Caliber 45 blank for line throwing gun


I Found this nice box with .45 blanks for line throwing gun

I like to know if it’s a scarce box ?




I have had a couple of these boxes go thru my hands over the years, and we had several boxes at the store with a modified trap-door 45-70 line-throwing gun (complete kit with ammo in it). I don’t know what happened to that gun, as the owners kept it, but a lot of the stuff they kept later went to auction.

My impression is that these boxes are a little scarce in the USA now, but not rare.

I don’t do values, and couldn’t on these anyway.

John Moss


Not too rare Harry, usualy seem them at SLICS in the $20-$25/box range, some white boxes with varied “strengths” listed and then the buff colored as well


Nice projectile you have in the 1st pic Pepper (with shot line attached). Is that made of rubber?


Yes …“rubber” (and the rest of the story!)

Coming to shore on the USS John C. Stennis CVN 74 @ North Island Naval Station San Diego…from this vantage point you can hear a “pop” (knowing it is a specially fitted .308 line thrower tossing a “string” a long way

Then you can appreciate the “string” it tossed to shore and then the “rope” it pulled back from shore

And then the “big” lines that hold this little ship secure! (obviously pulled with the rope back to shore)

How big are those lines ?

And for a wacky special purpose cartridge collector…someone might be granted a “treat”…extra special since it was used on a ship I was Blessed to come to shore on. PS…a whole another story of how we got on the ship…proud to say it involved the number two arresting wire !

Yes Chief…it is rubber and has three sections each with a hole that can be fitted with a “cold light” glow stick for night time and in climate weather use.


Yep, its rubber alright. And fits into a little laucher cup attached to the muzzle of an M-14 rifle with the gas valve shut and firing a grenade round that will rock your jaw teeth! Clamped under the barrel is a ‘bucket’ to hold the shotline, which better be strung right or it’ll part. Quite a thrill to send one of these over the side!

(Holding the shotline spool, as these guys are doing, was not wise or authorized in my day but some folks couldn’t rig the line right and they tended to have breaks with the container.)

Wish I’d had the foresight to save some of that stuff that went thru my fingers back then.

Another advantage of being aboard submarines was the size of our mooring lines, Pepper. They were MUCH smaller than those! Even the cruiser I was on had smaller lines.


Pepper, what are those large flat aluminium cased cartridges for?


The 1943 cartridges shown, as well as the later M32 cartridges (small opened green can in Pepper’s photo), would have been used in a variety of line throwing firearms including modified 03 Springfields, 1873 Springfields (trapdoor), and H&R shotguns. The spool of line could have been held in a can attached to the bottom of the barrel or, more likely, hand held as shown in the one photo. The ships armory usually had a hand cranked machine that was used to re-wind the line after it had been retrieved and washed. With that heavy long brass projectile shown in Pepper’s photo, those suckers really kicked and no one volunteered more than once to do the actual firing.



I think the squat aluminum cartridges (likely 37mm) are for a large, mounted line throwing device. They may be rocket expelling/igniting in use rather than the sole propulsion source. These shot a line well beyond the range of the hand held guns and may be for life saving, etc.

Kilgore still is in the business of IR flares, chaff dispensers, signal devices, etc. if I’m not mistaken. There used to be a Kilgore company that made the red paper roll caps for toy guns. Don’t know if they’re related, but I sure had fun with those as a youngster.




My first ship was an AFS. We had a destroyer come along our starboard side for an UNREP during less than suitable weather. I distinctly recall firing 10 lines over. Most of them hit their mark, as I made sure they went clear over the ship! The swells were so big that the wave action ‘grabbed’ the lines and yanked them away! Needless to say, we gave up on that evolution. Yes, the M-14 Line Throwing Kit generates a wee bit of recoil! We stood underway watches, 4 on and 12 off, in Aft Steering. Shot lines were returned to us in big, wadded up messes that took hours to untangle before rewinding. That helped make the watches go by a little faster! We never used the cannisters. It was imperative that a person pinch the line when the projectile hit the other ship. Otherwise, too much line spewed out and made a mess.


sorry, haven’t had a chance for a better photo (if there happens to be better info on the label?)


Correction to Ray’s post above about the types of line throwing guns:

The M1903 Springfield were modified for line throwing use, almost exclusively by the U.S. Coast Guard as far as I know. However, they remained in .30-06 caliber, and did NOT use the .45 caliber cartridges in this thread.



You are correct, of course, and I was not. The modified 03s had a smooth bore and fired the Cal .30 M3 Grenade Cartridge. It used the same type of stock mounted tin canister to hold the spools of line although they were seldom used. As Roundsworth pointed out, it was customary for a Gunners Mate striker to hold the spool in his hands.

The 03, BTW, had a thick recoil pad attached. Not too much fun to shoot, even then.

An original cased set of the 03 will sell for over $5000 today. A cased set of the
trapdoor" for about $1000. I had one of the “trapdoor” sets a few years back but ATF made such a fuss over the short barrel that I got rid of it. They have since changed their ruling on them but it’s too late for me now.




it was customary for a Gunners Mate striker to hold the spool in his hands.

Guess that was our problem, we had no GM’s on subs, just us knuckle draggers. If the ‘book’ said you did X, you did X. May have been rumor but I remember being told some people had lost fingers holding the line. I liked my fingers so we used the canister. Heck, we seldom fired the thing anyway but it was always on deck when we pulled in. We tended to use the MK1 Mod 1 Monkey Fist Launcher instead, since we could get in close.




I don’t doubt that fingers were lost by someone, somewhere. But fingers on GM strikers were an expendable. ;) ;)

Ah yes, the MK 1 Mod 1. Easy on the thrower but not so much fun if you were on the receiving end. And the sailors doing the throwing were known to take aim at the landlubbers. No GM would stoop so low, of course. It was those Bosuns Mates.

You are stirring up old memories.




Sorry to hear the Feds messed with your collecting of historical items. Logic in such matters is not their strong suit. Nice to know they at least eventually modified their take on that. I assume the barrels were less than 16" on those?

How late did the “trapdoor” Springfield see service in the line throwing roll?




The “trapdoor” line throwing guns had 11 or 12 inch barrels. In order to own such a thing it had to be licensed, which cost hundreds of dollars. ATF told me they would give me a freebee letter of OK if I could furnish documentation that the modification was an official US Military job. Since most of them were wartime emergency alterations done on contract to private businesses, there wasn’t much chance I could give them what they wanted. I found a reference in a Springfield Research Service newsletter that quoted the approximate dates and number of rifles so altered, but ATF said that wasn’t good enough, that I could have cut the barrel off myself. So, I sold it to a dealer in New Mexico. I had a complete boxed set. Rifle, canisters, spools, projectiles, re-winding machine, cartridges.

The “trapdoors” were in service all through WW II and, on smaller ships, probably a lot later than that. They were replaced primarily with the H&R shotguns, which are still being made and sold commercially.




Thank you for that info. Amazing service life for a rifle!



U.S. law now specifically exempts from regulation by the National Firearms Act (covering machine guns and short barreled shotguns, etc) 26 U.S.C. § 5845(f)

“a device which is designed or redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line-throwing, safety, or similar device,…”

Thus owners of trapdoor Springfield line throwing guns (and ammunition) should not be hassled about them now.