The Union Metallic Cartridge Company (UMC) was founded in 1867 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1888 The Union Metallic Cartridge Company purchased the Remington Arms Company but both companies continued to catalog separately. It wasn’t until 1912 that Remington and UMC operations united and adapted a combined name using the word Remington and the famous UMC “Red Dot”. The combined name REM-UMC was used until 1933.1 Here is an example of a pre 1912 UMC .32 Calibre ammunition box cover label. Apparently there was an earlier UMC label, exhibited below as the subject of this article.|
This is an extremely rare and until now, never published UMC box of 30 caliber cartridges for “BORCHARDT AUTOMATIC PISTOLS” with all original 50 rounds. The rounds are loaded with 85 Grs, soft pointed (lead) bullets, head stamped “U.M.C. 30 CAL”2 with a copper primer stamped “U”. This box of ammunition was loaded sometime before 1912 to as early as 1897. An earlier date for American Borchardt ammunition would be unrealistic as by 1896, “….a little over 1000 pistols hade been assembled and distributed by Ludwig Loewe & Co.”3 assuming 50% for American export. There were early American magazine and journal publications4 describing the C93 Borchardt Repeating Pistol, but American promotional retail merchandising of the C93 Borchardt Automatic Repeating Pistol didn’t start to appear until 1897-1898 via Hermann Boker & Co. the assigned DWM American distributorship which published a 2-sided orange promotional flyer.5 The .30 Borchardt was listed in the 1905 and 1918-19 Remington catalogs.6
One has to assume that up to that time, Deutsch Metallpatronenfabrik, owned by Ludwig Loewe, based in Karlsruhe provided packaged ammunition, which is a possibility as 3-stab crimped C96 Mauser ammunition exists with D.M. *K* headstamps which could be as early as 1897 although no packaging has been discovered. It has been pointed out that the 1898 Boker flyer advertised a Borchardt pistol and accessories for $30 and 100 rounds of either “full or part mantle” ammunition (manufacture unknown) for $3.50, representing more than 10% of the pistol and accessories. This high price for ammunition reflected a limited production pistol (approximately 50% or 600 pistols available for sale at the time of the Boker flyer) and as in modern days, probably reflected added import costs. If the price is calculated on a 50 round basis the cost of the ammunition was $1.75 or approximately 5% of the pistol and accessories and in actuality the real profit, for the companies involved was in the sale of ammunition, not the pistol.
Actually the issue not addressed here is the packaging for the 100 rounds. German Borchardt DWM ammunition as manufactured was packaged in boxes of 50 rounds as was U.M.C. and later REM-UMC. Did Boker offer the public 100 round packages of “imported” Borchardt ammunition, possibly with their own label? The full mantel reference in the Boker flyer could be the DWM Karlsruhe D.M. *K* head stamped round and the part mantel could be the U.M.C. soft (lead) point round.
Another bit of information that speaks to the availability of the C93 Borchardt Repeating Pistol in the United States in 1898 is a letter written by the firm of Hermann Boker to the United States Army on March 28, 1898.7 In that letter Hermann Boker states that per conversations with the DWM factory they could offer the US Army 1000-2000 C93 Borchardts for ½ the price advertised in the 1898 Boker 2-page orange flyer, without any import duty fees. Since only a little more than 3,000 C93s were ever produced means that, at the time of the Boker offer, even though as it has been asserted that parts may have been manufactured and available, barely a third of the Borchardts were assembled or produced by 1898 and more than likely, all Loewe Borchardts.
There is another box of American manufactured Borchardt ammunition featured in an excellent and comprehensive article written by Dr. GL Sturgess8, however in the Sturgess example, the box cover is the more recognizable post 1912 combined name of “REMINGTON ARMS-UNION METALLIC CARTRIDGE Co.”, an equally rare box of Borchardt ammunition. Both cartridges in profile appear identical, however it is the headstamps that are distinctive and significantly different. The earlier headstamp being stamped U.M.C. – .30 CAL. and the later headstamp being stamped REM-UMC – 30 CAL which further reinforces the earlier produced UMC Borchardt ammunition. The UMC .32 Calibre ammunition box cover example of label information, design and box style of rounded corners vs. the earlier square cornered UMC Borchardt box and is extremely similar to the post 1912 REM-UMC Borchardt ammunition box label of information, design and box style and further reinforces the later manufacture of the pre 1912 UMC .32 Calibre ammunition box. The notice or rather disclaimer on the bottom of the UMC Borchardt Automatic Pistols ammunition box, warning of the nature of the “Special Smokeless Powder” and with the fact that the first smokeless powder produced in the United States was only as recent as 1890 (In April 1899, the German army adopted semi smokeless propellant…)9 attests to the very early loading of the subject cartridges, possibly prior to the turn-of-the-century as stated above.
The only other known American manufacture of Borchardt ammunition was the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (WRA). Examination of a Winchester ammunition box label states, “FOR MAUSER AND BORCHARDT AUTOMATIC PISTOLS” also states in the last line, in small print, “DIVISION OF OLIN INDUSTRIES, INC”. Since Olin Industries purchased the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1931 this particular labeled “Borchardt” ammunition box was not produced until well into the early 1930s. Also the fact that the headstamp label of WRA – 30 Mauser rather diminishes Borchardt to an afterthought, as it was by the 1930s. There is, no doubt other pre 1931 Winchester boxed ammunition for the Mauser and Borchardt Automatic Pistols exists.
Excert from U.S Cartridges and Their Handguns by Charles R. Suydand,
Continuation of excert.
Miscellaneous UMC Catalogs
1905 UMC catalog,
There is no doubt that the Remington Arms Company and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company were merged by 1911 as evidenced by the featured 1911 Remington UMC price list catalog.
Envelope from correspondence with UMC, 1904
1HISTORY OF AMERICAN GUN AND POWDER COMPANIES by Richard Hamilton.
2There is reported a similar top labeled UMC Borchardt 50 round box of ammunition but with no cartridge head stamp yet with “U” stamped copper primers. There is no information as to the balance of descriptive text, if any, on the edges or bottom of this box which was possibly manufactured and packaged prior to the subject UMC Borchardt box of ammunition.
3The Luger Book by John Walters, Copyright ©1986, p.73.
4August 1895 Scientific American Journal. Also see original Scientific American article at Land of Borchardt web site.
5Hermann Boker & Co., New York retailed Borchardt pistols from 101 (later 101 &103) Duane Street, NYC, prior to 1900. The Luger Book by John Walters, Copyright ©1986, p66. Also see original Boker 2-page flyer at Land of Borchardt web site.
6Cartridges of the World, 10th Ed. by Frank C. Barnes, Copyright © 2003, p304.
7U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894 – 1920 by Edward Scott Meadows, Copyright © 1993, p.325.
8The Journal of the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association, Copyright © 1992, Vol 2 No 5, C 1992 pp 26-27, excerpts from BORCHARDT’SCHE SELBSTLADE PISTOLE, Borchardt Ammunition by Dr. G.L. Sturgess.
9The Luger Book by John Walters, Copyright © 1986, p93.