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 May 2018


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A rare box of WRACo .40-82 cartridges.....

I recently purchased the box of Winchester Repeating Arms Company .40-82 cartridges shown in the pictures below from someone who had found a number of matching boxes in a garage he had been hired to clean out. This particular box is interesting not only because it is in such good condition (aside from a bit of silver fish mischief), but because it was produced for such a short period of time with few examples in any condition having survived to be found today.

 

The .40-82 cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1886 as one of the three original cartridges chambered in their Model 1886 Rifle, along with the .45-70 and the .45-90 cartridges. Initially, these three cartridges were available only as black powder loads with lead bullets. In 1892, Winchester began producing the .40-82 cartridge with a metal patched (or jacketed) bullet, but as a black powder load only. This first metal patched bullet weighed 245 grains. Beginning in or around that same year (1892) Winchester began experimenting with smokeless powder, and in 1895, they began loading the .40-82 cartridge with smokeless powder. In 1898, the 245 grain metal patched bullet was replaced with a 260 grain version.

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This box is an example of an early smokeless .40-82 box produced by Winchester beginning in 1898. The load data on the right side of the front label indicates that the bullets are the new (at that time) 260 grain metal patched bullets. The box is referred to as a double sunburst box, not surprisingly because it has the two round yellow and black sunburst pattern labels, one on the lower left front of the box and the other on the left end indicating, respectively, that the cartridges are loaded with smokeless powder and that the bullets are metal patched soft points. The December 14, 1886 patent date included on the bottom of the box end sunburst label, as well as on the front label beneath the load data, was for the patent Winchester received for their metal jacketed bullet design.

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The cartridges in this box are essentially like new. The soft point metal patched bullet can be seen on the cartridge that has been removed. Winchester made their metal jackets out of gilding metal, a copper

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colored metal that was then plated with tin to help minimize fouling of the rifle barrel. The tin plating was eliminated for rifle cartridges in 1928. The bullet jackets on these cartridges do not have the small 'w' usually found stamped on tinned metal jacketed bullets made by Winchester; this practice began in 1904 and ended in 1932. In 1900, Winchester introduced rounded corners for their 20 round rifle cartridge boxes. That said, this box was produced for a very short period, two years or less between 1898, when the 260 grain metal patched bullets were introduced by Winchester, and 1900, when their round cornered boxes were introduced.

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This small label on the front of the box says "These Cartridges are loaded by the WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS COMPANY. The benefit of our great experience and careful supervision is given; beyond this we assume no responsibility. They should never be reloaded.' This label is found only on boxes of smokeless Winchester cartridges, and I believe their discouraging the reloading of smokeless ammunition was intended to reduce their liability in the event of an accident with cartridges that were loaded outside of the factory. The sealing label on the back of the box had to be torn in order to remove the top, providing assurance to the buyer that the cartridges were original factory loads.

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The colorful two-sided insert shown below was included in the box; this one advertises Winchester New Rival black powder loaded shells, which were introduced by the company in 1894. 

 

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Sources:

One Hundred Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes 1856 - 1955, Ray T. Giles & Daniel L. Shuey, Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, Pennsylvania 19310, 2006

W.R.A.Co. Headstamped Cartridges and heiir Variations, Vol 1, Daniel L. Shuey, WCF Publications, Inc, 2516 Highcest Road, Rockford, Illinois 61108, 1999

Winchester Shotguns and Shotshells, Ronald W. Stadt, Armory Publications, PO Box 44372, Tacoma, Washington, 44372, 1984

 

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