Early 1917
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     This site deals with ammo boxes for the .30 caliber belt-fed ground machine guns designed by John Browning for the U.S., Belgium, and Sweden.
      I will add to this sight as long as information continues to surface. If you have anything to add to what you see here, please E-mail me with photos and data. Thanks to Rick Shab & Mark Genovese for their input.

      Ammo cans and boxes developed alongside the guns they served. There was some overlap when both wood and steel boxes were made, particularly for the water-cooled 1917. A steel can was modified to attach to the 1917A1 tripod, and the wooden boxes eventually went out of production in favor of more durable and easily manufactured steel cans. I have divided the boxes in to wood and steel to reduce the number of images on one page. Click on one of the boxes below to go to that section.

Once emptied, cans that could be returned to the ordnance depot were filled with new ammunition. A repacking slip was included to show the date and ammunition lot number. The cans were restamped to show this new lot number. It is not unusual to find several layers of paint and lot numbers on a can.

Repacking card

Repacking slip dated April, 1945

Early 1917 with wooden ammo box on the ground.
The water chest is the first model, with no skirt
around the bottom. Sitting on top of the water chest
is a leather funnel used to fill the water jacket.

The front of this can shows at least
three different layers of stenciling.
Ammunition was either loaded into cloth belts or steel links. In the field, a
flatbed linker could load cartridges into the links a small number at a time.

Early linker
30-06 links in shipping case.
Tin containing links enough to load ammunition for one ammo can.

Crank style linker for use with the
Israeli links, shown at right.

Belted 8mm ammunition.

Israeli links, stacked 20 to a box.

1918 Belt loader

The Colt BT loader with tray.

The early hopper style Colt belt loader
Instructions for the 1918 Belt Loader

Click on this image to get
the printable version.

At left is the instruction sheet for the 1918 belt loader. It was glued under the loader box lid. If you click on the image at left you will get a full-sized printable version. Once it loads, right-click and select Save Picture as. The text and image are sepia colored so when printed on paper it will look old. Printing on tan paper might give it a more authentic look. Just a thought. The original size of the sheet was 8" x 10 7/8". The downloadable image has been cropped to 7.66" x 10.25". There is no point in making the file size bigger by including blank space, and most printers will not print that close to the edge of the paper anyway. After printing just crop to the original size.

A big thanks to Rick Shab of BMG Parts for going to the trouble to remove the wooden bar that obscures some of the text, and then scanning the image for me. The quality of Rick's scan made it possible for me to digitally restore the document. I can't say enough about the considerable help that Rick routinely gives me with my projects.

This is the original showing placement
on the underside of the loader box lid.