Unusual Western 9mm Box

John and I have discussed this box before but I couldn’t find the thread with the photo so here it is again:


I have recently gotten two independent and very reliable readings on this box code date.
A = Made by Winchester in the plant in New Haven CT!!!
3KE41 = 14May1935 or 1955. It is a two piece box with a full heigth top that lifts off

The kicker is that the label identifies the loads as 115gr. As far as I can tell, nobody in the us made 9mmP with 115gr bullets until the British started buying 9mm Ammo in 1940.

So, who would have been buying 115gr bullets in 1935 and who were they being made for???

If they were being made in 1955, any guesses on why the WWII style headstamp.

All ideas are welcome.




I would have guessed early WWII manufacture. Given the two choices of year, I would go with the earlier year, 1935. I don’t see this box being made in 1955. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see it.

To this day, it is the only box of this label I have ever seen. That’s ANY CALIBER, not just 9mm Para.

Have you wighed a bullet - that is something I never did. I am sure the box label would be right, though.

John M.

John, The round is 180gr oaw which is right on for a 115gr bullet. I can’t see any reason for Winchester, or Western loading a 115gr bullet in 1935. This seems about 4 or 5 years before the British settled on that bullet weight and well before the British were even considering buying or manufacturing 9x19mm ammunition.

Unless someone can come up with a convincing case for a 115gr bullet in 1935, I’d have to go with the 1955 date. I don’t know of anyone who was playing with a 115gr bullet in 1935. By 1955, there were lots of people with Stens who may have wanted to buy 115gr ammo and the full production could still be sleeping in some South American country, or somewhere else in the world! Lots of activity in the world in 1955 that may have made people interested in ammo for a Sten.

Hope one of the Brits may have some ideas.



Lew - Guess you are right, although I don’t know anything about that Western box that says “Britain” or necessarily that it was for Sten guns. Could have been made for anyone, for any kind of 9mm weapon. Of course it can be from 1955 as well - without any other label from Winchester or Western in that format, in any caliber from any era, it is hard to tell. Its a shame the intergrity of their lot numbers was only good for ten years. That is really a very, very short time for ammunition.

You are right about the Sten Gun box. Remember, the Greeks knew the 9 mm Parabellum cartridge, after the war, much better as “9 mm Sten” than they did any other name. Was the Greek Civil War still going on in 1957? Again, I am forgetting all the history that used to be my strong point.

Based on my cartridge box knowledge…I side with John M…1935…Look at the company name and location…Western Cartridge Co., East Alton, Ill…look at the declaration of "Non-Corrosive Priming, etc…it all points to 1935 rather than 1955…and again, Lew, how are you dechipering these dates…I for one would like to have this info…


See my PM.

Well I just ran across another box that will just add to the confusion.

My other boxes of this style with the truncated bullet and the WRACo 9M/M Luger headstamp are dated 1936 and 1937. Here is the same box, but with an overlabel and loaded with RN 115gr bullets but the same WRACo headstamp. The code on this one could be either 5 Feb 1937 or 5 Feb 1947 (I think the 3 in front is a production line identifier or some such). The box style would say 1937 probably, but I have a Blue Winchester box with Dutch contract loads and it is dated 1940 when my other two Blue Winchester boxes are dated 1931. This box could have as easily been an old box being used up in 1947 with the overlabel.

The 1937 date would move the Winchester interest in the 115 gr bullet a few years earlier and tend to support the 1935 date, but there is no way to tell which date is correct for this box-to John’s earlier comment.

I dug through the British OB Proceedings and there is no mention of 9mmP before 1939. I also considered the S&W 9mm Light Rifle, but that wasn’t even put in test at Aberdeen until 1939 and I could find no reference of it being around in 1935 or 1937, even assuming it used a 115gr bullet. Since it was not a robust weapon I thought maybe it was intended for a lighter bullet, but no meniton in my references.

According to Labbett the British spec for the 9mm, with the 115gr bullet, DD/L/11833 was initially submitted by the design department in June 1941 (Labbett) and was intended for the Sten, Lanchester and S&W. This is way too late to have anything to do with anything produced in 1935 or 1937.

That brings us back to the original question, why would Winchester/Western be messing with 115gr bullets in 1935/1937 since all the weapons available were designed for a 124gr bullet???

Without a reasonable answer to this question, I have to believe these boxes are both Post WWII.

Would love to hear rational for a 115gr bullet in the mid-late 1930s. That would make these boxes a lot more exciting!



Through a friend I asked Roy Jinks who wrote the book on S&W guns about the ammunition used for development of the S&W machine carbine which was test fired in 1939. He replied through my friend that S&W was supplied with 10K rounds of 9mmP with 115gr bullets by the British in 1939. Through my friend he said that this was documented in the S&W records!!!

This is difficult to understand since the S&W Carbine was test fired at Aberdeen two years before the British 9mm specification for the 9mm was developed.

I don’t know of any 115gr 9mmP loads by the British prior to 1941. I have asked my friend if he can ask Jinks for a copy of the document, but am told Jinks is very unlikely to release a copy of the original document.

So the plot thickens! Still looks like the S&W development began in 1939 and was significantly later than the two boxes in question.

More info anyone???



Hi Lew and a Happy New Year.

I have been going through the Ordnance Board Proceedings and Small Arms Committee Minutes and I think you have probably answered your own question with regards to the origin of the 115grn bullets, but I have also found something else of interest (see below)

First, the Italian connection. A Beretta machine carbine (SMG for non Brits) was tested in OB Proc 5,157 in March 1940. It performed well with its own Italian ammunition (4,000 rounds delivered with the gun) but failed with Kynoch ammo. No mention is made of bullet weight at this point.

The comment was made that the Kynoch ammo had now failed in the Suomi, Schmeisser and Beretta weapons.

The report of the acceptance tests of the S & W carbine was detailed in OB Proc. 6,778 of June 1940, and although the rate of fire of the weapon was far too high (1,200 rpm), the important comment was “I.C.I. ammunition functioned the weapon correctly, but does not possess the accuracy of the Winchester ammunition received with the weapon.” Thus we know that Winchester ammuntion was being supplied to the UK in early 1940.

OB Proc. 7,849 of August 1940 is basically about the failure of Kynoch ammunition to function properly. They were lent a Beretta carbine and 100 rounds of Italian ammunition, but said they would not make special bullets if the order was only 200 rounds and suggested using commercial soft nosed bullets from stock for the next trial. The military concluded that Kynoch’s product and their attitude was “poor” and that “one of the new S.A.A. factories be set up to manufacture this ammunition and no reliance be placed on messrs. I.C.I. (Metals).”

In OB Proc. 8,189 of August 1940, which was a further test of the Schmeisser, the ammunition used was Belgian FN and Kynoch. Again the FN functioned well and the Kynoch failed. It reveals that the FN bullet was round nosed but the Kynoch was truncated cone, and the overall weights were 189 grns for the FN and 188 grns for the Kynoch, showing that they both had 124 grn bullets.

However, the crucial paragraphs occur later in the report. The Board wished to ascertain whether M.C. ammunition of American manufacture would function satisfactorily in the Schmeisser, and that 500 rounds of 9mm Winchester special ammunition was left over from the trials of the S & W. Note the use of the word “special”. It also stated that 110 million rounds of M.C. ammunition had just been ordered in America.

OB Proc. 10,478 of January 1941 was a report testing several different makes of 9mm ammo in various SMGs, including the British made Schmeisser (i.e. Lanchester). There was an accompanying ammo breakdown and the Winchester ammo had a bullet weight of 117 grns. Whether this was some of the early deliveries of Winchester contract ammo, or some of the earlier Winchester “special” ammo is unclear, but it could easily be the latter. The order for the contract ammo was not placed until 30th July 1940 and the trials in OB Proc. 10,478 would have been held some time before the Minute was actually printed in January 1941, so it is uncertain whether any of the contract ammo would have been delivered in time.

Conclusions? It seems that the Italian 115 grn ammo performed well and was liked, and that a small order was placed by us with Winchester for “special” 9mm ammunition that was used to test the S & W carbines. This ammo was probably 115 grn also.

It does not answer the question of the date of your box, but it is another piece in the jigsaw.

I will go back and check the Ministry of Supply contract ledger at our National Archives as I remember seeing orders for ammunition for the S & W carbine there.

I apologise for the length of this post as I know you probably have copies of most of these Procs., Lew, but I thought others might find it interesting.


TonyE - I am surprised to read the comment that the rate of fire of the smith and Wesson Short Rifle, at 1200 rounds per minute, was “too high.” I have examined rifles of both Marks and have some material on them in my library, but have never heard of one of these weapons that was selective fire! To my knowledge, they were all semi-automatic. How did they achieve a rate of fire of 1200 rounds per minute in a semi-automatic “Light Rifle?”

If any of the ones submitted to British Test WERE ACTUALLY capable of full-auto material, does anyone have any documentation of those models?

Indication that most, if not all were semi-auto, aside from the specimen of each Mark that a dear friend, now decesased, had in his own collection here in the Bay Area, is that when Smith and Wesson found a few crates of them in their warehouse in the 1970s, they were able to sell them as “curios and relics” despite the fact they are a “short-barreled rifle” by legal definition (about 9-1/2 inch barrels). They could never have sold any in California, where my friend bought his, if they were selective fire, and I doubt if S&W would have even sold them, had they been.

John Moss


There is no doubt that S & W supplied a fully automatic version of the carbine to Britain in 1940.

Ordnance Board Proceeding No.6,778 dated 12 June 1940 and marked “SECRET” is headed:

9mm Smith & Wesson
(a) Machine type
(b) Self-loading type

As you know, these are British terms for the full auto and the semi-auto types.

OB Proc. 9,634 dated 27 November 1940 states
"I. Information.- A 9mm Smith & Wesson M.C. (full automatic model) was received by D. of A. (A.3) on 10.9.40"

D. of A. (A.3) is the small arms procurement department of the Director of Artillery at the War Office.

The report talks of firing bursts of 4 to 7 rounds and says that in all positions the gun tended to work upwards and that control was lost if the burst exceeded about 5 rounds.

If you would like (poor) copies of these OB Procs i can scan them and mail them to you.


Peter Labbett in his book on the 9mmPb cartridge mentions that the Brits tested a fully-automatic version of the S&W on Page 1.

Tony & Lew - Interesting stuff. Totally lacking, as far as I can find (I could be overlooking something, I suppose) in any of my nromal Smith and Wesson sources in the sections on the Model 1940 Light Rifle. Wonder how many they actually made in full auto, and if there were any visual differences in the weapon. Even by 1940 standards, it would have been an awkward weapon as an SMG, well behind even the German MP 28, Steyr MP 35, etc., not to mention the MP 38 and MP 40s. Of course I never could see much use for it as a self-loading rifle. Not exactly the zenith of American gun design!

Well, I learn something new every day. Thank you gentlemen.

John Moss

I went on the British Ordnance Collector Network and asked the question of when and why the Brits adopted the 115gr bullet. After getting pointed in the right direction by Tony E, I found some significant info. if interested check

bocn.co.uk/vbforum/9x19mm-11 … 66405.html

It goes on for two pages and sheds some very interesting light on the origin of the British 9mm cartridge.

Now to the two boxes pictured above.

The blue & yellow box with the overlabel that says :115GR. FULL PATCH BULLET" is almost surely the initial post war commercial loading using up old boxes and bullets left over from British contracts during the war. Winchester didn’t produce 9mm again until November 1949 and in the meantime Winchester sold off the WRA 9M-M headstamped ammo left over from the British contracts where entire lots were rejected by the British.

The white box with the red WESTERN is still in question. The existing records indicate Winchester didn’t load 115gr bullets until 1939 (a Western contract for Mexico), but Western records show a 1935 contract with 115gr bullets for some unnamed country. Perhaps the Winchester records are wrong and they really loaded this Western contract also and that is the White box, or perhaps the Winchester records are wrong in which case this box must date from 1955. I still can’t answer that question.

Cheers and thanks for the comments.


Lew - Regartding the over-labeled yellow and blue box, you mention that “Winchester didn’t produce the 9 mm again until November 1949.” Just curious, what is the source for that information? Shuey shows that they made a change to the 115 grain full patch bullet, for commercial WRA Co loadsin 1n 1947. I suppose that could be surplus (left over) British contract ammunition packed commercially. I just wondered where the information came from. They did catalog the 9mm in all of there post-war catalogs, beginning at least as early as the March 7, 1946 price list. In fact, the over-labeled box shown on the thread and to which you referred could not be any earlier than about January 1947, when the Product Code number switched from K9001T to K9004T, for whatever reason I do not know. The July 9, 1946 price sheet showed the old cocde K9001T, with the January 2, 1947 price sheet showing the new code of K9004T and probably being the first price sheet to do so.

I find it hard to believe that with the huge amount of 9 mm surplue firearms brought back from WWII, that the market would not support new production of that caliber by Winchster until almost five years after the war had ended, but I admit that I am not in a position to dispute that claim, since I have no documentation that would show what was “new” ammo and what was factory “left over.”

Again, just curious about where the new production of 9 mm date of 1949 comes from.

John Moss

Another thought on the Western 9mm. Beginning in at least the March 7, 1946, and continuing through publication of the Western Price Sheet of January 2, 1961, my last Western Brand-specific ammunition price list, the 9 mm Parabellum (Luger) cartridge was offered only in the Winchester Brand. There was no post-WWII commercial production of Western 9 mm it would appear. I know that this by itself does not rule out contract “production” under the Western name, especially if the ammo was actually made at the Winchester plant. The caliber is carried in all of the post-war prijce sheets I have, but with a symbol indicating “Winchester Only” production.

Just one more thing I thought I would point out in reard to a possible 1055 date (from the lot number) on that odd Wester Box that started all this.

John Moss

John, I sent you the source data for this last night. The January 1947 production was the left over commercial components, apparently the last of the truncated bullets. The Feb 1947 production apparently used up the old pre-WWII boxes and cases, but used the left over 115gr bullets from the British contract. I read somewhere recently that the K9004T was the product code for the RN 115gr load and the K9001T was the Truncated FMJ load.

Remember the strange Western Box was actually a product of Winchester and the date code beginning with an “A” identifies this. This is perhaps consistent with Western price lists only offering the Winchester Brand, I don’t know what that means. What I think we can be sure of is that the box is not a commercial offering, and that Western did make 9mm during this period since thread WRA 9M/M LUGER Different Hsts illustrates a 1955 Winchester box actually produced by Western, so we know they were making 9mm in 1955, but with a WRA headstamp.

Frankly, I tend to agree that the strange box is a 1935 contract, but can’t find the evidence yet. One of the biggest arguements to me is that if Western (East Alton) was actively producing 9mm in 1955, why would they go to WRA in New Haven to make the ammo for the contract—but perhaps the answer is that their 9mm line was fully occupied and the contract required loading differences so that it was not worth reconfiguring their line to produce the contract ammo. What makes me believe it is a 1935 contract is that it is a 2 piece, full-depth box like the orange label-green end boxes with a 1920 label design date. The next box was the one piece blue label and introduced around 1932. It looks like these may have been old two piece boxes used for the contract. I have a hard time conceiving Winchester still having two piece boxes left over to pack these in 1955, unless the contract called for 2-piece boxes for some reason!!!

Regarding the break in Winchester production from early 1947 till late 1949, the reference information I had says that they were selling off 9mm loaded ammo left over from WWII production. The material also says that the Brits refused to accept entire lots of ammo which would have been stored somewhere but were probably fine for commercial sales (misfire rates in Stens, and lots of other problems). I strongly suspect that Winchester was clearing out their bunkers of WWII leftovers. Seperately (in the OB Procs) I’ve read that the Brits withdrew WCC 43 ammo from service so there may have been lots of that left over also.

I checked your book, and it looks like the 9mm Steyr has had a 115gr bullet from early on. It seems reasonable that the 9x19mm 115 gr load grew out of using the Austrian Empire 9mm bullet in the 9x19 case. I wonder who would do that. I wonder if someone in 1935 was buying Steyr S1-100 machine pistols in 9x19mm!!! A quick internet search doesn’t show much.

Thanks for your comments… This discussion helps me think through these issues.



I just did a quick weight check of my early Austrian 9x19mm. The Hirtenberg (H & P hsts from early 1930s) all weigh in the 188+ gr to 190+ gr range, but the one unheadstamped round that came from the SOS box that I think you have is clearly a 115gr load. That box must date from the mid-1930s!



Lew - my comments on the change fronm K9001T to K9004T Product Code were confusing. It WAS a change of the bullet weight offered, from 125 grain to 115 grain. You are correct on the K9001T being the code for 125 grain ammunition.

Regarding Olin sale of 9mm, the “Available in WRA Brand only” meant just that - Olin did not offer any 9mm Para after the date I indicated in any brand but WRA. That would mean WRA box labels and WRA headstamp, regardless of which factory the ammunition was actually made in.

Hope that clarifies my comments.

Regarding Western having such a busy 9mm Line in 1955 that they mighthave had Winchester make that ammo, I would say that Western probably had NO active 9mm line in 1955 amd perhaps in any year after WWII (offering initially in 1946 “left-over” production as you mentioned), otherwise they would have offered that caliber in their own brand.

Regarding the use of 9mm Steyr bullets, not positive what you meant. If you are just referring to bullet weight, very possibly. If you mean bullets supplied from Austria for loading in 9mm Para cases, no. The ogive of the Austrian bullet is much more pointed than is WESTERN 9M-M and Austrian was not producting 9mm Steyr bullets with GM or GMCS bullets that early. They are all jackets of a silver or gray color.

John Moss

Sorry John, I wasn’t clear.

No question that Western was producing 9mmP in 1955 (see thread WRA 9M/M LUGER Different Hsts). They were making WRA headstamped 9mmP and packing it in the red and yellow Winchester boxes. The box is illustrated in the referenced thread and the code is 1955 with an A prefix meaning it was produced in East
Alton. I forgot to reference the thread in my comment.

My reference to the 9mm Steyr ammunition was only that it was a 115gr bullet in use long before the first appearance of a 9x19 115gr bullet with an ogive like the 9mm Para. No intention to imply that the Austrians ordered the WESTERN 9M-M ammunition. Only to point out that they had long been using a 115gr bullet in 9x23mm and the conversion to use the same bullet in 9x19mm would be a short step. The SOS loads I mentioned could perhaps be loaded with 9mm Steyr bullets!!!

I am only trying to sort out where the original initiative was to change the 9x19mm load from the common 122-125gr bullet to a 115gr bullet. Clearly the Finns made the change by 1938 and probably earlier. The Italians made the change with their 9M38 cartridge. There was a movement to 115gr 9x19mm ammunition well underway by 1938 (and probably earlier in Finland). Then the Austrian SOS rounds from probably the mid-1930s prove to have 115gr bullets.

Western/Winchester was making 9x19 115gr ammunition for someone in 1934. Both Soumi M31 and Steyr S1-100 machine pistols were being sold widely (and both used by Boliva in the Chaco War). Someone could have placed the 1935 order with Western for one of these weapons. Why did Mexico order 9mm wiht 115gr bullets in 1939??? They must have bought a gun from somebody (Austria, Finland, Italy) that recommended the use of 115gr 9x19mm ammo. It seems logical to me that someone in the machine pistol development business in the 1930s was looking to provide a bit more range or velocity so they decided to try a 9mm Steyr bullet in a 9x19mm case. The logical people to do that may be the Austrians or perhaps the Czechs who also had experience with (and had produced) the 9mm Steyr. The Germans and Belgians and Dutch and Swiss all seemed very comfortable with the 124gr (8g) bullet. Not many other people were messing with the 9x19mm and machine pistols at this time.

Just trying to figure out where to look. Unfortunately I am sadly lacking pre-WWII Czech 9x19 so cannot check out that connection, though one of my SB//P/ loads with a GM bullet appears to have a 115gr bullet, but I have no way to date this round.