I have recently found a very unusual Winchester 30 Mauser box. To explain the nature of the box, a brief history of Winchester Autopistol boxes is in order. From the very early 1900s Winchester labels for autopistol ball ammunition had orange labels with a drawing of the round. In the 1920s a green wraparound label on the ends and back was introduced. These were all two piece boxes and were all marked “WINCHESTER REPATING ARMS CO.”
In about 1930 a new box style was introduced. This was a one piece box with a slide in tray. It was blue with a white banner across the top with a red “WINCHESTER” inside. It retained the bullet drawing on the label. A white banner on the bottom of the label had the W logo and “STAYNLESS” in red. In December 1938 Winchester became a division of the Western Cartridge Company and the labels were so marked. About this time the box was changed again. The top half for the label was blue with a red “WINCHESTER” and a yellow lower half with a cartridge drawing. They all identified Winchester as a division of WCC.
In 1944 both Winchester and Western became separate divisions of the Olin Corporation, and subsequent Winchester labels again said “WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO.” but added “DIVISION OF OLIN INDUSTRIES INC.”
Commercial ammunition was generally not made by Winchester or Western during WWII. After the war they both began production using pre-war components and boxes. In 1947 Winchester introduced the well known Red and Yellow box with the cartridge drawing on the side. This box remained in use until about 1960.
Some box styles on low sales ammunition like 30 Mauser and 9mm Luger before WWII could stay in use for some years after the introduction of a new box style until the old boxes were used up. In addition, occasionally Winchester would make ammunition with the Western headstamp and box label and Western would do the same for Winchester. Immediately after WWII this practice appears to have become more wide spread.
Recently I picked up two of the boxes below. Initially, I saw one of these boxes on an auction and I thought it a product of the 1920s, then I noticed the label included the Division of Olin marking!
The code on the back of these boxes was “A 107 7” which indicated they were loaded by Western on 7 October 1947 or 1957. Amazing for a 1920s style box. The box on the auction was dated 2 October of the same year. The cartridges in this box were headstamped “WRA 30 MAUSER”. Another box exists that with a date code indicating it was made by Western in May 1948 using pre-war cases (WRACO) and boxes. This ruled out the 1947 date for this box.
It is truly amazing that in 1957, Western was loading 30 Mauser ammunition in a 1920s style box. I have a 30 Mauser red and yellow Winchester box, but the end flap is torn off so there is no date code. I have no idea if it is from before or after 1957; however, the use of the K7931T product code indicates it was likely loaded before 1955.
If anyone has any documentation or theories why Olin was loading 1920s look alike boxes as late as 1957, please share.
If anyone has similar boxes, or any orange label Winchester 30 Mauser boxes, please let me know so I can fill in some of the holes.
Finally, if you have a red and yellow Winchester 30 Mauser box, I’d be extremely interested in the date code.
I have written an article on this box with more detail for the IAA Journal and plan on a display at SLICS.