Dairt "Oilite" .45 Ammunition

On a current thread dealing with German sintered iron bullets for the 9mm Parabellum caliber, mention was made of “Oilite” bullets. J. Gill mentioned .45 ammunition loaded in WWII American military cases with these bullets, and thought they might have been for Defense Plant Guards.

These cartridges were loaded by the Dairt Co., Inc., a short-lived New York City Company. The only year for which I can substantiate their existence is 1943, when they were listed in the New York City Phone Book at 591 Broadway in NYC. I would assume that the Broadway adress was that of their offices, rather than any plant or warehouse. I do not know New York City, but my impression is that Browdway is not an industrial street.

The only products for which they are known are .45 A.C.P. and .30-06 reloads. I have no expertise in the .30-06, and will not discuss that caliber here, preferring to recommend Chirs Punnett’s fine book on that caliber instead. The Dairt Co. used Oilite Bullets made for them by the Amplex Oilite Products Co, a part of the Evansville Chrysler Corporation. Oilite is a sintered, porous, copper alloy impregnated with lubricant. Evidently, similar copper alloys were used for bearings in various types of machinery. The bullets are one solid piece, having no separate core or jacket (there is reference to the fact that some Oilite bullets for caliber .30-06 did have a steel core, but again, it is off topic for me, although discussion of the Dairt .30-06 is not off-topic here and any information added to this thread about their production of that caliber would be welcome, of course).

It is interesting that during WWII, Dairt, a small private company, was able to obtains a large quantity of bullets made primarily of copper, a stratigic material, as well as obtain millions of empty U.S. Military cases. This may have led to an investigation cited below.

Dairt was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Army regarding a contract to South America, most likely Brazil, for reloaded ammunition. The cases used were fired U.S. Military brass, of various manufacturers and headstamps. The headstamp “R A 41” is an example and is very often found with the Dairt Oilite bullet and loading. The cases have a very yellow look, similar to that produced when cases are cleaned with the commercial product “Case Brite” and were probably cleaned with a similar chemical. The F.B.I. and Army Ordnance personnel visited the warehouse in Long Island City, New York where reloads were stored awiaitng shipment. This occured in September 1943. Samples were taken, but I have no knowledge of the eventual outcome of this investigation or of any further history of the Dairt Company. In passing, we should note that it is possible that the Long Island warehouse was also the loading plant, although we have no confirmed information supporting that theory.

Only one box design has been noted for the .45 ammunition. We have, in our collection, an original box, as well as the data card from the former H. P. White Laboratory Collection which has elements of the identical box affixed to it. The box label bears the advice “These cartridges are specifically adapted for the .45 caliber Harrington & Richardson Reising Sub-machine gun.” That may well support Gill’s comment that the rounds were possibly for Defense Industry Plant Guard services, many of which had Reising SMGs. The Brazil connection may well be valid as well, since Brazil had already been a long-time user of that caliber ammunition. Our original box of ammunition was, at the time we acquired it, filled complete with rounds loaded on the “R A 41” cases, but other headstamps have been reported, as well as the fact that headstamps are often mixed in the same box.

We should mention that in our collection, we have a long, round piece (like a dowel) of the Oilite material, as well as a finished “Oilite” 9mm bullet of rather conventional 9mm Para ogive. We do not know of any loading of 9mm by Dairt, and consider this bullet to have been a preproduction esperiment.

We will be posting a picture of the box, and perhaps the H.P. White Card as well. I will leave that up to our friend and colleague, Joe, to sort out once I scan them.

References: Company History - George Kass; “The Dope Bag,” American Rifleman Magazine, April 1964 issue, page 61; Box label and H.P. White Data Card No. 3036, collection of John Moss; Hackley, Scranton & Woodin, "U.S. Military Ammunition, Volume II.

John: Thanks for the reposting of this account. I mentioned state guards units as possible users because the Texas State Guard was in part armed with the Reising during the war. Several members of my father’s smallbore rifle club were ex-TSG members and I recall their speaking of the weapon. JG

I have had several of the Dairt Oilite boxes, and all held a mix of headstamps, including RA 41, RA 42, WCC 42, and WRACo 45AC. I believe there were two other companies that were associated with Dairt, these being Palmer and Concord. Palmer was located in Hicksville on Long Island, and Concord in Massepequa, also on Long Island, and just 6 or 7 miles south of Hicksville. All three companies loaded .45 ACP cartridges in used military cases with 1941 and 1942 dates. The Concord cartridges will be found with ‘CONCORD RELOADS’ stamped over the original headstamp. The Dairt and Palmer boxes are quite similar in appearance, having white bordered dark blue panels on the top, sides and ends. I have not seen the Concord box, so I can’t say if it is similar to the other two or not.

There may well have been some connection between Palmer and Dairt. As Guy says, the boxes are very, very similar. I will scan and have Joe post the Palmer box later. My Palmer box, which was full, had all cartridges with the CONCORD RELOAD overstamped headstamp. I gather from comments I have read of other boxes, though, that some Palmer boxes have only the original military headstamps on the ammunition contained in them.

However, it is just as likely that they were competitors, with one perhaps copying the style of the other’s box. The New York City phone book’s yellow pages for 1943 list the Palmer Manufacturing Corporation at 60 E. 42nd Street. They are listed under “Ammunition,” so it is obvious this is the same Palmer Corporation in which we are interested,and they were seemingly contemporary, not a successor or predecessor, to Dairt, in New York City.

The boxes for the two companies, while with striking similarities in size, design of the box, and features of the printing and color of the boxes, are not identical. The Dairt box has no box-maker’s name on it that I can find, while the Palmer box, which has some minor construction differences, was made by the Spear Box Company of NYC.

It is likely that Concord Manufacturing Corporation, of Massapequa, New York, was a successor to Palmer Manufacturing Corporation, as the only Concord Box with which I am familiar is an over-labeled Palmer box. Concord is believed to have been operating in the 1946-1950 era, but I have not personally been able to confirm that. It is really a shame that we know so little about these relatively current (anything in my own lifetime I consider relatively current) American Companies. It would be great if some New York State student of ammunition could take up the challenge of researching these three companies more thoroughly.

The CONCORD RELOAD ammunition, whether in Palmer or Concord Box, is not loaded with the Oilite bullets, but instead, a normal 230 grain FMJ. There is almost 100 grains difference in total cartridge weight between a CONCORD RELOAD and the Dairt Oilite ammunition.

Reference: Company Histories, by George Kass; Boxes John Moss collection.

Information card from the former collection of H. P. White Laboratory on the Dairt .45 cartridges, now in the library of John Moss.

Original Dairt .45 A.C.P. box from the collection of John Moss

Original Palmer .45 A.C.P. box. This box contained cartridges with the “CONCORD RELOADS” overstamp on U.S. Military cartridge cases. John Moss Collection.

The information scratched off my Palmer box pictured above, that was on the lower-right corner of the box, said only “Hicksville, L.I.” I know that from a picture of an identical box in my files. Why it was scratched off, I don’t know. It may have been done by Concord, using up older Palmer boxes, but this is just conjecture. It would seem that would take more time than it was worth. As I had mentioned, my Palmer box was full of rounds with the CONCORD RELOAD overstamp, while I have been told other Palmer boxes usually had on the original military headstamps on the cases. Regardless, it is not accidental damage; it was scratched off purposefully.