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Article created: Monday, December 20, 2004

United States Cartridge Company ammunition article

  Britain entered WWI on 8/4/1914 and in September of the same year British agents appeared in Lowell, Massachusetts in search of ammunition cartridges. These agents informed the US Cartridge Company that already the war looked to be of a long duration and that the company should plan to go to full production. They also suggested that the plant be expanded to meet the demands ahead.

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Pre-1920 United States Cartridge Company box of 9 M/M ammunition

Not only did the British agents offer to pay in advance, but the contracts were guaranteed by His Majesty’s government. If the war ended before the contract was fulfilled, the payment would be made on the total contract. Representatives of the governments of Belgium, France, Italy and Holland followed the British agents in contracts.

In order to comply with these demands, The United States Cartridge Company leased an old cotton mill building. They constructed new manufacturing facilities, both at its main plant on Lawrence Street and, for the first time, its land in South Lowell, located near Billerica St.

The National Lead Company had purchased an interest in the U.S. Cartridge Company in 1911. In 1919, the National Lead Company purchased the remaining half-interest in the company, thereby becoming the sole owner.

In 1926, The United States Cartridge Company was sold to Winchester Repeating Arms Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Through the months of October and November of 1926, all efforts were made to keep the Cartridge Company in Lowell, or in failing that, to attract another munitions manufacture to the facilities. There were none available. Since the lease with the National Lead Company expired on December 31st, the plants were stripped of the manufacturing machinery and sent to the Winchester’s Connecticut location at the rate of several box cars (pulled by coal driven trains) daily. With these events, the cartridge factories run by Winchester were now gone from Lowell, leaving only memories and empty factories.

(Excerpts from web site article “USC”)

The above United States Cartridge Company box cover and contents of 50 (37) 9 m/m flat nose loaded ammunition is of pre-1926 manufacture, based on the company’s history. Note the unusual location of the canelure or groove located 1/3 the distance from the top cartridge lip. Also note that all cartridges are identical except for the head stamp copper plated primers with and without the US stamped logo.

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Pre-1926 United States Cartridge Company box of 7.65 M/M ammunition

The United States Cartridge Company did make similar packaged 7.65 mm Parabellum ammunition apparently in the same time frame or earlier in New York, not Lowell, Massachusetts. Shown above is a possibly later manufactured box of 7.65 m/m Parabellum ammunition due to its New York location. Note the “S” stamp on the 7.65 m/m soft point loaded bullet and the lack of the US logo on the nickel plated primer.

The United States Cartridge Company published a catalog in 1917 without the 9mm Luger being listed, but the 9mm round was added as a supplement page, probably around 1919-1920. The 9 m/m headstamp and box illustrated is their first production.