Winchester 9mm Luger Blue Boxes

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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.
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All information is greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Lew

I have preciously posted on the B/S/T Category seeking 9mm Luger Blue boxes.

John Moss posted the information below that he asked to be transferred to the General Ammunition Discussion. His post is below.

Lew

"Lew - I have two of the blue boxes in my collection. They are not identical to what you show, however, so not sure you want the info on them, but will give it on the chance you do. The only differences on them are that on the bottom of the label, actually rolling over the edge to the side label, is “OILPROOF” (which may be cropped out of the picture you show; I simply don’t know), and the words “U.S.A. Patent Pending” are printed right over the very bottom of the word “STAYNLESS” in blue print (the same color for the “OILPROOF” marking mentioned).

One box is for 9 m/m LUGER FULL PATCH and the other is for 9 m/m LUGER HOLLOW SOFT POINT. I would consider the the description of HSP erroneous, as the bullet, which is GM Truncated has the jacket rolling over into the HP. There is no lead apparent as in a SN bullet. Headstamp is W.R.A. 9 M-M, with a nickel primer and blue seal. There is no case cannelure, even though so-shown in the label drawing. Code inside the flap is 111 17. All three of the “1” markings are the same, indicating to me that all are the number one, in classic hooked “nose” and with the serif line across the bottom.

The FMJ box has a code of A91 22. This box has two box samples in it. Years ago, when I likely acquired this box, If I got a second box exactly the same, I would keep one round of each in only one of the boxes, as I considered the second box as redundant to my collection. I had no interest then in what I thought were “lot numbers.” Today, I would keep both boxes, but knowledge increases, and I have no idea what I did with the other box. Probably gave it away. The two rounds are a W.R.A. 9 M-M headstamp with identical characteristics to the HP round mentioned, other than being FMJ, and a round headstamped “W R A 9 M/M LUGER,” with a case cannelure, and nickel primer with red primer seal. The bullet is identical to that in the round of the first box.

To me, these should be WWII production, or shortly after WWII.

By the way, I just noticed that the “top label” is duplicated on both sides of the box, except that the second one, which I assumed to be the back label, does not have the “OILPROOF” or “Patent Pending” markings, and therefore are identical to the picture you show. Never noticed that before now.

Hope this is of some help.

John Moss

I didn’t notice that this was the buy and sell section of the forum. It has turned into a thread on these Winchester boxes. Maybe someone who knows how and has the authority to do it could change this to a normal question and answer thread.

I wish that the buy and sell notices were not mixed in with the informational entries on the “menu” for the Forum.

John M.

answer withdrawn by author. A detail of printing on the blue box in question as the early box, pictured above, does not include a word that is on both of my boxes on both sides. It therefore makes my reply erroneous and simply confuses the issue, hence my withdrawal of it. It is clear that there are at least three versions of this box. Sorry folks.

John Moss

John just pointed out to me that the black “Oilproof and Patent Pending” only occurs on one side of the late style blue boxes, and he has one that lacks this marking entirely.

I had not noticed that it was only on one side!

Lew

Except for John above, I have received no information on 9mm Luger Blue boxes, but I have received some interesting 30-06 boxes. They are shown below with their codes and dates.

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81 16 — 16 Aug 1931
81 26 — 26 Aug 1931

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82 28 — 28 Aug 1932
This one is really interesting because they were using up the older boxes by overstamping the “NON-MERCURIC”

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36 27 — 27 Mar 1936

The 1932 Transition style may also show up in 9mm Luger but I have not documented one. The box styles do not show up on all calibers.

Note that none of these boxes include the “Oilproof and Patent Pending” which shows up on late style 9mm Luger boxes.
Also note that all of these boxes have the Red"W" logo with the shaded background while the late style Luger box has the logo with a white background. These variations between calibers is not unusual.

If you have one or more of these 9mm Luger Blue Winchester boxes, please post them or send an image to me with the code. Data on blue & yellow boxes is also appreciated

Cheers,
Lew

Lew,
In your first post you note that you are looking for a specimen for the box. Is that to confirm what was in the box, or a “W.R.A.Co. 9M/M LUGER. AUTO.” head stamped and loaded with the CN TC FN bullet or something like it. I find it hard to believe that you don’t have one for the box.
Joe

Joe,
Thanks for your confidence in my collection, but it is not well founded. However, I appreciate it anyway.
I have had the late style blue boxes in both FMJ and HP since the early 1970s, but didn’t realize that the early blue boxes even existed until about 15 years ago. I probably overlooked one or more early style boxes over the years but that’s life for a collector.

This topic started with a B/S/T posting I submitted looking for the early style box in 9mm Luger.

If you have two or three of these early blue boxes laying around taking up space, I’ll take all of them!!!

Seriously Joe, it has been a hard box for me to find! I have a Winchester box with a print code date of Sep 1906 (date label was approved) and a load date of May 1911, and I have documented one with a load date of June 1906, unfortunately it was with a boxed Luger that was WAY outside my price range.

Cheers,
Lew

Sorry I can’t help with the 9’s. I do have the “Staynless” box in 45 acp, but it also came to empty.
Good luck,
Joe

Thanks Joe,

John M has provided information on both the Blue and Blue & Yellow boxes. I am beginning to think the last Winchester pre-WWII production of commercial 9mm Luger ammunition was in November 1941. Apparently New Haven shut down commercial production of 9x19mm during WWII.

Based on the box data I have it looks like they had blue boxes in inventory and used them for their commercial HP production in June and a final batch in November of 1941. These rounds are interesting since they have the “W.R.A. 9M-M” military headstamp they introduced in 1940 (or perhaps 1939). It appears that New Haven used the last of their blue boxes labeled for Full Patch (FMJ) ammunition for a Dutch contract in 1940 so used the blue & yellow box for their November 1941 production (also with the “W.R.A. 9M-M” military headstamp ) of FMJ 9mm Luger. This means that this production batch is the only pre-WWII 9mm Luger production to use this style label.

This is speculation based on the data available.

Please, if you have either a blue or a blue & yellow 9mm Luger box, send me the box code on a PM or post it. ANY DATA will help reinforce or disprove the theory above, and either would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Lew