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Picture Page

 October 2007

A box of blank cartridges for the Model 1898 Krag...

I recently picked up a few full boxes of .30 paper bullet blank cartridges made for use in the Krag rifle. Officially designated the Cal. .30 Blank Cartridge, Model of 1896, this cartridge was developed in late 1895 to replace the whole case blank (Model of 1893), which had a tendency to fire small pieces of brass from the rifle barrel which could cause injuries. Stamped on the top of the box is APR. 25, 1905  Pkd by C SETH  Manufactured from fired Cases. The use of fired cases was authorized in 1903, and had the result of ensuring that these boxes will be found with a mix of headstamp dates and styles. At the time this box was made in 1905, several modifications had been made in the cartridge from its original form. In addition to the use of fired cases, these included seating the bullet further into the case to make the blank shorter than the ball load so it would be evident to the packers when a ball round had gotten in with the blanks, and a change from brass cases to tinned to further differentiate the blanks from the ball loads.  

The paper bullet of the Model 1896 blank is hollow, and partially filled with powder. The powder charge of the blank not only propels the bullet down the bore, but also ignites the charge in the bullet to ensure that it breaks up upon leaving the barrel. I b3elieve the same powder was used in the bullet as in the case, although the two are not the same color in the sectioned example shown here.

The picture below shows the range of headstamp dates and styles that can be found in one of these boxes. The earliest headstamp here is F  2  01, one of which is the first cartridge on the left in the top row. This is the three position headstamp, with the small characters without serifs, spaced 120 degrees apart. Beginning in July of 1902, the letter A was added to the headstamp, the spacing between the characters was changed, and two dots were added, one after the month and the other after the year. Later in that same month, larger characters with serifs began to be used, and the dots were eliminated. Both of the July headstamps can be found in this box, the first style with the dots is third from the right on the bottom row, and the later style is second from the left on the top row. I don't recall ever seeing a July 1902 headstamp without the A, so I assume the change from the F to the FA was made at the beginning of July.





An unusual FA .45 ACP Match box..........

As the label indicates, this box originally contained 50 caliber .45 Model 1911 modified 1954 Frankford Arsenal match cartridges. I assume the modification had to do with their being loaded with 210 grain bullets rather than the usual 230 grain bullet that was used in the standard .45 ACP cartridge. Match ammunition was typically made from standard components, so the use of  210 grain bullets is unusual. These cartridges would not be easily distinguishable from standard 1953 production Frankford Arsenal .45 ACP cartridges, as the shorter 210 grain bullet would only have been seated into the case far enough to give the same overall cartridge length as the standard ball cartridge, and both would use steel cases. However, the lighter bullet would not have the same ballistics as the standard ball round, and I believe that is the reason the label is marked  'USE FOR TARGET MATCH FIRING ONLY'.


As is often the case with boxes of 'special' .45 ACP cartridges, this box was made from an unused standard Frankford Arsenal box. Usually, these boxes simply have a new label pasted over the original markings, but this box was unfolded and then refolded with the original printing inside, after which the paste-on label was applied to the top. Unfortunately, it did not come with any of its original cartridges with their 210 grain bullets. 





An unusual item from the Dominion Arsenal......

Here's a small bronze plaque that came from the Dominion Arsenal in Quebec, Canada. Measuring approximately 1 3/4" high by 3 3/8" wide, it was most likely used to identify a piece of  equipment for depreciation purposes, which was purchased in November of 1927 and given the factory registration number 130. At one time, the plaque and most likely whatever it was attached to were painted gray or light blue, some of which remains in and around the stamped numbers. I suspect that a close inspection of interior photos of the arsenal might reveal gray or light blue equipment with similar plaques attached.