.303 Brit "B.14 VII" 2 pheon overstamps

These 2 faint pheons at 1 and 4 o’clock, were they added after the main headstamp? Or before?

Added afterwards.

Cartridge made by Birmingham Metal and Munitions Co. Ltd in the UK and the broad arrows added when they were accepted into military supplies. You see them at differing positions on the HS but usually 90° apart.


Thanks. Was the pheon added after the entire loading process was finished? I assume the acceptance refers to the final finished product. How did they do this? Was it done manually, one by one or ran through a machine? I guess the pheon’s light strike means it has gone through a machine.

Here is something I have that Toney Edwards wrote, It was either from his files or posted on another thread on here I believe -

.303 Over stamped Headstamps
I hope the following will clear up some of the confusion about the broad arrow marks on British ammunition.
The Broad Arrow (I dislike the term Crows Foot) is more accurately called the Ordnance Mark and has been in use to denote property of the Ordnance Board since the 17th Century. Since the OB was responsible for procuring most stores for the army it will be found on all manner of things. It is even found carved on buildings and stones as datum marks for Ordnance Survey maps.
It was first used on metallic cartridges as a tiny stamp on the outer edge of the primer on rolled case .577/450 rounds (I forgot to scan one of those), and was also used with the familiar R^L mark on early .450 gatling rounds.
When the .303 Mark I was introduced in 1889 only RL made ammo, but when the Powder Mark II was introduced a few months later civilian firms received contracts and the headstamp sometimes included a Broad Arrow. Eley and Birmingham MMCo. (illustrated) rounds can be found with this style of headstamp. It only appeared on this mark of .303.

In about 1907 the practice of stamping commercial contract ammo with the two arrow overstamp began and continued until 1914. This was done to mark lots of ammo accepted by government inspectors.

Ammunition rejected by inspectors was marked with a pin stab and was often sold off to the gun trade.

During the early part of WWI a method was needed to distinguish special loads like tracer and incendiary, whilst hopefully keeping the identity secret from the enemy if a crashed aircraft was recovered by them. The method chosen was th overstamp the headstamp with either an inverted “VI” or a “VII”.
The early RL tracer had a spitzer bullet so it was overstamped with “VII” in the hope that the Germans would not notice anthing special, and the round nosed Mark I Buckingham incendiary was overstamped with “VI” in the hope it would be thought a Mark VI ball.
RL Tracer overstamped over a normal R^L 16 VII headstamp.

Whilst I have a Mark I Buckingham I do not have an overstamped example, but it looked loke this.

Britain had started the expansion program for Ordnance factories prior to WW2 and Spennymoor and Radway Green came on line in 1940 (Not 1913 for Spennymoor as quoted earlier). To preserve the identity of these factories if the ammunition was recovered they used a single arrow for RG and a double arrow for SR in 1940 and early 1941. By 1942 both were using their normal codes.

What I am unclear about is why some ROF factories used an arrow between their initials and some did not. BE and HN did whilst RG and SR did not. I suspect it is something to do with component and loading factories.

The above applies to UK ammunition. Commonwealth production is another story.


Thanks for sharing that Richard. I for one have always been confused as to why there was inconsistency in the inclusion of the broad arrow, especially on ammunition produced by ROFs. Tony’s post is helpful in addressing this.

Below is a headstamp from a .577/450 rolled MH round that was mentioned above, with the broad arrows on the outer edge of the primer:

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The arrows are actually on the battery cup, which contains the primer proper. Jack

Jack, can I ask why you call it a “battery cup”. All the drawings and documents I have call it a “base cup”,


I think I probably thought what is called a battery cup in the U.S. had a different name in Britain but I had no idea what it might be. Basically both names describe a hollow rivet which serves as the primer pocket and which, when flared after its insertion in the shotshell or cartridge case, holds the lower components together. The same concept is still found in modern shotshell design. Jack

Thanks, I just wondered where it came from. On some drawing it say internal and exernal base cup on others it just says base cup and some say primer.