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.30 Cal. M19 / M19A1 Ammo Can

The .30 caliber M19 / M19A1 steel ammunition can / box was developed to deliver belts of 250 .30-06 cartridges for the .30 Cal. Browning machine guns and was later used for the NATO equivalent 7.62mm rounds for the M60 machine gun and other weapons. It has also been used for various calibers in cartons, clips, bandoleers or other packaging. The .30 cal. steel M19 / M19A1 ammo can replaced the steel Cal .30 M1 / M1A1 Ammunition Box after WW II.

End panel of an M19A1 ammo can in cradle of M240 machine gun, Wasit Province, Iraq, 8 Sep 2008.  Markings indicate the can was manufactured in 2000 by SCF
End panel of an M19A1 ammo can in cradle of M240 machine gun, Wasit Province, Iraq, 8 Sep 2008. Markings indicate the can was manufactured in 2000 by SCF.

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.30 Cal. M19 / M19A1 Ammo Box / Can

Belts of 200 7.62mm rounds packed in M19A1 ammo cans.  Photo:  GovernmentLiquidation.com
Belts of 200 7.62mm rounds packed in M19A1 ammo cans. Photo: GovernmentLiquidation.com.

The steel construction M19 / M19A1 Small Arms Box was introduced to replace the WW II era M1 / M1A1 .30 caliber ammunition box. Like its predecessor, the M19 / M19A1 can has been used not only for belts of .30-06 machine gun ammunition, but for many other small arms cartridges including the NATO 7.62mm rounds that superseded the .30-06 rounds.

The M19 / M19A1 ammunition can improved upon the generally similar M1 / M1A1 .30 caliber ammunition box in a number of significant ways, for example:

  • The M19 / M19A1 ammunition can did away with the elaborate embossed rectangles and other characteristics of the M1 / M1A1 cans. The sides and top of the M19 / M19A1 are smooth and markings from the factory are minimal, consisting only of stamped indications of the supplier and the year manufactured. For example, "93 M19A1 S.C.F." stamped in the back panel (see top photo).
  • The top of the M19 / M19A1 box has "skirts" that shield the interior when the lid is partially open, such as when feeding a machine gun. Small dimples at the base of the skirt hold the lid in the open position when needed.

The M19 / M19A1 ammunition box is used for many combinations of cartridges and packaging, primarily 7.62mm and .30-06 rifle and machine gun ammunition, but packed in belts, clips in bandoleers, bulk, cartons or other combinations.

The M19 / M19A1 ammunition can measures 3 13/16 in. (96.8mm) x 7 1/4 in. (184.2mm) x 11 in. (279.4mm) in its outside dimensions. The M19A1 is defined by MIL-DTL-3060F (drawing number 7553315 - Box, Ammunition, M19A1 Assembly) or earlier specs in the MIL–B-3060 series. Four M19A1 boxes are packed into a wirebound, wood shipping crate (drawing number 7692103 - Box, Shipping, for Box, Ammunition, M19A1). The M19A1 ammunition box is covered by NSN 8140-00-828-2938 and the shipping crate NSN 8140-00-891-6322. Some documents give the M19A1 as NSN 8140-00-828-2939.

History of the M19 / M19A1 Ammunition Can

The M19 Ammo Can (or Box, Ammunition, M19) was introduced in 1946 and was manufactured for a relatively short time. There are two known manufacturers of the M19, both in Michigan: Mt. Vernon Metals in Grand Rapids and the Rudy Furnace Co. of Dowagiac. Rudy was making these boxes as early as 1948 and possibly earlier. M19 production is believed to have been terminated no later than the end of 1953.

The M19A1 superseded the M19 and was produced in much larger quantities, starting in 1954 or a little earlier. The M19A1 Ammo Can corrected all of the deficiencies noted in the M19. While M19A1 cans exist in abundance, by the end of the 20th century, M19 Ammo Cans were rare and seldom found outside of militaria collections.

M19A1 vs. M19 Ammo Can

M19 (left) and M19A1 Ammunition Cans, showing differences in the latch.  Photo courtesy Todd Kavanagh
M19 (left) and M19A1 Ammunition Cans, showing differences in the latch. Photo courtesy Todd Kavanagh.

The M19 and M19A1 are very similar. but can be distinguished by these factors:

  • M19 has a much smaller, narrower locking latch on the front than the M19A1 (photo above).
  • M19A1 has a "bulge" running the length of its lid, absent on the M19. This bulge on the M19A1 accommodates a wider rubber gasket for better sealing.
  • Like the older M1A1, the M19 does not have an indentation on its bottom for handle clearance. The M19A1 does have this feature that makes it easier to stack the M19A1 boxes.
  • M19 brackets that attach both the hinge and the latch to the lid are narrower and less robust than they are on the M19A1. The number of welds was increased on the M19A1 (photos above and below).
  • M19 markings, including the bullet on the lid and the manufacturer marking below the latch, are painted on. These same markings are stamped into the metal of M19A1s (photo below and top photo on page).

M19 (left) and M19A1 Ammunition Cans, showing differences in the top markings and the bracket welds.  Photo courtesy Todd Kavanagh
M19 (left) and M19A1 Ammunition Cans, showing differences in the top markings and the bracket welds. Photo courtesy Todd Kavanagh.

Additional photos of the relatively rare M19 Ammunition Cans are available here:

Thanks to Todd Kavanagh for providing much of the research for this page.

Recommended Book about Browning Machine Guns

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