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Mark Greenig: Peters True Blue shotgun shells

Three Dupont Peters High Velocity full shotgun shell boxes in very nice condition in gauges 12, 16 and 20. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS

With the duck and goose season in full swing, I felt it proper to talk about “True Blue”. True Blue refers to vintage Peters High Velocity shotgun shells. The connection here is color of the shell which, of course, is midnight blue. Thus true blue. There are many reasons why these shells are so collectible, so let’s get right to our dialogue.

DuPont made shells for many years under the name of Peters High Velocity. The ones being discussed here were manufactured in the mid-1950s. DuPont was a producer of gun powder, which allowed their natural progression into the making of shotgun shells. Peters cartridge was a division of Remington arms company of Bridgeport, Conn.

Peters shells were primed with “rustless” primer composition. The company candidly stated if these shells were used in a gun which was properly cleaned, the ammunition would not rust, pit or corrode the barrel.

Most 1950s Peters rustless shells are 2 3/4” in length. At that time most Peters shells were midnight blue in color. Only exceptions were red shells for field and orange shells for trap shooting.

Still, the company had great concern of accidents due to hunters placing the wrong gauge shell in the wrong gun. The inside flap of each box came with a warning. It noted a smaller shell will pass through the chamber and lodge in the barrel of a larger gauge gun for which the smaller shell was not made for. With that obstruction, another shell fired could burst the barrel causing injury to the hunter. In an ongoing effort to promote safety all Peters shells were marked with white lettering stating what gauge gun the shell was made for.

That was all well and good if you could see what you were doing. All hunters know some of the very best waterfowl shooting takes place under dim light conditions. With today’s social concerns over liability, one color shells for all gauges are just not suitable.

Demand for Peters High Velocity shells is considerable. I have already noted visual appeal of the dark blue shell, white lettering and brass base. What gives this collectible the knockout punch is the box graphics. Dark blue boarders/lettering, bright red “High Velocity” wording accentuate the flying mallard. The final touch is the cattail slough in the background. The reverse side is a notice on the benefits of Peters High Velocity shells. The top flap tastefully indicates gauge, length and a vivid blue shotgun shell. In ink is load information, with the notation of progressive burning smokeless powder. The bottom flap is a cleaner version of the top flap with the DuPont logo on either side of a large “P” in a circle indicating a Peters product.

Value depends on the usual condition and rarity. Gauge value is least with 12 gauge, more for 20, 16 and 28 in that order. Magnum loads are worth more than standard loads. eBay will not sell loaded shot gun shells. Empty boxes are currently being offered at a wide range. Most run $75 to $200 each. Much too expensive for my taste. A more reasonable cost is $35 to $50 for a full box of 12 gauge in very good condition. More for other gauges.

Be sure to watch for discoloring of box and split sides due to pressure being put on the box. All reduce cost of this collectible.

Finally, I have witnessed single Peters “True Blue” shells in all gauges being sold for $2 each if in good shape. You do the math. If you can find the complete box with proper 25 shells for the reasonable price mentioned, buy it. Even though the shells are usable I don’t recommend it. They will serve you so much better on display. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.