Please help identify cartridge brass found in Mexico

I just returned from visiting friends in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Behind there home in some open fields I found a cartridge casing that was brass and blackened over time. The primer was not rusted. It looked about the diameter of a 9mm or .38, and was longer than 9mm para… maybe as long as a .38 super or even .357 mag. The stamped characters were evenly spaced circumferentially and were “WCCI9”. Of course the order of the characters depends on which character you choose to begin reading with. Also… the number may have been 6 as I forget which way it was facing.

My friend threw it out without my knowledge as he was paranoid that the Policia would discover that he had in his possession an item used to make ammunition. Both guns and ammo are illegal in Mexico. Hence, I’m relying on my fragile memory.

As I am curious, any assistance in identifying the manufacturer, caliber, and latest possible date of manufacture would be of interest.


Winchester Cartridge Company

…Probably 61 for the year.

my best geuss-ti-mate.


Well,there’s a big difference in lenght between a 38 Super and a 357 magnum
( 23 mm vs 33 mm).I think that it was a 38 Special case ( 29 mm ) made by winchester in 1961


WCC is Western Cartridge Company. Most likely a 38 Special military load. Since the WCC headstamps were meant to be viewed without having to orient (turn) the case, my guess is that it is 91 for 1991.

These are fairly common cartridges.

I did not think that Mexico gun laws were THAT restrictive except as they pertain to military guns and cartridges. But I think your friend was wise in being paranoid.

Strict gun laws are obviously working as intended in Mexico. Otherwise we’d be hearing all kinds of stories about shootings, murders, etc. No, wait. . . ;)


Ray–Yah, the Mexican laws must be working!!! I heard that it was bolts of lightning that were killing all the drug traffickers and the civilians that stand too close when the lighting strikes. It is kind of unusual, though, that the lightning seems to always come sorta sidewise and out the end of these steel tubes.

Firstly, if he read the headstamp as “WCC19,” than it is probably correctly read as “W C C 6 1” and not as being from “91.” It could be a military .38 - I don’t know with what dates they are found, or if the diameter was miscalculated, it could easily be a .45 auto case with that headstamp, in which case the local there would be right to be scared since it is a caliber prohibited in Mexico beyond even other gun laws.

I can’t speak for Mexican citizens, but possession of even one round of ammunition in M

In Italy possession of one loaded round without licence=2 years in the nearest jail…yes,in Italy there’s no crime!

However,yes it is Western cartridge company.Sorry

oops, forgot it was western not Win. I am ashamed.
Was I at least right in thinking that western was part of Winchester?
Like W-W stands for Winchester-Western?

Speculation of it being .38 Special is probably on the money. As I only observed it for a short time before it was tossed all I really knew was that it was not 9mm para but of about the same diameter. It was clearly not a .45 cal.

The Policia are now getting funds for beefing up. New Dodge Charge pursuit vehicles and snazzy looking AR class rifles. Now they are looking into training… duh!

We mixed work with pleasure while down there and arranged a demonstration of our battery operated, wireless, turning target system, as they are presently only using static silhouettes now.

Unfortunately, if they did allow the arming of citizens, the majority would only be able to afford saturday night specials. And like here, its not armed citizens that anyone has to be concerned with… just a plethora uninformed paranoia, and BGs.

Thanks for the feedback.

Dodge Charger?

Ron M can probably correct me if I’m wrong but it’s more correct to say that Winchester was a part of Western rather than the other way around. Both are part of the Olin Corp.

Regardless of the date on that 38 Special case, it was most likely a military round, an M41, loaded with a FMJ bullet. Mexican authorities may or may not have been able to ID it as such.

Folks living in the non-border states are probably not as acutely aware of the volitile situation in Mexico as are we who live in TX, NM, AZ, and CA. It is ready to explode and if/when it does it will be a severe test of our new Director of Homeland Secuity (Janet Napolitano) and, based on her years as AZ Governor, I’m not convinced she is up to the task.


If definitely not a .45, it would almost certainly be a .38 Special. By the way, WCC on current ammunition stands for Winchester Cartridge Company.
The Western brand is a thing of the past, pretty much, and NATO has assigned the winchester name the old Western initials of WCC rather than WRA as far as I know.

Ray, you are right on. The Texas border especially is in real crisis, with the terrible violence of the narcos spilling over the border now, into Texas and now sometimes aimed at Anglos there, as well.

Southern California has areas that are all but controlled by Hispanic gangs, with a very high portion of illegals (oops, pardon me - “non-documeted visitors”) in their ranks. We have some of that in the San Francisco area, as well, in our Mission district. It is a real problem, and an insult to our country as well as to all the hard-working, honest people of Hispanic heritage we have in our state. Unfortunately, the radical left has gotten control of most of the Hispanic organizations, and the decent people here legally have little to say in them anymore.

A shame M

[quote=“JohnMoss”]If definitely not a .45, it would almost certainly be a .38 Special. By the way, WCC on current ammunition stands for Winchester Cartridge Company.
The Western brand is a thing of the past, pretty much, and NATO has assigned the winchester name the old Western initials of WCC rather than WRA as far as I know.


Thanks John, I don’t feel quite so stupid now. I knew I had seen somewhere that WCC stood for Winchester Cartridge Company. Even though it is certain that, at the time the posters casing was made, it stood for Western.


I’m just curious. Where have you found a reference that indicates that WCC now stands for Winchester Cartridge Company? The ammunition manufacturing arm of Olin is “Olin’s Winchester Division” but I have not seen any reference to a Winchester Cartridge Company.

And where did you find a reference that NATO has made any assignment of names?

A few years ago I got a 300 Win Mag Match AMU cartridge from a Navy sniper team in Phoenix and it has a WCC 95 headstamp. It came from one of the typical white contract boxes but I didn’t think to look closely at the label. I wish now that I had.

Does anyone have one of the white boxes???


There is a whole lot that is unknown or deliberately hidden in the Mexican arms and ammunition fields; one of the most unusual ideas I’ve ever seen was the product of Mendoza (currently making air-guns and small-bore rifles, but they also made a top-fed BAR-type automatic rifle/SAW, and a number of SMGs), and it used one of their 22 LR pistols fitted into a combination shoulder-stock/silencer, where the tubing of the stock acted as an additional expansion chamber for the silencer. This picture is from Truby’s “Silencers, Snipers, and Assassins”:

Ray - Well, I stand partially corrected. Being a Winchester fan, I am prone to use the old designation rather than the names Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation or Olin Corporation. Since the Western branch of W-W is not, to my knowledge, operating, it is, of course, Winchester by default. Originally, lot numbers were show as “WRA #####” on Olin Mathieson Boxes, but in recent years, those lot numbers show “WCC #####.”

“NATO INFANTRY WEAPONS STANDARDIZATION,” a publication of the Weapons and Sensors Working Group, Land Capability Group 1 - Dismounted soldier, of the NATO Army Armaments Group, shows the code WCC assigned to “Olin Winchester USA.” Unfortunately, this document is not dated, but it is very current, since it shows “GGG” assigned to Lithuania and “RG” as assigned to BAE Systems Radway Green. It also refers to other reports with dates as late as 2004.

If someone knows if the “Western” name is still be used on anything at all, please post it here. I am of the distinct impression that it is pretty much a dead issue. Fairly recent copies of a NATO list published by the Dutch Navy still shows the “Western Cartridge Company” name for “WCC” but frankly, I think this is an error simply caused by continuing an entry, perhaps not atune to the coporate situation involving Olin, Winchester and Western.

Why “WCC” was chosen to continue as a headstamp code over “WRA” I cannot answer. I don’t have a complete list of NATO-assigned initials; I wish I did. It is possible that WRA is assigned to someone else for some other manufacturing purpose than ammunition. I don’t know that. Just wondering out loud why they didn’t drop “WCC” and keep “WRA” for Olin, since the factory now operates, I think, solely under the “Winchester” brand name.

All that said, it would have been more proper for me to say that “WCC” is the Code for Olin Corporation, even in light of the referenced publication by the NATO Army Armaments Group.


The twists and turns of Olin/Western/Winchester are hard to follow. Someone looking for a subject for a future JOURNAL article might find one there.

I would guess that Olin may have given up their right to “WRA” when they sold the firearms manufacturing arm to the U.S. Repeating Arms Co. But it appears that they (Olin) retained ownership of the “Winchester” name and trademark for both ammunition and firearms since they apparantly have licensed FN Herstal to make Model 70 rifles.

This is the kind of stuff that lawers feed on.


I found that after wishing out loud I had a complete NATO List, I do have one. Department of Defense Handbook MIL-HDBK-1461A, dated 1 April 1999, Ammunition Manufacturers and Their Symobols. This list of abbreviations used by NATO is an incredible 87 pages long, just for the list.

It shows WCC twice:

Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp Winchester Western Division - Status Inactive
Olin Corp Brass Group & Winchester Division - Status Active

It also shows WRA

Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp Winchester-Western Division - Status Active.

I am surprised is shows WRA as active with this corporate name, which no longer existed as Olin Mathieson, and with the WRA code seldom if ever used anymore. Well, its a government publication - what can I say?

The Current “WCC” headstamp indicates (military) manufacture by Olin Corp. Plant, at East Alton, Illinois (Formerly the Western Cartridge Company, and after Olin acquired a bankrupt Winchester Ammunition back when ( after WW II?), the Firm brand became “Winchester-Western”. gradually all ammo production was shifted to East Alton, and the Eastern Plant (New Haven?)of the original “WRA” headstamp was closed, and disposed of.
WCC had been the Military headstamp of Western Cartridge Co. since WW II, and it identified the East Alton Plant… The fact that Olin still owns the Winchester trademark with respect to ammunition, and still uses it for Civilian commercial ammo (made in the WCC Plant.)…
“Winchester” is now only a trademark, no longer a corporate entity…

So, the (military) .38 Special is WCC, thus it is an Olin product, produced at East Alton. End of story. No “Winchester Cartridge Company”…which doesn’t exist… as to any so-called “NATO” connection, NATO cannot direct how a manufacturer IDs his own factory, unless it conflicts with an existing maker
(Normal “trademark” laws, anyway, without having to refer to “Nato” rules.)
NATO does regulate what markings go on “NATO” user acceptable ammo, but that is where it ends. ( ie, the NATO “Cross in circle”).

In any case, since when is .38 Special a “NATO” calibre???

Doc AV
AV Ballistics

Winchester Repeating Arms Co. was acquired by Western Cartridge Co. (which was always owned by Olin) in 1931. Winchester products continued to be marketed with Winchester headstamps ( W.R.A., SUPER SPEED) and boxes, up through the 60’s, when the W-W headstamp appeared. Winchester boxes from 1939 to 1946 will show "Division of Western Cartridge Company on them. From 1946 to 1954,both Western and Winchester boxes will show “Division of Olin Industries”. From 1954 to 1969, “Division of Olin-Mathieson Chemical Corp.” 1969 onward, “Division of Olin Corporation”