Federal box and shotshells, early 1940's

A topic on shotshells is way overdue here, IMHO!
I was wandering thru a local gunshow Sunday and found this box of shells, all alone, on a table. Have been wanting a mallard box from Federal to go with my collection and since this one was only $25, I gave it a better place in life!
As you can see, this box has the U.S. PROPERTY stamp and most of the shells I have seen so marked have been trap or skeet loads with the Red Sweatered Shooter boxes and bright steel cups but these shells, while reactive to a magnet, are apparently brass washed or have a steel liner. It’s also the 1st time I have found the label shown inside but this box appeared unopened prior to my doing it. I’m very pleased with them for the price given.

David Frederickson’s book on Federal Cartridge Co. shot shells was a BIG help in narrowing down this box!

This is a Federal red-sweatered shooter box that is also a bit odd. I have been told that the red-sweatered shooter is a representation of Charles Horn, the founder of the Federal Cartridge Co. The odd thing about this box (which I believe, but don’t know, is of the early 1950’s period) is the load information. First, the MAX. Why would a skeet load be a Maximum load? Or does it simply denote the shot weight as 1-1/4 oz instead of the normal 1-1/8 oz? If so, why didn’t Federal just give a shot weight? Second is the shot size, 6. Skeet loads are usually 8 or 9 shot. Third is SECONDS. I don’t believe I have ever seen a shotshell box (or any ammunition box) marked as a “second” quality. Can anyone explain these anomalies? I’d really like to know more about this box.

I have four boxes of the “Flying Duck” graphic design, none are marked as being U. S. Property. I’m surprised there were any made marked like that, but evidently Federal must have gotten some government shotshell contract(s) at one time, not necessarily a military contract. As has been commented upon earlier, Federal’s principal retail outlets for their branded shotshells and .22 RF ammunition in the early days were rural general stores.

Dennis–I’m not positive but I think the boxes marked “SECONDS” were sold to company employees at a big discount because they had some sort of imperfection that did not involve safety. I once had a couple of boxes from Remington marked “BLEMS” that came from a Remington employee. They were plastic cases and the tubes were all sorts of mottled colors, Green & Yellow, Green and Blue, etc. I was told this happened in the extruding machines when changing from one color to the the other, such as Remington Express Green to Peters Blue. The first 100 or so hulls were a mix of the colors. Nothing wrong with the loaded shells except the color.

That may have been the case, but I’d be surprised if such mottled-color plastic tubes ever made it to the loading machines, unless they were used for machine setup. Standard practice for changing plastic colors in an extrusion machine is to run it until color mixing is no longer apparent, and scrap the material extruded up to that point.

My guess has been that this particular Federal box may have been used, just because it was available, for company employee sales or something similar, and the box itself never contained skeet loads, as a MAX-6 is obviously not a skeet load. Anyway, it’s an identification oddity I have never seen elsewhere. I have seen (and even have) some shotshell boxes that have been remarked at the factory to show a different shot size in the shells than what was originally printed on the box, and I can more easily understand how that could have happened.

Dennis, yours is an interesting box and I’m glad you posted it! Your box was indeed used for ‘seconds’ that were otherwise safe to shoot, packaged and sold to employees. Apparently, there was a large surplus of this particular box, which was replaced by a Blue/Black box in 1952, and they were used to package the seconds well into the 1950’s. Although these boxes indicate skeet shells, the seconds could be anything that was running at the time. I doubt that there are a whole lot of these floating around today and it is the first box of seconds I recall seeing, though I knew companies did sell them to employees.
There was also a Monark Trap Shell box and I assume you could probably find seconds in that box too.

There were government contracts awarded to Federal and they supplied a lot of shotgun shells. These lighter, target loads were used to train bomber gunners using shotguns and thrown clay targets in all sorts of scenarios. They were also used for recreational/training purposes for pilots too, according to some accounts.

You guys beat me to the punch but here it is.

I have a little knowledge about the USAAF Field Gunnery Schools during WWII, and have seen pictures of them in operation. The training they did there would have been fun to go through, riding on the back of a flatbed truck going around a course track with hidden trap throwers spaced along it.

Long ago I worked with a guy who was assigned to one of those wartime ranges, his job being to strip down, clean, and re-assemble all those Remington Model 11s every day. No attempt to keep the parts separated for each gun, just mix and match as they came out of the cleaning tank. That’s really parts interchangeability.

Dennis–Well, however they were made, those “Blems” were factory loaded by Remington. I personally had 2 boxes of 25 that were all kinds of colors. I suspect they were purposely loaded to use up the multi-colored tubes with the full intention of selling the to employees rather than throw the tubes away. I know I still have some of them someplace. If I can find them I will scan them and post them here. My scanner does a poor job on cartridges, but it does a good enough job to show the multi-colored shells.

Could have been any number of ways it happened, it even could have been done purposely by mixing several different colors of odds and ends of leftover plastic pellets together and extruding them into shell bodies. The more I think about it, the more likely that scenario seems - a special product for the employees, or maybe for use at the Remington trap and skeet club, which used to be (and may still be) just across the road, east of the Lonoke plant. They couldn’t re-extrude any mottled tubing they had already extruded, as it would have required chopping it into small flakes first, and I am virtually certain they wouldn’t have done that - too much work and they would have needed a chopper. Extruders require uniform plastic granules or flakes to feed properly, not irregular chunks of plastic. I went through Remington’s shotshell line at Lonoke seven or eight years ago. I remember the details fairly well, but I don’t remember seeing any plastic choppers.

I’d really like to see what those shells look like.

Regarding Federal shotshells with the US Property marking, back in October 2011 there was advertised a Federal wooden case on eBay. The case (500 rounds) was clearly marked as being U. S. Property, with shot size being 8 CH, and paper cased shells, Lot No. FCCO-3-1563. The appearance of the case is consistent with WWII manufacture (T3AGA ammunition identifier). The posting is still up and can be seen at ebay.com/itm/U-S-PROPERTY-AM … 0742482810

Federal Factory Seconds box found at range after Wounded Warrior presentation last year in snow storm.