What was your first ever cartridge?

We all got that first cartridge from somewhere - the one that made us want to start collecting. Mine was 5 7.62 NATO fired blanks in 5 M13 links to make a little belt. But of course I didn’t know that at the time, being 6 or 7 (can’t remember which), they were just “some bullets” that seemed pretty cool to a 7 year old - I still have them now! They were given to me by someone selling a box of various rounds at a flea market. I wish I had bought the whole box, but would never have been able to afford it at 7 years old. I remember being puzzled by a “big bullet with a wooden tip” which I now realise must have been a 20x138B FlaK dummy. So, what was your first cartridge, and how did you come across it?

.22-15-60 Stevens . . . .

A friend and I were buying a shotgun as a Christmas gift for a third friend so he could join us for bird hunting the following year. Neither of us had much money, so we traded in some firearms we had against the the value of the shotgun we picked. My contribution was worth more than my share and the shop owner didn’t wish to part with any cash - he was short, also.

So I had to find something additional to take in trade. He had been a collector for decades and had a small display of collector material he hoped to sell to the public. I’d looked at it several times, but had put the idea of collecting cartridges on a back burner. The time was right and that Stevens round was (remains) just plain “neat.” I added several other things that day, but it was the catalyst.


“First” cartridges…At the age of 10, at a local garbage dump where alot of folks also went shooting, I began picking up the empty brass and noticed that there were alot of different ones. This soon led to the local gun shop, pawn shop, etc, etc…Randy

There were several firsts (is that possible ?)…a 50 BMG dummy, 20 & 30 mm TP projos and a few ten cent Lazy Dog flechettes…all of which I bought at the multiple military surplus stores that were scattered along Canal Street in downtown Manhatten (NYC)…mid 1960’s !..the whole bunch was less than a buck $.

In the first sixtyes, i had many guns, included a Gew.43, and we used surplus ammo that german wehermacht left in big quantity in Italy. During a “plinking” session a number of lights, trace ,color and spot came out from my barrel and increased my interest. Since this moment i was interested in differents cartridges and bullets. Now i have again the same gew.43 and many differents 7,92 rounds, but i am not so crazy to shoot this.
I hope you can understand my poor english, but i would like to see your italian!

I hope you can understand my poor english, but i would like to see your italian![/quote]

Il vostro inglese

I got my first cartridge as a gift from my Uncle Raymond Crittenden in 1955.It was a headstamped (CTM CO.) 46 Remington carbine rimfire made by Crittenden and Tibbals, S. Coventry Ct. I still have it and many more as well.

Il vostro inglese

I have been picking up and saving empty brass cases as long as I can remember. I have been shooting with my Dad and Uncle since I was very young. I cannot remember the first live round or empty case I saved, but the first cartridge I bought that started my “Cartridge Collecting Addiction” was a Chinese made 7.62x39mm, headstamped “71 65”. Judging from it’s condition, the fact that the primer is indented from having been chambered in a rifle and that I got it many years before this cartridge was common here in the US, I suspected it was a “battlefield pickup” souvenir, probably from Vietnam. This tied together my interest in history/geography and cartridges!


When I was 7 or 8 years old I found a clip of .303 blanks in the woodland near our house. My mother flushed them down the toilet…I think that was the catalyst!! I grew up interested in guns but someone who became a great friend dropped a few cartridges into my hand and reminded me that cartridges are seldom invented for guns - its usually the other way around. When I got home I looked up my new ‘collection’ in a book and realized that I didn’t have that one…and I’m still looking 35 years later!

Some interesting stories told here as to how people started collecting. To JohnP-C: The clip may well still be in the sewage system somewhere - only for some future archaeologist to wonder as to how it got there. And to Pepper - I have seen those Lazy Dog flechettes go for

I found my first cartridge case - a fired, German made 9x19mm blank - on a military training ground in The Netherlands while camping there with Scouting. I started lokking for info about it and that was my first contact with ammunition. That was my catalyst :-)

My first live cartridge was an ordinary .45 ACP made by Sellier & Bellot, given from a shooter at my former shooting club about a year ago (I’m a starting collector :-) )

Those two cartridges both have obtained a special place in my collection and I will never trade/sell them!

I well remember my first cartridge and my experience with it.

It was during WW II (yes I’m THAT old). A fighter from a nearby Air Base exploded over town scattering pieces of everything, including the pilot, over the countryside. Every kid in town searched the woods for souvenirs and many of us found live 50 Cal MG rounds. That round fascinated me to no end and I remembered seeing a photo of a sectioned cartridge in a magazine somewhere. Well, you can probably guess the rest. The fact that I’m typing this today, 63 years later, testifies not to my intelligence but to my pure unadulterated luck. I was smart enough to pull the bullet and dump the powder. With the case clamped in my Dad’s workshop vise I proceeded to saw it in half. I’m here to tell you that 50 BMG primers are very powerful! I suspect that pieces of that hacksaw are still imbedded in the ceiling of that shop and my butt still hurts from the whompin my dad gave me when he found out what I had done.

DON’T try this at home boys and girls.


Thijs - I also have one of those 9mm Blanks like you started with. Ray, your own cautionary tale is clear to the statement that one must never try sectioning a round unless they are 110% sure what they are working with is 110% inert and they know what they are doing. These days the whole town would be cordoned off, it is simply unthinkanble to have kids going and picking through the wreckage of a fighter aircraft carrying live ordnance, and one that someone like me simply cannot imagine nowadays, although people did exactly the same thing here in England, collecting pieces of shrapnel and tailfins of incendiary bombs after Luftwaffe raids.

I bought a Spencer carbine in Jacksonville, Florida while stationed there in 1973, and the seller threw in a .56-50 Spencer cartridge. Being a gun collector at the time, I considered cartridge collectors to be an odd lot. Though slow to take hold, that cartridge was the catalyst that got me into collecting cartridges, and I eventually began looking for examples of the cartridges that were used in the other guns I had in my collection. As the increasing prices of the guns outdistanced the limited cash I had available for the hobby, I was soon focusing all of my attention and cash on adding to my growing cartridge collection. My opinion of cartridge collectors has remained unchanged over the years.

Well, the first live cartridge that I can remember having was a 9mm Parabellum. Half an hour later a teacher spotted me examining it in his class and confiscated it! A little while later I was given a much larger cartridge by an old soldier, shiny brass “bullet” and case, some drilled holes in the case and a hole where the primer should be. It had a nice big broad arrow stamped on the base and I thought that it was fantastic. As it was so obviously inert, you could see right inside it, I had no qualms about showing it to a different “sensible” teacher. He had military experience and I hoped that he could help me to identify it. His response was to confiscate it and call out the Bomb Disposal Squad (who were regular visitors in the early '50’s) who took it away. I think that I had some kind of Gatling drill round, maybe one inch calibre, in my sticky little hand for the first and last time. You know, I still can’t bring myself to trust teachers.


That gatling round is probably in your local EOD section (whoever it was) museum, possibly still today, as they could obviously see that it is inert, so I presume would have kept it as a demonstration piece, especially if it was a rare round. I once had some cases confiscated by a teacher (which I luckily got back). I set up my website so I could show teachers and friends I trust my collection without anything to confiscate, although the school did the next best thing, and blocked it with their filters that work with a blacklist of sites., although it is no longer blocked for some reason. I even sent one teacher a photo of a 6.5 Carcano round next to an AA battery for scale, as they teach the assasination of JFK in History lessons at my high school.

As a lad of 8-10 years old, I somehow ended up at a farm auction when visiting grandparents in the country. Someone gave me a small box with a handful of old cartridges, which I eventually discovered were 6.5x55 Swedish. Already interested in the Civil War and guns of that period, I thought that these cartridges were neat. That sort of led to a desire to add a cartridge for each of the guns I acquired over the subsequent decades. Then I saw Mel Carpenter in Florida in the 1970s when he was collecting boxes of .30-06. Surely an odd thing to do, as everyone knew that this was just old ammo you bought to shoot up in your guns. Seduced by this dark side, I decided that instead of single rounds to go with my guns, I now needed a whole box of every type to go with them. In fact, I now sell this stuff (at http:oldguns.net) but in order to do that, I really need to buy more to ensure I will have inventory. But, I can quit any time I want to…

It all started in the bitter cold during the campaign of 1812… Sorry, my mind is wandering. Last spring I went to a small local show and got a deal of my life - a Spanish Civil War 1936 Mossin-Nagant for $80 (all the guy knew it was Russian). It came with 50 rounds of ammo which I took, but without any excitement (7.62x54R is common and cheap). Then later I realized that this 1936 gun came with matching 1935 original packaged ammo with “fingered” stripper clips. This incident sparked my enthusiasm in historic ammo (and here I am).

I am old enough to remember the proverbial tobacco tin! During the 1930’s an uncle accumulated enough cartridges to fill a couple of tins & at age 8 or 9 I would always ask to see them when I visited.In my mid teens he gave them to me.so my "first"
cartridge was probably closer to a hundred ctges.Unfortunately
I never recorded what he gave me,& at this late date I can only be sure of two.
During the 1960’s & 70’s they lay neglected,but in the mid 80’s
I started in ernest.Previously I had collected anything that looked remotely like a cartridge,now I am much more particular.