Dating Box of USC .45 Rimless 200gr


#1

Recently picked up a few boxes of vintage .45 Auto. Two of them were vintage United States Cartridge company - duller orange color, red border around the top, Lowell, MA address.

On the top, it says:

50 Cal. .45
SMOKELESS
Central Fire Cartridges
For
Colt’s Automatic Pistol
Full Metal Jacket Bullet
Manufactured by
United States Cartridge Company
Lowell, Mass., U. S. A.

The side label says:
50 Cal. .45 C. F.
SMOKELESS
Cartridges
Colt Automatic
200 Grain Bullet
Full Metal Jacket

I have a Colt 1905 Auto (date of mfgr 1908) and am pretty familiar with the design and development of the 45 ACP round, including starting out with 200 grain projectiles and them moving to a 230 grain projectile for the Model 1907 and eventually settling on the final form by August 1911 for the M1911 Government.

I would like a box to display with my 1905, so my question is… was this made specifically for the 1905? There are a few ways to answer the question. 1.) Is there a way to properly date the box by its packaging and design? 2.) Is there a cut-off date for all manufacturers (or at least USC) when they 100% switched from 200gr to 230gr? 3.) Did they continue to make 200gr Cal .45 ammo after Frankford Arsenal switched to 230?

I got two of these boxes in a lot of 4 other vintage boxes. This one is still sealed; the other box (identical to this) has an ink stamp on the top label that says ‘230gr’. Also, I have a Winchester box dated 6-14 (praise be to Winchester for simply putting the date on the boxes…) that says “adapted for use in Colt 1911 Government”. Is it a stretch to think that this USC box was made close to the transition between bullet weights? Or that, if it were made post 1910/11, that it would say something like “For/Adapted For M1911” or something similar, instead of ‘For Colt’s Automatic Pistol’?

The reason I am asking is that I insist on having a box of period ammo that was made specifically for the M1905. In my research, I discovered that Colt was working closely with Union Metallic and Winchester in the development of the original 200grain .45 loading - but it makes no mention of USC.

What are your thoughts?


#2

As far as I’m aware only Winchester and UMC made rounds specifically for the M-1905
A photo of your box top might be of help in dating it.


#3

Pete, here you go:



I know that UMC and Winchester are mentioned specifically as making 45 Auto in the beginning. I wasn’t sure if UScCo also made it, or if they made 200gr for the 1911? But I didn’t think the 200gr was ever made for the 1911.


#4

The box you show was made sometime between 1910 (maybe 1909 but no catalog reference for that year) and about 1915 when box labels began to be changed. The smokeless 200 grain bullet continued to be listed through 1926 when 230 grain was issued for the last two years of smokeless production. The 45 Colt Govt Model 230 grain came out in 1914 and continued until 1926 as a separate catalog listing. The self cleaning began on lists in 1929 until end of production by USC CO in 1936. 1926 is the approximate date that Winchester took over production of ammunition for USC CO.
Hopes this helps. You may also find threads on dating USC CO boxes on the forum. Lew did some of this work on 9mms.


#5

That’s a great help Gary, thank you!

So can I safely say that this box was made specifically for the 1905, or just that it’s correct for a 1905?

Does this forum allow WTB posts? I would love a box of 1908 dated Winchester or UMC…


#6

Buy, sell, trade: https://forum.cartridgecollectors.org/c/buy-sell-trade

Brian


#7

Beginning in 1927, Winchester made USCCO boxes used the Winchester punch code in the label to identify the date the box was loaded. Any box with punch code dates from 1927 or later.

Prior to 1926 USCCO used their own box code which was four numbers and letters arranged in a square with one other letter or letters elsewhere on the back of the box. an example could be:

47 K
V 50

ML

or

21 UO
A 14

M??

As far as I know nobody knows how to translate this code. If someone has an idea, please let me know.

Examples of these codes from USCCO boxes would be welcome. Please send them as messages so we don’t mess up this thread.

Cheers,
Lew


#8

In case it’s of interest… The other identical but opened box (with ‘230gr’ inkstamped on the top label) has rounds with the headstamp 3-13. So I would guess my sealed box, without the 230gr headstamp, is no later than that. Thanks for all the replies!


#9

Juniorloaf - could you please post a picture of the “3-13” headstamp from the “opened box.” Thank you.

john Moss


#10

Hi John,

Please let me know if you need anything else.


#11

thank you very, very much. The first photo I have seen of this headstamp. It is the scarcest of the 1913-dated contract series that I have in my .45 collection. The headstamp is usually not reported correctly, generally omitting the dot after “13.” Why I like pictures for my files. It is incredible to see so many of these in one place. It confirms that the dot belongs there after the date, and on mine, in not simply an anomaly of some sort. Later rounds from USCCo with the double date do not have that dot.

Thanks again. That was very, very fast, and IS appreciated very much.

Edited to correct a failing memory.

John Moss


#12

No problem John! I traded the box of 50 off to a friend. Retained the sealed 200gr. Although I know perhaps where another box that’s opened and in poorer condition is.

Any idea what that opened box and sealed box would be worth? I can’t find any examples


#13

Juniorloaf - I am not really the one to ask about values. I don’t pay much attention to that issue in my cartridge collecting. If I can afford something I want, I buy it. If I can’t, or think the price is sky high just on general principles of what makes things valuable, I simply pass. I don’t record what I pay for things. If I did, I would have to, in good conscience, quit collecting.

I will say this - the USCCo 1913 headstamped .45 rounds, as singles, WERE pretty scarce, and I think brought pretty good prices. With a couple of full boxes kicking around, probably representing one round for each collector in the US that would care, I would think that value is somewhat diminished. Just my opinion - nothing “to take to the bank.”

John