.45 ACP WW 1 ammo


Greetings ! I was flintlock on the original milsurpshooter.net boards, and a few years back there was a hacking incident and I had to change to fat red arrow there. Because of the bizarities of Yuku, I can’t seem to sign back on there nowadays. This site seems to have knowledgeable visitors, and a few I recognize (Doc AV for one), so let me explain my dilemma, and let the members respond.

My grandfather was a WW 1 vet, and passed away in the late ‘ 60’s. As a youngster of 5 – 9 years old, I was told many “war stories” by him, and shown some of the paraphernalia he had retained . Among these were the “bandage” type leggings (puttee?) he would wind around his ankles, and the compass he was issued, this looked like a brass pocket watch, with U.S. stamped on it. As I moved away from the area and saw less of him, I never thought about any of these items, and he has been gone these many years. I don’t remember him showing me any ammo, or even talking about having any.

Last month (March ’10) I had the opportunity to visit the old homestead. The house is still standing (barely) and hasn’t been lived in for 15 years. The barn is long gone, and a few sheds are still standing, though leaning and ravaged by time. I was taking a last look, because the entire area is to be dozed into a big pile and burned, and the land “developed”. In the remnants of a shed (that he had shown me his wild rice processing equipment about ’60 or ’61 or so) I found a shelf in a corner, where there was still a portion of roof. On the shelf was a dirty tin box, and inside the tin was a Bakelite box, containing the brass compass (!!) This was the original pocketwatch compass he had shown me as a boy, stamped “U.S.”. What a find, the original compass issued to my gramps in 1918! Despite the hinge pin to the cover being slightly damaged, it still works, and is not corroded, readable, and still points to north! But this is not why I compose this.

As I moved my feet, I dislodged some dirt and debris on the wood and dirt floor, and noticed what looked like a large number of small circular objects, all together, and in a small area. Closer inspection revealed what appeared to be .45 acp ammo. These looked like they were at one time contained in a wrapper of sorts, paper or cardboard, but that was disintegrated and only a few flecks of it left. A piece of asphalt roofing or siding (“tarpaper shack” was what it originally had been) had fallen over about a third of them. As I removed the covering dirt, debris and other material, the rounds that were partially shielded by the asphalt were in fair condition. Those that were not, were dirty and corroded almost beyond recognition. I looked around for something to try and retrieve them with, and ended up pulling the bag out of a Cheerios box I had in the car, and using that cardboard to slide underneath the items to remove them from the shed. The original packaging, was only remaining in a few flakes, and appeared to be a paper / cardboard type material. The years of dirt and dust settling around them, appeared to be what had kept them together and oriented with the bases up and the bullets toward the ground. I tried to keep them arraigned the way I had found them, and counted 98. I returned to the shed, and after a half hour of careful finger sifting, I suddenly found the last 2 rounds. The ones shielded by the asphalt were inspected, and the headstamp was “P.C. CO” and “18”. The P and C both had dots after them, but the CO did not. I assume this designates Peters Cartridge Company, and the year of manufacture as 1918. They were probably one of many that geared up to produce ammo for the war effort.The primers are of a more copper color than the cases, and are concave in appearance, slightly rounded out toward the back of the case. This is different than the flat bottomed primers I am used to seeing on modern ammo. The cases are heavily crimped /cannilured (sp?) at where the base of the bullet would be. The bullet is a “silver” color, not the copper jacket I have observed on other 45 military ball from later years. I remember reading about some bullets in WW 1 ammo being “tinned” by plating, dipping, or spraying with a tin or galvanized coating. I also recall that there was a later problem, particularly with .30’06 ammo, where the tinned bullets would actually “solder” themselves to the case neck, resulting in dangerous pressures. Is that what these are? Are these safe to shoot ? (Just kidding, the historical significance far outweighs any plinking value) Is there a copper jacket under the “silver” coating? Are these of any value as a collectable? I have refrained from cleaning them, only placed them in plastic 50 round trays as close to the way I found them as I could. I assume that cleaning, tumbling, polishing etc. would diminish their value or realistic and genuine appearance.

What do I have here? Should I leave them as is, or attempt to clean them ? Are there repro paper cartons available to store them in ? Are these worth much to collectors ? If I knew how, I would post pictures.

Thank you in advance for any response here, or email me at hawkenflintlock@wi.rr.com

Regards, flintlock


You have some Peters Cartridge Co ammunition made for Uncle Sam in 1918, part of WWI ammo contracts which served Peters very well. I can’t recall the exact alloy for the bullet jackets but I believe they are part tin (someone will answer that, I’m sure). Hence the steel-like color, vice copper. They are not rare nor could you finance a vacation to Bermuda but I would consider them collectable if you don’t have one or more in your .45 collection. After all, they are nearly 100 yrs old! You might expect $1 or so, each, for them.

As for cleaning them, go to the IAA home page and scroll down, left side to the section titled GUIDE TO AMMUNITION COLLECTING, Cartridge Cleaning and Care. I clean brass cartridges with brass wool from the hardware store, usually dry, and just enough to get the crud off. You don’t want bright and shinny.

I use Photobucket as a host site. Its free and large but a bit aggrevating. You put pics in your computer, log onto Photbucket and upload them then copy the IMG code and paste it here.

Welcome to the forum and by all means we’d love to see pictures of what you have. Your story was great. A lot of us find the stories about ammo finds really neat.



That was a great story. I’m an ameteur historian and somewhat of a romantic, so stories like yours always interest me.

I would never consider shooting that ammunition, not because it’s old, but because of it’s provenance. Each succeeding generation of your family will appreciate them even more. You might think about giving a few to the younger generation along with the written story behind them.

Don’t try to polish them or make them try to look like new. Just clean them enough to preserve them. Sometimes all it takes is a good bath in soap and water.

The bullets are regualr Gilding Metal (GM) jacketed. They are “tinned” by boiling in a solution of water, cream of tartar, and pure tin plates. That results in a thin layer, more of a stain than plating. The 30-06 bullets of later years were electrically plated, producing a much thicker plating.

Now, I have to ask the one big question. Why did you have a box of Cheerios in your car??? ;>) ;>)



Thank you all for your responses. And you are correct in your statment that the “tinning” is more of a wash then a plating…tried to gently clean one of them, used a little polish and a very soft btistle brush, even being careful, removed the “tinning” in short order. Yup, revealed a glilding jacket underneath the projectile, now that round looks like a WW2 or later round like I am used to 45 acp military looking like. Oh well, will leave the rest alone for now.

Will work on pix, will have to investigate and experiment per your instructions.

I am not interested in keeping these rounds, perhaps a couple (the one I ruined already?) to accompany the compass. If a collector is interested, I would be willing to sell, the aforementioned buck a round sounds like a good guideline to start with. Don’t know how this forum handles this, perhaps move the post to another area of the site, or members can email me directly.


Oh and the Cherrios ? One of the munchie type items I like to keep on hand for grandkids / nieces / nephews. When one gets fussy, a cupful of these “miniature crunchy doughnuts” usually keeps them occupied and still for at least a little while ! The cardboard box came in handy to slide under the dirty cartridges to recover them.

Thanks to all of you again, and will check here over the next couple of days to see if others have further info and resposes to my original post.

regards, flintlock