New (to me) WRA 9M/M LUGER HST


#1

Way back I discovered (with John Ms help as I remember) that there were two different headstamp styles on these rounds (Right and Center below). Within the past 10 years-since I became interested in box letter codes)-I discovered that the headstamp on the right always seem to occur in boxes with an “A” prefix on the code, indicating that, in spite of being a WRA box, the box and ammo were loaded by Western in Illinois. The center headstamp occurs in boxes without the “A” indicating the box and ammo were loaded at the WRA plant in CT.

Recently, I picked up a Red and Yellow WRA box dated April 1952 with no “A” (so New Haven CT production) and the headstamp (Left below) was different from either of the two headstamps (smaller letters) I had cataloged before. When I checked my collection, I actually had this headstamp on both proof and dummy loads but not on a ball load.

I checked a Western made box from 1948 and it had the “Western” style large headstamp on the right below. I checked a 1947 WRA made box and it has the same headstamp as on the far left below.

Have family coming over so will check my other boxes and try to decide when the WRA made ammunition transitioned from the headstamp on the left to the one in the middle.

Cheers,
Lew


#2

Lew - I am not sure I see the difference between the headstamp at the left (purple PA) and the center headstamp (red PA). The white-out on the center headstamp (I hate white-out on headstamps) seems to distort the letters making them look bigger, but I am not sure they are. Could you explain the difference you see? I am not saying they are not different by the way - with one plain and one with white-out, it is simply hard for my old eyes to make the comparison. Of course, the one on the right is obviously different from the other two.


#3

The “W.R.A. 9 M-M” headstamps with domed nickel primers and purple primer annulus, are they dated before or after the ones pictured?

Joe

Pictures added!


#4

John, The height of the letters WRA is markedly smaller. When I measure them, the center hst has a W that is 1.2mm high while the left hst is .96mm. I recognize that there is some error in this measurement, but the comparison is clear. When I measure the images on the computer screen, the center one is 8.3mm and the left one is 7.5mm. The first set of measurements gives a ratio if 0.800 and the second 0.903, but both show a distinct difference. I have looked at other rounds and the difference is noticeable. Maybe the picture below will help. The right headstamp is consistent in older Red & Yellow boxes and the left headstamp is consistent in the later boxes so it is not a casual difference as far as I can tell.

I also recognize that paying attention to headstamp variations like this is probably a sure sign of mental impairment.

Both of these are in your box.

Cheers,
Lew


#5

Lew - Yes, I can plainly see it now on the new picture, and since I know exactly what to look for on the one with the (ugh!) whiteout on it. In fact, the two pictures prove how totally unnecessary it is to use whiteout on a headstamp for any conceivable reason. I will continue my crusade against that stuff being applied to a perfectly good cartridge.

By the way, when I am next in my room I will have to investigate to see if I have all three of these variations. Yes, I am also mentally impaired. Oh hell, call it what it is - I am as looney as a March Hare. I know you had no clue of that. :-)


#6

Joe, The WRA 9M-M headstamp is basically from 1939 to 1945. The The initial contract was from Finland around the time of the Winter War with the Soviets, but that contract was cancelled before delivery. Sweden bought the ammo, but it was still in storage in the US when the British decided they were desperately needed 9mmP ammo after Dunkirk. The British bought the ex-Finnish ammo, perhaps through WRA, and contracted with WRA for additional 9mmP production. This was the RN cartridges that were patterned on the Finnish 9mm production, which was the first large scale production of 115gr bullet 9mmP by WRA, and probably in the entire USA. It appears that Finland introduced the 115gr 9mmP load in the early 1930s for their Suomi M31 SMG. WRA made a batch in 1934 for someone in South America, probably for Bolivia for use in Suomi SMG. In 1939 they also made a contract for Mexico, again probably for Suomi SMGs.

Italy introduced a 115gr load for their Beretta M38 MP. I have no evidence if this was independent or if they were guided in this by the Finnish experience.

The British wrote their first Specification for their standard Sten 9mmP cartridge in early 1941 and it was 115gr, undoubtedly because the 115gr blt was already essentially their standard based on the ammo from WRA. WRA also supplied 9mmP ammo to US forces and probably other governments during WWII.

The 125gr truncated load with the WRA 9 M-M headstamp is interesting. These show up in the early WRA blue boxes from the early 1930, but are dated 1940, years after WRA moved to their Blue and Yellow boxes for 9mmP. In addition the boxes have a D prefix which also shows up on an early White WRA box for the British. This same Blue box, with the same first two letters of the date code “D8” but wrapped in brown paper, heavily waxed, with a Dutch label came out of Indonesia. These were probably a purchase by the Dutch purchasing commission in the US for their forces in the Dutch East Indies. The Germans invaded Holland in May 1940 and this ammunition was packed in Aug 1940.

I suspect there is a lot we don’t know about the Winchester production during WWII and who used their 9mmP ammo.

Tony Edwards has turned up info that the British also bought ammunition from Remington during early WWII, but no ammunition has turned up that gives any indication it may be part of this contract.The indication may be as subtle as a prefix on the load code, but any Dogbone box with an interesting or unusual marking would be a candidate.

Cheers,
Lew


#7

Lew, thanks for the info. The truncated round is a hollow point and weighs in at 192 grains. The FMJ is magnetic and weighs in at 179 grains.

Joe


#8

Joe, I also have the HP round like the one you pictured, but don’t have a box so can’t add anything.

If someone has a box for these cartridges, I’d be very interested.

Cheers,
Lew


#9

I checked my boxes and the small WRA hst changed to the midsize WRA headstamp sometime between mid-1952 and early 1956. If some of you have Red & Yellow WRA boxes whose load code does not start with an “A” please check them and post which kind of headstamp they have. perhaps we can pin it down more precisely.

Cheers,
Lew


#10

Ok, so what that tells me, is the headstamps I posted, were manufactured before the headstamps you posted.

Joe


#11

Correct Joe!

The WRA 9M/M LUGER hst was introduced immediately after WWII (the earliest I have dated is Jan 1948). The WRA 9M-M headstamp was basically used during WWII and before the war the commercial headstamp WRACo 9M/M LUGER was used. However, immediately after WWII the guys at WRA used up their pre-WWII commercial cases loaded with RN 115gr bullets. I have prewar blue & yellow box with WRACo hsts loaded with 115gr bullets. The box is dated early 1947. The end label and top label indicate 125gr truncated bullets but it has an over-label indicating that the load is 115gr. There is also a very early style red & yellow box with 115gr bullets and WRACo headstamps, but unfortunately the box end is missing so it is impossible to date.

Tracking these red & yellow boxes has made me think. Many of the early WRA 9M/M LUGER rounds are actually Western production (the Jan 1948 box mentioned above is by Western).

Makes me wonder if Western didn’t also produce some of the WRA 9M-M ammunition during the war. They did produce 9mm ammo with WCC headstamps, but I wonder about the WRA 9M-M headstamped rounds.

I have early 1930 blue boxes with the A prefix for Western manufacture but none of the blue & yellow boxes I have documented have an A prefix.

Like most else in cartridge collections—lots of unknowns.

Cheers,
Lew

Edited to remove incorrect data.


#12

On a related question!

I’m still trying to sort out the early post-WWII Winchester production. A document I have indicated that Winchester-Western Center Fire Pistol sales dropped from about 37M units to zero by the end of 1941, and remained there through 1945, then climbed to over 50M units and by 1948 were over 60M units before dropping down toward pre-war levels. Another Olin document that shows pistol shipments by caliber from 1948 to 1955 indicates over 6.5M 9mm Luger were shipped in '48, just less than 2M in '49 and ramping down until it leveled off at just over 1M units beginning in 1952. All of these were swith the 115gr bullet.

I’m trying to figure out what was going on with WRA 9mm Luger between the end of '45 and '48. I suspect a lot, perhaps most of the production was in the early red and yellow boxes which only say “9m/m LUGER” on the front like the one illustrated below.

If anyone has one of these boxes, Please post or send me the code stamped inside the end flap.

At least some of the production from this period was in pre-WWII boxes with an over-label as shown below. If you have or know of one of these boxes with the overlabel, please post or send me the code inside the end flap.

Many thanks for any help you can provide. Support in this kind of research is what makes the Forum such a powerful tool.

Cheers,
Lew


#13

Lew
Your upper red, white & yellow example with the big W I have as a 115 full patch & code on the left flap looks like: 4 6210U & the rounds have the larger W R A headstamp but a blue annulus.

The red, yellow & blue has a different overlabel with the same K9004T product code but with a ??5 gr. Roundnose (full patch) Bullet & the left flap is missing however the right one is stamped “73728” (sometimes we get lucky?)

These rounds have a W.R.A.Co headstamp, & neither box is full.


#14

Lew - I have the top box (red and yellow) for 115 grain full patch bullet ammo. The code inside the end flap is A1919. Headstamp is W.R.A. 9M/M LUGER.

I have one of the blue and yellow boxes that you show below that box in the same picture, but mine has no over-label. It is for the 125 grain full patch bullet (a truncated FN FMJ bullet) and that is what is printed on the top, with 125 grain bullet on two lines at the base of the depicted cartridge and Full Patch in front of the nose of the bullet in the drawing. That one has the W.R.A. 9M-M headstamp and the W.R.A. CO. 9M/M LUGER headstamp, mixed. I have one of each in the box which could indicate one of two things. Either they were factory mixed, or I had two identical boxes but with different headstamped ammo, so chose to show the either headstamp could come in the same box. I have had these boxes since I first started collecting boxes, and was not interested in the least in lot numbers in those days. Today, I would have kept both boxes, even though likely identical except for lot number. I wish I could tell you which of the two possibilities is represented here, but I don’t recall. I probably got these boxes a mere 45 or so years ago. The code inside the flap is 111 14.

The second box has an interesting instruction printed on the top of the portion that folds into the box (the same side that is visible with the box closed), that I don’t recall seeing before, although I may even have other boxes with it:

To insure the complete absence of corrosive fouling,
before commencing the use of Staynless ammunition,
both new and old barrels should be flused inside with
a hot solution of washing soda or soap, or with boiling
water, and then wiped dry. We do not recommend the
reloading of these shells.

That is on both end labels.

Hope this is of some help and interest.


#15

Pete & John, Great info, many thanks!

Pete,
I have a couple of questions and have sent you a PM. will provide info when you get back to me. Great items!!!

John,
First, all the blue and yellow boxes appear to have the statement on the end flap.

Second, I have the same box with the identical code and it is full of WRA 9M-M loads which makes sense since the load date was 14 Nov 1941! This is one of the last commercial boxes to come out of WRA before the war and it was during the period when WRA was in high rate production for the British. I think this is a great box. Most of these boxes have the WRACo headstamp and you probably had an earlier box with the same bullet so you combined them. I’m pretty confident that is what happened since I have never seen mixed headstamps in any of these boxes-but never say “never”.

Finally, your red & yellow box was produced by Western (identified by the “A”) on 19 Jan 1949 which is interesting since I have Western made box of the later style with “9m/m LUGER (PARABELLUM)” on the front instead of just “9m/m LUGER” and it is dated 22 Dec 1948 so they must have still had the two box styles mixed on the line. I had thought that the style I show in my last post was dropped in late 1948, but this apparently isn’t true!

Many thanks for the great info.

I would appreciate inputs from anyone else.

Cheers,
Lew


#16

Lew - I have to admit I find the Winchester 9 mm box sequence for that era confusing. I have two of the basically all-blue boxes (a couple of white banners on the top with Red print within them). One is for ammunition with what they called 125 grain Hollow Soft Point. I would call it FMJ HP since the bullet is truncated and with the bullet jacket material folded over and down into the hollow point. The headstamp is W.R.A. 9 M-M. Lot number is 111 17 (Remember that my blue and yellow box was lot number 111 14, three lots earlier. I though the blue and yellow boxes came after the all-blue ones.

The second box is for 125 grain full patch ammo, and is also trncated. The headstamp on that ammo is W R A 9 M/M LUGER. Lot number is A91 22, denoting manufacture by Western.

These blue boxes have the same advice about washing the barrels before firing Staynless ammo, that the blue and yellow box has.

I have two of the red and yellow boxes that say 9 m/m LUGER (PARABELLUM) on the top. Regretably, neither had a sample cartridge. Both are the same (one is from my dupes). Lot number on one is 80 on one line, and then somewhat under it, A53 6. The second one, in the same pattern of numbers, is 57 and then A56 10.

I have noted one thing from this era (basically, WWII). The rounds with WRA headstamp and a purple-blue primer seal seem to be all with Winchester Lot Numbers. The ones with the “A” series lot numbers seem to always have a reddish-orange (or what I call “thin red”) primer seal. It is not the darker red color that W-W; WIN, etc. have these days. I am sure you have noted that.

I hope this is of some help too, and that I am not just making things more confusing, which I seem to be prone to lately.


#17

Hi Lew
first box -> photos of the code & although not a complete stamp it sure looks like a 4 & not an A. & yes your correct it does say
"(PARABELLUM) " after Luger & yes the end flap code is “W9LP”. So I guess I screwed that up, sorry. Don’t have one like yours.

the blue & yellow code below, & as I say this box is missing the left flap so if something other than a lot???

If I look at the other side of this box at the areas where the over label covers it shows a 125 grain & the “Non-mercuric” & “oillproof” lines., same as yours. The front - side notes US patent 2009556 & Division of Western Cart. Co.

Lew sent me an e-mail questioning the boxes & I apparently didn’t notice on the red and yellow box his just says LUGER, while mine had "(PARABELLUM) " after Luger. So to get this straight for everyone, my corrections.

Also for the headstamp size on the red & yellow WRA it is the larger with the red annulus where he just posed the two photos. The one in this box has a blue annulus & not the red annulus but is the larger size headstamp. so a third variation if your counting annulus colors.


#18

Pete, Many thanks!

Your Red & Yellow box is clearly WRA made. The code 4 6210U is Jun1952 and is the earliest date I have seen on this variation of the Red & Yellow box.

Your Blue & Yellow box with the overlabel is really neat. It is dated the end of Mar 1947 and is about 6+ weeks later than mine. Yours of course has the different overlabel. Really a nice box

Many thanks for posting them.

John, I sent you an email on your boxes which I also greatly appreciate. Both narrow down the dates for the transition between box types.

More input on these boxes would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Lew