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Picture Page

February 2008

An oddly marked bullet or two........

The grooved lead bullets on these two cartridges that I recently bought in a collection of British cartridges caught my attention because of the single slightly angled lengthwise groove that each exhibits. The one on the left is a .450-3 1/4" black powder express headstamped HOLLAND  . 450 . loaded with a copper tubed express bullet; on the right is a .500/.450 No 1 Express by Eley with a wood pegged hollow point bullet. I recalled seeing a cartridge with a similarly marked bullet several years earlier, which I had assumed was reload with a damaged bullet. Finding these two in different calibers with matching marks lead me to believe the marks were not random, but had been applied to the bullets with a purpose in mind. A quick look through George Hoyem's volume 3 of The History and Development of Small Arms Ammunition yielded two more cartridges with these bullets, this one a .500-3 1/4" headstamped 'HOLLAND & HOLLAND . '500 .' on page 64, and another on page 65, a .500-3 1/4" loaded for Holland & Holland by Eley Brothers with the Eley headstamp. Unfortunately, Hoyem makes no mention of the lengthwise marks in the text, but does say that these lead bullets with the multiple lubricating grooves on the exposed portion of the bullet were preferred by Holland & Holland at one time. After posting a question on the International Ammunition Association's cartridge collector discussion forum, which resulted in a couple more of these bullets tuning up in other collections, I was rewarded with what appears to be a probable purpose for the lengthwise grooves in a response from Pete DeCoux. He says it is believed that the purpose of the groove was to allow air to escape when these heavily lubricated bullets were seated in their cases. Sounds good to me. If anyone has ever seen anything in print from Holland & Holland or from any other company regarding the lengthwise bullet grooves, please let me know. 



An uncommon headstamp......?????

Here's one that surprised me. There was a discussion on the International Ammunition Association Cartridge Forum recently regarding a Federal Cartridge Company .45 Colt cartridge with a dash  between the 'F' and 'C' in the headstamp. I don't pay much attention to the modern headstamps, although my interpretation of 'modern' remains stuck around the mid-1950s. Rummaging around in my 5 gallon reject (empty or damaged cases, or too common to be of interest) bucket turned one of these up, surprisingly, which I have pictured here next to the standard headstamp. An opinion expressed on the forum was that the dash indicates that the cartridge case was made by some other company for Federal, and that it was quite rare. I'm clueless regarding this, so any information to support or refute this opinion would be appreciated. 



 .32 Colt New Police mid-range cartridges....


The Smith & Wesson .32-44 and .38-44 target cartridges are the usual American sporting pistol cartridges that come to mind when the topic of factory loads with deep seated grooved lead bullets comes up. One not often considered is the .32 Colt New Police mid range cartridge. In my collection, I have examples that were produced by three companies, including Winchester, Western and UMC, as seen in this picture. These will also be found with the REM-UMC headstamp, as they were listed in a number of their catalogs, but somehow I've managed not to find one. The low cannelure is a sure indication that these are original loads, but, as can be seen by the Peters example in the picture, not all can be counted on to have the cannelure. I suspect this one without the cannelure is a black powder or semi-smokless load. The two Western examples differ in their mouths, one of which shows an pronounced taper crimp. The two WRA Co examples have different cannelures, with the second being much deeper and wider than the first, and with squared edges. Other cartridges that will be found with deep seated grooved lead bullets include the .32 Merwin & Hulbert long, the .38 Smith & Wesson Special, and the .44 Smith & Wesson Russian.