History of Index Numbers for U.M.C. and Remington Arms, Co


Although you asked specifically about the numbers for .30-40 Krag, (See thread titled “Ron Merchant, Catalogs”) which I will answer in a seperate Email later, I assume you are really asking about the bigger picture of when the styles of the Index Numbers changed for Remington Arms Co. products.

At first, in the early Rimfire era of the 1860’s all the cartridges were referred to by a number such as “No. 1 FRENCH BULLET BREECH CAP” (6mm FLOBERT) {NOTE: The name in parenthesis is our modern name} or “No. 25” (.25 BACON & BLISS) or “No. 44” (.44 Long), but by about 1882 the number of .38 or .44 caliber rounds had multiplied so that system was no longer usable and the “No.” was dropped and replaced by expanded names such as “.32 Extra Short”, “.32 Short”, “.32 Long”, “.32 Extra Long”, etc.

With the introduction of Centerfire cartridges in the 1870’s, the system used for the Rimfire’s was not sufficient and so began the terminology such as “.40-50-310” where the caliber-powder charge-bullet weight style was used. By the early 1880’s, even that had began to break down and the case length was specified such as “.44-90-100 REMINGTON SPECIAL (2 6/10 S.)” or “.44-90 REMINGTON and SHARP (2 7/16 B.)” or “.44-90 REMINGTON and SHARP (2 5/8 B.)”. S=Straight, B= Bottle-necked.

This was the style until about 1895 when Smokeless Powder loads started to be introduced. At this point the use of the “Powder Charge” designator became useless, but for historic purposes was retained for many of the older loads with the bullet weight and case length dropped. As new “Smokeless Only” loads came into being names like “.32 Winchester Special” came into use and continues today.

That pretty much sums up the cartridge name situation and now gets us back to the “Index Numbers”. The first use of “Index Numbers” was probably in 1901 . The first catalog which I have that actually shows “Index Numbers” (and for ONLY Factory Loaded shotshells, not Primed Empties and NOT Metallic Shells) is 1901. I do not have the complete catalogs for the years 1895-1901, only some of the pages for the Primed Empties. But in the introduction to the 1901 catalog U.M.C. states “It will be noted that we have adopted different names for Empty and Factory Loaded shells” and I suspect that Index Numbers were first used at that time. There were hundreds of combinations of cartridge brand, powder type, shot size and powder amount offered so a system had to be devised to make ordering easier and less confusing.

In the 1905 U.M.C. catalog “Telegraph Codes” were introduced. Western Union charged by the word, so you got charged for one word to order “Lariet” instead of being charged for 6 words for “.40-60 Colt’s New Lightning Magazine Cartridges”. It must have been a nightmare job to be the one to decode the orders at the factory with hundreds of similar words (such as Ladleful for .32-20 WCF, Ladonis for .32-20 C.L.M.R. or Ladrico for .32-20 Marlin Safety, etc). This system was dropped by 1917 as the codes do not appear in that catalog. I suspect the general use of the telephone and not telegraph by that time brought about the change.

I think the great proliferation of loads by mid-1920’s is what led to the introduction of Load Index numbers for the metallic loads as well as the shotshells. These numbers were of the format “Rxxx” (xxx = either 2 or 3 numbers) or RxxxH for “Hi-Speed” loads or “RxxxK” for Mushroom or hollow point loads and “RxxxXM” for Express Mushroom, etc. such as R98 for .30-40 Krag & Win., 180 gr. Soft Point Kleanbore or R128 for .30 Remington 160 gr. Metal Cased Kleanbore or R215XK for .35 Rem. 200 gr. Express Mushroom Kleanbore. This system was use up to the ceasing of civilian production in 1942.

This brings up a point. The first price list I have for Remington Arms showing Load Index numbers for metallics is 1936. I have the Retail catalogs for all years from 1927 forward. The Retail catalogs DO NOT show the numbers. Only the Dealer Price Lists for the 1930’s have the numbers. I have seen a box from the mid-1920’s with the number R331 for .45 Colt Black Powder Loads. I’m trying to establish when they first assigned Load Numbers to the Metallic cartridges. I suspect it was in 1926 or 1927 with the introduction of “Kleanbore” cartridges. This would have been a convenient time to come out with a new system for ordering cartridges. If any one has any Remington Arms, Co. Dealer Price Lists showing the Index Numbers for any year BEFORE 1936, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

When civilian production restarted in 1945 a new “index Numbers” system was put into use. This system was just 4 numbers such as “4330” for .30-40 Krag 220 gr. Core-Lokt Express Mushroom, Kleanbore. This system was used up to 1973.

In 1974 a new system, which continues up to the present, was introduced. In the current system all the Index Numbers start with “R” followed by the cartridge type followed by a designator for the load type if more than one loading is made. Such as R243W1 for .243 Win., 80 gr. Ptd. S.P. or R243W2 for .243 Win. 80 gr. Power-Lokt H.P. or R243W3 for .243 Win. 100 gr. Cor-Lokt Ptd. S.P. If there is only one loading available, then the style is R17REM for .17 Remington 25 gr. Power-Lokt S.P. or R30CAR for .30 Carbine 110 gr. S.P.

To sum up, here is chart of changes using a random example.

R331 1926(?) to 1942

1234 1945 to 1973

R22HN1 1974 to date

Sorry this got so long winded. I’m turning into John Moss, but thought it might be of interest.

Ron…Thanks for the info…I knew about the telegraph codes, etc., as I collected UMC stuff for about 20 years. The first Remington (REM-UMC) cartridge boxes that show index numbers are those that date from 1912-1916, with "Remington Arms - Union Metallic Cartridge Co. as the company name, and continuing on into the 20’s with Remington Arms Company, Inc. The number is very small and appears in the lower right corner of the front lid label. There is no “R” in the number, as is used on the green boxes of the thirties and onward. Here are the .30-40 Krag numbers I have on these early boxes:
98 220 gr Metal Cased
99 220 gr Soft Point
99U 180 gr Umbrella Point (Interestingly, there is no bullet weight call-out anywhere on this box, I took one apart and weighed the bullet)
105 180 gr Soft Point Mid-Range
As you can see, these correspond to the later numbering system with “R” in front of the number.

Randy–So we have an earlier series of Index Numbers which are essentially the same as the “Rxxx” series without the “R”. I have not seen this series used in any catalog. Do you have anything that would pin down the date that this series began? I know, except for shot shells, that U.M.C. never used Index Numbers. So, 1911, with the merger, is the earliest they would have been used. Can we use the form of the company name as a clue. From 1911 to 1915, the name was “Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co.” In 1916 it became “Remington Arms Union Metallic Cartridge Company, Inc.” (Note no hyphen and addition of Inc.). The name was changed to “Remington Arms Company, Inc.” in 1920.

Do you know what year they changed from printing the company name in a curve to a straight line on the boxes?
I have seen a red .45 Colt Black Powder box with a curved “Remington Arms Company, Inc.” name with the Index Number R331. This had to be after 1920. I still think the “Rxxx” numbers started in 1926.

Ron…Yes…an early series of numbers exists on some of the first REM-UMC cartridge boxes…those from 1912 to 1916, with Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co. I would say these started about 1912, just guessing that they first used up all available UMC boxes. All boxes for 30-40 Krag that I have with all three REM-UMC company names, that is…about 1912 up into the early 20’s, the company name is straight and not curved. Some later Krag boxes, those with white label and orange lettering, have the curved name. These date from the late 20’s and into the early 30’s, I believe. And no index number on these orange lettered boxes !! I will e-mail you scans of these boxes. Randy

I just received a GREAT series of box scans from John Moss. They clearly demonstrate that the use of the small numbers without the “R” from 1911 to at least 1926, after the introduction of “Kleanbore”. So, The date of change to the Rxxx style is sometime between 1926 and 1928. I have a catalog from 1929 that shows a box with the “Rxxx” style number. So, an anyone provide proof of what year, 1926, 1927 or 1928 that the change occurred.

I usually go to the 22 box guys on dating and Tony Dunn’s reference on Remington 22 boxes indicates a 1926 introduction of Kleanbore (based on advertising) to be the start of R preceding the number. After WW2 the R was dropped it appears.

Gary–Yes, it is true that “Kleanbore” was introduced in the fall of 1926. But as can be seen by the last two boxes above, the “Rxxx” numbers did not start with the introduction “Kleanbore”. They most likely started in the Fall 1927 catalog. But, wither it was 1926 (very late) or 1927 or 1928 is still open for proof such as a dated ad in a magazine or something simular. Right now, the picture I have in a 1929 catalog showing a box with an “R” number is the earlist “Proof” I have of a date.

As for the change after WW-II, it was much more than just a dropping of the “R”. It was a completely new numbering system using 4 digits. These numbers first appear in the 1946 catalog. There is no 1945 catalog, but the new numbers went into use as soon as civilian production started up again in the fall of 1945.

As for “Going to the .22 Box Guys”, I was one of them. I took many of the pictures for Tony’s publication and quite a few of the boxes shown were mine. But, while I have about 1500 .22 boxes, I have not been active in collecting them since about 1990.

I should have looked closer at the “1926” series pictured in the 22 box stuff and noted that both index numbers are used.

I did find in a catalog of H.D. Folsom number 25 a Remington undated form 735 picturing Remington Keanbore boxes with the older index number 11. The catalog seems to be issued in the fsummer or all of 1927. Also in the catalog is Remington form 692 dated 4-27 advertising their knives. I don’t collect Remington and focus on USC Co but I assume the Remington form numbers were sequenial. From what I found I would deduce that the index number change to the R numbers occurred after the summer/fall of 1927based on this assuming the pictures on the advertising were current. If others have Remington forms that are dated, the date at least of form 735 can be pinpointed. Hope this helps a little.

Gary–I’m not sure how much we can go by the form numbers. They must have had different series of numbers for different things. I have 3 items from 1929 with form numbers. I have Form-148 and 148A, both undated Remington Gun Catalogs, but have pages “Announcing the New Model 29 Shot Gun” and a 2 Jan, 1929 dated Ammunition listing with Form 129-A. Perhaps they started each year with new Form Numbers, in which case they must have stated with Form 100, or maybe 100+the year as it would seem unlikely they had 128 or 28 forms before 2 Jan.

At any rate, assuming the numbers are sequential for the year, it would seem that the “Rxxx” series was started no earlier than Fall 1927. However, the cut for the advertising you mentioned may not have been up to date. So, all we know is that the new numbering was introduced sometime between late 1926 and 1928.

The use of telegraphic “word codes” was widespread in American Industry at the time. Large suppliers, such as Locomotive builders, machine tool makers, Foundry operators etc, all had their codes for telegraphic ordering of their goods. If one looks through the catalogues of the period, one finds the Telegraphic order code for each major item…and a lot of the spare parts as well.

The US telegraphic code system was not a new idea…in the 1890s, Morrison (“of Peking”) found, on his first trip up the Yangtse rive (“An Australian in China”, 1895-6), that the Chinese Imperial Telegraphs used a 10,000 number code for the characters of the Chinese Written language…expert operators “Knew” the relevant code numbers for all the official Written characters at the time ( 10,000 of them), and could transform a message in chinese into a series of numbers, which were then transmitted by Morse lkey, to a similar operator at the other end…and written down in Chinese script.
The operators also knew “western Morse” and could (without comprehending) send a normal Western message, by simply “reading” the Roman letters as the relevant Morse dots and dashes…I don’t know how they got on with Cyrillic???

Anyway, these are all genial developments of a bygone Industrial era…we who live in the era of Email etc, can’t even contemplate a trime when people actually wrote letters to each other, knowing that it could take from 3 months to a year for the letter to reach its destination sometimes, yet in Cities like London and Paris, a letter posted in the mornign would reach its destination in the city by mid afternoon…and across the country within a day or two…try that today…

Doc AV

Ron…More index numbers…

99HS 180 gr Hi-Speed Bronze Point (Yellow Box)
98XM 220 gr Express Metal Cased (Green Train Box)
98X 220 gr Express Mushroom (Blue Train Box)

These numbers are in the lower left corner, back of box.

The Yellow Hi-Speed Boxes and Blue Train Boxes were introduced in 1925, according to my records, and since there is no “R” in the index number, this would make your assumption of introduction of the index numbers with “R” being 1926-28 correct. The Green Train 220 gr Express Metal Cased box is quite rare and must have been very short-lived, as was the Yellow Hi-Speed box. These, and the Blue Train boxes, seem to have been dropped before the introduction of the “R” index numbers…The Green Train, 220 gr Express Mushroom box uses an R98XK on the front of the box.