British 9m/m

Found many boxes of this surplus ammo. Who made it and when? Why 48 rounds in the box? I assume 1944 is the date.

Produced by Royal Ordnance Factory, Hirwaun, UK, 1944. The number of cartridges per box related to filling SMG clips (I think), Lew C., John M. and others can, I’m sure, provide better info on the 48 rd boxes.

Thank you very much for the info. So this was packaged for SMG? Sten gun I assume. There is about 100 boxes of the stuff is it safe to shoot in modern handguns? Unfortunately many of the boxes are in much worse shape than this one. Condition of the ammo is quite clean. All appears to be the same headstamp.
Thanks again.

A British Sten Gun Magazine holds 32 rounds. So, a 48-round box does not compute well as being specifically for the Sten Machine Carbine, although two 48-round boxes would load three Sten magazines. But, if that were the goal, why would they have changed the box capacity to 50 round, as noted below.? The only 9 mm Pistol in use in regular forces of the UK in WWII was the 9 mm FN GP model as made by the John Inglis Company in Canada. The magazine for that pistol holds 13 rounds. Again, a 48-round box does not break down evenly to a specific number of magazines fillings.

The exact same size box was used for 50 rounds as well, and a box of the same dimensions but different construction was used with 35 rounds.

So, for me, this has been the mystery of the ages. I will say this, and I dare not suggest it as the solution, as it is too simple a one to apply to a military item. The 48, 50 and 35-round boxes, all being the same size, fit perfectly in a standard British canvas pistol ammunition pouch (possibly used for other purposes as well - compass, first aid bandage,??? - I simply don’t know having never been the Army of a UK-equipped country).

There might also have been a shipping reason (pallet size, weight of a certain amount of packaged cartridges, or something to that effect), but again, I have no idea of this.

I have explored every option I felt made sense - perhaps a futile way to research military goods; no, I don’t dislike the military. I enjoyed my service and I think highly of the men of most military establishments, but they do sometimes march to their own drummer in the way things are done :-) don’t they? Years and years ago I spent about a week on this question in correspondence with various collectors, both gun and cartridge, to no avail.

Sorry to disappoint. Perhaps one of the UK collectors knows, or maybe Lew?

The 9mm Mk2Z was designed specifically for use in the Sten, Austen, Owen machine carbines etc. with a corresponding higher pressure than the Mk 1 round. It would be wise to check out the permissible pressures for any handgun you intended to use it in.

I believe the box size was to fit the ammo pouches on the 37 pattern webbing. The ammo may be OK to shoot with reservations. 2Z means its ‘hot’ and wont be accurate if past experience is anything to go by. I don’t know how much its overpressure, Tony would have known, but I would be more inclined to swap it with collectors, unless you have a sten gun
according to this only the cases were made at Hirwaun

Apart from the question of pressure level, this ammunition may well be mostly duds. Twenty years ago I was given a quantity of mostly mk.2z cartridges by BE and HN that proved incapable of reliable ignition. I was able to recycle the bullets. Jack

According to my velocity measurements of Radway Green Mk 2z (from 1955), this cartridge is not “hotter” than typical 9 mm Luger loads you find in Europe. In the condition as it leaves the factory, it can safely be fired from CIP proofed handguns.

Another question is that you do not know the storage conditions of this specific batch of catridges, manufactured 70 years ago. You describe many of the packages as being in a bad condition. While this does not point to storage in hot conditions -which is always bad- I personally would not use it for ordinary shooting.

Thanks to all! The “bad” condition is not due to heat or damp conditions. The damage to the boxes was due to careless mishandling and time. The ammo was stored in a large powder magazine (2 ton capacity) used for storing smokeless powders. Cool and dry. I was going to shoot some of it in a single shot rifle that is chambered for 9mm over a chrono and see how consistent it is, case condition etc., before I try it in my Browning HP.

The Box (actually a tray fitted inside a sleeve) held 35 Rounds when “Nested” with a cross-hatched cardboard separators; Remove the separators, and you get space for 48/50 rounds…the “48” rounds is correct for “2 Boxes==3 Sten Mags” ( actually, Infantry practice was to Load 2 rounds Less than full ( ie, 30 rounds in a 32 Mag, and 28 in an OMC Mag to prevent Jams…also, the 50 round/48 round Box was Ideal for the Royal Navy Lanchester (50-round stick Mag).

The Boxes were a correct fit for both the Ammunition Chest, and also for the Spam Cans ( Combat Packs). The Packet was a neat Fit in the “Pouch Compass” used by Officers and others on their Pistol Rig.

As to the Hirwaun (Wales) Ordnance Factory production, a Lot of it went to Greece in 1944-46, as well as “H^N” repacked .303 of all origins, both British and Empire… H^N only Made 9mm.

Doc AV

Doc - thanks for the info. Corroborates some of the things that I though possible - such as fitting that belt pouch and three magazines from two boxes (48 round). Also other information which is always nice. I had forgotten about the Lanchester with the long 50-round magazine.

I do think, and I hasten to say you did not imply differently because I don’t want you to think I read something that wasn’t there, that for packaging purposes, box-capacity did not take into consideration that the troops often loaded less than magazine capacity. Never quite figured out the rationale for that. Have seen very few magazines where when loaded to full capacity, the followers could not still be pushed down almost a full cartridge diameter, leaving room under the follower for the accumulation of fouling (dirt, pieces of dead leaves, etc.). My own fooling around with semi-auto versions of assault rifles and a couple of civilianized SMG types like the Uzi and the MP5 (I had 27 “assualt rifles” at one time, and a couple of ersatz sub guns, indicated that all worked well with absolutely filled to capacity magazines. Army experience indicated the BAR worked well with a full mag, and experience shooting with a Fed Agency on the range with their TSMGS indicated that even when dirty, they funtioned perfectly well with full 20-shot, 30-shot stick mags and 50pround drum. Of course, “dirty” in that context, admittedly, was not from a week of treading around in a jungle or crawling through the mud under fire! Still, I wonder if once a weapon is that dirty, how many rounds in the mag matter at all? I remember on a night crawl on the infiltration course, in rain and mud, during basic training, about 25 percent of the soldiers could not fix bayonets at the end of the crawl to charge the “bayonet dummy”. Most just ran right by it. I got a kudo because while I was one who couldn’t fix his bayonet due to mud clogging the attachment slot, I smashed the dummy in the face with the butt of the rifle before going on.

Perhaps the habit of under-loading magazines served men well in harsh combat conditions. I am only relating what I found within the very limited boundaries of my own experience.

The light filling of magazines was due to the belief that the springs lost some of their springiness when kept under tension too long or were not up to pushing quite a heavy column of rounds reliably.

May have had some basis in truth given wartime production or it may have been yet another soldier’s myth.

Here is a clue that might answer Sportclay’s original question of “why 48 rounds in the box?”. In the publication Regulations for Army ordnance Services Part 7 Pamphlet No.11 Small Arms Ammunition, we can read in table 14, concerning packing: Type and Mark; 9 mm. Ball, Interior packing: Cartons, Box A.S.A.: H.9, Method of Packing: 420 rounds in 21 Cartons No.3 of 20 rounds
Box A.S.A,: H.29, Method of Packing: 2,500 rounds in 50 Cartons No.16 of 50 rounds (Hand packed)
Box A.S.A., H.29, Method of Packing: 2,400 rounds in 50 Cartons No.16 of 48 rounds (Machine packed)
The difference between 50-round and 48-round cartons here is caused by the different packing methods.