I have had the 50 round box of .38 Special ammunition shown below in my collection for years. It is not the 130 Grain M41 Ball which is seen rather often. Instead, this stuff is 158 Grain Metal Clad with a head stamp of WCC 60.
I was not really sure what this stuff was until I read Jim Frigiola’s most interesting article on the USGI .38 Special ammo that appeared in the IAA Journal #501 in 2015. From Jim’s article I learned that this stuff was known as XM-142. The article went on to describe this ammo as follows:
Work was also done on a military loading of a 38 Special with 158-gr. FMJ bullet having the designation XM142, circa 1960. According to specifications the XM142 was loaded to achieve a muzzle velocity of 925 fps. This work was discontinued and the XM142 was never standardized. Cartridges fitting this description have been seen loaded by both Remington (RA 60) and Olin (WCC 60) in military style white cartons indicating 158-gr. Metal Case bullet. However, the nomenclature of “XM142” was not included in the printed label.
Volume III of HWS provided additional details at Page 4. The ammo was apparently an Air Force project intended “…to improve lethality at close and mid ranges.” (The USAF had moved to .38 Special revolvers and away from the .45 ACP M1911A1 pistol.) WCC and Remington both received contracts for 50,000 cartridges each. There are some differences between the bullets of the two makers.
HWS III goes on to report that in testing a high incidence of bullet in bore malfunctions occurred. The “lots were suspended pending malfunction investigation. The residual quantities were destroyed.” That should make the XM-142 ammunition to be fairly scarce, which has certainly been my experience.
Recently, a friend sent me the full box below. The only difference is that it has a lot number marking of “X3”. The head stamp is also WCC 60.
I am going to guess that the X3 lot was an early or experimental lot. It otherwise appears identical to the Lot 6008 stuff shown above.
One other thing I noticed was that while the 130 Grain M41 ammo was described as “Ball”, this ammo was not so described. I also have a box of the Remington XM-142 ammo. It does not use the term “Ball” in its labeling either. Does anyone have an idea as to why not?