Us ammunition lot numbers

On another Forum I helped a member to date an ammunition box by using the Lot Number. I thought I’d post this here to possibly help you. Or maybe not.

Each Ordnance Plant was assigned a series of lot numbers during WWII. For example, Lake City was assigned numbers 12000 to 13999. But - this is important - each Plant used the same numbers for different types of ammunition. For example, at LC, Carbine Ball would start at #12000 but Carbine Tracer would also start at #12000. And, Carbine Dummy at #12000, and so on.

The other calibers that Lake City produced would also start at 12000. For example, Cal .30 Ball M2 (30-06) Lot #12000. So, you can have a lot of ammo cartons and boxes from Lake City with 12000s lot numbers.

The numbers didn’t lapse after a certain period of time. For example, Lake City did not manufacture Match ammunition until 1957, but the first lot number of the new T291 Match was - you guessed it, 12000.

The bigger Ordnance Plants may have been assigned additional blocks of numbers. For example, LC was also assigned 35351 to 35999 and 42000 to 42999. Also, if a Plant closed and had unused numbers they could be assigned to another Plant. Such as the above mentioned LC 35351 to 35999, which were originally Denver numbers.

In 1970 the lot numbering system was changed so all of the old numbers ended wherever they were. The system changed again in 1979 and has stayed pretty much the same to date.

This doesn’t cover any pre-WWII numbers, experimentals, special lots, etc. I don’t want to go there, so don’t even bring it up. ;)

This may sound confusing but it’s actually pretty simple once you get used to it. It helps to have a military mind set also.

Now, I’m sure there are some members out there who know more about lot numbers than I do and will point out my errors. But, that’s how I learn. So correct me where I’m wrong.


Hi Ray,

I was travelling and unable to answer sooner but I am not amazedby the number of replies so far.
I guess you must be right [color=#FF0000] :o)[/color]

As you know I am starting to look into lot numbers as well and there is not too much I can add.
I didn’t know about transferring lot numbers from one plant to another. That makes my varifying
numbers a bit more difficult. But it is interesting info. Are you aware of more examples ?

There is maybe one more thing I can add.
Wenn changing ammunition versions ( eg from M1 to M2) not always a new numbering was started.
Example: when Frankford Arsenal switched from Tracer M24 (last lot #338) to Tracer M1 (first lot #339)
they just went on with the same sequence. However when the Tracer M2 was introduced they started with lot number 1.
The Tracer M1 was at a lotnumber around 800 at that time and was further produced up to at least lot 1113 in 1945.

The same is probably true for the switch from M1906 (last #671) to M1 and from M1 (last #2161) to M2

Too bad you don’t want to talk about experimentals. I am also trying to collect data about the F.A. X30 series.
I think they started in 1939 with that and the highest lot number I have confirmed is F.A. X30-1868 from 1953.

If one of the readers has a FA box with a X30 lotnumber, I would be pleased if they can PM me the number and
what kind of loading it is.


Thanks for the info! While I am familiar with the current US lot numbering system, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to the older system. This post is very helpful.

Are there any publications that list which blocks of numbers were assigned to the various manufacturers, and what years they were used?


I knew that you would reply since we have the same interest in lot numbers. We are probably the only two collectors that do.

As you know, and pointed out, there are a lot of twists and turns to lot numbers. I did not want to get too detailed in my post since the average collector is little interested in lot numbers and would be put to sleep by anything more technical. It’s a shame because there is a lot of valuable information in those simple numbers.

Speaking of the Cal .30 M1 and lot number FA 2161, it is interesting that the International Match and Palma Match ammunition from 1953 through 1956 continued the series with numbers FA 2162 through FA 2166.

Chip - JOURNAL #452, page 44, gives a listing of the WW II lot number assignments. I have descriptions of the '70 and '79 lot numbering systems, that are several pages long, but they are very simple and hardly need more than few words to describe the basics. I don’t recall where I got the descriptions. I think it was a TM. Or maybe MIL-STD-1168B ??


[quote=“RayMeketa”]Speaking of the Cal .30 M1 and lot number FA 2161, it is interesting that the International Match and Palma Match ammunition from 1953 through 1956 continued the series with numbers FA 2162 through FA 2166.


well noted !!
I hadn’t noticed that one till now.


Speaking of match lot numbers, saw and took a picture of (lack of a cable to the cellphone prevents me from showing) of an M2 (.50 cal) box of: 1000 cartridges, Ball Match, Cal. 45 M1911,Cartons, TZZ 84H001-005. Now in use as a toolbox on a rifle range. (Appropiate, me thinks)
Sorry for butting in.


You are not butting in, at all. I appreciate that someone is reading my post.

From that lot number I can tell that it’s Israeli, August 1984, Interfix #001, lot #5.

I did not know that Israel made 45 Match. Maybe jonnyc can tell us if was made for export or what?? The Interfix code would probably tell us that, but I don’t have a detail of those codes.


On my website at under Free Downloads I have the Mil Standards on lot munbers. Specifically:

[quote]Mil-Std-1168B (1998) and Mil-Std-1168A (1975) describes US military ammunition lot numbers and how
to read them including Experimental lots, trial lots, etc. There is significant changes in lot number
processes between the two documents. Also available is a Navy briefing from 2004 that illustrates the
differences between the different lot number procedures.[/quote]

Maybe you can use them or some of the other stuff available for download.



Thanks Ray and Lew! I’m dragging out my old Journals now, and I just downloaded the lot number documents from your site, Lew.

Just to follow up on that Match .45 M1911 box. I finally got hold of a proper cable so here is the picture:

The name stencilled on top is the former owner of the box, I’ve been told he was a marine guard at the US embassy in Copenhagen and left the box for my colleague at the range.

eta spelling

I think one of you may be able to help me with a question regarding WWII lot numbers. I am building a number of ammo crates for an exhibit and I want to make sure I have the period appropriate stencil markings on the outside. I am recreating .30 cal Ball Ammo Crates. What is an appropriate lot number for these crates during WWII? Is there a particular number I should be using or will any number within a range be appropriate? I don’t know much about lot numbers as you can tell, but I am trying my best to depict these crates historically accurtate.



If you have (or can find) a copy of TM 9-1900, AMMUNITION, GENERAL, 1945, there are several illustrations of the different ammunition boxes, cans and crates. They show the types of markings used during WW II. I would think that duplicating one of them would increase the value of your replicas considerably. I believe the markings were stamped rather than stenciled which may pose a problem, although stenciling would not look too bad either.

TM 9-1900 can probably be found somewhere on line and maybe someone can give you a link to it, or any of the other Ammunition TMs of the period. I have an original and could probably scan the pages and send them to you if all else fails.

Good Luck


Lookee here. … l-1945.pdf


I looked through a bit and found that the M1925 Krag Sub-caliber cartridge is listed. I did not know this was still being used in 1945. As far as I know, the last Krag sub-caliber cartridges were made at Frankford in 1928. You would think the military, even at that time, would have considered 17 year old cartridges too old for use…



Yeah, it seems the Army is slow to adopt something new, and even slower to give it up. You can find examples like that all through the various TMs. 17 years is a short time compared to some that I’ve noticed.

BTW, that copy of TM 9-1900 that I linked to is terrible. I didn’t look at it before posting the link. Someone must have a better one?

Nat, email me if you cannot find anything more readable. I’ll scan a couple of pages for you.


This is a photo of the type of crate I am looking to make replicas of. I believe the lot number on it will be accurate to WWII.


I misunderstood your question. What you are showing is an Ammunition Box. Crates are different.

Yes the lot number on the box is correct for early WW II. If you need numbers for other Ordnance Plants, or the colors for different types of ammunition, let me know.


Thanks for your help Ray!