United States Cartridge Company - 38 Long

These were at the last Spokane Gunshow - I just liked the look of them for $15 :)

IMG_6593 IMG_6595b

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Looks like a few non-original rounds in it, still a nice box with the Lowell Mass addeess.
Think the 1st thing I would do is empy it of the non-original rounds.

Considering the condition of the box, and the fact it is not a full box (once the incorrect contents are removed), I would leave only one round in the box for reference, even if you simply store the remaining correct USCCo cartridges in a bag or something. If you drop that box even half full, it will likely self-destruct. I know from experience. I knocked a very nice, old .44-40 box of a shelf below the rifle on the wall, and absolutely destroyed it. Your USCCo box is too nice to let that happen to it. And, as careful as we try to be, these things DO happen. One of the reasons I don’t seek out full boxes in my field, and empty most if they are full (down to one round), along with my opinion that nothing is learned from a full box that isn’t learned from the box and one original cartridge. (Excepting boxes originally filled with mixed lot numbers, etc., as in many German repack boxes from WW@ in 9 mm caliber). I have a few boxes that are full because they defy opening them without tearing the label or the box apart, but they are minimal in number.


John Moss

As a general rule I agree with you, John, however, there are exceptions. The packet shown below is of considerably less value just as a wrapper and one cartridge. The other nine cartridges have no ID otherwise to make them anything special.


I appreciate the monetary value question, and agree with it, even though since I have no particular interest in the monetary value of cartridges, except when I can’t afford the prices now on some of them I need, it is not a factor to me.

However, on wrapped packages like this, rather than actual boxes, I would not empty them either. Fortunately, since I still believe nothing is learned from full containers of cartridges, I don’t encounter many of them. I am serious though about agreeing that paper wrappings are an exception, even though my agreement is not based at all on monetary value, but rather on practicality of display.

I keep all my Soviet-style paper packets full if I get them that way, simply for that reason.

I am frustrated at some turns. I have a full box of Turkish military .380 auto cartridges, with the actual box totally encompassed by a paper wrapping, with all the printed info on it. It dates from 1950. I got it with a Kirikkale Walther PP Type Pistol, holster and spare magazine years ago. It was a Korean War bring-back. Unfortunately, it is wrapped so well that you cannot see, or even feel, an aspect of the box construction, so to find a way to open it would probably entail a complete destruction of the label. That is certainly another exception to my habit of emptying, save one round, full boxes. I am dying to see the headstamp on the rounds, but will never unless someone has an opened exact duplicate of the box I have, and knows the headstamp.

Thanks for your comment though. As I said, I agree with it entirely relating to (especially) string-wrapped paper packets.

John Moss

I was really only speaking of the historical value of the cartridges. Once out of the wrapper they are non descript items just the same as thousands of others and their story is lost.
The thing about the string wrapped packets is that the contents can be examined and closed again. I once opened a packet of .45 Long Chamber Boxer and found part of an inner wrapper from a packet of Mk VIII Boxer cartridges for .577 Bore inside. Nothing fantastic but interesting, which is the wonderful part of this hobby.

My personal trick on partial boxes is to fold up wax paper [or acid free archival paper] to the same height of the cartridges, and fold that into the missing space, thereby holding the rounds in place.
While this does not protect it from droppage, it does keep the box “full” so it will not get crushed, and keeps the rounds from rattling around.

I don’t agree with taking the ‘wrong’ rounds out - however, as John said, I have, on several occasions, dropped a darn box and split it. It is why I shrink wrap them, it doesn’t protect them from an actual drop, but it helps with slight rough accidental handling.
My biggest complaint about wrapping is that if there are ‘wrong’ cartridges in it, then you forget (I am not anal enough to keep track) and I guess I should make a small note and put it on the bottom to read?

I don’t understand the “historical value” of keeping all of the cartridges in a box. If there is one round known to be original to the box, there is nothing to be learned from the other identical cartridges, of whatever number are in the box. If the surplus contents are to be traded, or kept aside, there are any number of ways to insure whatever information the packaging revealed is passed on with the cartridges.

I have to say I also do not see any reason at all for retaining “wrong” cartridges in any kind of packet. It only confuses identity issues.

I still hold to my opinion, however, that emptying paper-wrapped packets is probably not the thing to do. I keep my full. Not for any historical value, nor monetary value which is of no concern to me, but as I stated, mostly for display purposes, keeping the paper wrapper from accidentally being creased or folded where it should not be, and showing the shape of the packet as originally issued. The latter is not necessary with a box.

That side, I am only stating my opinion. It is not a criticism of the other answers. When you own a cartridge box, or anything else collectible, it is for your own pleasure and decision of how to retain it. I only point out the weight factor in the hope I can keep a fellow collector from accidentally destroying a box he enjoys, as I did with a very nice, early, .44-40 box I kept with one of my '73 Winchesters.

John Moss

John Moss

John, obviously you collect one way - to me, separating the rounds from the box is destroying the historical. An empty box does not interest me. It just doesn’t.

Weimar - as I said, each to his own. I consider my box collection, numbering between three and four thousand auto pistol boxes, part of my library. Empty boxes are still VERY interesting to me, for the information they hold. Of course, I prefer to have a specimen of the cartridge with the box. I do not agree at all with you that separating the rounds from the box, if you are talking about the extra rounds, destroys the “historical”. What is to be learned from 50 specimens of the same cartridge that is not learned from one? History is about learning to me. If you are talking about taking out “stuffers” (cartridges not original to the box), there is absolutely NO historical value to retaining them in a box.

To keep a box full is a personal choice, and if it pleases you or others to do so, then you have made the right decision. Being happy with your collection is what it is all about. Personally, if every box I had was full, the cabinets I keep them in would probably collapse from the weight, another reason I don’t usually save boxes left full. In many cases as well, even though I want the information on them, and simply like the boxes (the best reason for keeping them in the manner each of us wishes), I can’t afford them.

The main thing is you enjoy your collection, and as I said, if that means full boxes, it is absolutely the right decision for you. :-)


As John said & I agree the box is yours & you can keep it as you please.

As far as the history is concerned having Remington-UMC (or whatever) rounds in a box that has no connection to Remington-UMC has no historical connection other than the obvious fact that at some time, someone, decided to consolidate some extra rounds by putting them in the box. A very common thing, done in the past and done today. Unless the person who did this was someone of importance historically or personally it has no other actual value, historically or monetary.

John / Pete, my apologies - I highly appreciate the information and support here. And I agree with what you say about the mixed cartridges. I have some empty boxes, I just like them full when possible.

But its all a learning process and I may change my thinking :)


Weimar - There is nothing to apologize for. As I said, the whole idea of a hobby is to have fun. We all have different ideas, and the most important thing is that you be pleased, and have a great time doing things the way you want to do them.

As to the learning process, there are very few collectors that don’t need to go thru that. I have been collecting for 55 years, and for the most part, have stuck to auto pistol rounds. I still learn something new about my own field almost every day!

Thanks for your thoughts!


As John said no need to apologize, that’s what is great about this hobby, lots of different viewpoints, thought processes & ideas.PLUS in all the years I’ve been collecting I’ve only had a couple of times when people wouldn’t fully share & freely give information.

I keep boxes, full, empty & any way they cone, but only with the correct contents. Boxes are neat because not only can you learn from the label but by the box construction the era when the contents were produced. Also knowing the construction can keep you from buying fakes, or perhaps I should say "married’ boxes (top & bottom are not original to each other.).