.303 Brit "AOC 1340"

Municion.org says this Italian round has been made “discreetly” for Egypt in 1952. Was it made for Nasser and Italians did not want British to know that? I am interested in political story here.

You are right Vlad that it was a clandestine load. The date on these is a date on the Islamic calendar that is a lot earlier than 1952. I believe that 1340 is around 1922 on the Western calendar. The rounds were also chemically darkened to make them appear to be older than they were.

There are two variations of this headstamp. The one like yours and another with a much squarer font with sharper edges.

Large quantities of this ammunition found its was onto the surplus market. It is a very common headstamp here in the UK.

Surprisingly good job done by the Italians at that time when we compare this to other “clandestine lots” made by others who attempetd to cover the origin ot the regarding ammo.

Is there anybody who is researching exactly this subject? Its seems to be a very interesting field in our ammo world and has lots of interesting aspects. This would be good enough to make an own field for a collection and also a nice subject for a lengthy article.

The date in the timeframe from 1952 to 1959 is correct, and the dating depends, if you choose the starting date of the islamic calendar as the outgoing of the Hedschra (612 to 619) or one of the other significant dates of the islamic history in reflection to Mohamad (and also depending on the variations of this calendar…some have sun-months, other chooses the lunaric months -which gives over the times passing a big difference…
There are several calibers with this markings, not only .303…My ammo is clean and not darkened. I think, the dark colours come from its “bringing back to air” from a known sunk ship, on its way to Egypt. A lot of the Incendiary-ammo with similar headstamps and the typical bullet forms, came also from this ship and was distributed a time after its lifting from the grounds of the mediteran sea…

But also a lot of this ammo cames into the surplus market in the 60-70thies trough Egypt itself., and therefore this ammo is “not blackened”…The letters AOC are just one letter “in front” of the normal spellings of the factory BPD…so not a “big secret” in hiding the maker…


Spelling corrected

I have both ball and tracer in .303, and the ball have a couple of different styles and are both darkened and bright.

The subject of the colouration has been disputed for some time, but I can only say that mine are evenly coloured and do not look like oxidation. You mention incendiary rounds; are these in .303 inch or 7.92mm? I have not seen .303 inch in anything except ball and tracer.


I spend some time translating an article written in Arabic about the history of military production in Egypt and was surprised to learn that between 1950 and 1953 several of the ammunition factories were set up with help of Bombrini Parodi-Delfino, and even factory no. 10 was designated “Bombriny”! Taking this into consideration I think that it is possible that this famous “clandestine cartridge made in Italy” is not clandestine or Italian at all, just early Egyptian production. Any comments in this regard?

Fede - what makes me think it was clandestine production is the use of “AOC” for the manufacturer’s designation. These are not the initials of any factory, but as I am sure you know, simply a letter-substitution code backed up one letter of the alphaber. Thus, BPD becomes AOC.

John, wish I have an alternative explanation for this headstamp, but have not. The letter-substitution, “fake” date and Italian look has been a convincing argument through all these years but now I’m not so sure.

AOC ==Caesar Cypher ( or “Caeser shift”) of one letter back on “BPD”.

A very old cryptographic method, originated and used by Julius Caeser in his military and political dispatches. Can be any regular “Alphabeth shift” , even compounded by different Keys as well. changing the “shift” in mid message.

BPD made ammunition for Egypt in a number of Calibres…303, (both “covert” and open) , 7,9 (BPD marked) and 9mm (idem), in the 1950s.

Whilst BPD may have been involved with Factory 10, it was the Swedes (Bofors AB) who really set up the Egyptian Arms and Ammo industry; Italy ( through Private firms ) also supplied the “8mm” (7,9mm) Converted Carcanos to Egypt for training Rifles and secondary Guard armament in the early 1950s.

Vickers had also supplied Egypt ( under King Farouk) with “Convertible Vickers” Guns ( .303 or 7,9mm, by simply changing Barrels and Lock Gibs) Serial series “ETxxx”

Doc AV

Doc AV, the Swedish Bofors involvement is also mentioned in this article but only in relation to the Heliopolis Company for Chemical Industries No. 81, which started working in 1957.

Whilst the more commonly encountered AOC rounds were made by BPD, I am told (but have no supporting evidence) that the AOC rounds with the square style lettering font were made by SMI.


Tony, thanks, now I am more confused than before! How does the alphabet shift work then?

Hola, Fede, como esta?

The “letter shift” (Caeser Cypher) is simply moving the normal alphabet one letter left or right, such that for instance, A becomes Z, B becomes A, etc…so that “BPD” becomes “AOC”.

This is the simplest method. By complicating the method, such as a Three-letter shift, then A would become X, B would become Y, C would become Z, D would become A, and so on…

And then by interpolating a “Key” in the coded Text, one could change the “shift” by Number, or Position ( Positive shift or Negative shift…Forwards or Backwards)…Then a further complication can be added, by “Re-Cyphering” the Coded Message entirely, with another Letter shift again…

Of course, Caeser Shifts and its variants are not “High Order” cyphering, but in a time of general Illiteracy (in Latin,), it was quite a secure method. These days, even a beginning student of
Cryptology could solve a Caeser Cypher within minutes.

Doc AV

Probably a dumb question, but I’ve been collecting “odd/misc” ammo for a while now, having a couple AOC 1340 rounds, and others not yet identified, Are they rare or worth more than a couple bucks ? Just curious. Others are " SL 4" ? or upside down could be " 7S 4" ? Also have. 30 Mauser rds, any ideas ? Was asking because I was considering offering to trade for 9mm reloads or?


I assume when you say “AOC 1340 rounds” you are referring to .303 British cartridges.
If that is the case then you have some cartridges that, while quite common, have an interesting history, see this earlier Forum discussion on the subject:

As far as your other cartridges go it would be a big help if you could list each type/caliber of cartridge in question and provide a photo.