Corrosive primed .25 ACP?

I had the opportunity to examine a FN/Browning model 1905 “Vest Pocket” pistol that was made around 1910 or so. It is in good condition overall, but the bore and chamber show signs of pitting that appears to have been caused by the use of corrosive primed ammunition. I presume that corrosive primed .25 ACP was in existence during the early 1900’s? I thought that non-corrosive ammunition was commercially available in these early years, much sooner than when the military began using it. This pistol belonged to a member of “Merrill’s Marauders”, but it is unclear if he carried or used it in the jungles of Burma during WWII. The conditon of the bore could be attributed to the environment there, but externally there are no signs of damage from the elements, making me wonder if the pistol was with him then.

What can you guys tell me about .25 ACP ammunition from the early 1900’s?


It is my impression that wide-spread use of non-corrosive primers did not start in the United States until the late 1920s and early 1930s. I could be wrong. I think most of the companies used the nickeled-cup to denote a non-corrosive primer, as opposed to copper and plain brass primer cups. I know that was the case with Winchester, and that they only loaded smokeless cartridges at that time with the “Staynless” primer. That was about 1930 or perhaps a year earlier. Shuey covers the Winchester primers well, but I don’t have time right now to look it up. I know the coverage is in part two of his Volume I. It is one of the more interesting parts of the book, although both volumes of the book are interesting in all their aspects, of course.

I suspect that Europe was slow in catching up to the non-corrosive primer. Like the United States military, they had an inherent distrust of its properties, and again like the U.S. military, used corrosive primers in many countries until long after WWII was over. Some of the Eastern countries, like Russia, may still use them in military ammo, although I know Russian uses non-corrosive in commercial ammo now.

The .25 Auto round came out in 1908 in the U.S., I think, so I would think that there was plenty of corrosive ammo around for the gun in question if it was made early.

John–The nickeled primer was first introduced by Remington Arms Co. in about 1921.
In the 1917 catalog all the primers are brass or copper. My next catalog is 1923 and all the primers had been changed to nickeled. This was well before they introduced their “Kleanbore” non-corrosive priming in 1926, so the nickeled primer does NOT indicate noin-corrosive. Remington also claims to be the first company to produce nickeled primers, at least in the United States.

Ron - thaqnks for the info. I should have left it at Winchester, rather than guessing it out on the others. According to Shey’s book, Winchester did use the nickeled primer cup exclusively with smokeless powder loads, and that by 1930 or so they were all non-corrosive. I really didn’t know about Rem, etc. Admittedly, that was a guess, and not a good one I see.

Thanks. We all want to have the straight facts. I wish I had more of the early catalogs. Aside from Winchester, my files are very weak even before WWII and poor in the extreme in the early years. Makes it hard to help others. But, can’t afford them anymore, since catalogs have become “collector’s items” instead of reference material. Unfortunately no one around here with them that I can copy. I should move to Michigan.

John–Your statement “Winchester did use the nickeled primer cup exclusively with smokeless powder loads, and that by 1930 or so they were all non-corrosive.” is also true of Remington. What was untrue in your earlier post was that the nickeled cup always meant a non-corrosive primer. It is true that Remington used nickeled primers for all the early “Kleanbore” primers, but not ALL nickeled primers are non-corrosive. The nickeled primers by Remington were only used for smokeless powder, but they were in use for corrosive priming for at least 3-5 years.

Statistically most small calibre pistol owners never buy a second box of ammunition because the first box never gets used up. So you can fairly safely assume any ammunition used dates from the time of initial purchase of the pistol.

The pitting in the barrel and chamber sounds consistant with what you would expect from corrosive primers and there are very few firearms of that era that do not show signs of it. Even if in every other way they appear well maintained.

Ron: Part of Remington Bridgeport’s 1918 production of .30 Pedersen cartridges was provided with nickeled primers. I have a specimen and this variant is mentioned in Hackley et al. JG

J.Gill–I just checked my collection and find that I too have that .30 Pedersen with the Nickel Primer. As I said I do not have any of the catalogs from 1918-1922 and was not sure which year they switched to nickeled primers. My best guess was about 1921, but perhaps it was as early as 1918 that the primers for the general production were changed as well as for the experimental .30 Pedersen.

Can someone post images of this pitting please?

I doubt it would be possible to get a photo of pitting in a .25 barrel without a borescope. Anyway, the moderators might not feel its approriate.