Copyright International Ammunition Association, 2006. All rights reserved.
Cartridge of the Month October 2006
The S&W Self-Lubricating Bullet
Specimen and photos courtesy of Paul Smith
The following information is based on a series of posts on the IAA website forum rcently.
This bullet was referred to as the Smith & Wesson self-lubricating bullet. It was based on D.B. Wesson's patent #499,487 of June 13, 1893 covers the lube holes in the ogive and a brass tube insert to hold the lube.
A 1903 Smith & Wesson catalog listed this bullet as being loaded in .32 S&W, .32 Long S&W, .38 S&W, .38 S&W Special, .44 Russian, and .38-44 (.38-44 Special?). There is also a .41 S&W experimental with this bullet. It is thought that the difference between the patent drawing and the actual bullet design as loaded is a result of the transition from the grooved outside lubed bullet (like on the early .32 S&W and .38 S&W) to the inside lubed bullet which has no groove exposed above the case mouth.
The first picture illustrates a .32 S&W with the headstamp of ‘U.M.C. .32 S&W’. Note the tube that holds the grease is made of steel, not brass as described in the patent. It functions as gas pressure forces the lead plug forward within the tube thus expelling the grease through the holes in the sides of the bullet..
This is a picture of a .44 S&W Russian with the headstamp of ‘U.M.C. .44 S&W.R’. The bullet shows no attraction to a magnet and might indicate the use of a brass tube. The hole in the projectile is one of 4 spaced equally around the circumference of the bullet.
References: With special acknowledgement to Guy Hildebrand and Gordon Martin who supplied the details.
Copyright 2006 by the International Ammunition Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Revised 30 September 2006