This is a potentially a very important subject as it enables the determination of country of origin, whether it is of commercial or military manufacture, and if military, the date of manufacture. Whilst this may seem to be of minor importance, in cases involving terrorism, such information can be vital.

This subject alone could fill several volumes, and many books have been written on the identification of ' headstamps'. The subject is dealt with more comprehensively in Section 2.6, but a few words are required at this stage.

Basically, the headstamp is a series of marks, letters and/or numbers impressed upon the base of the cartridge by the manufacturer to indicate the calibre and by whom it was manufactured.

Commercial ammunition usually contains little more information in the head-stamp other than to show the maker and calibre. The date of manufacture is rarely, if ever, included in commercial ammunition headstamps. Often, the only way in which this information can be obtained is from the packaging material (i.e. box) in which the ammunition was supplied.

The advertising value of a cartridge headstamp has been recognized for a long time. As a result, many firearms dealers will have ammunition marked with their own name or trademark. Under these circumstances, it is very difficult to ascertain the actual manufacturer.

Military ammunition is, however, much more informative and, if one can understand the system of letters and numbers, details such as the calibre, year and month of manufacture, batch number, cartridge case material, bullet type, that is, tracer, incendiary, armour piercing, and so on, can be ascertained.

Military ammunition usually has its headstamp applied to a rigid set of rules with each country rarely deviating from the official pattern. It is thus often possible to identify the source of the ammunition without being able to decipher the headstamp itself. Another identifier of ammunition with a military origin is that, almost without exception, the year of manufacture will be included in the code system.

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  • dodinas
    What is usually included in headstamps?
    8 years ago

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