Box of FA 11 11 headstamp 45ACP -

I have a box of very early military 45 Auto made by Frankford Arsenal. The box is ink stamped Nov 1911, the rounds in it are x15 (F A 9 11) and x5 (F A 11 11).

I know the 4/06 test round, and I have 200gr 45ACP I’m convinced is earlier than 1911 (for my Colt M1905), but when did the military start production of 230gr 45ACP for the M1911?

Also if you’ll notice on the front label, it says ‘Dupont’s Bullseye powder, Lot 51 of 1910’.

A collector friend has this box, and was curious why my lot # was higher than his (dated 1914) and also brought up the fact that 51 powder lots in one year for a caliber - the pistol for which wasn’t even in production until December - sounds like a lot.


What can you fine and knowledgeable folks tell me about the history of early 45ACP, specifically for the M1911? (I’m aware of the M1905 cartridges).

Thanks in advance

Alex

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Your FA 9 11 rounds are the first proven lot of Ball M1911 made at Frankford Arsenal. That box is fabulous. November 1911 probably indicates that the cartridges dated 11 11 are the ones original to the box, but it is still a very early package. I guess it is not impossible that the 9 11 rounds are original to it also, but I have never heard of mixed dates in an original F.A. box, even from this very early time. The .45 1906 of course was made in that year, in June as I recall. Then a small lot of about 500 rounds of the M1906 cartridge was made on cases F. A. 6 08. This was evidently a trial requested by the Army to see if the .45 cartridge (in the case, the M1906) could be made from rejected .30-06 brass, since the head size of the two calibers is essentially identical. Only two know specimens exist, both dummies. One is in the Woodin Laboratory collection, and I am please to say I have the other one.

With all the tests and experimental versions of Colt .45 Autos leading to the M1911, I am surprised that ammunition from the era of 1960 to late 1911 is about unknown. I assume that commercial ammunition was used in them. I am not sure when Winchester made their first .45 ACP ammunition, but UMC commenced manufacture of the .45 cartridge in February 1904, with their first shipment to Colt, of only 500 rounds, sent March 13, 1905.

Of course, the M1906 round is quite different from the commercial .45 ACP of the period, but the Ball M1911 is just about identical to the cartridge developed for the Model 1905 commercial Colt auto pistol, with the earliest commercial rounds, dating from 1905, being 200 grain bullet loadings. UMC began with the 230 grain version in 1907.

You may read of a M1911 .45 round dated F. A. 1 11. Only one specimen, to my knowledge, exists with that headstamp, and while I have never seen it, it is now considered to be a case of a broken bunter from F. A. 1 14 production. I don’t know who or how many have examined that round to draw that conclusion, but it makes sense.

Note surprising at all that the Dupont Bullseye powder used was a 1910 lot.

Hope this helps a little.

John Moss

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Wow, very cool John! Thanks for taking the time to respond with so much helpful information.

I looked in my singles and discovered that I have 18 total 9-11 rounds and 6 total 11-11 rounds. I recall giving a couple to a friend so I’m going to track them down and hopefully have a full 20 of the same 9-11 headstamp. Not sure why I’d have more of those than the dates which match the stamp? Who knows.

Interesting that September 1911 is the first known lot made at Frankford. Which other mfgrs were making them around that time? Is it possible there are earlier (1911 time frame) boxes?

Juniorloaf - remember, the Colt Model 1911 pistol is just that, the Model 1911. That is the first year of production for military-headstamped Cartridge, Ball, M1911. Following are the first known U.S. military headstamps from other makers:

Rem-UMC 2-13 (Next reported production after that was in 1917)
P.C.Co. 2-13 (Next reported production 1917 - incredibly rare. The only specimen of which I am aware is in the Woodin Laboratory collection.
U.S.C.Co. 3-13 (Next reported production 1917)
Maxim Cartridge Company (The FIRST production was 1917)
W.R.A. Co. 3-13 (Next report production 1917)

It seems that our entry into World War One was the beginning of serious production of the .45 M1911 cartridge by any facility other than Frankford Arsenal. Of course, the U.S. Military was very small, and pretty dormant, between 1911 and our entry into the War in 1917, and Frankford Arsenal was obviously able to supply the total need for this caliber between 1911 and 1916, and continued to supply .45 ammunition until about 1955.

Regarding those other four makers that supplied the cartridge for only one month in 1913, and not after that until 1917, it would not surprise me if those were just educational contracts, to confirm that those companies were able to provide .45 ammunition if needed. The Remington round from 1912 is the most common, although I would not call any of them “common”, followed by the Winchester round. The U.S. Cartridge Company’s 3-13 production is very scarce and the Peters Cartridge Company 2-13 is among the rarest of all .45 A.C.P. cartridges.

Commercial delivery of essentially the same case type of .45 ammunition seemingly began in 1905 (with preparation, at least at U.M.C., in 1904).

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the first deliveries to the U.S. Military of the Colt M1911 .45 Pistol were on January 4th, 1912 (although they were manufactured towards the end of December 1911). That helps us to understand why the first official serial production of the cartridge, at Frankford Arsenal, was dated September 1911. Even that late in the year of adoption of the pistol, they were ahead of Colt in delivery this ammunition.

John Moss

That Du Pont seemingly made at least 51 lots of Bullseye in 1910 should not be surprising as it was likely the most-used smokeless handgun propellant in the U.S. in that period. Jack