5.56x45mm NATO, what military cartridge type?


I found 5,56x45 cartridges from local shop that are claimed to be NATO surplus. Headstamp with NATO cross in a circle and SB (Empresa Nacional Santa Barbara de Industrias Militares SA, Toledo, Spain ?) supports that, but I can’t identify what NATO type it would be (e.g. M193, SS109…).

Bullet weight is 4g/62gr and it seem to have copper/brass coat on steel/iron (magnetic) jacket and lead core. Tip has (too small) structure I can’t identify to any NATO cartridge/bullet although it has NATO cross in a circle. To my knowledge, combination of the bullet structure and weight does not match. What military cartridge type it could be?


I have a good bit of SB ammunition that matches your casings markings and date. The bullets on mine are unmarked SS109 type.
It appears that the bullets you have pictured here are a Russian commercial type with a bi-metal jacket. I have pullet the bullets on some of my ‘Wolf’ 62gr FMJ rounds before and they look exactly like the bullets you show in your picture.
It would appear that someone for some strange reason pulled the bullets on some old Santa Barbara SS109 and replaced them with some Russian bulk component bullets.
My $.02.


Could the rounds have originally been tracers or another military type projectile? Depending on what country heikkir is in, tracers etc may be illegal for sale to civilian shooters. A company could have acquired the ammunition and replaced the projectiles with commercial saleable FMJ? Just an idea.


This look a lot like the bulk packed Sellier & Bellot .223 ammunition we use at the shooting range. Will check one of the headstamps and report back later.

The S&B rounds come in 140-round cartons.


My country is Finland and tracers are legal, so no issues there. Also e.g. cartridges with armor piercing projectiles can be sold to anyone who have applied a licence for it.

These are sold as surplus, packed to 40 round boxes by Chemnitzer Sportwaffen- und Munitionsfabrik GmbH (SM), a German distributor. Original manufacturer is claimed to be Santa Barbara, Spain that makes NATO cartridges for sure. Would someone really replace the projectiles?!


That is definitely a Santa Barbara casing. I promise you, I would reckognize them anywhere. They are berdan primed, so I have to pick through casings very carefully after I shoot them. The HS, the three stab crimp, and the green primer annulus all match my Santa Barbara ammunition.
For a little while in the early nineties that was about the only good, inexpensive surplus 5.56mm here in the US and definitely the best deal on SS109 at the time. SS109 was somewhat hard to find back then.
I really have no idea why the bullets would be replaced, but I am almost certain that those are Russian commercial bullets. The Russian commercial 62gr FMJ’s look exactly like those, from the rounded nose to the shape and style of the base, and they are steel jacketed as well.
My best guess is that they were meant for export/sale to a country/market where people are prohibited from buying or selling military ammunition. Remove the military bullet, replace it with a commercial one and it’s legal. That’s just a total stab in the dark of course.
I hope that someone with direct knowledge about this ammunition will post more information about them. I am intrigued.


Also, the original Santa Barbara SS109 that I have came in small, brown, SB marked 20rd boxes that had little ‘Made in Spain’ stickers on them.

EDIT: Here’s a pic that I pulled off the net of the stuff that was sold here in the US. As I mentioned they are loaded with a standard, unmarked SS109 bullet.


i have one of these box (dated 1987)
the bullet has green tip and the headstamp do not have the nato circle


Maybe they were intended for sale in Germany if they came through there. I have heard of German firms pulling 7.62x39 and replacing the steel cored bullets with commercial lead cored ones. Maybe this was a similar situation?