In 1927 Winchester introduced Staynless priming on rimfires in 1927 and probably by sometime in 1929 had introduced it on all centerfire cartridges. Along with Staynless priming Winchester also introduced its distinctive one piece blue box with an internal tray which began replacing the two piece boxes that they had used for decades. This conversion also coincided with Winchester phasing out its punch code dating of boxes and replacing it with a stamped code, usually inside the end-flap. I suspect the punch code was dropped because it worked well for the paste on labels used on the two-piece boxes, but wasn’t practical for the cardboard boxes with the label printed on the cardboard.
I am trying to sort out the introduction and use of these boxes on 9mm Luger ammunition. This process is complicated by the scarcity of the early 9mm blue boxes, and the fact that after these blue boxes were replaced by the blue & yellow boxes in 1938 when WRA became a division of the Western Cartridge Company.
To sort this out, I would appreciate knowing the codes found on any 9mm Luger boxes with the following labels.
This is the initial blue Winchester box. Not only am I interested in the codes found on this box, but I am still looking for a specimen of this box for my collection!!!
In the early to mid-1930s, Winchester added Non-Mercuric primers and modified their labels. Although nominally discontinued in 1938, this box continued to be used into 1941 (and perhaps later) on special contract ammunition and apparently for other applications. As late as 1951 Western was loading 9mm Luger they produced with WRA headstamps in these boxes. It is interesting that the Patent Pending shows up on boxes loaded in the late to mid[1930s, but it still shows up on the boxes loaded in 1951, again showing these were boxes printed in the 1930s.
This box label was introduced in 1938 and apparently was not printed again in 9mm Luger after Winchester discontinued production of most commercial ammunition when the US entered WWII. However, after the war Winchester began using prewar stocks, including boxes to load commercial ammunition. The load dates on these blue & yellow boxes will help clarify the confusion between the two box styles
If you have any of these boxes, please look in the inside of the end flap (usually the one on the right) and let me know the code. Sometime these codes are hard to read and a good image of the code would be ideal!
Since the Winchester year code repeats every 10 years, it is also important to know the headstamp on the cartridges if they are available.
Commercial ammunition before WWII was headstamped WRACO 9m/m Luger, as was some ammunition loaded after the war with cases made before the US entered the war.
Some ammunition loaded in the early 1940s, particularly that found in blue boxes was headstamped W.R.A. 9M-M which was the headstamp used on the pre-war Finnish contract and the early British contract ammo.
The remaining postwar loads like the 1951 ammo loaded by Western was headstamped WRA 9M/M LUGER.
All information is greatly appreciated.