Remington Arrow Shotshell Date


I picked up today a 12 ga Remington loaded shotshell, having a green paper case and a rolled crimp, high brass, headstamped “Arrow Express” Also Remington-UMC stamped around brass base. It was varnished all over.

During what period might this one have been loaded? Any ideas about why it may have been varnished? Maybe a former practice of waterfowl hunters to prevent case swelling from dampness?


Dennis, I have one of these in my collection and I have it dated for the 1950’s. I don’t believe production of this shell went beyond 1960 but it could have been earlier than 1950, perhaps 1936. Mine only appears to have the shiny varnish-like finish on the tube, not the cup or the top-wad. If yours is otherwise, I’d suspect it’s something done after-market.

Mine is marked Kleanbore
on the tube and has the REMINGTON-UMC in the metal cup.

The ARROW shell dates back to about 1910 but not this one, marked ARROW EXPRESS with the green, corrugated case.

I believe the varnish-like finish was to protect the case against the effects of moisture, scuffing and to enhance the feed into repeating shotguns. Earlier Arrow (Remington-UMC) shells touted a steel liner that helped keep the powder dry and enhanced the burning effect of smokeless powder but this Arrow Express does not react to a magnet so I doubt it has the steel liner.


The Arrow Express shell I have appears to be varnished only on the paper parts, i.e., the green corrugated body and also the top closure disc, on which is printed “Arrow Express 5c” It’s quite shiny. There is no evidence of any varnish (if that’s what it is) anywhere on the brass.

I grew up in the 1950’s with a shotgun in my hands much of the time (mainly a Marlin visible hammer pump I wish I still had), and I have fired a ton of Remington green paper 12 ga shells. Yet, I do not remember ever seeing any Remington shells marked Arrow Express, nor boxes for same, and certainly no Remington shells that had the varnish-like shiny appearance. Perhaps the Arrow with the “varnish” was popular in only geographically limited areas of the US?


I spent a little more time going thru piles of material and found more information.

An add shows the shell in question available as early as 1931 in a 2pc box.

Also found the yellowbox with green trim and print, with the red ball, clearly showing that they are “Lacquered” shells. This is a 1pc box that I believe is post WWII and was used for the Nitro Express shells as well, which are identical to the Arrow except in name. Here’s an example of the box style (don’t have a good pic of the ARROW box)


So the “Wetproof” designation (at least for Remington at that time) meant it has a paper tube with a shiny lacquered finish? I learn something new every day. I was assuming my shell with rolled crimp dated from no later than the late 1940s when the “New Remington Crimp” came into use.

I have relatively little resource information about Remington shotshells, and I could find nothing on the internet about Remington Arrow shells (other than they existed) and lacquered/varnished coatings. There is an article about Remington shotshells in the 3rd Edition of Gun Digest (1947) that shows a picture of an Arrow Express shell (among others), and that picture could easily date from an even earlier time. The same article also has a drawing of the Remington crimp. No other information, including mention of tube lacquering or wetproofing is provided. Subsequent GD issues through the early 1950s say nothing much about shotshells. My 1956 edition of the Shooter’s Bible has a listing of available Remington shotshells, but the “Arrow” brand is not shown among them. And that’s all I have.

Maybe the Arrow vanished prior to WWII. That would be my guess. Does anyone have an Arrow shell with the “New Remington Crimp?”


Dennis–Here is the history of the “Arrow” brand shot shells. This should allow you to date yours. All Arrow shells use the Rolled Crimp.

1901–Introduced by U.M.C.–Maroon case–Very high smooth head–U.M.C.Co. No 12 ARROW

1905-1910–Case color changed to Salmon.

1911–Headstamp changed to “REMINGTON U.M.C. No 12 ARROW”

1912–Ring and words added to base cup under a patent of 12 March 1912. The purpose was to allow space for the cup to expand. This helped prevent “case cut-off” which had been been a problem before.

1916–Headstamp changed to "REM-UMC No 12 ARROW

Ca. 1921-1923–Arrow brand listed with the “New Remington Wetproof” case. Case color is still Salmon.

1929–New “Lacquered” cases listed. Color not listed, but most likely changed to Green.
Note that the Lacquered shells are NOT the same as the Wetproof shells.

1931–Color listed as “Glossy Green Finish”

1933–Color for “Arrow Wetproof” listed as Red. “Arrow Lacquered” is “Glossy Green”

1934–Remington introduces “Patented Corrugated” shell, but ONLY in Nitro Express.

1936–ALL (Including Arrow) now listed with corrugated case.

1937–Most, but not all, “ARROW” loads listed as “Being Discontinued”.

1940–The “ARROW EXPRESS LACQUERED” shells now have the headstamp “ARROW 12 GA EXPRESS”. The “ARROW WETPROOF” still has the old REM-UMC headstamp.

1948–Last listing for “ARROW” brand shot shells is the 2 Jan. 1948 Dealer Price list. No listing in the 1948 Retail Catalog or the 3 Nov. 1948 Dealer Price List.


A great timeline of events. Where did it come from? That information substantiates about what I originally concluded from the information resources I had - Made mainly for waterfowl hunters, and probably discontinued not long after WWII (as the Arrow brand was shown in the 1947 GD). These lacquered shells must not have been very common, as the one shell I have is the only one I remember ever seeing. Of course, the advent of plastic shells put an end to the moisture swelling problem.

I initially thought that maybe some duck hunter varnished his own shells to prevent swelling from dampness, and I imagine that may well have been done also.

This has been a very interesting exercise into an area I knew nothing about.


Great info Ron. Guess you can disregard my email… if you ever get it.

I’ll have to upgrade my notes, since I had this as later.


Dennis–All the info came from the U.M.C. and Remington Arms catalogs.

Shotmeister–I have not received any email from you.