Last Date for U.S.C.Co. Headstamp


#1

JonnyC’s recent thread showing a red headed Proof .38 S&W with the U.S.C.Co. headstamp got me wondering…Ron M. indicated the period of time specifically for W.R.A.Co. manufacturing under the United States Cartridge Company name ended in 1934. I know the U.S.C.Co. name continued on in the business side of things for years after that (SL ordnance plant, etc.) What was the last year for U.S.C.Co. headstamed cartridges (or similar variation thereof) by W.R.A.Co. or anyone else or was 1934 it?

Thanks,
Dave


#2

Dave

There seems to be a wealth of information on the Remington side of things. Someone needs to take on the job of documenting the W side.

But anyway, my notes say 1936 for the last U.S.C.Co, but I would swear that I have cartridges with that headstamp that are a newer than that.

Ron would know.

Ray


#3

Speaking of vexed questions, what’s the earliest USC headstamp date, rimfires, shotshells, and those L-for-Lowell .45-70 government contract cartridges excepted? The year 1895 has always appealed to me, but surely someone can do better than that. Jack


#4

Thanks Ray,

I would guess this .357 Mag. is my latest date U.S.C.Co. headstamp. Would likely be post-1934?

Just thinking that I have it as manufactured in Lowell, Mass. and that might not be right by that time…

Dave


#5

I believe Winchester acquired them around 1926 and agreed to keep the label alive until 1936. U.S. labels with the New York address are from that timeframe.


#6

The .357 was introduced in 1935 so that cartridge had to be manufactured sometime after that. Issue #351 of the JOURNAL has a U.S.C.Co. price list dated 2-10-38 which shoots down my 1936 date.

Ray


#7

Jack,

For what it’s worth, I would guess this is my oldest headstamped product of the United States Cartridge Company. I have no idea what year but it “speaks” as an older one…

Roundsworth,

When you say “New York”, do you mean New York City? Do you have a box label from that vintage you could show?

Ray,

As I have yet to save enough for the Journal compilation disk, please tell: what was the listing(s) for the .357 and how much was a box? And, on the late end topic, what items do you have that shout “post '36”?

Thanks,
Dave


#8

Dave

It is listed as .357 S&W for Magnum Revolver, 158 gr lead S-C (Self Cleaning) @ $38.60 per M.

The one cartridge that immediately came to mind as being post '36 is the 280 Ross but I notice that it is on the 1938 list. So maybe it’s not as new as I had thought. I have a bunch of them and they are like new.

WW II would have stopped production even if Big W didn’t, so '40 or '41 would probably be the latest realistic year for USC Co.

But, what do I know? I’m simply filling in for the guys who would really know.

P.S. - I noticed a .30 Cal Krag Improved on the list. I wonder what that was? We’ll have to ask Randy when he gets back.

Ray


#9

The 1926 to 1936 timeframe is from books written by Dan Shuey and Ray Giles. I do have an empty 30-30 box from U.S. with the ‘NEW YORK, N.Y.’ address shown on the front label. WRA Co’s affiliation with U.S. is not even hinted at. Dan Shuey states that WRA Co. sporting ammunition production ceased in January of 1942. I have also seen U.S. shotshells with a nickeled primer identical to the ‘New No. 4’ primer by WRA Co. The primers do not have any markings on them, though.


#10

Dave: Yes, I would think that is an early example of a headstamped USC product. I came up with the year 1895 because the USC 1891 price list suggests the firm hadn’t begun headstamping its rifle and handgun centerfires yet, while, on the other hand, the .25-35, .30-30, and .303 Savage (all introduced in 1895) seem never to be found other than as headstamped cartridges. Jack


#11

My 2 cents…I have a USCCo price list from 1938…and, I think some cartridges were headstamped as USCCo right up until 1942…

Randy


#12

Everyone–My comment about 1926-1934 was NOT meant to be the exact dates, but, rather the ball park dates. Sorry I was not more clear about that.

Now for some facts:

1864–U.S.C. Co. was established by General Benjamin F. Butler to make metallic ammunition in Lowell, Mass.

27 Sept. 1883–U.S.C.Co. joined the Ammunition Manufactures Association

1911–U.S.C.Co. was purchased by National Lead Co.

Sept. 1926–Winchester acquired the physical assets of U.S.C.Co. Winchester DID NOT buy out U.S.C.Co. It bought the machinery and moved 83 fright-car loads to the Winchester plant in New Haven. They entered an agreement to produce ammunition FOR U.S.C.Co., who then sold it under their own name and through it’s own distribution channels.

As for when Winchester quit making U.S.C.Co. ammunition, my 1934 date was only approximate and as has been shown others was too early. The .357 as shown, has to be 1936 or later, as Winchester first loaded this cartridge in that year. The .280 Ross was first loaded by Winchester in 1914. I assume U.S.C.Co. started to load it about the same time. The 1942 date mentioned would certainly be the LATEST date for the end of U.S.C.Co. production, but I think it was more like 1939 or 40.

All the above information and dates are from the book Winchester. The Gun that Won the West by Harold F. Williamson.


#13

Great info! Thanks, Ron.


#14

I have a number of 9mm Luger boxes from USCCO. All have Lowell addresses. Three have a white crosshatch on the side and a box code stamped on the back (I don’t think anyone has translated this code). One lacks the crosshatch on the side and had a punch code on the side label like some of the early Winchester boxes. I suspect it was loaded by Winchester, but still had the Lowell address. I don’t know of any USCCO 9mm Luger boxes with the New York address. If one exists, I sure would appreciate a photo.

USCCO began production of 9mm in 1917/1918 when it produced Glisenti ammo for Italy with the Maxium headstamp (John Moss’ IAA article on Glisenti ammo which won the IAA award at the 2010 SLICS). Their first 9mm Luger ammo came out just after the end of WWI with a bullet that looked essentially identical to the Glisenti bullet. I have no idea when they quit producing 9mm Luger. I know it was still in the 1925 USCCO catalog but have no info on their later catalogs.

What was the date that USCCO changed from the Lowell address to the New York address???

Good Thread! Thanks!!!

Lew


#15

The catalogs and fliers of the US Cartridge Co are currently being reviewed and cartridge introductions being dated. Ron is correct on the Winchester-USC Co production stop at Lowell with Winchester then making the products for USC. Several factory letters from USC to Winchester either approving or directing Winchester are available from the 1930’s. 1926 is commonly the date given for the change of boxes addresses from Lowell to New York. However the catalogs and fliers show this to be a long transistion over at least 5 years. Winchester box codes versus USC box codes may tell us something. Generally it appears that as USC Co introducted new calibers they used the New York address. As to final production, 1938 had USC Co continuing to sell existing products and may even continued foreign shotshell production as primed empties. I believe they then went in war production. By 1940 they were listed as United Stated Cartridge Company, a Division of Western Cartridge Company operating out of the St. Louis Ordnance Plant. At least one 20mm headstamp exists with the USCCo headstamp during that period. Also the 2 and 3 years pins for employees were given at the St. Louis Ordnance Plant. The factory newsletter and production and safety manuals say United States Cartridge Company. Western’ war production at East Alton was about 20 miles away and both plants had teams that competed in basketball and other sports. Western had their own plant newsletter called the Westerner. USC Co also had a war time newspaper at the plant during WWI. I haven’t seen one at anytime but during war production.

As to the first headstamp, I haven’t looked at that question from the catalogs. I need to go back to my notes for the meaning of Improved which were introduced at different times for different cartridges. I think it was the bullet.


#16

I have a few 9 m/m luger with truncated cone bullets both solid and hollow point with the USCCO head stamp and USCCo head stamp but can not find in any of the earlier catalogs. Appx when where they made?


#17

First, I cannot date any of the various USCCO bullets. Based on my collection, I believe there are five different bullets used by USCCO on 9mmP. They are arranged from right to left below in what I think is their order of manufacturer. The dates are pure speculation.

Far right: CN jacket bullet with the same ogive as the USCCO made MAXIUM headstamped 9mm Glisenti cartridges made for Italy in WWI. The 9mm Luger cartridge first appeared as far as I know on a 1919 supplement to the 1917 catalog. This cartridge occurs with both US stamped brass primers and unmarked copper primers. I have both FMJ and HP loads with both primer variations. There is no marking on these bullets. My guess is that these were produced from 1919 until the mid-1920s.

Second from right: Tinned bullet with the Glisenti ogive. This is the most difficult to find in my experience. I only have it in FMJ with a US marked brass primer. The bullet is unmarked. These were probably produced from the mid -1920s or so just before the takeover by Winchester.

Middle: Tinned bullet with a lower shoulder than the Glisenti ogive, and an S mark on the bullet. This is a HP load. I do not have a similar FMJ load. The primer is a typical Winchester nickel primer of the period with a purple seal. note the smooth case knurl which is different from the earlier USCCO production and typical of the Winchester production of the period. The bullet marking is also typical of the Winchester production. I suspect this is a transition round from the 1926-1928 period. Again, a difficult load for me to find.

Second from left: This is a tinned bullet with a typical Winchester ogive. It has the S mark and the typical Winchester primer and seal. I have this only in a HP load. I suspect it is from the late 1920s into the 1930s for a bit.

Far left: This load occurs with both FMJ and HP GM jacket bullets with an impressed S. These are identical to the Winchester bullets except for an S instead of a W marking. The primer and seal are also typical Winchester. These are probably the last production with USCCO cases so are likely from the 1930s until the end of “USCCO” production.

The initial Winchester 9mm Luger ammunition has a headstamp: WRACO 9M/M LUGER AUTO. At some point the headstamp was changed to WRACO 9M/M LUGER. I have a cartridge with this later headstamp, a copper primer with a purple seal but loaded with a typically USCCO CN Glisenti ogive bullet, but this bullet is marked with a W!!! It appears that at some point in the 1920s, early style USCCO bullets were supplied to Winchester and marked with a W. The bullets loaded in the earlier style Winchester cases have the very low shoulder of the later USCCO loads so this W marked Glisenti ogive bullet really stands out.

None of these stories is simple which makes cartridge collecting so interesting.

Cheers,

Lew


#18

I did a little checking on the 9mm and find the following on 9mm by USC Co.
As far as I can tell the truncated bullet was used throughout 9mm production by USC.

Smokeless 9mm luger was produced at least by 1924 but could have started in 1919. I do not have catalogs from 1919 thru 1923. Smokeless continued to 1928. In 1929 self cleaning 9mm luger was produced thru 1935.

As to the meaning of improved, USC co used a gilding metal (bronze) bullet jacket so as not to foul the barrel. That is at least what they put in the literature.


#19

Here are a couple of Krag boxes by USCCo. Note that the upper one has a Lowell, Mass address and does not indicate “Improved”. The lower one has the NY address and “Improved Hunting Cartridges”.
I also seem to recall seeing USCCo boxes that have just “Hunting Cartridges” without the “Improved”.

Randy


#20

A .357 MAG box by US with the New York address