5.56x45 ID



I really messed up my Q so will have to re-word it. Sorry.



Ray - aside from the green tip of the M885, isn’t there enough weight difference between the two cartridges, due to the 7 or 8 grains difference in bullet weight, to separate them pretty well? I am talking off the cuff here, since it is certainly not my field. I just weighed two WCC rounds - Ball M193 WCC 93 - 178.5 grains; Ball M885 WCC 96 - 186.0 grains. That’s a pretty good difference. Of course, I guess if you did 1000 .223s from all over the world and compared the heaviest specimen of M193 (55 grain bullet) and M885 (62/63 grain bullet), the difference would probably be smaller and perhaps you might even find, due to powder types, an M193 from one source that weighed more than an M885 from another. I just don’t know. Just one tool in trying to separate them, though.



Let me re-phrase my Q since I messed it up.

Is there a way to tell an M193 from an M855 if the tip color is missing?

My first thought was as you described - weight. But I noticed that the specs for M193 is 182 gr with a 14 gr tolerance and the specs for the M855 is 187 gr with a 14 gr tolerance. so there could be some M193 specimens that actually weighed more than an M855.

The second part of my question was - why the different OAL of early vs late M193 cartridges? The cannalure was moved on the later stuff so that it has an OAL about .030" less than the early. 2.220" vs 2.250".

And is there any significance to a late dated cartridge, WCC 98, with no NATO headstamp and the longer length? A different bullet? I only have the one specimen and don’t want to pull the bullet to see.

As I said, I really only collect the pre NATO cartridges but want to be able to ID any of the later ones that I come accross, just in case they are something unusual or rare.




My very un-scientific answer is that M-855/SS-109 projectiles are “pointy” compared to M-193 types. Compare some known specimens and I think you will see what I mean. Of course, this is not to say that all “pointy” 5.56 projectiles are M-855/SS-109, but it will head you in the right direction.




Thanks for that. I had noticed the same thing but wasn’t sure if I was just imagining it. The later M193 appears to have a more rounded tip but the early ones that I mentioned seem to be “pointier”. And the WCC 98 appears to be pointier and it is definitely of longer OAL length.

I always told myself that I would never get myself into things like this, and headstamp variations, but when I see a cartridge that doesn’t look quite like the others it intrigues me and I have to find out.



AKMS - actually, that is not an unscientific answer. You are absolutely right that the ogive of the M885 is quite different - more pointed - than the Ball M193. I can’t speak for .223, but in the years past, we have ID’ed some auto pistol cartridges with no headstamp or unknown (at that time) headstamp by a distinctive bullet shape. That was one of the many factors that got me to looking at U.S.C.Co. as the maker of the 1918-dated Maxim 9mm Glisenti cartridges, which is covered in my article on that caliber in a recent IAA Journal. Not only were all U.S.C.Co. commercial 9mm with truncated bullets, like the Glisenti, but they also pretty much have the Italian shape. Of course, I publically disclaim that I am saying U.S.C.Co. definitely made those rounds, but my personal, as opposed to “hobby-professional” opinion is that they did, without question in my own mind. Like you, I suppose there may be non-SS109 (M885) bullets that have a similar ogive to the M885, but my knowledge of the .223 cartridge doesn’t extend that far.