Steel head Federal Monark shotshells


I came across these a few days ago and found them rather interesting. I have never seen Federal shells of this period with steel heads.

The top wad identifies the load as FEDERAL 8 c TRAP. They did not come with a box, unfortunantly. Based on the headstamp (No), the use of steel and the TRAP load I wonder if these are not WWII production for Uncle Sam? Steel was used in other ammunition during the war to offset the use of brass and 8c TRAP loads were known to be loaded by other makers for use by the Government during the war.

Can anyone else shed any light on this theory of mine?


It is a fact that steel was used by most of the ammunition factories for case production, either the entire case in the instance of metallic rounds, or case heads for shotgun shells, in 1944 and 21945. They were sold that way also in the very little commercial production that was going on. I don’t know off hand if Federal was doing any commercial production at all in that period, but if they were, the shotgun shells would probably be with steel heads. Honestly, off hand, I don’t recall if they were even doing military production. Am drawing a blank on that for some reason.

Remington produced steel shotgun shells, according to their little wartime history, published by the Remington Arms Company in 1944, “In Abundance and on Time, 1939-1943.” “When conversion of small arms ammunition to steel was ugently desired by the Ordnance Department, Remington produced accepted cartridges in calibers .45, .30 and .50; also shot shells and experimental lots of caliber .22; also practically all types of bullet jackets. In all, more than 3-1/2 Billions rounds containing steel in place of brass were produced.” (Page 28 of the above cited reference).

The Bridgeport works alone proced 259,178,335 shotshells during the period covered by the history. The Peters Kings Mills plant produced 125,400,235 shot shells. Remington even made clay bird targets (166,259,325) and Traps (5,996) for the Government at their Findlay factory.

The U.S.Army Air Force found teaching aerial gunners to trap shoot in their basic training made them show a big improvement in aerial gunnery when they went on to machine guns. After a study of reasons for the high degree of accuracy among American fighter pilots and bomber gunners, the British decided to introduce shotgun shooting at flying targets in their marksmanship training, during the summer of 1943.

Well, I got off on a tangent I guess. Shotguns in the Service make for an interesting story, not just with the guns, but also the ammunition and training. Of course, I am sure that some of the above ammunition by Remington was 00 Buck made for guard guns, as well as probably for the USMC that used shotguns heavily in the island fighting, proven by many combat pictures showing them with all manner of “Trench Guns.”

John Moss Edited to correct a typo only


Mr. Moss;

You are certainly a candidate for “MVP” of the Forum (Most Valuable Professor) !

Thanks for your keen memory, keeping your library open. and your fingers nimble.


I have to agree with Pepper. John also has great visual ID skills too!

Thanks for the info John.
I’d sure like to know if anyone can document Federal having any government contracts for shotshells during the war.


I have a wooden crate from Federal Cartridge Co labeled " US Property Paper Shot Shells 12 Ga No.8 Ch Shot Lot No 1480".

I always assumed it was WWII but I don’t know for sure. It may have contained your steel head shot shell. In Hackley, Wooden and Scranton Vol. 2 they say The US procured shotgun ammunition with steel heads extending only 0.50 inches up the body of the round. Sounds like yours.



Federal was a major producer of 12 GA #8 shells during WW2 for military contracts. From what I have observed about 40% of surviving boxes seem to be Federal, about 25% Winchester, 25% Western and 10% others. Remington seems to have been the exclusive supplier of #8 Tracer shells.


JohnS - Thanks for verifying that Federal made Shotshells during WWII. When I started my answer, I “knew” that they did. By the time I finished my answer, in my ignorance, questions had come up in my mind about it.

The total figure for shotshells produced during the war, like with other military calibers, must have been staggering, when we look at Remington’s figures alone, and then see the percentages of shot shells produced by other companies during that conflict! Incredible!

John Moss


Many thanks to everyone for their inputs.

This discussion sent me back to my collection, to a box of shells I have confirmed were made under government contract during or just after the war. These shells were purchased about 1946 from the Monroe Hardware Company, Monroe NC. Until today I always assumed these were brass heads but I discovered they react to a magnet, rather strongly. Undoubtedly they are either plated or washed in something… or could there be a steel liner under the brass?

Just when I think I have the answers, I get more questions!
(The metal head is 3/8" long.)


Many shotshells which look to have a brass base have in fact a brass plated steel base.
I discovered that after been attacked by one of the two foes of shotshells : aunts !! (the second shotshell predator being mouse).

These animals decided to make their nest in a 100 NPE box somebody gave to me.
All was perfect till I took a look on the base of the shells.
The formic acid had attacked the brass plating and the bases were all rusted !

Except pure steel bases (you can find in wwii german shotshells or in some pre WWII french shells) you can find also aluminium bases (in pre wWII ,and perhaps just after, Italian shells and post WWII french shotshells).

Many of modern shotshells have brass plated steel bases.