Getting Started In Ammo Collecting

Vintage ammunition Collection  Most collectors of antique and vintage ammunition and ammo boxes specialize in one particular type of ammo or historical genre. For example I collect ammo mainly from the Wild West or frontier era. Old six gun cartridges, buffalo rounds, and old Winchester lever gun cartridges. However I also collect WWI and WWII era rifle ammo like the various Mauser incarnations, .303 British, Italian Carcano, 7.62’s and the 30 government of course. Below are some of the classes of ammo you might consider if you’re thinking about getting into collecting. Also note some of these are more expensive to collect than others.

World War I and II Military 

This is going to include cartridge offerings from all over the world America, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Japan to name a few. Most will be rifle rounds and most have been available at one time or another as surplus so they are not too terribly hard to find. A lot of these rifles found a new home in civilian life after the wars were over. Company’s like Bannerman’s sold the surplus rifles and pistols for target and hunting use and usually sold the original military issue ammo to go with them. This is a fairly inexpensive collection to start, however some of the older and rarer rounds will get a bit pricey. Of course the original boxes and packaging are desirable as well but don’t expect them to be pretty. Unlike hunting ammo boxes these were not made to catch the consumers eye but rather to allow quick identification in combat situations. Some will have some pretty fancy and colorful government seals and emblems however.

Shotgun Shells and Boxes 
2 Piece Peters Shotshell BoxThe empty boxes in this category are actually more popular to collect than the actual shells. The manufactures went to great lengths to try and make their boxes more attractive to buyers than their competitors. Beautifully nostalgic and colorful artwork was the norm here, especially in the early 20th century. There are books and websites dedicated exclusively to the collection of these and they make great display items even for non-collectors. You can find a lot of these on eBay and Gunbroker. Be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars if you want any of the really rare ones in good condition.

Of course some people do collect the shells as well and they make a great display in every color of the rainbow. The larger shells like the 8 gauge are getting extremely hard to come by since they have not been commercially produced in some time. The older shells will be made of paper or metal and some of the really early ones were pinfire designs.

.22 Ammo and Boxes 
Rimfire .22 Win Auto BoxThis is another very popular collecting category. Some people do collect the empty boxes but I have found most collectors prefer the boxes to be “full and correct” which simply means all the original ammo is still in the box. These boxes were also very colorful and some were wonderfully illustrated or had some great line art depictions of the cartridge. They also had a lot of “innovative” wording used on them to make you think their product was superior to the competition. There are a lot of people who collect these and some boxes go for hundreds of dollars. The older boxes are two pieces, a top and a bottom and are the most collectible.

Safari and Big Game Cartridges 
This is an exciting area to collect and I am thinking of starting on these myself. The big boys of big bore were created for one purpose, to stop that thousand pounds of angry beast in its tracks. One shot one kill and do it quickly. The last thing you want is a pissed off wounded Elephant intent on taking you with him. In this situation you needed “Big Medicine” as Teddy Roosevelt used to describe his .458 Winchester. Of course those greatly romanticized days of the great Safari are long gone for the most part unless you want the liberal media pounding you even worse than that Elephant would have. That doesn’t stop us from longing for the days of high adventure in the savage jungle or harsh wilderness where your life often depended on that one well-placed round. The big bores are not a cheap choice to collect but there are not as many variations as there might be with some other collections.

Civil War 
This would be a wide ranging collection considering the Civil War occurred at a time when all the cartridge design variations were being introduced but at the same time most soldiers were still carrying muzzle loaders. You would end up with a lot of variations of musket rounds like the Minnie ball as well as a lot of pinfire, rimfire, and various other cartridge types you’ve probably never even heard of. The musket rounds are pretty easy to find being sold on eBay or even locating them yourself with a metal detector if you happen to be near a battlefield. The cartridges of this era are another story they can be pretty hard to come by.

This is probably the easiest and most inexpensive collection to start. Just start with all the modern popular rounds and start working your way back. Some of the old rimfire and pinfires will get pretty expensive. Some people even collect only 9mm Luger or .45 auto since there were so many different headstamps produced especially during the world wars.

Wild West/Cowboy/Frontier 

RF Rimfire Cartridges.38 long, .41 short, .32 short, .32 extra short/32 protector
.38 long, .41 short, .32 short, .32 ex short RF
Six shooters, derringers, lever guns and double barreled shotguns were the most popular choices for the Cowboys. Big bore rifles were also popular for taking those ever plentiful buffalo or the occasional ornery Grizzly bear. This was also an era of great innovation. Names like Smith and Wesson, Colt, and Winchester were all trying to outdo each other’s gun design. In many cases they would create their own unique cartridge for use in their firearms. Some of these like the 30/30 Winchester are still in abundant use today but a lot of them fell to the wayside eventually like the .32 S&W or .38 Long Colt. The earlier rimfire pistol cartridges can be some of the most expensive in this group. If you can find the boxes from this era that have not disintegrated these are also great to collect.

Old Pinfire Bullets AmmoThe pinfire cartridge was kind of like the Betamax of the ammunition world the rimfire and centerfire designs quickly won over the hearts of consumers and gun manufacturers. For a short while however pinfire was the cartridge design used in many shotguns and revolvers, particularly in Europe. Inexpensive pinfire revolvers were produced in large numbers in Belgium and France and many were exported to the US. Quite a few found their way into the hands of Civil War soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

Nice Ammo Collection VintageAs I mentioned above in the Wild West category the rimfire pistol rounds are getting pretty rare and are very collectible. People with the actual firearms to accompany these rounds are also willing to pay top dollar for them. There are also some early military rounds that were rimfires for example the .41 Swiss RF. Expect to pay $10 or more a round for the less common chambers. This would likely be a small but expensive collection as few rounds were produced in rimfire when compared to the thousands of variations of centerfire. With the exception of the .22 RF the rimfire pretty much faded way after the centerfire was introduced.

Regardless of how you get started be forewarned it is addictive!  Just collect whatever interests you and have fun. Finding stuff for your collection is half the fun, it's like a treasure hunt. Good hunting.....

Old European Paper Shotgun Shells

Antique Shotgun Shells DisplayI recently came across this bunch of old European shotgun Shells at an auction. Does anyone out there collect these of have any knowledge of them? If so please leave a comment below. I am going to do some research on them when I get the time but for now they look pretty neat in my miscellaneous display. I would assume the Leon Beaux Milano one is from Italy and a couple look to be from France. The names and markings are as follows in order of the picture left to right in the top picture.

Headstamp Fiocchi Lecco 16 marked on side PER POLVERI GRANVLARI DENSE  (purple shell on far left)

Letters SPARI in the star marked 12  (brown shell)

RWS Gasdight 12 (pinfire) on side MITMETALLEINLAGE GARANTIRT GASDIGHT PRIMA QUALITAT and 2 circles symbol with 1862 LONDINI HONORIS CAUSA (orange)

Manufre (3 letters I can't read) DARMES AND CYCLES 16 (tan)

GIVLIO FIOCCHI LECCO 12 with odd trademark symbol on headstamp and side (light green)

RWSIGECO ROTTWEIL 12 with 5 in circle 3,0mm SINOXIO ROTTWEIL JAGD on side (brown)

CERCOLA 28 DOTT JACOBUCCI with bird on side (light orange)


SCHONEBECK 12 70mm 3 in circle ZINC and Huberts 32 on side on side

SOCIETE MUNITIONS 16 Paris (green on far right)

Antique German Shotgun ShellsAntique Europe Shotgun Shells Headstamps

Swiss Vetterli .41 cal rimfire ammo Rare Antique

8 rounds of .41 Swiss Vetterli cartridges in an original pack. These are all original Swiss Military. The cartridge headstamps have the Swiss cross. All cartridges are in good condition and are loaded. The package is original Swiss military also. Value : Sold For $85.00

.38 Long Colt Smokeless UMC Vintage 2pc Sealed Box

.38 Long Colt Smokeless UMC Vintage 2pc Sealed Box
 Nice condition box of Remington UMC .38 Long Colt Smokeless ammunition. Still sealed two piece box.

WWII British Enfield No 2 MK I Tanker Revolver in .38 Caliber

WWII British Enfield No 2 MK I Tanker Revolver .38
Here is a nice example of a WWII Enfield Revolver made for both tank crew operators and pilots due to the bobbed hammer. This on is in good to very good condition and has a 5" barrel with a bright shiny bore. The action is smooth and the lockup is tight and this shows the typical wear to the British paint finish and every thing seems to be original with matching serials.

Bernardon-Martin 1907 French Auto Pistol .32 7.65

Bernardon-Martin 1907 French Auto Pistol .32 7.65
 I bought this as a project but I didn't really have the time to properly restore to working order, so I passed it on to another collector. Bernardon-Martin M1907 Semi-Auto Pistol, 1908(est) St-Etienne Production, Thai(Siamese) Service, .32 acp, S/N: 1019 One of the rarest semi-auto production pistols, the Bernardon-Martin 1907 was the very first domestically-produced semi-auto pistol on the French commercial market. With details on the pistol scarce, and what little information available often conflicting, the history and production totals are virtually unknown, but estimates place the number of units made at less than 2,000. Presumably seeing no official military use in Europe, this example is made more scarce by the presence of Siamese property markings on the grip and backstrap. It is thought that the pistol was given to the Kingdom of Siam as part of a military aid package, or it may have made it's way via French Indochina. In any case, this Mannlicher-inspired weapon is a highly desirable collectible that would be at home in an advanced collection or museum. Condition: Is fair with the pistol retaining 25-30% of the original bluing. Markings have faded slightly, but are still legible. Metal surfaces are generally rough, with no active rust and no deep pitting. Mechanical function is a mixed bag-the pistol appears to be missing it's striker, but looks to be otherwise functional. Also missing is the magazine, but amazingly, reproductions are available via Triple K. Original hard rubber grips show damage and wear with the top portion of the left grip missing. A worthy gunsmith project, this historically important pistol would be the pride of many collections.
Bernardon-Martin 1907 French Auto Pistol .32 7.65

Don't Flaunt The MOAB Too Much Because Daddy is Russian!

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB pronounced /ˈmoʊ.æb/, commonly known as the Mother of All Bombs) is a large-yield conventional (non-nuclear) bomb, developed for the United States military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. of the Air Force Research Laboratory. At the time of development, it was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed.The bomb was designed to be delivered by a C-130 Hercules, primarily the MC-130E Combat Talon I or MC-130H Combat Talon II variants. The MOAB is the largest conventional bomb ever used in combat after being deployed in Afghanistan on 13 April 2017.
GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast MOAB
GBU-43/B USA Massive Ordnance Air Blast MOAB 
In 2007, Russia tested its "Father of All Bombs", which is claimed to be four times as powerful as the MOAB.
GBU-43/B USA Massive Ordnance Air Blast M.O.A.B. The bomb is reportedly four times as powerful as the US military's GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (whose official military acronym "MOAB" is often unofficially rendered as "Mother of All Bombs"). This Russian device would therefore be the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) weapon in the world. The veracity of Russia's claims concerning the weapon's size and power have been questioned by US defense analysts. (source Wikipedia)
Russian FOAB father of all bombs – kõikide pommide isa)
 Russia's FOAB Father Of All Bombs – kõikide pommide isa
According to General Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because the temperature at the centre of the blast is twice as high. He says the bomb's capabilities are comparable to nuclear weapons, but unlike nuclear weaponry known for its radioactive fallout, use of the weapon does not damage or pollute the environment beyond the blast radius.
In comparison, the MOAB produces the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT from 8 tons of high explosive. The blast radius of the FOAB is 300 meters, almost double that of the MOAB, and the temperature produced is twice as high.

M16, AR15, and AK-47s For Dummies

AR 15 and M4 M16 Visual Comparison
M4 Rifle (M16) Visual Comparison to an AR15
Amid all the controversy mainly directed at the AR 15 rifles lately I thought I would provide some visuals for people. I understand most of my blog readers already know what they look. In the general public however there are a lot of people who are unfamiliar with these rifles.
AR-15 Stands for Armalite Rifle not Assault Rifle as some people assume. Armalite was the name of the company that first made the AR-15 before the design was bought out by Colt. The civilian version of this rifle is in almost all most cases semi-automatic.
The M-16  is a United States military adaptation of the ArmaLite AR-15 rifle not the other way around as some people think.
The M4 is just a shorter and lighter version of the M16 assault rifle.
The AK-47 AK stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova, named after its designer this was and still is the primary rifle of the Russian Military and most other countries in that region. The modified semi-auto only version of these are sold in the U.S. as surplus weapons as well as new manufacture.
M16 vs M4 Military Rifles Picture
An M16 Compared To An M4 Rifle
AK47 vs M16 Diffrence Picture
A Visual Comparison of An M14 AR15 Type Rifle to an AK-47

.223/ 556,7.62x39, 30/06, and 9mm Picture Chart
.223/ 556 Compared to 7.62x39, 30/06, and 9mm
Above is a picture of a .223/ 556 which is used in AR15s And M16s, a 7.62x39 which is used in the AK-47, a 30/06 hunting round and, and a 9mm which is what most police carry. The .223 and the 556 are interchangeable, visually the same and can both be shot in an AR15 or M16. The 30/06 was the military's previous cartridge of choice in WWI and WWII (and is still in use) it is also a favorite hunting cartridge as well for deer sized game. The 7.62 x 39 is used in the AK-47 Russian military rifle. The 9mm Luger is the most common pistol round carried by law enforcement. 

Old Gun and Ammo Catalogs Provide Invaluable Info For Collectors

Martin B. Redding and Phillip Jay Medicus Catalogs
Martin B. Redding 1953 and Phillip Jay Medicus (circa 1955) Catalogs
I recently picked up these two old catalogs thinking they might be interesting to look through. Once I started looking I realized there was a ton of valuable and sometimes forgotten knowledge contained in them also. There are some pretty in depth descriptions and excellent illustrations of some super rare cartridges and guns. The one page below for example shows the different model variations and options available in the Colt New Line pistols as well as some pistols I never heard of like the "Swamp Angel" or the F&W "Terror". The Medicus catalog features some unusual cartridges such as 50-110 Winchester, .236 Navy, 58 Roberts, 32 Protector, 45-70-500 Government 50-70 Martin, 52-70 Sharps, 64 Maynard Shot, 64 Hall Carbine, 44 Colt Skin, 50 Gallagher, Foil & paper, 50 Maynard Percussion, 54 Starr Linen,69 Buck & Ball. No.9 and the 36 Colt Combustible. I will try to share some more of the more interesting pages soon. 
Martin B. Redding Colt New Line
Martin B. Redding Colt New Line Page
Phillip Jay Medicus Catalog Collectors Cartridges
Phillip Jay Medicus Catalog Collectors Cartridges

Rare and Expensive Ammo

Swiss Vetterli Rifle .41 Swiss
Swiss Vetterli Rifle .41 Swiss
     I used to think finding  ammo for my 7.35 Carcano was hard until I recently purchased a Swiss Vetterli  chambered in 10.4x38 Rimfire (.41 Swiss). Now I know what hard to find is really like! I tried my usual haunts like Old Western Scrounger and Graf and Sons finding not a trace of this beyond obsolete round. Best I could find on Google was some guys suggesting it could be converted to a centerfire and custom make the ammo using some strange combination of  .348 Winchester Brass and .44 Magnum Bullets. Sounds great, after several months of work you end up with the firearm equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster.  For me would probably end up with a similarly dangerous and gruesome outcome.

     I finally found some on Ammo-one for the low, low price of $14.95 a round, limit 3 rounds per customer. Guess I won’t be doing any plinking with this one. To make myself feel better I decided to see if there were any other rounds out there that were even more expensive and scarce. Here are some of the results I came up with.

700 Nitro Express Bullet
.700 Nitro Express vs 30/06
700 Nitro Express $99.95 per round (Ammo-one) : This behemoth giant killer shoots a 1,000 grain bullet at 2,000 fps with 9,000-15,000 ft-lb’s of energy. If you really want to get that bull elephants attention this is your round. This is actually a fairly new round developed in the 1980’s by Jim Bell and William Feldstein after Holland and Holland refused to build Feinstein a rifle in .600 Nitro Express. H&H had ceased production of the .600 rifle but was looking for a new big game round.  (Shoulder replacement sold separately.)

.50 Crispin Long Bullet Cartridge
.50 Crispin Long $399.00 a round: Developed and patented by Silas Crispin, a U.S. Army Ordnance officer in the 1860s mainly to circumvent a patent issue. Pistol versions of this cartridge in several calibers were made for pistols manufactured by Smith Arms of New York. The rifle cartridge was patented for use Smith breech-loading carbine manufactured by Ethan Allen. As far as I can tell the rifle never made it off the drawing board so you probably won’t be looking for a box of these any time soon. This is a highly coveted collector round

Pinfire Pistol ammo $20-50 per round: I owned several of these guns and the old European pistols can actually be bought fairly cheap right now. It’s been 100 plus years since any ammo was produced for these in some of these calibers. Quiet often enough ammo to fill the chambers will cost you more than the pistol.

.43 (11x52) Dutch Beaumont Ammo
.43 (11x52) Egyptian Beaumont $25-$78.00 a round: This close cousin to the Dutch Beaumont was one of the first bolt action rifles produced in Europe along with my Vetterli. In fact it looks like the two rifles were close in the size and design of the ammo. I could find very little other than vague references to the Egyptian but the Dutch was sold in small batch production by Buffalo Arms for $78 a round. I will have to look through some of my old gun books for further reference to the Egyptian model; even Google has its limitations!