WW2 American Smalls Arms Ammunition, Mortars & Grenade Launchers

Following on from my previous blogs aimed at helping fellow collectors identify and catalogue their collections, this blog covers US small arms ammunition from .22 to 20mm, along with; Clips and MG belts; Mortars; Rifle grenade launchers; Bazookas and a couple of other items.

All of the following have been taken from a US produced manual, published in October 1943 and covers all the main ammunition used by the US army. Indeed, some of this ammunition was also used by the British army, and other forces too.

Cartridge cases are common finds when hunting for WW2 relics, and a basic knowledge of the nomenclature used to describe the various components is essential to the collector. As time progresses, that knowledge increases, until you can tell what calibre a cartridge case is, even when still covered in mud.

During the filming of WW2 Treasure Hunters, we found numerous cartridge cases of various calibres, from 9mm all the way up to 20mm. Being able to identify them on the spot certainly helped with filming, and showing the crew how to identify cartridge cases meant that, before long, they too were making some half decent guesses at what was coming out of the ground! Towards the end of filming, they even stopped calling cartridge cases ‘bullets’. A result!


A small display case I put together for military shows and other displays. Means I don’t have to spend time standing cartridges up…..a ready made display! I also use this display case to show people a few of the different rim types that can be seen.


On to the info!


Here are just a few examples of some of the thousands of cartridge cases I’ve recovered over the years. When I first started hunting for WW2 relics, I had only a basic knowledge of what they were. I’m now at the stage where most headstamps have been committed to memory!

20mm and 50cal, all of American origin
20mm cartridge cases, recovered from a USAAF dump site. All were made in the USA, and a strange sleeve had been soldered to the top of the middle one!
Another USAAF base dump find. Hundreds of 303 and 30cal cartridge cases, found just beneath the surface.

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