U marked .45 bullets


#1

Does anyone know why Rem-UMC stamped a U in the bases of the bullets loaded in these .45 Auto and .45 Auto Rim cartridges, and what years this was done? These marked bullets obviously were loaded in cartridges intended for both military and commercial sale. The .45 Auto has a 1918 dated headstamp; since the .45 Auto Rim was introduced about 1920, it would be my guess that this .45 AR was produced shortly after the introduction of the cartridge.


#2

Guy- I believe it was common practice at that time to mark primers and bullets to indicate the maker so it could be identified as factory loaded ammo. Winchester usually marked the bullets on the side where it was visible when loaded.

Your top round looks like one of the military contract rounds with the three stab stake marks to secure the bullet in the case. Apparently this was done when ammo was likely to be used in the M1917 revolvers to reduce chances of an unfired bullet in the cylinder slipping forward during recoil. Apparently this was not an issue with the M1911 semi-auto pistol as the rounds in the magazine are not parallel to the direction of the recoil and the traditional crimp was adequate on those.


#3

John, Since the mark on the base of bullet would not be readily apparent when the bullet is loaded in the case, I doubt that this mark was intended to serve the same purpose as as the ‘W’ on the side of a Winchester bullet. Is it possible that Remington was using bullets made by other companies during WW1, in addition to their own, and marked their theirs to distinguish them?

The upper cartridge does have the three stabs. Also of interest is the knurled bullet on the lower cartridge, which identifies it as 230 grains.


#4

Very interesting. I had not known that these bullets had a “U” on the base. I pulled several duplicates of the same headstamp and all had the “U.”

The .45 ACP cartridges with stab crimps were made specifically for revolvers, and are found boxed 24 rounds to a box, in clips. Box shapes vary, but in all cases are titled: “24 Revolver Ball Cartridges Cal. .45 Model of 1911. In Clips.”

Of course, either uncrimped rounds or crimped rounds could be used in either the Model 1917 Revolvers or the M1911 semi-automatic pistol, although the uncrimped rounds, as John S. said, could cause problems of bullets moving forward under the inertia of recoil and jamming the weapon.
Use of crimped rounds in the M1911 pistol probably would have been only a battlefield emergency expedient, not a general practice of choice.


#5

If they went to the trouble of producing stab crimped rounds for the revolvers, and had separate packiaging and two different types of cartridges going through the supply lines, could they not have manufactured a rimmed .45 ACP for revolvers to eliminate need for manufacture and supply of moon clips?


#6

Falcon - they could have, and later did. Its called the .45 Auto Rim.

During the war, to have produced a different round completely would have required setting up a totally separate line or lines, not just what ever it took to add the stab crimps, or simply using the existing .45 Colt cartridge. They certainly would not have gone to .38s, for example, so few years after adopting a .45 because of the poor combat performance of the .38s in the Spanish American War and the later skirmishes during the Philippine Insurrection, against the Moros in particular. Further, in an emergency, auto pistol ammunition could not have then been used at all in the revolvers, or conversely. Further, the idea of clips in the revolver was militarily very sound. Easier to carry ammo (the standard pouch, and I am recalling this from years ago when I collected that stuff, had three pockets that would hold two clips each, for a total of 18 rounds, only three less than were issue with the auto pistol.) The rounds could be loaded three at a time. much easier and faster than pulling individual rounds from shell loops on the belt, or from a pouch, and loading them one or two at a time.

These revolvers were usually issued to rear echelon personnel, not that none of them saw combat. However, oddly, I have seen more pictures of the 1917s in actual combat use, especially in the Island hopping by Marines, in WWII than in WWI. Of course, more pictures were taken in actual combat in WWII so that might not really mean much.

The revolvers were needed because Colt, Remington-UMC and Springfield Arrmory’s auto pistol production lines could not met the demands for the pistols. Colt and Smith and Wesson had perfectly good revolver lines sitting pretty much idle (compared to the production of other items for the military) and were able to fill the gap with existing machinery (with additions and revisions of course) and pretty much existing personnel.

The only reason civilian, by and large, don’t like the idea of clips is that they cost extra and it is hard to get the cases out of them sometimes, to reuse them or for reloading the brass. Still, they received some use in competition. Civilians, though, buy and large prefer speed loaders for revolvers in competition or if carried for self defense, especially in the U.S. where revolvers still have some following, although it dwindles from generation to generation…


#7

I have half-moon clipped cartridges both with the stab crimps and without. IMHO the stab crimped cartridges were mostly addressing a problem that didn’t exist. Because of the cylinder length of the M1917 revolvers, the bullet would have to move completely out of the case before it would jam the revolver - something not very likely to happen.

When the 1917 revolvers found their way into the civilian market the stab crimped cartridges were seldom encountered and most shooters used standard 45 ACP ammo with or without half moon clips. Later, the S&W M22, M25, and M26 were used the same way. I shot a M25 in competition using GI Hard Ball ACP and never experienced any problems. (Handloads did need careful taper crimping). Few shooters used 45AR cartridges because of their high cost when compared with surplus ACP ammunition.

Ray


#8

John,
I believe Falcon was asking why the military didn’t add the rim; I don’t think the .45 Auto Rim had any military use.


#9

I have heard of the .45 Auto Rim, didn’t that come out after the war for civillians to fire from Surplus M1917 Revolvers.

I see what you are saying now about the clips John, it does make sense. I can see why the Marnies liked the revolvers in combat where they were very likely to encounter enemy troops at randes that a handgun would have been useful. They hold only one less round that the 1911, they never jam, and if a round misfires you do not have to clear the misfired round before being able to fire again. If we had the right to defensive carry in the UK, it would be a compact .357 Revolver that I would carry.

I can also see what you are saying about using the production lines for the revolvers that were sitting idle. I know they made revolvers for the UK in .455 Calibre as well. Recently, in the city of Liverpool, an 11 year old boy was killed in a crossfire by a teenage gang member using a .455 Smith and Wesson revolver made in 1915.

Ray: you say people used .45 ACP without moon clips in revolvers, how did they manage to do this without the round slipping forward in the chamer?


#10

[quote=“Falcon”]I have heard of the .45 Auto Rim, didn’t that come out after the war for civillians to fire from Surplus M1917 Revolvers.

Ray: you say people used .45 ACP without moon clips in revolvers, how did they manage to do this without the round slipping forward in the chamer?[/quote]

You are correct. The 45AR cartridges were introduced by Peters in the early 1920s in response to a demand by shooters using the surplus revolvers. FA never manufactured AR cartridges. It was never intended that the Colt & S&W revolvers would be anything but a short term answer to a supply problem.

Except for a very few of the early Colt revolvers, M1917 cylinders (and all later models) were chambered so that the ACP cartridges seated on the case mouth the same as they did in the M1911 pistol. They could be fired with or without the clips although the shooter had to devise a way to eject the empties when not using the clips. (Not as hard is it may seem)

While a revolver is generally considered to be more malfunction-free than a pistol, the M1911 is/was a very reliable sidearm. Since the pistol is primarily a Cavalry weapon it is much more suitable for that purpose than a revolver. (Except for the modern Cavalry, of course)

Ray


#11

Does anyone know if the Peters “P.C.CO. 18” or the United States Cartridge Company “U.S.C.CO. 6-17” .45 ACP bullets have a base stamp as well? I have a whole sack full of the REM-UMC 18’s and of course pulled one after reading Guy’s post to see the “U” on the bullet but have but a few of the other WWI vintage examples and didn’t want to pull one if there’s nothing to see.

Dave


#12

Ray,

I agree with most of your comments. However, I don’t agree that bullets moving forward would not be a problem just because the bullets did not protrude from the face of the cylinder to jam the pistol. If bullets are moving out of the case at all it is a problem. Bullets moving forward mean enlarged powder chamber which means differing pressure and crappy performance. By the way, I have had factory hardball bullets come forward in the case in a 1917 revolver, although only with one box of Remington commercial ammunition. Never happened with my own handloads or any other factory, and never with G.I. I am not quick to label the stab crimps as not useful, though. They don’t do thinks for no reason at military ammunition plants in time of war. They had to be a result of a reported problem or one encountered in testing, and were probably applied on the basis of “better safe than sorry,” which when dealing with the reliability of weapons in the hands of a soldier in combat, is a good policy.

Also, while it is techically correct that Frankford Arsenal never made a “.45 Auto Rim” under the commercial nme, from 1925 until 1939 they made blanks that were the same thing. In fact, while I have not had enough interest to measure a FA blank case against a commercial .45 Auto Rim case, since I don’t collect revolver rounds, in hand and by sight, they look virtually identical. Since the .45 Auto blanks would not work a pistol semi-automatically, the military decided that for certain training purposes, it made more sense to use the 1917 revolvers instead of the .45 Auto. I suspect that dog training might have been among those, but am not positive. Again, I don’t collect revolver cartridges and have only a slight interest in them.

I shot a smith and Wesson .45 Model 1950 Target for a short time, but gave up on it. I used a wood dowel to knock out the empties, but it could not compare with my accurized Colt Government Model for accuracy, and I sold it. Even with hard-cast H&G 68s, it leaded much more than the auto also, and gave me six chambers to clean instead of one. I am not against revolvers - I love them and about all I shoot anymore are my Colt SAAs, my Smith and Wesson Model 18 and 686, and my Colt Cobra, but as a bullseye target gun, I have not seen many that weren’t bested by the better autos. I might have had better accuracy if I had used clips. I read a very long, and what seemed to be a scholarly article on that subject once, but couldn’t find it when I looked for it. I may not have felt it was the type of info I needed in my files as a collector. The gist was that the clips insure positive headspacing, although I never heard of any problem of the .45 headspacing with the normal cartridges, also headspacing on the case-mouth. I wish I could remember all the detals. Basically, it said to expect more accuracy if clips were used. Too much trouble for me. We didn’t have these nifty gadgets to get the empties easily out of G.I. clips - what a pain.


#13

DaveE.,
I checked a U.S.C.CO. 18, a P.C.CO 18 and a W 17 and none was marked on the base. This must have just been a Remington practice.


#14

Guy and All…W.R.A.Co. and U.S.C.Co. used a raised W and US, respectively, raised up in the lead at the bases of 220 gr .30 Army bullets. W.R.A.Co. about 1893-1896, U.S.C.Co about 1905. These are thought to be military contract loadings, although they use the typical “civilian” headstamps. UMC, WRA and USC made .30 Army cartridges for the military in 1907, with military style headstamps, but so far none of these I have seen have any bullet base markings. Sooo, what I am saying is that, awhile before the .45 ACP cartridges in question, precedent had been set concerning this practice, as far as U.S. military ammunition is concerned. Remington-UMC made buzillions of .30 Army cartridges in the WW1 period,headstamped R A 17 and R A 18, but I have never seen a bullet with “U” on the base in this caliber…FWIW…


#15

John

I have heard the same story re: the FA 45AR blanks. The dimensions are nominally the same as the commercial AR except for the length which is only .861". I tried one in an old S&W M1917 cylinder and they fit perfectly. One interesting thing is that the primers are crimped in for some reason.

Dave

I too pulled a bullet from a P.C.Co 18 cartridge (before I read that Guy had already done so). The base on mine was marked G.A. Custer, 1876. ;)

Ray


#16

Ray,
Great find! You have there what we really serious Peters Cartridge Co Collectors (P-triple-Cs, for short) refer to as the Little Big Horn 42nd anniversary commemorative edition .45 ACP.


#17

Ray,

With a find like that, I’m now motivated to pull every round in my collection in search of a Washington Crossing the Delaware commemorative bullet…

Dave


#18

It is unlikely that a civilian/target shooter would have problems with bullet creep in the 1917 revolver, with or without clips or crimps. This is because he/she tends to load once and shoot all of them before reloading. In military action it is possible that the soldier may have shot some of the rounds and then reload those chambers only before moving on. In this way a round may stay in the cylinder whilst many more are fired in other chambers.

In tests of British .455" revolver ammunition one round is kept in the cylinder whilst the other five chambers are fired repeatedly (5 or 6 times each if I recall correctly). Then the unfired round is examined and measured to see how much it had crept out, too much equals a failed batch.

gravelbelly

[/i]I have just checked in The Textbook of Small Arms 1929 and 25 rounds were fired whilst one stayed put. The round was then checked and the bullet must not have moved out of the case by more than one sixteenth of an inch. A bullet which creeps too far forward would jam the cylinder rotation.[i]