1930 Western 270 Win box made by Winchester

At the recent Pennsylvania Cartridge Collectors Show, I saw this box of Western-brand 270 Winchester primed cases.

With callout only for Winchester’s Model 54 – production of which started in 1925, then superseded in 1936 by the Model 70, which isn’t mentioned – production should be in the 1925-1936 period.

Given the probable 1926-1936 time frame, the Western-format lot number DF50 equates to 5 June 1930. But this lot number has the leading A, which indicates Winchester manufacture for Western even before bankrupt Winchester was acquired by Western’s owner Frank Olin in 1931. Additional examples of Winchester production with Western labels can be found on primers from the early 1940’s to early 1950’s.

The top two Western-format lot numbers on Western-labeled boxes were produced by Winchester as indicated by the embedded A. BL8 equates to 8 October 1948, EG21 equates to 12 July 1951. The bottom Western-format lot number – without the A – I believe reads 2 YB31 L48 and equates to 13 February 1947 – the earliest Western primer box I have showing the L number, which probably indicates batch number of primer compound. All subsequent primer production at East Alton, IL, has the batch number incorporated into the lot number. Winchester/New Haven, Connecticut, production did not have the “L” batch number.

The fact the box mentions non-corrosive priming puts the earliest date at something like 1928 and the fact the patent was still pending suggests not much after that date. Jack

d’Artagnan, I have a Winchester 9mm box from April 1931 with the A prefix, so made by Western. I suspect talks had been going on for a while before Olin bought Winchester, and a bit of confidence building so am not surprised that there were some crossover before the formal purchase.


U.S. Cartridge Company was purchased by Winchester in 1926 and its equipment shipped from Lowell, Mass., to and installed in New Haven, Conn., in 1927. This USC primer box, unambiguously dated JAN 11 1935, advertises patent 1825466, granted in 1930, for non-corrosive primer compounds made with fulminate of mercury.

So before non-mercuric, non-corrosive primers; there were just non-corrosive primers – another way to approximate manufacture date.

Be aware that non-corrosive non-mercuric and non-corrosive mercuric primers were made concurrently in the U.S. for many years. Jack

Specifics please. Company names, dates, pictures. I ask because I’m currently going through hundreds of primer boxes and tins looking for patterns, generally and by company affiliations like Winchester/Western/USC and Remington/UMC/Peters/Savage/Robin Hood. I haven’t encountered concurrent mercuric/non-mercuric production, but perhaps I just wasn’t looking for it. One of the things I’ve noted, for example, is this USC primer box.

Not only does this USC non-mercuric/non-corrosive primer box use the Winchester numbering system (115 large rifle, now called 120 WLR), but instead of a lot number/date printed on the side, it has hard-to-see dots punched out on the back (undeciphered by me but undoubtedly the lot number) like pre-1928 Winchester primer and ammunition box labels, and late 1930’s to early 1950’s Winchester-labeled/Winchester production primer boxes.

I have a question. Winchester designed the 270 and they classified the cartridge as 270 WCF not 270 Winchester. The barrels on their rifles were marked with the WCF marking till 1950, 25 years after its introduction. My question is, when did Winchester start marking their ammo boxes with the Winchester name instead of the WCF.

I think the prevalence of non-corrosive mercuric primers may be greater than it seems because in the early years of the non-corrosive era at least some makers used mercuric primers in their loaded ammunition but sold only non-corrosive primers for handloaders. Where I picked this up I am not sure; perhaps it was in Sharpe’s Complete guide, perhaps in some issue or another of the Rifleman in the 1930s. Maybe Naramore; certainly he spoke at length on the baleful effect of mercury on fired brass. Jack

Winchester marked their boxes 270 Winchester right from the first. However the headstamp shown is a “WCF”. See below.
This one has the Cummings dot-date code [right next to the cartridge illustration’s head] which likely makes an early ca. 1930’s 2nd variation of the first box as otherwise it is the same as Ray Giles & Dan Shuey show as the likely 1st box. See pg 256 of One Hundred Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes.

Earl Naramore’s Handloader’s Manual, 1937 edition, is my source. In his Primers chapter he states that at that time (probably 1936) most ammunition produced by American makers used mercuric primers but all the primers sold as loading components were non-mercuric (save, I think, for a specifically identified group intended to loading match ammunition). He said the continuing preference for mercuric primers was because the fulminate added a desirable increase in heat to the detonation of the primer. Jack

Thank you Pete, a fountain of knowledge as always.