.45 ACP with red band across head


I picked up a partial 1954 Frankford Arsenal Match box. The cartridges have 3 headstamps and each has a wide red band across the head. I haven’t pulled a bullet to determine is it is the correct 210 grain weight, but nor knowing what the red band might signify, I an reluctant to mess with one. I am also concerned that the mixed headstamps might indicate they are not original to the box, although the 1953 and 1954 dates give me hope. Is anyone familiar with this style box and the cartridges that should be in it?


I can’t see why these rounds would be original to that Franford Arsenal box. (Nice box by the way - haven’t seen one like it before, that I can recall). I am not aware of the use of mixed cases even for practice match, or the use of other people’s cases, by Franford Arsenal. The lot number on the box specifically shows that the cases are of steel - yet one case is brass and made by Winchester and the other appears to be nickeled brass, and commercial, not military, made by Remington.

You don’t need to pull a bullet to closely approximate its weight. Just take a normal .45 FMJ RN round, with its 230 grain bullet, and see if the ones you have are of an overall cartridge weight somewhere around 20 grains less than the normal ball. The weight difference could probably span from about 18 grains to around 22 or 23 grains difference due to case material and powder charge differences. If they are within about 5 to 8 grains different overall cartridge weight, I would say these bullets are 230 grains.

It is common practice for shooters to mark their brass in various ways so they get their own brass back. I used a red stripe across my own .45 auto brass (no, these are not my reloads - ha! Ha! I used only 200 grain Hensley and Gibbs 68 SWC Lead bullets) when I was a bullseye pistol shooter. My current buddy in cowboy action shooting uses a red stripe across the base on his .45 Long Colt brass.

I will admit I am only guessing here, but if the primers on these rounds are all the same, and nickeled cup, I would guess they are reloads, and that how they got into such an exotic box is a mystery. I can’t really tell from the photos, due to the red stripe, if they are all nickel, which would not be the norm for the FA case, but they appear to be looking at the edges peeking out from below the red.


Thanks, John. All the signs were telling me they were wrong, but I just wasn’t ready to accept it. The bullets are 230 grains.


Can you tell if the ring crimps around the primers on some of them are original? If not, I’d go with the reload theory, since a coloured stripe across the head is a common way of marking “MY BRASS” among IPSC/USPSA shooters.


None appear to have ever had a ring crimp, but then other original 1950s military 45 ACP that I have doesn’t have an obvious primer crimp either.


My eyes must be playing tricks on me; I could’ve sworn that the WRA 53 round above has a crimped primer. (?)


I am sure that is just a primer pocket bevel and not a ring primer crimp. My first post-war WRA .45 with what appears to be a ring primer crimp is a 54 date, and may be why they changed the form of the date from two numbers right together (53) to having a separation between them (5 4). I don’t know that, just a guess. They usually have a reason to make these headstamp changes. Even afterr 53, my steel-cased rounds don’t seem to have a primer crimp, only the brass ones. Winchester’s crimp was always light even then. I have had no trouble decapping fired GI cases from Winchester, with dates in the 80s, with my regular dies. Some primer crimps, ring crimps especially, will cause you to break your decapping pin and bend the rod if you don’t decap first with a base and punch set, and then ream the crimp before reloading.


It is indeed those trick playing eyes, as there is not a crimp, just the bevel that John refered to.


I guess old age is dong me in! I got so fixated on identfying the cartridges with this nice box that I failed to identify the box’s original contents. In 1953 and 1954, Frankford Arsenal produced match loads in steel cases and with a 210 grain FMJ GM RN bullet that, reportedly, have a hollow cavity under the jacket at the nose, above the core, thereby reducing their weight from the normal 230 grains. I have no answer for why they were loaded in steel cases, ecept conjecture that brass may have still be scarce following the Korean War, or why the decided to make a 210 grain match load. In the 1950s Winchester-Western offered a 210 grain match load, but it was a lead SWC bullet. The hollow cavity would move the center of gravity of the bullet back farther, which would probably be good for accuracy, according to what was found out in tests with 9mm at Eglin AFB.a Maybe FA found out sooner.

The 1953 load has a red primer seal and copper primer cup, quite ordinary for Frankford Arsenal .45 rounds. The 1954 production, correct I am sure for this box, had the same copper primer but with a green primer seal, the latter feature not being typical for FA.

Hope this helps somewhat.


Thank you John for the additional information.