25 Round US Early Autopistol Boxes

Prior to WWII it seems almost all US Autopistol boxes contained 50 rounds. I have been told that the few 25 round boxes known were intended for export sales and not of US sales. These boxes are known in a number of calibers, usually 25ACP and 32 ACP, though I believe they are also known in 9mm Browning Long and 45ACP. I have seen a black & white photo of a 25 round Winchester box in 9mm Luger. The boxes i know of are all by Winchester or Remington.

Recently, I picked up a Remington 9mm BL box which is apparently the most common of the 25 round boxes. The date stamp is G19BDU which is either 19 Jan 1915 (G19B) or the second half of 1930 (19BD). I suspect the 1930 date since this box has square corners like the late 20s & early 30s boxes while 1915 boxes I have seen have round corners.

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Images of other 25 round US boxes from the pre-WWII period would be appreciated for a potential article.

Ideally photos of all the markings would great, and particularly an image of the date stamps. or perhaps the punch code likely to be found on Winchester boxes.

As far as I know, only two piece 25rd boxes are known.

Of course, I am particularly interested in US, 25rd boxes in 9mm Luger.

All help appreciated.

Cheers,
Lew

Lew, I have two different box labels for the 25-round 9 mm Browning Long cartridges from Remington-UMC. The one I believe is the earliest, due to the characteristics of the cartridge with it (copper-“U” primer) has a date code of what I believe is 21XOE or perhaps 21X0E. It is very faint and hard to read. The other box has a cartridge with nickel-cup “U” primer, and a date code, totally clear, of G21EAN. Both boxes are “square-corner” types, and both have the back label in both English and Spanish, the two languages being side-by-side on the label. Oddly, both of my boxes are printing number 541, as is yours, despite being slightly different labels.

Neither is in as good condition as the one you show, but both are clear enough to know what all the information on them was.

I also have a 7.65 m/m Browning 25-round box, also with square corners, from Remington-UMC, very similar in content other than that relating to the caliber, as my 9 mm BL boxes, with Red print on a buff box, etc. The date code is in purple ink, but is illegible. When I have more time, I will try scanning and photo-shopping it. I have, on occasion, been able to greatly enhance the stamp-pad markings on a few boxes in this way; in other cases, I have failed in that regard. The printing format, especially in the address at the bottom, is like what I believe to be my earlier 9 mm Long box. It strikes me the box should have the scarcer “REM-UMC 7.65m/m” headstamp, but the cartridge in it when I got it (one round only) is “REM-UMC 32 ACP” with the cartridge having a copper “U” primer cup. The picture of the cartridge on the top label shows the “7.65 m/m” headstamp, however, and there is no mention of the .32 ACP designation anywhere on the label. Again, the back label is in English and Spanish.

I have never seen a Winchester box of this capacity and style and of pre-WWII manufacture, in any pistol caliber. That is NOT a denial of their existence. My box collection is NOT outstanding, to say the least.

Edited to correct typo-spelling errors only.

John Moss

Thanks John,

The box with code 21XOE is from the second half of 1928 and the G21EAN is from the first half of 1933.

Excellent information. Many thanks.

Cheers,
Lew

I wonder if there were legal requirements in Europe that could have been a cause to limit the amount of cartridges in retail boxes.

I recently acquired an early post war gun permit which stated that a maximum of 50 rounds could be held for rifles barrels on the permit.

If similar restrictions were present before 1945, it made sense to retail smaller amounts.

Very interesting idea! Does anyone have thoughts or info on such limits. They could explain a lot.

The Remington boxes of the '20s & '30s all have the Spanish and English back labels John described above, including the 50 round boxes. I’ve been told that the 25 round boxes were primarily for sale in South America, but I doubt that. Besides the Remington 50rd boxes, I have seen Spanish label DWM boxes of 9mmP08 from the 1930s in Argentina, but different nations in South America probably had different requirements.

Lew

Self-defense cartridges for civilians (6.35 mm, 7.65 mm Browning, 9 mm Browning Short, 9 mm Parabellum - where allowed for civilians) have historically be sold in 25-round boxes in most of the world besides the United States. I am not saying “exclusively!” It could have to do with legal requirements, but also, I think, that the folks of many country do not shoot these guns as they do in countries with a firearms culture, like the United States. I would suspect that many people, with the price of ammunition (it is cheaper in the last 40 years of so in respect to the buy-power of money (inflation!) than perhaps at any time in the short history of the self-contained cartridge, for the most part) simply did not want to spend the money on 50-round boxes, when 25-rounds was adequate for their purposes.

Just a thought. There are probably many reasons for the 25-round box, but price is certainly one of them. To wit: the price of some of the hot-shot self-defense ammo sold in the United States, quite normally, now, in 20 or 25-round boxes.

Some of this stuff is NOT cheaper than it was years ago.

John Moss

About shooting: that is a good point. We found quite a few small caliber hand guns that still held 70 to 90 year old ammo.

I started this thread to learn the extent to It which US manufacturers used 25 round boxes for autopistol ammunition. I am still very interested in this information.

Vlim and John, you have raised a very interesting question that I had not considered, “why were 25 round boxes used?”

It seems to me that in the US prior to WWII, the vast majority of commercial autopistol boxes held 50rds. This included the pocket pistol boxes (25ACP, 32ACP and 380ACP), and also included Canadian boxes.

In Europe from the early 1900s until WWII, the pocket pistol caliber boxes were almost exclusively held 25rds.Someone in Europe must have made 50rd boxes for the pocket pistol calibers, but I don’t know of any. On the other hand, larger military calibers were routinely loaded in 50rd boxes. In countries like Belgium, France and Italy routinely loaded 9mm Para in 25 round boxes, but neither England nor Germany ever loaded 9mm Para in 25 rd boxes as far as I know.

DWM loaded commercial 7.63mm Mauser in 20rd and 50rd boxes. Pocket pistol calibers were loaded exclusively in 25 round boxes, with a single known exception. Commercial 9mm (Parabellum and Steyr)and 7.65mm Luger ammunition was loaded in 50 round boxes, except for some 16 rd 9mm boxes just after WWI. 9mm Bergmann was loaded in 25rd boxes.

Geco/RWS used 25 rd boxes for pocket pistol ammunition, but only 50 rd boxes for larger calibers. 7.65mm Luger was loaded in both 25rd and 50 rd boxes.

From the early days of autopistols, the US and Europe evolved in two different directions with regard to box size.Cost, convenience and cost probably all played their parts in this business decision. I suspect that tradition played as much a part or perhaps the predominate part in these decisions.

Cheers,
Lew

PS: Anymore 25 round US (or Canadian) autopistol boxes???

Lew,
I have a 9mm BL box similar to your photo with a number N10 R. The box also has 2 over labels - one identifying it as Kleanbore priming, the other proclaiming the virtues of such. I can email higher resolution photos, if you like.

2 Likes

Great Box photo. N10R is the first half of 1936, well after Remington went to the Dogbone labels with green background which occurred on 9mm Luger in 1931. Rather than printing new labels bragging about their Kleanbore ammunition and throwing away the old labels they just printed up a couple of overlabels.

The photos are great, many thanks! Given all the 9mmBL 25 rd boxes and how few of the others show up, the 9mmBL must have been a particularly slow seller-no surprise!

Many thanks! I never expected to see one of these boxes loaded this late.

All other inputs welcome.

Cheers,
Lew

Indeed a great box savage.
These seem to be the only two I have.
The right example lot number is hard to read but is stamped “L23XDC”

Pete and Savage - thanks for posting that pictures of the 9 mm BL boxes. Now we know there are at least four box-label Variations. The two top labels, one with the advice "Ammunition and Fire Arms (interesting that in those days, that was two words instead of “Firearms”) and one without that line of print, one with over labels, and one of the boxes without the “Ammunition and Firearms” with back label only in English. That box of Pete’s should be, by my reckoning and examination of a dozen or so other UMC and REM-UMC boxes in my collection, the earliest of the four. It will be interesting to see what Lew comes up for the date on that one!

For those of us in “Auto Pistol” cartridges, and with box collections for that type ammo, this is a really interesting thread.

I would guess Lew is correct that the 9 mm Browning Long wasn’t a huge seller, except perhaps for any military contracts they may have had at Remington-UMC. I doubt that prior to WWII, there were more than a very few pistols of the caliber in the USA. Sweden, with its Husqvarna copy of the FN-Browning M1903 Pistol, was not involved in WWI, and the only other pistols I can recall were two versions of the Webley, the Model 1910 and an improved version, made primarily for South African Police as the Model 1922 and the French Le Française, with none of those ever made in anything resembling huge numbers. As well as in WWI, after WWI, the Browning saw service in some other countries including the Dutch Navy (1922), El Salvador, Paraguay (1927, Estonia (between 1921 and 1936, Colombia (1937), Russia (Gendarmerie and Police), Serbia - purchased on the open market, not contracted for - and Turkey. Of course Sweden adopted the pistol in 1907, purchasing about 10,000 from FN, but with the outbreak of WWI, started making it at Husqvarna in 1917. After WWII, they were sold on the commercial market, many in the US unfortunately being converted to .380 Auto caliber.

Sweden also had, for a short time, the "Kurlsputepistol m/37 Typ Suomi, but quickly converted most to 9 x 19 mm Parabellum.

Of all these countries, the only ones to make ammo for the pistols in use were Belgium, Czechoslovakia (likely for Latvia who had purchased a small number of Webley 1922 Pistols from England), England, France, Germany (they had a small number of Pistols M1903), Italy (probably just for commercial sales, Sweden and Turkey. Yugoslavia, despite having had the caliber in their catalogs for years, only began making in at PPU a few years ago. You would think that there would have been sufficient quantities of ammunition available for anyone using these guns with manufacture by the United States
unnecessary and unprofitable, but in truth, U.S.C.Co. made the 9 mm BL as well, probably sometime in 1917 or after, as the box label mentions the Husqvarna pistol that went into production in 1917.

The UMC daily log, continued for a short time after they acquired Remington’s ammunition business, has the entry"9m/m Browning Long M.C., Jan.1914 commenced making FOR EXPORT. I personally believe, although without much documentation, that most or all of the 25–round auto pistol-caliber boxes from Remington were for export, and not domestic sales. Again, there would have been virtually zero USA market for the 9 mm BL cartridge at the time they were producing it. The .32 auto .25-round Box I have shows the caliber only in Metric, “7.65 m/m,” a near-positive indication that it was an export product (in that packaging) as well.

Reference: Personal notes; personal observations; IAA Journal 443, “The 9 mm Browning Long Cartridge - Part I,” Woodin Laboratory compiled by John Moss, pages 4-18; same title and author, Part II, IAA Journal 444, pages 44-57.