I have encountered several of these late teens/early 20s style commercial Remington-UMC .38 Long Colt boxes with REM-UMC 18 headstamped cartridges over the years. I have not seen a military style box for these, but I don’t believe commercial boxes were used for the cartridges that were delivered to the military. A more likely scenario is that they had a lot of their military contract cartridges on hand when the 1st World War ended. According to volume 1 of History of Modern US Military Small Arms Ammunition, Remington had a contract for nearly 9 million rounds of .38 Long Colt for the Army in early 1918, and a contract for another 3 million for the Navy. Considering that the war ended in November of 1918, it figures that there was more .38 Long Colt ammunition produced that year than could have needed by the military for quite some time.
Guy: If these cartridges were delivered to the government in the present boxes would they not display a lot number or some other evidence of acceptance? Is it possible these were for commercial sale, headstamp notwithstanding? Jack
I do believe these were for commercial sale, as a means of disposing of cartridges remaining from the government contracts - either over runs, rejects, or perhaps the government simply did not want whatever remained undelivered once the war was over.
It is possible (but I have no evidence) that these rounds were delivered in the usual military 20 round packs, and then later repacked by individual owners into empty commercial boxes where shooters might prefer 50 round packing.
I have handled a lot of “shooter” ammo accumulations repacked into other boxes of the same caliber or even different calibers just because they had a lot of ammo and wanted to store it neatly in boxes instead of loose.
Since there was a separate Navy contract noted above, it is possible that the Navy was willing to accept commercial style boxes instead of the Army 20 orund boxes. Strictly a guess.
Guy - I agree with your analysis of this military headstamp found commercially packaged. I don’t think it is especially unusual, at least for Remington. I have heard of 1918-dated 45 ACP rounds being found in commercial boxes of the early 1920s, and I have in my collection a multiball .45 cartridge of the type made for Tommy Guns with a REM-UMC 18 date - technically too early a date for this cartridge. I suspect they not only sold off remaining lots boxes commercially, but also used left-over components, which would be the situation with that .45 multiball round. The primer has the military-style plain copper cup of the period, the only one of these multiball rounds I have seen that did not have a nickeled primer cup. It was suggested to me that it might be a military experimental, but since it is not covered in Woodin Volume I, not normally being a military round, I dismiss that assumption.
There is another instance of a military-headstamped .45 from Remington, in 1968. In this case, full boxes were found and common at the time. They were packed in the normal Remington Green, white and red commercial box of the era, and all rounds in all boxes examined were headstamped “R A 6 8” with the unusual thing being that the cases were nickeled. This could be result of failure to change a bunter during case production, or returning unused lots of military cases to be nickeled for commercial use. Since I don’t know where in the production cycle the cases are nickeled, I am not sure of that possibility. The primer cups in this ammo are standard commercial nickeled cups. We had several cases of this ammo in our store, and I still have a partial box in my collection. Oddly, the boxes have no lot numbers. I don’t recall off hand if that is normal for Remington or not.
There are probably many more instances of military cases used in commercial loading by Remington over the years, as well as by other factories.
And of course it’s well-known Remington altered M1917 Rifle components remaining from their wartime contract and assembled them as Model 30 sporting rifles for a couple of decades. Jack