,45 ACP Headstamp Question

I was given about 1250 rounds of .45 ACP ammo at the range the other day. Someone had brought in a couple of 5 gallon pails of various loaded ammo (rifle)and a large plastic bin of .45 ACP. Since the ammo is of various makers and I can not tell what is factory and what are reloads, I am disassembling it all. Have come across a few that I am leaving as is. Most I can tell who and where they manufactured. One has me stumped. The headstamp has a triangle, 45 AUTO, 16 on it. Have never seen this before. I am assuming it was manufactured in 1916, but by who?


I should leave this to John M, but the triangle almost surely means it was sold here by Norinco and the date would be “91” for 1991. This round is very similar to a 9x19 rounds that come in Norinco boxes. The ammo was probably made by Heilongjiang North Tool Co.


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Reload…as the factory loaded cartridge has the brass primer with green paint seal. Have this box of 45 ACP from the times of Frankonia booming in CZ (Prague)…1994-99

It may be a 91 instead of a 16. But then would not the base(bottom) of the number be on the outer edge of the base of the case? I am thinking the 45 is facing the outer edge, so would not the other number be the same way? So 16 instead of 91?

I wasn’t going to chime in here, because as usual, Lew’s answer was right on! However, If the pictured cartridge has a brass-cup primer (it is hard to tell, and found in the US), it is NOT a reload. I am not questioning that reloads from some German firm, with this headstamp exist. Why not? The cases are Boxer primed. In this instance, though, found in the USA, I must say that this date with a red primer seal is much more common here than are the later dates with a green primer seal. I have a loaded, excellent condition Triangle 91 .45 cartridge with red seal, as pictured. My green seal version is only a fired case, and in the near 30 years since then, I have not been able to replace it with a loaded round.

USMC69. I assume you were in the USMC - a great branch of the military. Thank you for your service.

The order and format of headstamps is not a uniform or mandatory thing. There is no question what-so-ever that the date on you cartridge is 1991 (91) and not 1916 (61). This headstamp style does not exist with that early a date, nor even the “style” of the cartridge. In fact, the earliest headstamped cartridges in .45 ACP caliber from China, after over 50 years of collecting this caliber, that I have seen or even heard from, date from the 1920s and have headstamps completely in Chinese Characters. Again, Lew was absolutely correct in his identification. I can add nothing to that.

I know some combinations of digits in headstamps can confuse, since they can be read two ways. That is when knowing the characteristics of the cartridges comes into play, and can help immensely in end the initial confusion that all of us have likely encountered in our study of the subject.

P.S. If the primer cup in your cartridge is nickel, then it could be a reload. Chinese primers in this caliber are generally brass. I cannot say always, because of course I don’t have every date.

Semper Fidelis.

John Moss
US Army & USAR-active 1956-1965


    Thanks for your reply.  Like I wrote it was mixed in with 1250 other rounds.  I have found U.S. marked cases from 1917, 1918 1937 and 1938 so far in this bunch.  I am debating as to tearing them down for the components or just putting the in a box or jar on the shelf.

Thanks for your service.

AJ Glaser
1stSgt. USMC(RET.)

First Sgt., I would urge you to keep them. The older dates are disappearing. Compared to years long past, .45 ammunition and components are still cheap, and any components gleaned from ammunition that old would have to suspect as to reliability of use. Even in the quantity you have, I would at least pick out one each of any variation, such as bullet-jacket material, smooth or cannelured cases, headstamp variations, primer-cup material variations, etc. With so many, I admit it may be only practical to break down some of them, but If you have any interest in ammunition from a collector’s point of view, I would keep all variations, and perhaps a couple of duplicates of each variation, if any. It would likely be a good start on a nice collection. It is fully possible to build a collection of over 2,000 specimens in this caliber, depending on your collecting goals.

John Moss

As the movie “Short Circuit” (1986) famous quote said " Don’t Disassemble"
Noting more fun then to collect different headstamps of different calibers.

My Norinco box contains these head stamps (dated 1993). What I have met recently - the same H/S style with 1994 dates…quite huge quantities appeared at our shooting range (not single forgotten box). Unfortunately I don’t have the loaded cartridge - just the empty cases (94). All these I have met so far - brass primer, green seal (9x19 same style as well).


Above mentioned is 1991.

Trabi - we don’t see dates past 1993 on these commercial Chinese headstamps, as that was the last year China was allowed by the US Government to send in most ammunition types to America. They did something, I forget what now, that displeased our government. There were dozens of ways they could have “punished” China, but naturally, chose to do it as a joint anti-gun measure.

The 93-date with red seal was “China Sports” brand and imported into the USA by ChinaSports (trademark spelling with no space between the two words), of Ontario, California, which is in the Southern part of the state.

Below is the box for this “red seal” 93-dated .45 ammo.

John Moss