Winchester .30-30 commemorative


.30-30 Winchester made to commemorate 200 anniversary of American colonial independance from the British Crown in 1976. Did other ammo companies produce Bicentennial headstamps?


Vlad–Actually this headstamp is to commerate the 100th anniversy of the Winchester Model 76 Rifle.


Well, I was merely reading off the box.


Vlad–You win. I remember when these came out. They were the first of about 8 or 10 commerative Nickel plated cartridges Winchester produced. There was the following .30-30 Win. headstamps: A G W 30-30 WIN W (Anterlered Game); LAWMAN W 30-30 WIN W; W '76 W * 30-30 WIN *; WF & G Co W 30-30 WIN W (Wells Fargo); and the .32-40 Win. with DUKE W W 32-40 WIN. for John “Duke” Wayne. In .38-55 WIN. there was
LF 79 W W 38-55 WIN (Legendary Frontersman) and OFW W W 38-55 WIN (for O.F. Winchester). I think there was a few more besides these.

So, back to your original question. I can not remember any other “Bicentennial” cartridges by other companies.


There was however a Centennial cartridge, the Benet primed .45-70 cartridge produced by Frankford Arsenal at the Centennial Exposition.


Franford Arsenal produced several commemorative cartridges in their history. I have rounds commemorating the .30-06 cartridge - forget off hand from when, but strikes me it was probably 1956 - 50 years of the cartridge, and of course, the Frankford Arsenal Tombstone Dummy for the Arsenal’s closure, in 7.62 x 51 NATO caliber. Wish I had the Centennial .45-70, but that will never happen.


Here’s are of three of the U.S. CARBINE headstamped cartridges, all with very light headstamps, and a couple in less than pristine condition.

I pawned the wife and kids to get these, with the intent to selling two of the cartridges and adding the remaining one to the collection. I still have one to sell, so haven’t gotten the wife back yet. The kids and I have been enjoying the peace and quiet, so I just may hang onto both of the remaining cartridges.


Guy - Wow! I thought they had a Centennial date on them. I have never actually had one in my hand. Oh well - unfortunately, I can’t pawn my wife to get one. I’ve had her for 44 years, and we are both past our pawn value, otherwise, I would have been sitting on some pawnshop shelf years ago. These are way out of my income class, I think.

These commemorative and personal (what I call “Special” headstamps) ctgs are just a side collection with me. I have about 100 of them. They include Commemoratives, Club cartridges, personalized headstamps, Agency Headstamps (LAPD, MPD, GSP, etc.). My favorite is the “John Moss 45 AUTO” I have that was given to me as an award by CCCA. Wow, what an egotist!


Your vision is obviously better than mine, I cannot see these carbine headstamps. Also, my knowledge base is much more restricted than yours. Could you please comment on the above cartridges, what I am supposed to see and know about them? I confess to total ignorance on this subject.


Vlad–Here is what the .45-70 headstamp looks like



I guess I’ll have to color myself confused. Those three cartridges are standard US issue 45-55-405 cartridges ca 1874, are they not? The one on the right shows a typical condition of the BP absorbing moisture and tending to push the bullet out of the case. They were issued because once the cartridges were removed from the box it was impossible to tell a carbine round from a rifle round. For economy reasons Frankford Arsenal discontinued the practice in July 1874.

They are rare but not especially so. Anywhere from $50 to $200 per each.



Sorry. I apologize for injecting the confusion into this discussion. I posted the wrong picture and allowed myself to get off topic. Indeed, those three were not the Centennial headstamp, but are certainly not standard issue carbine cartridges. All three have the raised US CARBINE headstamp, lightly stamped and just barely visible on the two on the left. They were produced for a one week period in July of 1874.

I should have posted this picture of one of the fraw sets which has the Centennial headstamp: on the complete cartridge:



I think production of the raised “Carbine” headstamp was for a period longer than one week, more like 6 months. Back when I collected the Carbines I had a couple of full boxes of the cartridges that I, unfortunately, let go when I traded the carbines. (I didn’t collect cartridges back then). In the 1960s and 1970s full sealed boxes were fairly common at the bigger Gun Shows. They were regular issue for a short period of time. In late 1874 all of the 45-70 and 45-55 ammunition was taken out of service due to the rims being too soft, causing extraction problems. The recalled ammo was later issued to NG troops. I have found many fired “Carbine” cases at Army posts such as Ft Custer in Montana and even a few at some of the lesser Indian war battle sites in Wyoming and Montana. Any ammo that would have been in the hands of troops in the far west would not have been sent back to Frankford Arsenal just because of a recall. It would have been weeks or months before the new issue would have arrived and Troop commanders would not have left themselves unarmed during the interim.

Three very good collectables none-the-less.



I had always been under the impression that the raised U.S. CARBINE headstamps were produced over an extended period also. Frasca and Hill said as much in their book The .45-70 Springfield, stating that “In March, 1874, the Arsenal began marking the head of the carbine case U.S. CARBINE in raised letters. For reasons of economy Frankford Arsenal stopped headstamping the carbine rounds sometime in July, 1874.”

Last year, I received a copy of a handwritten Record of Alterations and Improvements in Rifle, Carbine, and Revolver Ammunition Cal. .45 from Howard Hoovestal, covering the changes in production between July 1873 thru February 1878. An entry for July 27, 1874 states “Plan of marking, in raised letters, at heading machine, the heads of carbine cartridges with “U.S.Carbine”, tried After one weeks trial this was discontinued”


I would like the opportunity to buy one of the full boxes of the raised headstamp carbine cartridges, but have never seen one for sale. I have seen a picture of the label of one box, it was dated July 1874.



Whenever there is an apparant discrepency between documents and artifacts, I tend to go with the aritfact record. I’m just one artifact hunter and if I have found a lot of the raised headstamp cartridges that must mean there were literally thousands of them made.

The last full box I saw was at a gun show in Portland Oregon in the 1980s. It was for sale for 200 bucks and I said, “Harumph! Who would pay $200 for a box of cartridges?”

But if you want to hear an even sadder story - I had a friend in Wyoming who, like me, was into Trapdoors and Custer. He was skeptical of the often repeated stories about Custer’s troopers and jammed carbines so he proceeded to fire about 50 of those “Carbine” rounds as fast as he could, trying to pull the case head off of one. He couldn’t, but years later he and I talked about his little experiment and laughed, a lot. (Custer’s Troopers had the 1875 issue ammo, BTW)



I hate to sound like a skeptic, but here goes. I have never seen or even heard of a raised headstamp U.S. CARBINE case that had been found by an artifact hunter. I’m sure that they would have been distributed for use, and the empty ones must be out there somewhere, but if they are so commonly found, why don’t they show up for sale. The complete cartridges sell for around $200 when they do show up; the fired cases should be worth a fair amount also, certainly more than the more common cases, and would find their way onto Ebay or the other auction sites occasionally. I’d like to buy a few.



Of course you’ve heard of the raised headstamp cases being found by an artifact hunter. Me. I just told you. Why don’t they show up for sale on e-bay or at gun or cartridge shows? I have no idea. I sold all that I had when I disposed of my martial arms collection 20 years ago. I don’t know where they are now but I would suspect they are in a bucket somewhere in sombody’s garage.

Over the course of the 30 years when I was really into Indian Wars history I metal detected hundreds if not thousands of fired and unfired cartridges and bullets of many different calibers. Most I considered junk and not worth the trouble to even take home. At sites like old Fort Custer in Montana, you could literally fill a 5 gallon bucket in one afternoon. At the battle site where I found the de-milled 45-70-405 cases that you are familiar with, I probably found several hundred others both fired and unfired. A metal detecting friend found a like amount. Yet I have never seen any of these for sale anywhere.

Artifacts from places like the Battle of the Little Bighorn were a different matter. I had hundreds of those that I could have sold and made a fortune but, being sentimental, I usually gave them away to friends and relatives and didn’t think it appropriate to sell such things. I have only a handful left, including 3 very unusual ones that i could write a story about.

I suspect the primary reason is that there just aren’t that many people who consider such things to be worthy of collecting. Most collectors nowadays think that historical artifacts are those from the Viet Nam era, not the 1800s. I had a good friend in New Mexico who metal detected artifacts from the Coronado and Cortez period and he couldn’t sell any of it at gun shows or antique shows. It was simply junk to most people.

That’s my guess.



I usually find these slightly used cartridges and other dug ‘trash’ to be more interesting than the pristine examples of the cartridges we tend to strive for to add to our collections, especially where there is some recorded history that accompanies them. I have added quite a few of the squashed .45-70 cases that had headstamps I didn’t already have.



Another reason you seldom see the fired “CARBINE” cases is because of the faint headstamp. As you know, 99% of the headstamps are difficult to read even on unfired cases. After the cartridge has been fired the headstamp is at least partially ironed out making it even harder to see and often overlooked by someone not familiar with the case. In addition, dug cases will have a layer of hardened dirt that will completely hide any markings, even the dated ones. Unless the dirt is cleaned off, something most artifact hunters are loathe to do, the exact type and date of case remains unknown.

As to other people finding “CARBINE” cases, my late friend Hank Weibert had the single biggest collection of “Custer” artifacts extant. I did a lot of metal detecting with Hank, and his son Donnie, and I seem to recall that Hank said that he found one or two of the cases at the Little Big Horn site. I will have to dig thru his book to see if I can find his reference. I know that he did find one or two over on Rosebud Creek along the route that Custer took from the Yellowstone to the LBH. I saw them with my own eyes. I have doubts that Custer had any of this particular ammo at this late date and think that the cases may have come from a different source, such as NG or Army reencatments, but we’ll never know.

Like you, I like the old junk but only if there’s some sort of history about it. Cases dug out of a trash pit or at a firing range don’t mean much to me after you find so many that it becomes routine.