.45 ACP Dummy Cartridge with Inert Explosive Bullet, HWS III

In the fall of 2006, I purchased a small accumulation of cartridges while working at an auction of the remainder of the estate of a career U.S. Army Officer. Among the cartridges was a .45 ACP dummy cartridge with a tag attached to it with writing on the tag:

I assumed it was some kind of gun show gimmick and didn’t pay anymore attention to the cartridge until 2014 when I took it to SLICS. At SLICS the cartridge garnered considerable interest but remained unidentified until Mel Carpenter saw it and quickly identified it (from working on HWS III) as one of .45 cartridges with the explosive bullet but this one was different in that it was a heretofore unknown inert dummy version of the cartridge. To say it was a “WOW” moment is an understatement.

Two side views of the dummy cartridge showing a hole in the empty/inert bullet and empty cartridge case side wall.

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(l) Inert primer with hole and ® bullet nose with staked-in percussion primer sealed with red waterproofing compound.

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See History of Modern U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition Vol. III: 1946 - 1977; page 28. This dummy cartridge now resides in the Woodin Lab collection.



Great cartridge. Thanks for the excellent pictures. Back when I still had my California Destructive Device License, I had one of the live rounds. I still have the empty tin for them in my box collection. Nice to know there was a dummy too. Looks like it might have been wired to a display at some time or another, from the position of the holes.


Not a bad idea, but this dummy has no wire marks or indentations anywhere around the holes to indicate a wire-mounted board dummy. I think it’s a dummy that had been lacquered (now all freckled) and that the guy drilling the holes didn’t realize how unusual it was to have a hole drilled into the bullet. Believe me, after I picked myself up off the floor, I looked it over very carefully under bright light and magnification, looking hard for anything wrong. There’s nothing wrong. There was a brief conversation about value and I explained why it was so high. Then I asked Brian to please show it to Bill and talk to him about it before he did anything else which, being the gentleman that he is, Brian did. So now the cartridge is where it belongs, in Tucson, nestled in with its fellows. A great story about a great find and a great ending where everybody is happy. I’ve already made a drawing of the round for the Vol. III Addendum.

Mel - good comments! In my thoughts, I was not explicit enough. I have lots of “board dummies” in my collection, where the number and positioning of the holes dictates that’s what they were produced for, but that never ended up on a board. Left overs, you could call them. In some calibers among the French-made ones, I have more variations of board dummy than I do of live rounds!

I didn’t intend to imply either, that there was anything wrong with the round. I am not expert on Winchester and their military contracts, especially ones like this with no headstamp and an anonymous tin can packaging, obviously pointing to secrecy about it at the time it was made. However, I have seen Winchester displays that were likely intended for “in house” use - that is, they were not especially commercial in their nature. I thought it might have been a left over round for that, especially since I could not think of reason other than display or “sample to show” that they should make an inert one of these. Naturally, it did not take a dummy (exercise cartridge) to train in the use of this, retardless of what gun or apparatus it was intended to be fired in.

I should have been much more explicit and complete in my original comments. Mea Culpa.

Brian, amazing find! Thanks a lot for sharing these pictures.

Below is the description given in the well known CIA supply catalog:



Fede - The “5 per tear strip con.” (container) is a round can, painted grey, with all letterin on the top in red print. The lettering says, on five lines,

CAL. 45
WITH .006
5 EA.

The can is 1.63 inches high, an approximate measurement since the tear strip is missing. Also, that meansurement includes a raised edge on both top and bottom. Five ball rounds were inserted, bullet-tips up, to get this measurement with the loose top set on top of them. The can is approximately 1.34" in diameter, and is very thin metal. That measurement does not include the raised rim on top and bottom which also extend the diameter to 1.46" approximate. The bottom of the inside of the can has a full diameter cardboard disc in it; there is none in the lid itself at this time. Whether there ever was, I do not know as I received the can originally opened. There is a rolled up piece of heavy paper (about the thickness of a standard index card) the fits nicely in the center between the cartridges. I do not know if it is original to the can or not. It does keep them from rattling against each other, which would seem to be a good idea considering the original contents of the can.

John, Mel & Fede,

Thank you all for your comments and additional information.


Seeing as all of the original images were lost for this thread, does anyone have a good photo of one of these cartridges?


Here are pics of the dummy cartridge, and to answer your email question, no, MBA had nothing to do with this.

Edit: Images fixed.

Mel, would this be a live version (mint) from the mystery can you turned up, several years ago, and you sold a few of us shares in one of the, yet to be seen, enclosed rounds (Woodin lab was to get the can and a round)

(once again; Mr Carpenter has indelible history in many a drawer in my “bullet room”)

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A bit of trivia, Some years before Mel turned up the can he dad, Paul Van Hee came to a Williamsport show with 3 live rnds. I know Jim Tillinghast bought one (which we since have sold in one of the auctions) but I don’t know who got the other two. During this time I was also going to the OGCA shows & had met a guy who was then retired CIA. When I asked him about these he said he had fired them but other than that all he would say was they worked.
So counting the dummy perhaps less than 10 of these known.

Since this thread has drifted beyond the dummy round I decided to post also. Quite some time ago, through a mutual friend, I met a senior engineer from the company who made these cartridges. He was delivering a few samples to our common friend. I asked him the obvious question, “did they make them in 9x19mm?” He said they had, but only for experimental tests. The 9mm bullet didn’t carry enough HE to make the round effective. He did offer to chase through the engineers desks to see if he could find an example. About a year later, I received a package from him that he couldn’t find any of the 9x19mm items, or even any left over components or documentation he could share. He did enclose a couple of 45 HE rounds as a consultation prize and note. I had only seen the 45s once before this and. I didn’t pay much attention to these two items. I put them away as good trade rounds and forgot about them.

Not too long ago I ran across them again and looked at them more closely. The first thing I noticed is that both rounds were headstamped WRA 53, and that one didn’t have the crimps in the bullet tip. It appears he found a couple of the early test/experimental 45s.


I have no idea of what this engineers name was, and have even forgotten the company since they didn’t make any 9x19mm as far as I know. I did get the impression that this effort was from the mid-late 1960s.

I mentioned these to Bill W shortly before he died and he said he had never seen or heard of them!

I do know that these rounds were not made by Winchester, but another contractor, and were not made for the Army but for the Agency. The engineer was very clear that this was a CIA project. This is not an error in HWS III but, I believe) a deliberate effort to avoid classification problems. There are a number of items that were made for the Agency but attributed in HWS to other government activities.

The first time I saw these rounds was in the very early 70s when I visited MAC (previously Sionics) in Atlanta. A member of the owners family showed me through the “play room” full of strange ammo. They had of the gray cans shown above. They had apparently done some testing and these were the leftovers. He didn’t offer me a sample. He did showed me a .22LR with a strange (to me) bullet which he said was also a .006 sec delay HE round. He also showed me a photo of a selective fire weapon not much bigger than a man’s hand that was the silenced weapon this round was designed for. It was associated with the 45 project and for the same customer. They had test it also. He had some rounds and gave me one but would not make me a copy of the pistol photo. Of course I passed it to Bill W along with the story. I assume it is still in Bill’s collection, but is unlikely to be easily identified since I have since seen a similar shape bullet on commercial .22 ammunition.


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Thanks everyone, just what I was looking for.

I thought I was slipping. Re-reading this now I was thinking that I’d have sworn there were no images this morning…

Fede deleted my images and fixed the original photobucket images with forum hosted images.

I hoticed that Pepper’s round appears to have much smaller crimps on the bullet than my round and the dummy. Perhaps it was later production!


Here’s another from Mel’s can & yes the crimps seem smaller and a little more 'square". I would agree these are later production.
Great rounds Lew, thanks for showing,

Later production - how long was production, does anyone have any idea?

Probably “production” is not the correct term. My round and the dummy Are likely pre-production / experimental rounds.