SLICS .458 Lott

I love the variety I sometimes find in auction lots. I got this at one this weekend. Who decided that what the world needed was a overcharged .458 Lott? Thanks for the warning, I was going to shoot this in my Contender! Note 2mm rimfire for size comparison.

Nice! Must be a B.E.L.L. special. It would figure that would be around the year I didn’t make the show…

Is that a real cartridge?? I thought the Show cartridges were dummies, for looks only.

I think I would feel a lot better knowing that ANY rifle that I shoot has been proofed. Even those big Navy guns that I worked with in my salad days.



Here’s the story of the SLICS .458 Lott. I took over the Chicagoland International Cartridge Show in 1989 and ran the last show at the Drake Oakbrook Hotel. The hotel’s ownership changed and to make a long story short, I moved the show to St. Louis.

I needed a show souvenir dummy cartridge, so I asked Jim Bell, MAST Technology (earlier BELL; Brass Extrusion Laboratory, Ltd.), what he was making at the time, which was the .458 Lott. Using this round would avoid having to start up a separate production run. Making the 200 or so dummies was easy. Jim had a new headstamp bunter made (very expensive) and just ran the cases as part of normal production. Since I wanted dummies, I asked Jim to insert wood rods in the empty cases and keep the primer pockets empty so the cartridges could be instantly identified as dummies. You can see the wood through the flash hole.

Then, we decided to get fancy with a very few rounds. I have an IAA buddy who really likes color codes, so I asked Jim to load up a handful of live proof rounds with the SLICS headstamp and flashy color codes. I gave a couple of these away and sold the rest to try to recoup some of the project’s cost.

Your specimen is an absolutely genuine proof round and is a very rare variation with a total production of well under 20. Obviously, the S.L.I.C.S. is for the St. Louis International Cartridge Show and the 99 is for 1999. There’s some controversy about the M at nine o’clock in the headstamp. I say it’s for Mel, but Jim Bell says it’s for MAST. Take your pick.

Hendere, I’m not trying to hijack your thread but Mel’s answer leads to a bigger question, for me at least, and I’m sure you’d like to know too.

Exactly, or even approximately, what would such a limited production cartridge be worth??? I’m sure all of us have something similar in rarity, whether it’s an experimental or even, gasp!, a wildcat.

I know that we have danced all around this question more than once. Is there an answer??



I haven’t danced around the issue of cost/value at all. I’ve made, or had made, 10 of the series of show dummy cartridges and a few live variations, plus the ICCA .416 Rigby and the ICCA 5.56 folded set. I decided early on that the cartridges had to be dummies for any number of reasons.

Jim Bell has been a great help with these on more than one occasion. Still, the headstamp bunters are expensive, but are required for a first-class show cartridge. Later, I used computer-driven lasers to engrave the sides of a blackened case (.30-06 in 2006, the round’s 100th anniversary) and the headstamp on the .22 LR dummies. An industrial laser cuts right through the blackened case and the result is precise gold (brass) letters and numbers against a black background. The little .22 is my favorite show round.

Most of these cost about $5 each to make with the descriptive insert I did and the plastic bag. I generally sold extras for about $7.50 each to help offset costs. On more expensive rounds, I’d charge about $12.50, always trying to make 2-3 bucks each. The live .458 Lott proof rounds were a lot more expensive since we were dealing with SAMMI standards, propellant, primers, and several highly-paid machine operators. As I recall, I charged $25 each for the fancy proof rounds and sold out almost instantly. Wish we had made a few more. $25 in 1999 is about $33 today. In my opinion, they are “worth” $30-50 now. But…the only way to know for sure is to put one in a well-advertised public auction with no reserve and see. Maybe I’ll do that at next year’s SLICS live auction Friday night that will benefit the IAA and is being run by the IAA under the leadership of Will Adye-White. Might be fun to see.


I couldn’t ask for a better estimate of value than that. I would have guessed $20 to $30 so we’re not far apart. It would be interesting to see what one would fetch at an auction, even though auctions are not the best place to establish a value on anything.

They sure are purty! That has to be worth a few extra bucks in itself.


Wow! Great info! Thanks Mel! The pricing info is welcomed also. I will consider the “M” to be for Mel. The same baggie of stuff this came in also included one of the 22 LR rounds you mentioned. Great stuff! Please see my 416 Rigby post for another round that came in this lot and also has an “M” in the headstamp.

Man, it would figure I find out about this AFTER I decide to get into proof rounds!!!

If anyone should have one of these they’d care to turn loose of, PM me!