.45 ACP Colors?

I just got these 2 .45 ACPs. Can someone help with the colors?

  1. “Geco 45 Auto” - Does the red primer mean anything?

  2. “GEVELOT * CAL.45 *” - Is there any significance to the red case mouth seal and green primer seal colors?

The all-red seal found on the primers of rounds from Dynamit A.-G. (Geco and RWS) is nothing more than a water and oil-proofing seal. The color has no special significance, other than that the Dynamit A.-G. companies of Geco and RWS have used this (varying in shade from a purple-red to bright red, the norm for post-war rounds) for many, many years. I suppose in a sense, one could say that it has had an off and on again purpose. During the Third Reich era, the red primer and mouth seal on pistol ammo normally was for Police, which those with black were for the military, but this difference usually occurs on 9mm and coded-headstamp cases. Even pre-War commercial ammo had a red primer seal.

Since WWII, I know that on some pistol ammunition a green seal in place of the red one meant that the ammunition was made for the Border Police (and perhaps other police agencies). All calibers of pistol ball and proof loads from Geco can be found with this all-red seal.

Regarding the green primer seal coupled with a red neck seal on Gevelot-made .45 A.C.P., I don’t know why they used two different colors, but I have never been able to discover any specific meaning for it. Perhaps there is one, I simply don’t know, although I suspect there is not. Dr. Regenstreif could probably answer that for us. I have three variations of .45 with this headstamp, all ball. One has a CN RN bullet, a small diameter brass primer with red seal, and no case mouth seal. Another has a Brass RN bullet, larger copper primer with green seal, and a red case-mouth seal. Finally, there is one identical to that one, except that it never had any case-mouth seal of any color. To my knowledge, these were all commercial rounds for export. The .45 A.C.P. caliber is prohibited for use by civilians in France, to the best of my knowledge, as it was a military cartridge. They are certainly all ordinary ball rounds, and all have the same headstamp, as shown in this thread.

Hi John! …and Jon !

As you asked me, I feel obliged to give an intelligent (???!) answer!

The diverses coloured varnishes or lackers found on GEVELOT 45 ACP ammunition, either as primer annulus, or casemouth, do not have any specific meaning and were only dependent from the availability of the varnish, follolwing the maker’s offer, the cheaper being , of courses, selected. This varnishes were only used to enhance waterproofing qualities of the rounds.

As far as I know, we find only few variations of colours on French ammo related to a particular function :

-all red base and bullet for HP Test rounds (clear translucent red lacquer),

  • coloured strips noted on some factory ammo, like .303 brit. to visualize a special loading or powder. Both are only factory markings.

On military ammunition, the things were not so diverse, as the only specific colour to be found on a special loading is the blue lacquer on pre-WWII 7,5 mm Mle 1929C with Incendiary bullet, which had blue p.a, blue cm and blue bullet tip.

The things were different on several Naval calibres, like the 13,2 mm Hotchkiss.



Phil - Thanks for the reply. For once it seems I was correct. My best to you and yours, mon ami.

I hope this is not “hijacking” the thread, since my question involves Gevelot ammunition and colored seals…

Years ago I bought a bunch of boxed .30-06 ball with a “Gevelot” commercial appearing headstamp. As I recall, mixed in each box were both black and red case mouth seals. Every box was like this. The primer seals were uniformly purple. I can see the color variations from lot to lot, but mixed in the same box?

Any ideas?


Hi John,

  1. About the French 45 ACP, nothing special for the neck or primer annulus.

  2. “The .45 A.C.P. caliber is prohibited for use by civilians in France, to the best of my knowledge, as it was a military cartridge.”

We can have 45 ACP in France with a license.
Two kinds of licenses exist :
One is for “military” ctges like : 7.65 Long, 45 ACP, 9 para, 40 S&W, 7.92 Mauser, 303, 223, 30-06, 30 Nato, 7.5 Mas, 8 Lebel and so on.
The other one is for “commercial” ctges : 25 ACP, 32 ACP, 38 Spe, 357 Mag, 44 Mag, 45 Long Colt, 32 S&W aso.

It is as easy (or as difficult) to get one or the other.

J-P: thanks for the info. I think years ago military calibers were pretty much illegal in France, but laws change. I like to try to keep up on them, but it is hard for each country. Thanks for bringing me up to date.

AKMS: Years ago, I got a few boxes of LC NATO ammunition Ball (M80?) ammunition just for shooting in my FAL and M1A (wish I still had them). When I opened the boxes, which had never been opened, there were rounds with red, purple and green primer seals mixed in the box. Mostly red and green, as I recall. I had never seen that before. I guess when they are manufacturing a lot and the color of the seals are of no significance, they use what is at hand. I thought at the time that the colors might identify the loading line but I was told by some of the guys who really know these U.S. calibers that they did not. Then I thought they were repacked, but there was no indication of that on the box, and all had the same date on the headstamp. I don’t recall the date now - I never did collect the 7.62 NATO round.

John, I saw the exact same three primer seal colors on some 5.56x45
M-193 ball cartridges. We used these when I was qualifying on the rifle range during recruit training (boot camp) in 1987. These were Lake City manufactured in the early 1980’s if I recall correctly. I don’t have the exact headstamp readily available. I thought it was odd to have three different colors of primer seal in the same lot and there was no indication that these were repacked. I am quite certain that they were on chargers and not boxed. I ran this by Dave Hughes some years later and he had no idea other than they might have been made on different production lines. I have to question this theory because I think that would compromise lot uniformity. My guess is that there were three sealing or priming stations on the production machinery or some such scenario, and each station was assigned a different color to try and identify a potential QC problem. I wish I could remember if the cases had SCAMP dots on them…


Hi guys,

I’ve once heard a different story about coloured primers on commercial ammunition. I don’t know the source any more but it told me that coloured primers indicated that the cartridge was factory loaded and not a handload. So when a shooter (accidentally) blows up his weapon with a cartridge that didn’t had a coloured primer, the cartridge was a reload and the factory couldn’t be sued for the incurred damage to shooter and/or weapon. This story made so much sense to me that I’ve always assumed it to be true.

Not only coloured primers but also primers with some kind of relief are often commercially used, such as Norma and Magtech primers. I thought for identical reasons as the coloured primers but now I’m in doubt about that…

Pictures taken from www.municion.org

Might my story be true or are primer colours on commercial ammunition indeed only sealants?