Western 38spl metal-piercing box variations / lot #'s

I have been trying to sort out the dates and reasons behind 3 distinct box variations on some Western 38 special metal piercing ammo. They are 50rd boxes which date from the late 30’s, and are of the half-yellow / half-blue type. Based on dArtagnon’s post about deciphering Western lot numbers http://iaaforum.org/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=13490 I think the boxes from photo 1 and photo 2 below were from 1938 based on the “N” code. This makes sense and is expected. The problem is the box in photo 3 which has a lot number suggesting either 1932 or 1934, I’m not sure. The problem with that is that I thought 1934 would be too early for this box type, or maybe I am misreading the box in photo 1, and it is a G code meaning 1933 which also doesn’t make sense to me, I’m not sure. Box 3 also mentions the “contains no glass” thing on the back, which the other two do not. The black lines are factory blackout marks meant to cover any mention of “nickel plated case”, which it does on all sides because the cases were just brass. I included a photo of the lot number from the box in photo 2 because it is unclear.:

Lot number on box 2, is that a “1” after the 8?:

I think FH41 here is 14 August 1952 – a Thursday – vice 14 August 1932 – a Sunday.


Nice boxes! While I have no clue how the codes work, the fact that on the one “nickel plated case” is blacked out and brass cases were used would lead me to think it was manufactured during a time when commercial use of strategic materials was limited, such as WWII or Korean conflict.


My rough understanding of the Winchester / Western metal piercing boxes suggests that these blue/yellow boxes hail from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1950’s, and then the all-yellow boxes replaced those and were around for the late 50’s through the late 60’s (versions with & without child warnings), and those were ultimately replaced by the all-white Winchester boxes for the 70’s and early 80’s.

The earliest box was the Winchester Super-Speed box for these 38spl metal piercing types, and that was something around 1934 to my knowledge.

Here are photos of the other 2 lot numbers, which are perfectly clear. Am I reading it correctly that the first number read from right to left is a double digit number for both, being 10 and 14 for those lot #'s? Does this mean that the “N” in box 1 signifies 1938 or 1958, and that the “F” in box 3 signifies either 1932 or 1952? I would think that for F it would have to be 1952, but the N could mean either 1938 or 1958. Since both boxes 1 and 2 have N-codes, then the K1379T one with the “nickel plated case” printing on front, and the mention of “no glass” on the back might be an earlier 1938, while the 38S5P box could be a later 1958. Knowing when the index numbers changed from K1379T to 38S5P would help.

Box 1:

Box 3:

This would be my interpretation of the date codes:
Boxes 2 and 3 are “Division of Olin Industries”, so are 1946 or later…….
Box 1: No Olin, 46NC01 = March 10, 1938
Box 2: Olin, 57NG8? = July, 1958….Could be the 8th, or 18th or 28th
Box 3: Olin, 50FH41 = August 14, 1952


Thanks Randy. I assume the index number changeover from K1379T to 38S5P happened sometime after 1952, but before 1958 then.


“Division of Olin Industries” started in 1945 and “K” codes ended in 1953. See JOURNAL #450, p34 for an article on Winchester boxes by Dan Shuey.