Early Variant of Post War US Metal Ammo Can


Here are some pics of an ammo can I picked up, mainly for the belt of 250 .30-06 rounds to put through my semi-auto 1919A4…after I bought it I noticed some interesting things about it, the stencilled round outline on the top, the white painted manufacturer name on the front, and the off narrow latch.

No one I have talked to have ever really seen a variant like this…there is a photo of a similiar one in Volume III the the Browning Machine Gun books by Dolf Goldsmith.

The ammo in the box appears to be the original ammo as packed…I decided not to shoot this belt. I will keep the belt and box together. Anyone else have one of these variant boxes? I am curious as to just how common or uncommon they are…


Is the ammo can picture distorted, or is it as it looks, a trapazoidal shape rather than the usual retangular shaped box? It appears the top of the box is longer than the bottom of the box. I have handled thousands of these cans from many different countries, as a soldier, a gun dealer, and a shooter than uses them to keep ammo in, and I do not recall ever seeing one exactly like this, even if it turns out that the top and bottom measurements of the can are the same.

I think this comes under the heading of “nice find!”


No, thats just an optical illusion…the dimensions of the can are all really the same as a standard post war can, just it has that very narrow latch, and the stencilled markings. Dolf’s thought in the book is that the narrow latch style was an early variant before the design was finalized. The pic of the box in the book has the same latch, but no painted manufacturer marking like this one…



Those belt links look a sort of light grey on my screen, are they zinc plated or black parkerised? Are the links marked in any way? Where is the starter tab?

I notice that the 4AP has reduced to 3AP in one place on the top row, somebody should be fired!

It is a nice box.



The top is also unusual in that the side pieces are simple 90 degree folds with a series of dimples. The later versions have a ridge around the top at the fold.

I have seen one of these before, but it had not been used and I was not sure if it was a “real” GI item or something made up for sale in surplus stores. Yours is a legitimate arsenal filled and marked can, so I guess we know that it is a GI item.


I handled quite a few ammo cans in my time in the Navy, as a small arms instructor and Quality Assurrance Inspector. We destroyed an awful lot of ‘Non-Serviceable’ ammo. I never saw a can with a latch like that but I saw some with a raised cartridge on the top. Can’t recall seeing manufacturers markings in white or raised letters either.

We recycled ammo cans and they were painted over and restyncled.

I wonder, how did ammo like this, linked, with tracers and such, get out on the public market?



Those belt links look a sort of light grey on my screen, are they zinc plated or black parkerised? Are the links marked in any way? Where is the starter tab?

I notice that the 4AP has reduced to 3AP in one place on the top row, somebody should be fired!

It is a nice box.


They are actually a dark gray/black park…the starter tab is there, its just folded under in that pic…I will try to pull it out again and get some better pics, I took these in a hurry as I was sorting through my ammo. I assumed its the original ammo, since all the ammo is Lake City headstamped, and all the same year production (early 50’s IIRC, I will have to pull it out to look again) I did notice the one short AP in the pic, I’ll also look to see if there are any more screw ups. I should return it to Lake City and demand a fresh box and ammo!

As far as how much hit the surplus market, I don’t know, but I have 3 full cans of cal .30 ammo, all 4 AP, 1 Tracer I picked up locally. I custom built a semi-auto 1919A4 with an original all USGI WWII kit in .30-06. More expensive to shoot (at the time at least) and more difficult to find ammo for than the 7.62 NATO conversions, but I wanted it true to WWII. My buddy Dan who used to live down the road in Angola (Angola Armory) let me cherry pick through his vast stock of 1919 parts to put together an almost all Buffalo Arms parts gun, and we had our sideplates custom engraved to replicate Buffalo Arms guns. I drove past the old Buffalo Arms plant every day for 5 years going back and forth to work. Most people don’t even realize how many .30 and .50 cal MG’s were built right here in Buffalo.



How’s about a pic of your A4? Great gun.
Here’s what those go in, along with some ammo pics and a belt loader, which was very cantankerous. Unlearned didn’t help matters. FN tripod, by the way. The gun was original, not a rebuild. Had a relatively low rate of fire. Especially when compared to its nemesis,. . . . . .


. . . .the MG42



I found an opened spam can of linked 4-1 30-06. It also had a belt of all tracer. I took photos of these with headstamps. I picked up a can with the cartridge design on the BOTTOM of the can (I got that can last summer) see pic. I also got a couple of large boxes of loose ammo and other rounds in the linked 30-06 batch (I bought the whole lot of ammo) The seller said it came from his grandpa’s attic after he passed away and they cleaned it out. He was a WW2 vet. I offered 50.00 US for the lot and he accepted.




Great find and buy. Looks like he arranged his collection along the same lines as me. I’m just a little more prolific in the art. Love that old ammo can.


Metal boxes like this, and from the same year, were furnished to Spain on lend-lease from 1953 on. I have seen all kinds of mixed ammo, belted, both in .30-06 and in .50 Browning.


The stamped profile of a cartridge on the bottom of these belt boxes is to show the person who puts the new belt in which way around it should go. The cartridge profile on the lid of the box is to show the user which way round the belt is inside the box.