 1951 Gun Digest. The Smith & Wesson listing shows the “38/44” revolver for use with “38 S&W Special Hi-Speed” but no mention of .38-44 Special. The Colt listing shows the Official Police, Officers Model and the Detective Special (!) as suitable for use with “…regular and high speed loads, including 38-44”. Despite the 1940 date Ron indicates as the end of the .38-44 headstamped ammunition, the designation was still used here. Perhaps just an older, reused specification. Again, I don’t know when they stopped making special headstamps such as the “HV” and “HS” types. Does anyone know if these continued up until the advent of the “+P” era?
The ammunition section (not including Metal Piercing loads) shows Winchester/Western with a 150 gr. Lubaloy listed at 1175 fps and a “Hi-Speed” Remington/Peters listing of a 158 gr. lead bullet at 1115 fps for the “magnamized” .38 Special loadings.
Here is a .38-44 Rem-UMC I would guess is similar to Bruce’s item (and also included in Guy’s web article) and a WRA Super .38 Special with the metal point bullet that didn’t make Guy’s lineup.
These loads were intended to get as much velocity out of the .38 special case as could be gotten. As Ron pointed out, once the case was lengthened to produce the .357 Magnum, there wasn’t much reason to keep producing the specially marked high velocity cartridges.
Why make a target load for the 38-44? If it was for pushing the 38 itself? I have one with a recessed bullet with a WRA Co 38-44 headstamp.
That WRA Co 38-44 that you have is a completely different cartridge, made for use in a S&W No 3 target revolver. It was first made in 1886 and discontinued around 1915, about 15 years prior to the introduction of the .38 Special high velocity loads. The case on the .38-44 S&W cartridge was longer (~1.480" vs 1.150") and had a larger diameter (~.384" vs .376") than the .38 Special case.
As Guy said, the .38-44 S&W was a completely different round than than the .38-44 Special. The .38-44 S&W was made in two distinct loadings, the .38-44 S&W Target with a 146 gr. Round-Nosed Grooved bullet set flush with the case mouth and a .38-44 S&W Gallery with a 70 gr. deep set Round Ball.
Just to add to the discussion, a companion round was made in .32 caliber. The Target load was a 83 gr. Conical Lead, inside lubracted bullet and the Gallery used a 50 gr. Round Lead Ball.