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Cal. .50 M2A1 Ammo Can / Box

The steel M2A1 Ammunition Can / Box (also called Chest Ammunition: M2A1 or Box, Metal, M2A1) was introduced during the 1950s for .50 caliber machine gun ammunition, replacing the M2 .50 cal. ammunition can / box.

A1C Kyle Johnson, 88th Operations Support Squadron, ties down wirebound boxes of 5.56mm ammo to a pallet, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 5 Dec 2008.  Each wooden crate holds two M2A1 ammunition cans. Each M2A1 holds 840 rounds in 10 round clips
A1C Kyle Johnson, 88th Operations Support Squadron, ties down wirebound boxes of 5.56mm ammo to a pallet, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 5 Dec 2008. Each wooden crate holds two M2A1 ammunition cans. Each M2A1 holds 840 rounds in 10 round clips.

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Caliber .50 M2A1 Ammunition Can / Box

M2A1 ammunition can, late variation with parallel skirt on lid.  Photo:  Government Liquidation.com
M2A1 ammunition can, late variation with parallel skirt on lid. Photo: Government Liquidation.com.

The M2A1 ammo can was designed to hold link belts of 100 cartridges of .50 cal. ammunition for the M2 Browning machine gun, but was in fact utilized to transport and store many other ammo calibers and packaging.

Construction details of the M2A1 .50 cal. ammunition can / box:

  • Steel material, seam welded
  • Latch, hinge, handle spot welded to body
  • End-opening lid with quick release hinge
  • Quick release latch
  • Rubber gasket under lid makes near waterproof seal when latched closed
  • Flat sides and lid
  • Metal bar handle attached to the lid by rectangular wire loops so it can fold flat for stacking or lift up for easy carry
  • Lid skirts protect contents when lid is partially opened

The lid skirts originally angled down from the hinge end, then ran parallel to the top as the skirt approached the latch end. Later model M2A1 boxes have a lid skirt that is shorter and parallel to the lid for the full length.

The M2A1 ammo can is painted olive drab. Stamped markings may include the manufacturer's name (eg SCF, EMCO), the model M2A1, and year made. A cartridge shape may be embossed in the lid to indicate direction of loading. Paint (usually yellow) will be used for stenciled markings identifying the contents.

M2A1 ammunition can, markings indicate it was made in 2003 by SCF
M2A1 ammunition can, markings indicate it was made in 2003 by SCF.

The M2A1 ammunition box has been used by the U.S. military for small and medium caliber cartridges, for artillery fuses and more, including this partial list:

  • Cartridge 5.56 mm bandoleers and linked
  • Cartridge 7.62 mm bandoleers and linked
  • Cartridge .30 caliber carbine
  • Cartridge .50 caliber linked
  • Cartridge .38 special
  • Cartridge 9mm (20 cartons of 50)
  • Cartridge .45 ACP
  • Cartridge 12 gauge shotgun shell
  • Cartridge .22LR

M2A1 ammunition can, stencilled for 12 ga. shotshell
M2A1 ammunition can, stencilled for 12 ga. shotshells.

The M2A1 ammunition can measures 12 1/32 in. (30.56 cm) x 6 3/32 in. (15.48 cm) x 7 1/2 in. (19.05 cm) in its outside dimensions. It is defined by MIL-DTL-3060F (drawing number 7553296, Box, Ammunition, M2A1 Assembly) or earlier specs in the MIL–B-3060 series. Two M2A1 boxes are packed into a wirebound, wood shipping crate (drawing number 7553347 - Box, Wirebound: Boxes, Ammunition, M2A1). The M2A1 ammunition box is covered by NSN 8140-00-960-1699 and the shipping crate NSN 8140-00-078-8969.

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