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Old 12-10-2011, 07:45   #1
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Oldest ammo?

What is the oldest surplus headstamp you have ever fired?


How about the oldest handloads?


I am a bit older than most of you fellows and had a chance to shoot WW2 surplus before it ran dry. We still had 8mm surplus dated to 1937 available until the early '80s.

It is hard to realize they made so much ammo for that war that it was still on the market for 30 years after the war.

Last week I dug out some 9mm reloads I assembled in 1988 according to the box markings. It all went boom as if I had made it yesterday.
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:29   #2
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I'm sure I've shot older ammo. I shot some magazines of 43' headstamped .45 out of my Grandpa's Colt that he used in WWII. The magazines had been loaded since the war.
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Old 12-10-2011, 09:24   #3
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In the 70's, my gunsmith fired off a lot of original Burnside, Spencer and other civil war era ammo (from original rifles). It was 100+ yrs old than, and if it hadn't gotten so expensive now it would still be reliable.

Now, some of the late war German Steel case stuff does have issues, mostly do to hasty and incomplete washing of the powder during manufacturing.
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Old 12-11-2011, 16:17   #4
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Could Some Old Ammo Be Collectable?

Dad still had wood cases of 1943 30.06 ball ammo in Garand clips in bandoliers in ammo cans. We were going to just shoot it up, but a friend bought it instead and told us he had reinactors who wanted the intact like new condition full wood crates for....reinacting. HB of CJ (old coot who can't speeel)
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Old 12-12-2011, 19:32   #5
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I've fired a lot of old U.S. military ammunition over the years. Originally just for the fun of shooting guns but later for curiosity. I'm very interested in U. S. military arms and have tried to gather at least one example of each major issue piece.

When I was young, World War II .30-06, .30 Carbine, and .45 ACP was commonly available in the circles I ran in. To fire World War II dated .30 Carbine ammunition in particular and savor the odor triggers strong memories of being a kid and shooting my dad's and Uncle's Carbines out at the lake or around our house.

The earliest military ammunition I've ever fired was some Frankfort Arsenal '04 dated .30-40 ammunition. I've still got a complete unopened cloth bandoleer of it, still stitched up, I'm keeping as a collectible. I fired a dab from a second opened bandoleer over the chronograph just to see what it would register (1958 fps).

I've also done the same thing with U. S. Military Contract .38 Long Colt ammunition from the Frankfort Arsenal dated 4-'11. It clocked 671 fps (4-shot average).

Have also fired some U. S. Military Contract .45 Colt ammunition dated 8-'11. It gave a velocity of 723 fps (a single round).

25-30 years ago I shot some World War I dated .45 ACP ammunition from a couple of different contractors and seems like I recall off some Remington 1918 dated .30-06. I shot up a batch of FA '33 .30-06 ammunition back in the 1980s. Still have the cases around here. Used them with handloads a few times.

The earliest ammunition I have ever fired was some late 19th century Winchester produced .38 WCF (.38-40). This had an early style head stamp and curiously, featured a small rifle primer. It was loaded with black powder. I acquired a little less than 300 rounds from a pawn shop. It was loose with no boxes and very dirty. This was about 1980 and that was when the ammo was fired. I shot off perhaps 100 rounds, of which only half would fire. I gave some more away and still have the remainder around here somewhere, including all the rounds that didn't go off. Every once in awhile I encounter them when I'm digging through stuff looking for something.

The problem with using old ammunition for shooting purposes now is that some of it could be collectible. It can be a bit fragile, or at least possess brittle cases. The .30-40 ammunition came out of the bandoleer, bright and shiny yet some of the case necks were cracked, one supposes from the tension of the bullet having been seated for so long. Nearly every case fired showed a crack in its neck afterward.

All priming compounds prior to World War II were corrosive in nature; some highly so. Only World War II era .30 Carbine ammunition was uniformly produced with non-corrosive primers. Some lots of military .30-06 were still corrosively primed into the early 1950s. I've heard these were lots of specially prepared match ammunition.

Bullets were jacketed in cupro-nickel until the mid 1920s. The .30-40 Krag ammunition I shot features the most beautiful silver-hued 220 grain round nosed bullets you ever saw as does any World War I .30-06 ammunition. The metal fouling that cupro-nickel leaves in a bore is said to be of a most insidious variety. It supposedly clumps up and then the clumps gather more fouling as each subsequent bullet passes. It's suppose to be a bear to remove, necessitating all sorts of deadly chemical methods to accomplish the task. I don't know about all this but only read it. "Hatcher's Notebook" and some of Townshend Whelen's works are two reference sources that come to mind. I never shot enough at a time to encounter a problem.

Another potential problem I witnessed first hand is quality control issues resulting from hurried wartime production. In this instance, a case rupture.

I have a friend who was given his deceased uncle's M1 years ago. The uncle was career Army and had served in World War II. The M1 had been left at my friend's grandmother's house. While I was there for a visit she suggested that he might just take the rifle home with him.

It was a really nice, all correct and matching M1 from the World War II era. There was a quantity of Frankfort Arsenal ammunition with a wartime dated head stamp with it in the closet with the rifle. Later that day we went out in my friend's yard, set up some impromptu targets, with a hill backing, and broke out the M1 and ammo. We took turns firing it and exclaiming over its wonders. While my friend was firing it the side of the rifle exploded in a spectacular fashion. I was standing only about 18 inches to his immediate left and was showered in gas, particles, and wood splinters without being hurt at all. My friend wasn't hurt either but the rifle was a sorry mess.

Seems a case head cracked, likely due to not being properly annealed during manufacture. The culprit case was examined and was found to be missing the primer and with a crack leading from the flash hole across the head stamp and up the side of the case.

In the end only the stock itself was ruined and it had been a nicely marked stock. We were certainly through with that rifle for the day. I suggested that he at least clean the rifle after use with corrosively primed ammunition but he said he'd do it later that evening.

Months later he came for a visit and brought me the rifle to sell for him at the Dallas Market Hall gun show. I'd found him a generic replacement stock and we put the rifle in it. A look down the bore was a shock. He had not cleaned it after that afternoon and the bore was a pitted ruin. Only one single outing with corrosive ammunition had devastated the rifle.

I only got a few hundred for it, a rifle that even back then would have brought a premium because of its originality.

Most reasonably modern arms could handle most glitches that could arise from using old ammunition such as neck splits, hang fires, pierced primers, or other impaired performance. With a proper cleaning, the guns would be fine after firing with black powder, corrosive priming, or cupro-nickel jackets. Our fore fathers had to deal with such issues and got by fine.

A case rupture would be another thing entirely and damage will likely result.

I did attempt to fire a couple of Frankfort Arsenal '26 .45 ACP cartridges only a few months back while I was chronographing some other handgun loads. I took a photo of the 3 rounds I'd scrounged up from a local gun show. After snapping the photo I tried firing them over the chronograph screens. Neither of the two fired that I tried and the third one was saved for the cartridge collection.

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Old 12-15-2011, 01:38   #6
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I don't know, how old would you think?

10 cents would be quite a bargain today.
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Old 05-04-2012, 16:47   #7
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i just cracked the top on a case of 8mm turk the date is 1942......
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Old 05-10-2012, 23:29   #8
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I have a bunch of late 1930's Turk 8MM, Brit and Aussie .303 and a bunch of 8MM made during Nazi occupation in various European countries. Some of the Nazi stuff has no headstamp and the bullets look almost like they're chrome plated with a rust spot ot two. A few of the boxes are marked "Fur MG" in red, which means "For Machine Gun".

It all goes bang except those unmarked 8MM rounds have been duds, but a few of the .303 rounds have slight hangfires. The Turk stuff is all surefire.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:10   #9
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I've still got some GI 45acp with "steel" cases loaded in 43 I think,corrosive primers and rust on the outside of the casings but a few years ago-maybe six or seven,I dug out about a half dozen of the least rusty ones and they still fired just fine in my 45 auto!
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:26   #10
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some turk 8mm sitting in the basement somewhere from the 40's
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:33   #11
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I bought 2 tins of Bulgarian heavy ball a few years back for my mosin nagant's and both were 1955 manufacture. The paper they were wrapped in and even the string that tied it along with the actual bullets was in fantastic shape. The brass was still nice and shiny and so far I havent had one single failure with the ammo. It has shot very well.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:48   #12
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In the late 70's I was shooting 30-06 ball dated 1918.
Like qwman68 I've presently got two 300 round tins of Bulgarian 7.62X54R, mine's dated 1954, looks and shoots great.
And some Chinese 7.62X39 dated 1967.
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Old 05-20-2012, 17:56   #13
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Originally Posted by Win_94 View Post
I don't know, how old would you think?

10 cents would be quite a bargain today.

A bit late on the response here but as the box is labeled "suitable for...the Model 54" it coudn't be any earlier than 1925 and that style box construction was about done by 1930.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:25   #14
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While I don't have any Pics, the oldest ammo I ran across was a Stash of British 303 ammo in a wooden crate burried at the base of a well sire the ammo was still non tarnished and had dates on crate and headstamps of 1899 and later to 1902? LOL all of it still fired and was set aside for a Police Unit in reserve
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Old 06-09-2012, 01:07   #15
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Hearing this stuff bolsters my confidence in my chances of survival post Apocalypse. At least the ammo will still go bang 50 years after the zombie hordes take over, lol.

On topic, I have two 20mm explosive rounds from WW2, a 6.5 arisaka, and some 45 acp from the 30's that I will never fire. Had some 70's vintage 30'06 blanks I burned the powder from when I was a kid, still went bang back in the 2000's.
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:57   #16
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Hey neurotic-I did hear you say that those twenty mike-mikes are demilled right..........people watch this board you know!
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Old 06-10-2012, 23:59   #17
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One is, one only has the propellent removed, there's still explosive in the projectile. The nose cones screw off, that's how I know. No idea how to remove it and don't want to mess with 70 year old explosive.
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:47   #18
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Some .45 ACP dated 1914, 1917 and 1918 is the oldest I've shot. Some were duds, but the rest is set aside for posterity's sake.
I've got a fairly clean DWM 7x57mm stamped 1898 or thereabouts...I know it's 19th century, at any rate.
There's some 8x57R ammo that is too ornate to shoot, even if I had a firearm in this chambering. I forget the date, but it has ni-plated or steel jacket with annular slits and a hollow copper tip that resembles the polymer tipped fodder of today. The base of the bullet also has a shield-like (interstate marker) imprint.
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Old 08-28-2014, 19:49   #19
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Have 1902 Danish 8x58DR Krag ammo.
With dented primers.
Took bullet out.
"Sticks" of corroded cordite.

[want "good" 8x58DR]
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Old 08-28-2014, 23:14   #20
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I fired many circa 1880 rounds in Springfield Trap Door rifles. Ammo from the Spanish American War 1898 in the .30-40 Krag Rifles and WWI 1918 .30-06 rounds. I expect I have wasted some very rare antique ammunition.
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