.38 Short Colt

The .38 Short Colt (.38 SC) / .38 Short Center Fire (.38 SCF) was a heeled bullet cartridge intended for metallic cartridge conversions of the cap and ball Colt 1851 Navy Revolver from the American Civil War era.[1]

.38 Short Colt
Place of originUnited States
Production history
Bullet diameter.375 inches (9.5 mm) for original heeled bullets, .358 inches (9.1 mm) for some modern loads
Neck diameter.379 in (9.6 mm)
Base diameter.379 in (9.6 mm)
Rim diameter.445 in (11.3 mm)
Rim thickness.060 in (1.5 mm)
Case length.765 in (19.4 mm)
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
93 gr (6 g) LRN 791 ft/s (241 m/s) 165 ft⋅lbf (224 J)
129 gr (8 g) LRN 777 ft/s (237 m/s) 181 ft⋅lbf (245 J)
Source(s): Hodgdon Online reloading data

Later, this cartridge was fitted with a 0.358-inch (9.1 mm) diameter inside-lubricated bullet in the 125–135 grain range.[2][3]


Visually, it resembles a .38 S&W but the case dimensions are slightly different. The .38 Short Colt case is the parent to .38 Long Colt and .38 Special.

Remington is one of the few producers of this cartridge today with a 125grs LRN bullet. Magtech produces this grain weight and Ten-x manufactures a 95gr load, as well as blanks.

There is no problem firing this cartridge in .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolvers, but some shooters worry that the long bullet jump might make accuracy difficult. The "bullet jump" has not, however, been proven to have any effect on accuracy.


  1. Taffin, John (2005). Single Action Sixguns. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 37. ISBN 0-87349-953-0.
  2. Barnes, Frank C. (1997) [1965]. McPherson, M.L. (ed.). Cartridges of the World (8th ed.). DBI Books. pp. 64, 91. ISBN 0-87349-178-5.
  3. "Tab IV - Pistol and revolver cartridges". C.I.P. Archived from the original on 2013-10-15. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
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