Federal Cartridge Lot Number Scheme Starting in 2014

Since 1974, Federal Cartridge Company has used four 10-year lot number schemes to identify the date of manufacture. Beginning in 2014 they started using the newest, the fifth. On commercial production, the last four characters in Federal lot numbers indicate the year and Julian day of manufacture:
1974-1983, the last digit of the year followed by the Julian day.
1984-1993, the last digit of the year followed by the Julian day plus 400.
1994-2003, the letters H, Y, R, V, W, Z, X, T, N, J (in that order) to indicate the year followed by the Julian day.
2004-2013, those same letters followed by the Julian day plus 400.
2014, the letter M followed by the Julian day.
Examples: On a Federal box of 38 Special printed in October 2013, its lot number P 17 J720 equates to P shift, production line 17, year J=2013, Julian day 320 (720 minus 400 = 320), which is 16 November 2013. The same Federal box printed in December 2013 with lot number Q 17 M027 equates to Q shift, production line 17, year M=2014, Julian day 27, which is 27 January 2014.
Regarding shifts, in the early 70’s there was no reference to shift in lot numbers. Later there were two: 1 and 2. Later still three shifts: 1, 2, and 3. Later this was changed to A, B, and C. Presently there are four: P, Q, V, and U. (?Price, Quality, Value, and something that starts with a U?)


My guess would be “Utility”

What’s wrong with using 032314 as a date code?

Regarding using a plain date as the lot date “code,” it is probably for one of the same reasons that commercial cartridge cases are generally not dated on the headstamp. Lots of people have a very wrong idea of the longevity of high quality ammunition, believing that ammo over a few years old is “past its prime” and no good anymore. That puts the retail dealer in a bind if he has ammunition that either came from the jobber a few years after its manufacture, or sat in his own warehouse or on the shelf for a while. If people can see the date of manufacture, they would always want “brand new” ammo. I know this from the shop I worked in for so many years. Many would not buy milsurp ammo if it was ten or fifteen years old. The only thing that overcame it is that many of their shooting friends would buy it, and if especially good stuff, would rave about it, and then the “doubters” would buy it too.

There are probably other reasons for not having a “plain to read” date on commercial ammo (unlike military, where it is usually demanded under the contracts), but the above is one. Still, some foreign ammo does have an obvious date either as the lot number or as part of it.

Jeff, Great work!!! This is much appreciated.

Many thanks.