Western 38 SPL wooden case


What’s the approximate age of this crate? Lot K1343T or 69RN7.


This style and Embossed print Wooden crate was used by Winchester right up to the late 1950s. I have similar crates for .45ACP and 7,92 (Both Exports to Indonesia, mid-1950s).

Can’t say how far back it goes, probably WW I or just after WW I.

Doc AV


Were nickeled cases in use that early? Also, note non-corrosive priming which wouldn’t be used until the late 20s or later. I have one of very similar design in 7mm Mauser. I have accumulated too many of the old wooden crates as I can’t resist buying them at garage or estate sales for $5 to $10. My oldest is a UMC 10 gauge, and the printing is so faded it can barely be made out. I use them mainly for junk storage.


my 2¢ is close to WW II due to case construction & nickel noted

Nickel cases were used pre WW II as some boxes have notes regarding the nickel shortage because of the war effort, but for a start date of nickel use I just don’t know. To hazard a WA- GUESS, early-mid 1930’s?

Note nothing about Olin on this.

All that said just my guesses


I thought those no-nickel notes were present more during the Korean War period. Those boxes of nickeled handgun ammunition I can reasonably accurately date were all post-WWII. As I have understood the original purpose of the plating was to combat corrosion of cases kept in leather cartridge belt loops, and nickel plating technology has been around for over a century, plated cases could possibly go back to much earlier. I had always associated nickel plating starting in the immediate pre-WWII era, but I don’t know. Maybe someone does.


Looked through my old Western catalogs and price sheets and don’t see any mention of nickel plated cases at all in either pistol or rifle ammo. Know Western 30-06 match ammo had nickel plated cases in at least 1939 as had an old shooter who had case separations with several he was still loading in 1954 or 55! Notes on the 59 price sheet says 30-06 and 300 H & H match ammo uses mecuric primers and know the 30-06 at least was plated to keep the free mercury from penetrating the brass. The 1927 catalog lists 9 mm Luger cartridges. The 1959 price sheet says 9 mm Luger was available in Winchester brand only. Undated 3rd edition Western Ammunition Handbook lists the 9 mm Luger cartridges and one section mentions matches of 1937. Anyone know when Western discontined 9 mm in their brand? The Handbook reference table of European automatic pistols and American catrridges adapted to them lists the 9 mm Luger (Parabellum) [their parenthesis] lists it as sutable also for the Gillisanti pistol. OOPs.


Dennis you are quite correct in saying the nickel cases go way back, they are found with Maynard product and other B.P. shells. What I was referring to was popular usage with ‘modern’ pistol ammunition, re this crate.

Mid-range just noticed that so look in da book !

Otto’s 38s book covering the .38 Special notes SU04 headstamp (SUPER-X & found under the Western brand) as introduced shortly after 1930 & found in both nickel and brass cases (but nothing about which came first) .

The SUPER SPEED headstamps, “probably dates from the 1930’s through the mid-1940’s”. Also in both case finishes, however those he lists under Olin Corp.

One of the WESTERN variation headstamps he notes as Olin product dating from the mid-1930’s & occurring in both finishes.

So I’ll revise my guesstimate for the crate to post War Two.

Anyone know when the mid-range loading got popular with match shooters? That has to be the key since no one seems to know the production codes.


In Tony Dunn’s book he said Western 22 boxes were labeled as “Division of Olin Industries” with the change in ownership in 1945. I can’t say this labeling changed for centerfire crates at the same time but I would guess it would have been in the same time frame. The lack of any reference to Olin I would think pre-1945 for this crate but it’s just a guess.



A lot number of 69RN7 and non-corrosive priming would indicate 7 December 1940 or 1960.


Without some reference to Olin marked on the crate, I would think it would have to be 1940. Plus the box age looks more like 1940. So what’s the secret to deciphering Winchester or Western lot codes? I know how the Remington dating system works with 11 year cycles, but don’t remember seeing anything about reading W-W codes. Did they use a 20-year cycle?

When did shipping boxes change over from wood crates to cardboard? I know cardboard was used in the mid-to-late 60s as I bought a lot of cased ammunition at that time, all in cardboard, so it had to be prior to that.

I checked, and one of my wooden crates says Winchester-Western Division, Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation. That would date it from 1954-69. So I would guess termination of wood must have happened sometime between the mid-50s and the mid-60s.

To complicate things further, some of my older crates have finger grooves at the corners. The later ones are just nailed, as shown in the pictures. So there was a changeover there also. When?


Somewhere around 1930, REM-UMC dropped the ‘S&W’ from their ‘38 S&W SPECIAL’ headstamp. Did Western do the same, or was their headstamp always ‘38 SPECIAL’?


When I started playing with the lot numbers, I was working with current boxes and working backwards. What I thought was the Winchester lot number system – based on the boxes I saw – actually is the Western lot number system. Winchester had their own system but stopped using it in 1958 and went with the Western system. So the Western lot number system is read right-to-left. In lot number 69RN7, the 7 is the day of the month, N is the 12th month (A=January, B=February, N=December, skipping I and J), and R is the year 1920 or 1940 or 1960, etc. The years run B through Y, cycling every 20 years, skipping A, Z, I, J, O and Q. 69 is the line number.
B 2008 1988 1968 1948 1928
C 2009 1989 1969 1949 1929
D 2010 1990 1970 1950 1930
E 2011 1991 1971 1951 1931
F 2012 1992 1972 1952 1932
G (2013) 1993 1973 1953 1933
H (2014) 1994 1974 1954 1934
K (2015) 1995 1975 1955 1935
L (2016) 1996 1976 1956 1936
M (2017) 1997 1977 1957 1937
N (2018) 1998 1978 1958 1938
P (2019) 1999 1979 1959 1939
R (2020) 2000 1980 1960 1940
S (2021) 2001 1981 1961 1941
T (2022) 2002 1982 1962 1942
U (2023) 2003 1983 1963 1943
V (2024) 2004 1984 1964 1944
W (2025) 2005 1985 1965 1945
X (2026) 2006 1986 1966 1946
Y (2027) 2007 1987 1967 1947
The wooden crate indicates non-corrosive priming (post 1926), and does not indicate “Keep Out of Reach of Children” (pre-1963), making the choices for year R 1940 or 1960.
From some current boxes:
RK21 = 12 September 2000 (no line number indicated)
30EF02 = 20 June 2011, line 30 (a 9mm Luger line)
7FF91 = 19 June 2012, line 7 (probably a new 9mm Luger line in Oxford, Mississippi)


Thanks for the lot number information. What with the Mid Range loading which my 1938 Western catalog lists in “148 gr Lead., Cl.Cut.” (clean cut) “(Oilproof)” it would seem the best bet would be 1940