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Old August 23, 2012, 04:18 PM   #1
Bob Wright
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Old cartridge boxes..........

In our discussion of the .45 "Long" Colt a poster noted that the cartridge boxes of yesterday were for fewer rounds than the fifty round box we are so accustomed to today. Never really gave that much thought until that was mentioned. But, in my earliest scrounging for my cartridge collection, I ran into old hardware stores where I found old boxes of cartridges partially filled. Why?

Many folks in those days kept an old Colt or S&W revolver in a bedside table, for home protection. They weren't shooters nor gun savvy, just enough ammunition for home defense. And, during hard times, why buy fifty rounds?

Many of these old time hardware stores broke open a box to sell six or twelve loose rounds, much the same way grocery stores sold loose cigarettes. In the 'Sixties and 'Seventies, I found partial boxes on shelves of such rounds as .41 Long Colt, .44 Russian, and .44 Webley. (You won't find them now, at least not in my area.)

The Army issued handgun ammo in twelve round packages. The old line Cavalry officers emphasized that the carbine, not the revolver, was the arm of the cavalry.

During my brief Army service, .45 caliber ammunition was issued in fifty round boxes, with two sets of half moon clips, most from Lake City Arsenal.

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Old August 23, 2012, 04:46 PM   #2
Mike Irwin
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The fifty round pistol box and the twenty round rifle box were established as pretty much universal by the 1880s.

Smaller and larger boxes were available from various manufacturers in certain cases much as they are today.

Military cartridge packs matched both prevailing tactical theory, equipment available at the arsenal and the requirement for ease of packing and transport.

Twelve round boxes of military revolver ammo equaled two loadings, one in the gun and one in reserve.

Later, around the time of the adoption of the .38 Long Colt, the military began packaging ammo in 20 round boxes. Three loadings plus two spares.
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Old August 23, 2012, 04:49 PM   #3
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When I was a puppy,,,

When I was a puppy (late 50's-early 60's):

The owner of the Ma & Pa gas station (before 7-11's were invented),,,
Would sell us .22 ammunition 5 rounds at a time,,,
He charged double for the ammunition,,,
But a dime would buy me 5 shorts.

During WW-II and the Korean Conflict,,,
My Pop said the hardware store would sell ammo (any kind) by the round.

It wasn't that ammo was so expensive,,,
It was simply hard to come by.

Aarond

.
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Old August 23, 2012, 04:52 PM   #4
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This box is from about 1885-1890. It's clear that Winchester, by that time, had adopted the 50-round box.




This is an extremely early box, probably made between 1865 and 1870. It's a 25-round box. But, they are specialty cartridges, not unlike the "short boxes" of specialty cartridges available today.

At the same time, American Metallic (before it became Phoenix around 1876) was also packaging cartridges in 50 round boxes, as seen in the second picture.





Judging by the list of powders that might be loaded in the case, these rounds would have been loaded probably between 1876 (Centennial rifle, the Model 1876 Winchester) and 1885.

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Old August 23, 2012, 05:28 PM   #5
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Great pics Mike...you've been hiding your light under a bushel on this topic...let's see some more. Rod
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Old August 23, 2012, 06:37 PM   #6
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It has no real relation to this thread (and isn't nearly as old), but everyone likes cartridge box photos:



Obviously, 1955+.
.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg lubaloy_800.jpg (141.7 KB, 234 views)
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:10 AM   #7
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Not my pix.

I've tried very hard to stay away from collecting cartridge boxes. They require special storage and handling.
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
I ran into old hardware stores where I found old boxes of cartridges partially filled. Why?
In days of old, when common people had very little cash, the hardware stores would sell cartridges per each. Thus, the partially filled boxes.
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:40 AM   #9
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I may have been the poster who mentioned the small boxes.

I notice in one of the nice photos the term ".38-100." That's a new one on me. The same box also says "solid head." I had been under the impression that so-called balloon head cases lasted longer but maybe the box is newer than I think.

I believe I've seen a photo of boxed muzzle-loading cartridges for revolvers, six rounds per box, Civil War period almost certainly, but I don't remember the markings. It was in a book that had lots of photos of things from the Cody Museum. There were a surprising number of cartridges and boxes included in the layouts as well as a lot of gun we don't think a lot about these days, like Derringers of various types.

Skeeter Skelton mentions in his writings of the willingness of stores to sell individual cartridges during the depression. My father, when we visited his relatives in Carroll County, Virginia, would always pay someone for the ammo when they dragged out some gun that I was allowed to shoot, which usually happened. That's where it all started for me. He insisted on paying because he "knew what it cost."
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Old August 24, 2012, 09:01 AM   #10
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You'll see the .38-100, .41-100, and such convention on old, old boxes. It largely died out, it seems by 1885.

I'm not 100% sure why they indicated the cartridge's caliber that way.

The entire "solid head," "balloon head," etc., confusion was explained in another recent thread. I believe Bob posted it, and gave a couple of descriptions that I had never heard used before. I'll see if I can dig it up unless he gets here and talks about it first.

IIRC, these WERE balloon head cases, it's just that the rim was a solid disk of metal as opposed to the previous method of forming in which the head and rim were folded, creating a non-solid-head centerfire cartridge.


"I believe I've seen a photo of boxed muzzle-loading cartridges for revolvers, six rounds per box, Civil War period almost certainly, but I don't remember the markings."

You have. Colt's manufactured "cartridges" for their revolvers starting before the civil war.

You can see two examples here:

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ch&um=1&itbs=1

There were two common types that were marketed. The first used animal intestine, the second used a "skin" of collodion (sp?).

When they were rammed home the "skin" would rupture, allowing the cap to ignite the powder.

As can be imagined, these were pretty fragile. But, they tended to be relatively waterproof (especially the collodion ones) and they were handy.
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Old August 24, 2012, 09:04 AM   #11
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OK, here's the thread that discussed the different kind of case heads.

Or at least one of the threads.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ght=solid+head
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Old August 24, 2012, 11:40 AM   #12
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The "38-100" etc. was just a different way of writing "38/100", or .38. Early cartridges were referred to "thirty eight one hundredth" at times, or simply "thirty eight one hundred." I remember my Dad talking about a man who had a deringer taking "Forty one hundredths rimfire" cartridges. Only he said "cat-ridges".

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Old August 24, 2012, 11:55 AM   #13
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I know what its purpose was, but I don't know WHY it was used, given that it wasn't used universally, either by one company or all manufacturers, its use wasn't restricted to certain types of cartridges (only, say, rimfires or centerfires), and it was being used at the same time systems of nomenclature, including the one that has survived to this day (i.e., caliber company/descriptive name).

I would love to know where it originated, why it originated, and even with whom it originated.
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Old August 24, 2012, 12:26 PM   #14
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Ah-ha! (The Ah-ha moment). I had been thinking the .38-100 referred to the bullet weight, which would probably have been on the very light side even for a breaktop .38. I also realize early advertising was sometimes both less than precise in the description and slightly exaggerated sometimes (cures all ailments man or beast). But I suppose current advertising isn't much different. One might also note that, apparently, early cartridges came in one load for each different cartridge, all round nose lead.

The photo I am remembering, not necessarily too clearly, shows the loaded non-metalic cartridges in what appears to be a fairly sturdy container but only for six rounds. I couldn't say what the cartridge was made of but I had probably assumed paper. British .38-200 issue revolver ammunition also came in little six round "packets", two of which fit a web ammo pouch.

I don't think I ever saw any issue pistol ammunition while I was in the army.
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Old August 24, 2012, 12:53 PM   #15
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"I had been thinking the .38-100 referred to the bullet weight, which would probably have been on the very light side even for a breaktop .38."

Nope, but given the other nomenclature systems in use at the time, certainly not an unreasonable thought on your part.

Or, in the most common system, 100 grains of powder, a la .45-70. Normally it was the third number that was bullet weight, and SOMETIMES there was also a 4th, the cartridge case length.


"British .38-200 issue revolver ammunition also came in little six round "packets", two of which fit a web ammo pouch."

I THINK that the British packaged the .380-200 in a number of different boxes over the years, depending on who was making it.

This is a 12-round box. I don't know how the cartridges were packaged, inside the box, but they may have been as you describe, two individual packets of six.



Somewhere in my collection I THINK I have a Canadian-manufactured box of .380-200, and I THINK it's a 24-round box.


At this site, though, about midway down, there's a very interesting look at a box of Canadian-made ammo, which is packaged loosely.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ch&um=1&itbs=1

I'm going to have to go looking for that box tonight. I THINK I know where it is.
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Old August 24, 2012, 01:13 PM   #16
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Here's a little different type of cartridge box, no doubt for .22 ammo. Can anyone shed a little light about it?





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Old August 24, 2012, 01:39 PM   #17
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My comments on the packaging of the .38-200 British service cartridges were based on a photo of two such packets inserted in a pouch. The bullets were placed in the box in alternating directions. No doubt there were packed in other ways over the ears. I've seen photos of .303 rifle ammo in paper wrapped packets of (probably) five or ten rounds (couldn't tell and don't remember) that was tied up with string.

Memory is not particularly trustworthy, or at least mine isn't. In the army, the 7.62 rifle ammo came in stripper clips. You use it with an adapter to load your magazines for the M14. And that's absolutely all I remember about it. I don't remember the ammo cans or if there were bandoliers or what. But I guess it isn't important now.
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
I don't think I ever saw any issue pistol ammunition while I was in the army.
Blue Train


WOW! I did! For the Old Man's M1917, Exec's, platoon leaders, radio operaters, machine gunners M1911A1s, squad leaders and/or ass't. squad leaders M1 or M3 submachine guns, all taking .45 Auto cartridges. Good bit of it was tracer.

Most of our sub machine guns were the M3 "grease gun" but we had a few M1s show up once in awhile.

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Old August 24, 2012, 10:07 PM   #19
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Bob and Mike,

Last year, at a gun show, I ran across a full box of .38 S&W cartridges, Martin primed! I was unaware that Martin primed ammo was made outside Frankford Arsenal, but obviously I was wrong. Do you know who else made it or in what calibers? (The box said "made by Smith & Wesson" but I doubt that was actually true.)

A couple of other comments. In U.S. service, 7.62 NATO was issued in 5 round clips, two to a bandolier pocket. The end pocket held an adapter (called a "spoon" by at least some GIs) to load M14 magazines off the rifle. The M14 magazine could also be loaded on the rifle, using the clip guide built onto the rifle itself. Those clips, BTW, will not work right in the Model 1903 or Model 1917.

In the British service in WWII, the normal issue for the revolver was 12 rounds, with another 12 rounds in unit supply. That, it seems, was that for the war; they seem not to have considered the revolver a combat weapon. No wonder some of the troops armed with the Enfield or Webley .380 staked the rims of 9mm so they would have something to shoot.

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Old August 25, 2012, 08:32 AM   #20
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I have, over the years, heard rumors of both Benet and Martin priming being used commercially in the US. I have never seen any such ammo so loaded, though.

I can't imaging much was loaded commercially for either system.

The biggest reason for it not catching on commercially is that development of brass deep drawing seems to have progressed much faster on the civilian side of the house while the US military went a lot slower and stuck with copper cases longer, and it was very problematic getting boxer priming to work with the soft copper cases.

The military stayed with copper cases well into the 1880s, while commercially it seems that brass was being used almost universally in the 1870s for everything but rimfire ammunition.
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Old August 25, 2012, 08:35 AM   #21
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That Remington Palma ammo box was likely one of the give away items that various companies made for advertising purposes.

The interesting thing is that I believe the Palma match has always been a high power center fire match.

Palma match may have been a type of Remington march ammo though.
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