Interesting Cal. .30 (Krag) Cartridge Box


#1

Hi, All…

An interesting Krag box with a Winchester label, “Water-proofed and repacked at Frankford Arsenal.” The box label is original Winchester and is not over-labeled in any way. I and a very good friend have developed a theory to describe why a Winchester box that was obviously opened to remove the cartridges to be water-proofed, and was not relabeled with a Frankford label, yet stamped on top, exists. Before I present our idea, what say you?

Randy


#2

Or, were these repacked in tin-lined Frankford Arsenal crates (“waterproof?”) and the inner cardboard boxes so marked so that once removed from the crate for issue, their prior “waterproof” storage might make them more desirable or reliable.

I suspect this was done in conjunction with the Philippine Insurrection. Or, perhaps for Cuban occupation or “military assistance” to puppet governments i either of those countries.

Very interesting whatever it is.

If you know the year, you can check the Annual Report of the Chief of Ordnance to see is any waterproofing stuff is mentioned.


#3

Randy

Does the carton show evidence of having been shellacked or varnished? If so, then my guess would be that the cartons were waterproofed rather than the cartridges.

Do you know positively that the carton was opened by FA?

Ray


#4

No idea about the waterproofing but that the primers used were the 2 1/2 marked W size. which seems to me, quite odd with usage being definitely military & not commercial style packaging where one could expect a “W” marked primer.

Do you know what was originally in it?

Great box!


#5

The box shown above is not water-proofed in any way. It shows no signs of coating with shellac, varnish, etc.

Here is a Winchester contract box that we believe dates from 1898. Note that the primer call-out is also 2 1-2 W. We believe the W signifies a Winchester primer, regardless of whether or not the primer is actually marked with a W. The cartridges within are headstamped W.R.A.Co. .30 U.S.G.; the primers are oval brass with no W. Another box in the collection is identical with the exception of the powder being DuPont. Unlike Frankford Arsenal boxes of this vintage, none of the Winchester boxes are date stamped. Note that the labeling on this box is somewhat different from the box pictured above. We believe the box pictured above dates from a bit later than 1898.

The cartridges contained within the first-posted box are brass cased (not tinned), with oval copper primer, made by Frankford Arsenal, headstamp F 8 00. All show the same characteristics of aging and all are PERFECTLY coated with some sort of sealant over the entire cartridge, no runs, drips, etc.

Here is the theory: We believe as does John S.; the cartridges were water-proofed to be sent to a tropical, salt water in close proximity environment. We believe Winchester contract boxes not used up in 1898 were stored at Frankford Arsenal. We believe that at some point a bit later, say, 1900, F.A. was ordered to water-proof some cartridges on-hand. Frankford opened Winchester boxes, like the one in this post, removed the cartridges for water-proofing. Not wanting to re-pack Winchester cartridges in F.A. boxes and labels for quality control reasons, F.A. contacts Winchester to request new Winchester boxes and labels with which Winchester cartridges were re-packed. Hence, the slightly different labeling. And the top label nomenclature then applied.

As to the cartridges now contained within the box at the start of this thread………were the original Winchester cartridges removed by a long-ago collector and F.A. cartridges substituted ??..Maybe. Or, did F.A. put the cartridges in the box by mistake ??..Maybe.

I have queries out to a couple of folks who might add to this and will post the findings…

Randy


#6

Very interesting, thanks Randy.

As the 1st box now contains FA headstamps, is it possible these were loaded & packaged by Winchester using FA brass? Just offering another “perhaps”.

As to the primers your likely correct. With primer packets this sort of printing means the primer is stamped “W”, the why, of my above post.

Again GREAT BOX! & interesting contents! Can you post a photo showing the coating?


#7

Randy, I have this interesting USMC report published in 1901 that describes one of this boxes. This is also the earliest documentation mentioning a .30-40 match loading (see HWS I p. 76).


#8

Thank you, Fede…I christen you Sir Treasure Trove of Information !!

So now, we might suggest that the faulty Winchester cartridges issued to USMC were sent back to Frankford Arsenal…Frankford opened the Winchester boxes, dumped the contents, refilled the boxes with Frankford cartridges, stamped the lids, and sent them back to whence they came without re-sealing the boxes…as they were to be used shortly…

There is no evidence of this box itself having been water-proofed nor is there any indication of a date stamp, so it is possible the author of the report had some erroneous information…

I will post pic of the cartridge soon…

Randy


#9

Interesting post by Fede. Looks like the Marines took it in the shorts even back then. Poses another question was that ammo issued to them when some of the other teams were issued fresh stuff to even things out in matches because of the good scores always made by the Marines? We were issued some 1944 30-06 in Korea am sure there was newer ammo available but probably went to the Army! If I remember correctly after 62 years we used newer ammo during training. 1944 ammo had probably been stored in Japan since the end of WW-2.
Gourd


#10

As the report posted by fede says, it is a problem with the deterioration of the powder. If the powder manufacture is slipshod (such as insufficient rinsing out of the acids) then the powder breaks down quite quickly. The deterioration of these .30" cartridges seems to have been rapid, two years! Much of the Wartime production of nitrocellulose powders was bad, cases corrode quickly, a lot of the contract ammo made by WRA for Britain was dumped early in its life due to internal deterioration of the powder and corrosion of the brass. An old Home Guard man told me that they reckoned that “the yanks offloaded all of their dodgy batches on us”!

Sometimes it is the primer which fails first, a lot of early .303" sent from Britain to Canada had to be recapped, the cordite rarely fails. Swiss military cartridges seem to be good for many years, I am still shooting surplus 7.5mm GP11 made in 1978 and it still groups well and gives very good consistency through the chronograph.

gravelbelly


#11

Gourd: In the first two years of the fighting in Korea it’s likely that 1944 dated ammo was the latest available in quantity in American calibers. American production of SAA tapered off in 1944 and 1945 was at a relatively low level. Production for the Korean War only got underway in seriously in 1951. The problems Dave mentions with deterioration of early lots of nitrocellulose powders reminds me of something I’ve noticed on 7.9 m/m box labels for German ammo pre-1902 or so. That is that on most labels the date of the powder used to load that particular lot was 3 or 4 years old at the time of loading. My guess–which I guarantee to be undocumented–is that the Germans let batches of powder sit, maybe under adverse conditions, long enough to ensure that they weren’t going to turn brown and stinky prematurely. Jack


#12

A picture if the cartridges in the box…

They all appear the same, with same aging characteristics. They appear to possibly have some sort of “coating”; I have not attempted use of any solvent to determine this. All have small pebble dents near the shoulder, indicating they may have been tumbled at one time. Word is, these resided on display in the local (Arkansas) American Legion or VFW hall for the last 50 years.

Randy


#13

RANDY:
ALL OF THE INFORMATION THAT FOLLOWS IS FROM, REPORT OF THE CHIEF OF ORDNANCE, FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1901. THE REPORT OUTLINES THE TESTING OF ALL RIFLE POWDERS RECEIVED PRIOR TO 1901. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE TESTS CONTRACTS WITH DUPONT AND THE CALIFORNIA POWDER WORKS WERE CANCELLED, (POWDER DETERIORATION FROM THE MOISTURE TEST WAS THE CAUSE.) ON PAGE 260 OF THE REPORT IT READS, “About 3,000,000 cartridges of former manufacture, with the single cannelured bullet, have been made waterproof by shellacking at the joint of the bullet and case.”

AS YOUR CARTRIDGES APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN SHELLACKED ALL OVER, I SUSPECT THAT WHEN THE ACTUAL WATERPROOFING WAS CARRIED OUT IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT WATERPROOFING THE ENTIRE CARTRIDGE WAS EITHER EASIER AND/OR FASTER THAN JUST DOING THE BULLET CASE JUNCTURE. OF COURSE THIS WOULD HAVE USED CONSIDERABLY MORE SHELLACK.

HOPE THIS ASSISTS YOU IN THE ANSWER YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.