Standard wooden packing boxes are used as containers designed to withstand all conditions commonly encountered in handling, packing, transportation, and storage, of ammunition . At the same time these standard types are complying with I.C.C. (Interstate Commerce Commission) Regulations . In general, Small-Arms Ammunition is issued in the standard wooden packing box with moisture-proof metal liner . In these boxes, cartridges are either packed in Cartons, Bandoleers, or Machine-Gun Belts (Belted or Linked) . The outer wooden cover is held in place by 6 wing nuts . These boxes have watertight metal liners of which the cover is closed by soldering; this cover can readily be torn or ripped off by use of a wire handle provided for this purpose . All boxes contain an identification card showing quantity, type, caliber, model, and ammunition lot number (sealed inside the metal liner on top of the ammunition in each box), this card is 6 x 15 inches for cal .30 & .50 ammo, and 10 x 13 inches for cal .45 ammunition . Data cards measuring 5 x 8 inches are only used in metal-lined boxes, i.e. one inside the liner and another outside it .

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Standard Packing Box,Caliber .30 Ammunition : this wooden box weighs approximately 20 pounds, when empty . Its overall dimensions are 18 7/16 x 9 7/16 x 14 13/16 inches, while its volume is 1.49 cubic feet . Each box is painted dark brown and marked with color bands . While the painting aids in the preservation of the boxes, the markings serve as a means of identification of its contents . On boxes of cal .30 cartridges the color band is painted vertically on the sides and horizontally on the ends . Following color bands are used : Ball RED, Blank BLUE, Dummy GREEN, Armor-Piercing BLUE on YELLOW, Tracer GREEN on YELLOW, Incendiary RED on YELLOW, Rifle Grenade 2 BLUE bands, wide, apart, Armor-Piercing & Tracer BLUE, YELLOW, GREEN (3-stripe band), Ball & Tracer YELLOW, RED, GREEN . For contents stenciled yellow markings are used . It is to be noted, that whenever yellow bands on boxes interfere with the legibility of the stenciled markings, these will be given a DIFFERENT color !

Wooden Packing Box, M-1917, late war (for cal..30 M2 Ball 8-rd Clips in Bandoleers, total contents 1344 Cartridges)

Wooden Packing Box, M-1917, early war (for cal..30 M2 Ball 8-rd Clips in Bandoleers, total contents 1440 Cartridges)

Wooden Packing Box, M-1917, early war (for cal..30 M2 AP Cartridges in Cartons, total contents 1500 Cartridges)

Standard Packing Box, Caliber .45 Ammunition: this wooden box weighs about 19 pounds empty . The overall dimensions are slightly smaller and measure 16 7/16 x 12 11/16 x 7 5/8 inches, while volume is .92 cubic feet . Other characteristics are identical to above standard boxes used for both cal .30 & .50 ammunition . It should be noted that the color bands are similar to cal .30 ammo boxes, i.e. they are painted vertically on sides and horizontally on ends .

Wooden Packing Box, M-1917, early war (for cal..45 M1911 Ball Cartridges in Cartons, total contents 1200 Cartridges - pls see also Remarks pages 60 62)

Standard Packing Box, Caliber .50 Ammunition : this box basically has the same characteristics as the one used for caliber .30 ammunition . For full data, see above descriptions . The only difference are the color bands, while vertical for cal .30 & .45 ammo, bands for caliber .50 cartridges are painted diagonally on both ends and sides.

Wooden Packing Box, M-1917, early war (for cal..50 M1 Tracer Cartridges in Cartons, total contents 350 Cartridges)

Remarks: as the war progressed, there is an evolution in packing materials, packing methods and contents of the boxes . Several modifications were introduced in 1940, 1942 and 1944 and are listed in the different WWII- related Technical Manuals . Still, wooden boxes and crates were being used more often than other types of final packing . Also wire-bound construction using veneer with reinforced cleats and strands of encircling wire have also been adopted . Corrugated or fiberboard containers are even to some extent replacing some of the other wooden packing boxes ! Standard Small-Arms Ammunition Boxes would be available for either cal .30 rifle and/or machinegun ammo, cal. 45 pistol and/or submachine gun ammo, and cal .50 machine gun ammo; while cal .30 and cal .50 machine gun ammo (in metal ammo cans) would already be packed in wire-bound crates (cal .30 carbine ammo however was packed in sealed metal cans)
The most common wooden box in use was Box, Packing, Ammunition, M1917, mainly used for packing cal .30 & .50 ammunition (identical dimensions) : contents varied according to types of ammo, packing methods, and period of time, whereby the wooden boxes could for instance contain 1344, 1440 or 1500 cal .30 cartridges; 1200, 1800 or 2000 cal .45 cartridges (smaller dimensions); or 265, 300, 350 or 450 cal .50 cartridges box contents were identified by relevant markings and drawings .


In order to facilitate handling, transportation and storage of machinegun ammunition, cal .30 & .50 ammo was packed in metal boxes, easy to handle, and provided with the necessary protection against adverse weather conditions and field use . They were destined to hold and carry either belted or (metal) linked ammunition . Two main types of boxes were in use during WWII :

Standard Box, Caliber .30 Ammunition, M1 : container of pressed metal construction, measuring 10 3/16 x 3 x 7 7/32 inch, with an empty weight of approx. 3.5 lbs . This rectangular box, with handle and removable cover, contains a standard 250-rd machinegun belt, either the woven fabric belt, or the later linked version . Metal boxes are painted olive drab, while contents are indicated by means of yellow markings . Most common types of ammunition are cal .30 ball M2 and/or a combined belt of alternating 4 armor-piercing M2 1 tracer M1cartridges, but also 4 ball M2 1 tracer M1cartridges, as well as 2 armor-piercing M2 2 incendiary M1 1 tracer M1 cartridges could be combined . Early WWII, the wooden chest (empty weight 5 lbs, dovetail-jointed wooden construction, spring-loaded catch on cover) was still in use for the M1917A1-type Cal .30 Heavy Machine Gun (water-cooled) and the new M1919A4-type Cal .30 Light Machine Gun (air-cooled), which were mainly fed by 250-rd M1917 (white) woven Ammunition Belts .

Chest, Ammunition, Caliber .30, M1917 (early wooden type, used for 250-rd cal..30 fabric Machinegun Belts)

Box, Ammunition, Caliber .30, M1 & M1A1 (std. WWII type, either used for cal..30 belted or linked Machinegun Ammunition)

Standard Box, Caliber .50 Ammunition, M2 : this metal box, manufactured along identical lines as the .30 caliber version, measures 12 x 6 x 7 inch, and has an empty weight of 4.4 lbs . It contains a standard 100-rd machinegun belt, either the woven fabric belt, or the linked version (contains 105 rds) . Contents of olive drab colored box are indicated by means of yellow markings . After February 1945, the 110-rd fabric belt and the 105-rd metallic linked verson were no longer used . Possible ammo could be either just plain ball M2 cartridges, only armor-piercing M2, or alternating 4 armor-piercing M2 1 tracer M1, or combined 2 armor-piercing M2 2 incendiary M1 1 tracer M2

Box, Ammunition, Caliber .50, M2
(contents Linked Armor-Piercing and plain Ball Ammunition)

Remarks : Cal .30 ammo cans were usually packed as follows; 4 x M1 ammunition boxes per wire-bound crate with contents of 1000 cartridges, or 16 x M1 boxes per wooden shipping box (dimensions 22 x 16 x 16 1/8 inch) each one containing a total of 4000 cartridges . Cal .50 ammo cans were packed as follows; 2 x M2 ammunition boxes per wire-bound crate usually containing 200 cartridges, or 12 x M2 boxes per wooden shipping box (dimensions 25 x 19 1/2 x 15 3/4 inch) numbering 1200 cartridges . It should be noted that subject metal ammunition boxes (M1 & M2) cannot be compared to sealed metal cans mentioned under other headings ! These are different packing materials !