Military Blank Cartridges

by Colin Riley - July 4, 2012

It was just after midnight this morning, July 4th when one of my neighbors decided to celebrate early with some noisy and no doubt illegal fireworks.

One could hear the thump of the mortar and a few seconds later the boom and crackle of the star cluster or whatever he was shooting off. As I considered whether or not I wanted take the trouble to call the police, my thoughts wandered to another type of noise maker, the military blank cartridge.

In use by the American Army since at least the days of the Springfield 45-70 rifle, blank ammunition was developed as a training aid to help acclimate soldiers to the noise of the battlefield so that they will remain focused on their assigned objectives. For officers and NCO's it provided an opportunity to learn to maintain command and control of their units which often may be widely dispersed under battlefield conditons.

Picture of World War 2 era 45 ACP blank cartridge and 30-40 Krag blank cartridge

World War 2 era Evansville Chrysler 45 ACP blank cartridge and Frankford Arsenal 30-40 Krag blank cartridge.

Always on the lookout for any quirky or unusual firearm related items, a few months earlier, I came across some interesting cartridges in the dud box at the range. Made of steel with a base diameter about the size of a 30-06 cartridge, the mouth of the case had been formed into a cone with an opening about a quarter inch in diameter. Initially I thought that they were somebody's case forming experiment gone wrong. Inside the case I could a red sealant covering the powder charge or wadding.

Headstamped EC - 4, I found out that they were M9 blanks in 45 ACP made by Evansville Chrysler in 1944. As a cost saving measure, the company had ground off the 3 on the headstamp die that they had been using for the 1943 lot of ammunition which read EC 43. This allowed them to reuse the stamp for the 1944 lot, with just the single digit 4 to represent the year of production.

Last weekend, I received an another interesting blank cartridge dating back to an earlier era. A friend of mine gave a few 30-40 Krag rounds for my collection of oddities. One of these rounds was loaded with what initially appeared to me to be a dried up white latex rubber bullet.

Headstamped F 00 6, it actually is a Model 1896 White Paper Blank made by Frankford Arsenal in June of 1900(Wagner). The projectile is made of paper wrapping a charge of what is likely Dupont EC blank powder. Shaped like a krag bullet as an aid to feeding, the powder charge burns up the paper casing within the barrel.

Wagner, Martin "Regular Issue Krag Cartridges Manufactured at The Frankford Arsenal from May 1894 Until the E.O.P." Aug 2009 Accessed (July 2, 2012)
Old Ammo Guy "THE CARTRIDGE COLLECTOR'S EXCHANGE - A box of blank cartridges for the Model 1898 Krag" October 2007 Accessed (July 2, 2012)

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