KEENFIRE Cartridge Co. boxes

I am taking the suggestion of John Moss and starting a thread with pictures of KEENFIRE Cartridges Co. boxes, details as necessary and contents if applicable.
Please post pictures of the boxes in your collection.
Any additional information would be great. I know very little about Keenfire Cartridge Co. and its history etc.
I have boxes from 6 different calibers that I will post.
The first two boxes are .32 (7.65) Cal.
One box has 24 - //// 5 pt stars, brass primer, CNCS and the number 930 on back in blue ink. I believe these cartridges are original to the box
The other box is empty with no numbers on back and is a over-label. This is hard to see in the picture. If one looks closely, you can see orange underneath the Keenfire label at the top edge. The only pistol boxes I have seen with this same color are the generic picture box label that have the cartridge count, pistols that cartridge can be used in and picture of cartridge on the front label and Made in Belgium on the side label. I have this orange box label in 6.35.

over-label box

Empty Keenfire .32 Auto.Cal. box. Made in Belgium. Code on back of box 310 5

Interesting. Very nice box. I am surprised at the //// headstamp which should be Hungarian, not Austrian. This brings up a avenue for research in itself. Of course, Austria and Hungary were both part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It would be interesting to really know when these Keenfire cartridges were being sold. It is possible that up to a certain point, the 4-star headstamp with segment lines was used by both countries. If so, then the question becomes when did Austria stop using it. They had a headstamp H///*/ with segment lines, and the headstamp of four equidistant stars WITHOUT segment lines is Austrian. I guess it is also possible that during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, cartridges made in Hungary were boxed with “Made in Austria” advice on the box since “Austria” was simply the first part of the Empire’s name. I have no documentation on this at all, and have never even heard that possibility advanced before. I am simply trying to open avenues of approach to further study. I will not be able to do this research myself, so hope someone can “take up the cause” of learning more about these export brands, which are still a confusion to many of us despite some excellent research done by Lew Curtis and some of his European friends.

John, it is interesting that these Hungarian * / */ * / * / headstamps show up again because we discussed these at the “SOS” thread. I have seen an identical Keenfire box full of these cartridges, meaning that these are most likely original to the box. Maybe these were labeled/packed by a company or distributor that didn’t knew their country of origin, I don’t know.

The earliest reference that I have in which these Keenfire cartridges are mentioned is the “L. Oppleman Importer and Exporter, Lynchburg, VA” catalog of 1930. The Keenfire air pistol and pellets are mentioned in several advertisements by Les Sales Co. of New York dated between 1931 and 1937. The country of origin mentioned in pellet boxes is either “England” or “Japan”. Also, there are some .32 S&W and .38 Special boxes showing a big red “L” inside a circle logo. Could this be a “L. Oppleman” trademark?

Last, there is a .38 S&W box without the red “L” using the same label code format as the “SOS” boxes, which in this case is E236.

Keenfire Cal. .22 Pellets
Made in Germany

9mm Para box - Hst: H * 1930 * - No box code stamped on back. Note the corner staple construction of the box is consistent with other Austrian boxes from the 1930s time-frame including John Ms SOS box. More “L” logos mentioned by Fede above

Good Thread! Interesting that the keenfire items were made by Belgium and Germany in addition to Austria (and probably Hungary).

The //// headstamped ammo is interesting. I think John M is on the right track. It looks to me as if all these Keenfire items were made in Europe for the US market. Since Keenfire items were sold by two different companies they are probably controlled in a single European company rather than by a US company who contracted with various European suppliers.

I suspect that many firms in Hungary, and other parts of the old Austro-Hungarian empire had close relationships after 1918. In many cases because they probably had common owners or long standing business relationships before the empire split up. Keystone (Hirtenberg ???) could have purchased the 32ACP from Hungary or purchased the cases from Hungary and loaded the ammo in Austria.

I did a quick search for the Keenfire trademark or logo without success, but as most of you know, I am not very competent at internet searches. Perhaps someone with some talent could try to find info on who registered the Keenfire logo in the 1930s, and also the name “Keystone Cartridge Company”. Keystone is probably a Hirtengberg brand name but perhaps not! If someone knows how to check on the “Circle L” logo, that may also give us another datapoint.

Bob Rs Keystone box with the orange under-label is very interesting. The corner staples on a two-piece box indicates to me the box is clearly made in Austria so I’d be surprised it the under-label was from Belgium. Still, I am often surprised!

Great topic! Please post other photos of Keenfire boxes. I think we have just scratched the surface on this subject.


Lew, I have searched for these trade names several times in the right places and these doesn’t seem to have been ever applied.

These 6 mm blanks were made for the EBA “Keenfire” starter pistol (actually a revolver with horizontal drum that looks like a pistol):

Here is a list of calibers offered by L. Oppleman under the “Keenfire” brand (all in 50 rd boxes excepy 6.35, 7.65 & .380):

6.35 mm Browning
7.65 mm Browning
7.65 mm Parabellum
7.63 mm Mauser
9 mm Parabellum or Mauser
.38 Auto
.380 Auto
.45 Auto (“US Brand”)

.32 S&W (lead and blank)
.32 S&W Long (lead and metal point)
.32 Long Colt
.38 S&W (lead and blank)
.38 Long Colt (“Domestic”)
.38 Special (lead and metal point)
.44 Special

.32-20 Winchester (lead and metal point)
.44-40 Winchester

The 2 - red, white and blue Keenfire .25 (6.35) Cal. boxes are identical except for the string that is neatly tied around one.
The no string box is empty. No codes/dates.
The box with string came with 25 - SB headstamped cartridges, domed brass pr, cncs, with a medium headstamp letter size. I do not know if cartridges are correct. No box code/dates

These 2 Keenfire boxes are identical and both came with the same 25 cartridges in each box. Since boxes came to me at different times and are Made in Germany, I believe cartridge are original to the boxes.
Plum colored Geco primer and cms, cn fmj.
One box has no code/date, the other has code OE15 11 on inside flap.

These 2 boxes and the Belgium 7.65/32 box do not have Keystone Cartridge Co. on the label.

.32 Cal. Blank box. Sealed box.
.38 Cal. Blank box.
38.COLT. at 6 oclock.
white TW, roll crimp blanks

Generic headstamp on these cartridges.
32 S & W LONG at 6 oclock
no code/date on box
copper pr, rn lead

Please post pictures of Keenfire boxes in your collection.

Bob, great boxes, thanks for sharing. What is the label code of the .32 S&W Long box? E235?

You are correct Fede. Box label is E235 on 32 S & W Long box.

Keenfire 38 Smith & Wesson empty box. No codes.

Keenfire 38 Cal Special
No codes on box.
Headstamp on cartridges
38 S & W S.P. at 6 oclock with serifs.
copper primer, rn lead

If you have any Keenfire boxes or manufacturing and company information, please post.
Bob R.