.38 S&W Spl Mid Range Western Box Questions

Today at the Kansas Cartridge Collectors Assoc. meeting the Western two piece box pictured below was one of the items shown and which raised a number of questions:

Front Label-

Stamp On Inside of Box Lid

Bottom of Box-

Side Label-

Side Label-

End Label-

The owner of the box said it contained Western fired nickeled .38 Spl cases when he acquired it.


Are nickeled cases correct for this box?

The stamps on the box bottom & inside of the lid indicate the contents of the box either initially/originally contained reloaded cases or the box contained reloaded cases after having originally contained factory loaded cases. Could Western have used this box for reloaded cases and applied the reload stamps or were the cases reloaded by someone other than Western?

Are red on yellow Western boxes of this vintage common?

The date code (?) on the bottom of the box, in purple, reads " 1V1D? ". Can anyone decipher this?

Any feedback and discussion most welcomed.



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The code V1D is very likely to be 1 April 1927 which is consistent with the two piece box style.



Thank you for your interpretation of the date code. It did not occur to me to ignore the " 1 " on the left and the unknown figure/symbol (" " or " = ") on the right.


I have two variations of mid-range wad cutters by Western with nickel cases, one has a single case cannelure & the other two cannelurers.

It would seem to me that a period commercial reloader stamped the box, when he offered it for sale.

Interesting too is the “148” stamp on the top, as that is the correct weight for these mid range Western loads (at least on the 6 or 8 later generation Western boxes in my collection). I wonder what was originally printed that it needed a over stamp.

My take is, that the yellow box is quite uncommon.

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I have the identical box but the code is 2UABE2. The relevant date code is U16A. The other codes identify the Shift, the Packer and other information. This box was packed on 16 Jan 1926.

The rounds had obviously been reloaded though the box was empty when I got it.

Pete, glad to know it is “quite uncommon” since I just picked it up when I was working on Western codes and is nothing special to me, at least not as special as a nice 9mm Luger box!!!


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My only example is also a mid range.
So perhaps this style was only used for mid range until the “bulls eye” style came into use?
It’s been opened but is full of brass cased rounds & the bottom code is “Q21C”

Pete, Your box style is distinctly different and the print release date (WT-22) is 1922 wh fits since the load date Q21C is 21 March 1922.


Thanks Lew.

Lew & Pete,

Thanks for the information and photos, I will pass the information along to the owner of the box.


I just ran across, by accident, another 38 Special Mid-Range Western box in my storeroom and thought I’d add it to this thread.

The cases are brass. The date code is 50UE52 which is 25 May 1943 or 1963. The box is clearly from 1943 for the following reasons:

  1. It has no child warning which became mandatory in 1962
  2. Western became a Division of Olin in 1944 and that was added under the “WESTERN CARTRIDGE CO., East Alton, Ill., U.S.A.” on the back of the label
  3. It has a “K1387T” product code on the side of the box which was replaced by a totally different product code in 1952.
  4. The red “W” and probably the red “X” boxes were introduced in 1960

The 1943 date is interesting since Olin (both Winchester and Western) did no sell commercial ammunition from 1942-1945. This means this ammo was probably made for the Police or a similar agency.



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These must be close to next in line, to the early one Lew posted above.
The top one has a K1343T code on one side, while the bottom one has a 38SMRP code on the ends. The patent line is different on the bottoms.
The (top) Nickel case has a “B5XH02” lot code, while the lower has a “66LF22” lot code.
Neither has a child warning.
super%20match%20tops super%20match%20bottoms

You are correct!

The top one is 20 Aug 1946 and the lower box is 22 Oct 1956. Nice boxes.

Interesting that one has a black target and lettering while the other a blue target and lettering.

Thanks Lew, poor photography on my mart but the black is actually a dark blue.
To further confuse things (for me at least) are these three boxes. Perhaps you can sort the time line.
Top : K1343T side code & “87TH42” lot code
Middle : K1343T side code & “51NC41” lot code
Bottom : no box code but Lubaloy (Lubricating Alloy) both sides & ends. No lot code inside the box but on the bottom of the tray “61FD32”.
3%40%20Western%20mid-range%20tops 3%40%20western%20mid-range%20bottoms

More interesting boxes. All are pre-WWII, I thiink. Let me work it and I will post my best guess tomorrow. Had a couple of glasses of wine while watching Nature (love PBS) with Kathleen, and any answer I came with now would likely be wrrong!


Here is another example of the “148 Gr.” yellow box with some handwritten indications:


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Here are the dates for the three Mid-Range Target style boxes as best I can figure them.

Top : K1343T side code & “87TH42” lot code = 24 Aug 1942

Middle : K1343T side code & “51NC41” lot code = 14 Mar1938

Bottom : The bottom of the tray “61FD32” = 23 Apr 1930. You didn’t indicate a K code and if it was in fact missing this would make sense since it was introduced by Western in 1931.

To decide the general time frame I use the Guide to Western Pistol Caliber “Target” Boxes I wrote, with a great deal of help from you and John Moss and others and that appeared in the Journal,

These box designs vary a little bit from those in the article. For example Lubaloy remained on other pistol labels through the end of the Target boxes. The red “Western” on he back was dropped before the patent numbers were dropped on most other labels I have looked at, but these are different. Finally, one of the source documents for the labels from 1948 and later says the codes do not apply to 38 Spl mid-range boxes, but no explanation is given. Still the dates above seem to match the box styles to me.


Thanks Lew, an interesting series.

Yes, your correct no K code on the Lubaloy box, sorry forgot to mention that.