6.5 x 53 R Dutch

I opened a bag if 6.5 Dutch with the following headstamps
Starting at 6 oclock and moving counterclockwise
FN 3 22 31
FN 3 (Triangle) 22 31
FN 3A 22 37?
FN 5 22 31
FN 5 (Triangle) 22 31
Domed Brass Pr. CNCS
FN 6 22 31
Dome GM Pr. CNCS
I cant find any reference to this heastamp in any of my books. Who Manufactured?
I also have 5 clips/chargers for 6.5 Dutch cartridges. Hold 5 rounds, Plumcolored steel and black colored steel with the following marks.
H in a circle
23 AI
17 K
17 H
Who manufactured?
Bob R.

Bob - I would think that the maker of this ammunition was Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre, of Herstal, Belgium, from the marking “FN.”

On the clips, a circled “H” on a clip is virtually always representative of Hirtenberger. I am sure “AI” is Artillerie Inrichtingen. I cannot identify “K” or “H” definitvely. “K” is a mark found on lots of Swedish clips, from Karlsborg, but since Keller & Company supplied some early lots of ammunition, it could be their mark as well. The “H17” Marking could be a different style of marking from Hirtenberg, but it could also stand for “Hembrug.” Unfortunately, I have no source for that information.

I tried to research these, to be sure, in the book “The Dutch Mannlicher M.95 and the 6.5 x 53.5 R Cartridge,” published in 1995 by the Netherlands Association for the Study of Ammunition and Ballistics, but to no avail. In some respects it is an excellent book, but has some serious short-comings for the intense student of ammunition.

Firstly, the few headstamp photographs shown are all totally illegible, at least in my copy. They need not even be in the book as they are quite useless. The book would have been much better served by line drawings of the headstamps. That is often the case. I know most disagree, but it has long been my opinion that line drawings of headstamps, accurately done as to content and style, are generally superior to the photographs you find in many articles and books. For one thing, sometimes the headstamp of the only specimen available to photograph is legible under a magnifying glass, but so poorly stamped that only the finest equipment used by a highly-skilled professional photographer could produce a legible image of it. A drawing solves that problem.

Second, there is no actual listing of the ammunition manufacturers in table, or “list” form, or identification of their headstamp denominators. Headstamp systems are explained with no example to show how the various pieces of information covered were actually applied to the headstamp, making them somewhat confusing to those who do not specialize in that cartridge. The book could easily have included every basic headstamp known to European collectors as well as a list of the manufacturers, considering the fabulous collections and huge depth of knowledge our Dutch friends have, not just of this caliber, but in many fields of ammunition. In the entire book, the only place I could find mention of “FN” was regarding brass suppliers. there is a list of them, even though to me, that is of secondary interest to a list of the ammunition makers themselves.

Finally, clips are treated in one very small paragraph and one drawing, with no identification of the various markings actually on these clips.

It is a shame that the book overlooks these very basic points of interest to most cartridge collectors. For the rifles themselves, and the types of ammunition made for them, it is an excellent work. It covers all the components of a cartridge well. It is in both Dutch and English, a great advantage to those who do not read Dutch.

But, when push came to shove, I could not find in it the most basic cartridge headstamp information to definitively answer your question. I read almost the complete English-language section on ammunition this morning. It was interesting, but did not serve my immediate purpose.

I hope we can get either a confirmation or correction of my identification from the Netherlands group.

  • @ Bob Ruebel: I don’t know the answer to your question but I would like to ask you something: what shape is the cutout in both side walls of those 5 clips for the 6.5X53R cartridge??? If the cutout is large, the clip was made in Netherlands. If the cutout is not so large and oval in shape, the clip was used by Romania. Both Holland and Romania adopted officially the 6.5X53R rimmed round and did use it starting with 1890s until the end of WW2. Thanks in advance for any help, Liviu 10/21/08

The cartridge cases were produced by Fabrique nationale in 1922 for the Netherlands East Indies armed forces; the other markings relate to the powder lots used when the cases were loaded, or reloaded, by the KNIL. The brass is typically copper washed, and in many examples seen the bullets are base marked 22 over FN. JG

What reference book is this info in?
Bob R.

The cutouts on all 5 clips are large rectangular shaped.
Bob R.

Bob: I can cite no published source but I have handled, broken down, and reloaded a lot of the East Indies 6.5 m/m. The various overstamps seen on the cases in addition to the FN 22 original marking appear to be relatively consistent with similar practices used by the Netherlands home armed forces.
The use of a copper wash on the brass appears to me to be an attempt to protect it from the tropical humidity in the Indies. It may be possible for these questions to be researched in the Netherlands, but I wouldn’t be surprised if all the original sources perished in the now long gone Dutch East Indies. JG

Gill’s answer makes sense. FN produced 9mm Parabellum ammunition for the Dutch Lugers made by DWM and Vickers Ltd, of England, as did DWM, Kynoch and RWS, and either Winchester or Western, I forget which. Most of these Luger pistols were used in the Dutch East Indies. In fact, in the book referenced below, the 9mm Para with truncated bullet is referred to as “East Indies Cartridge No. 5,” although boxes use the designation “Patronen Scherpe No. 5.”

The standard, contemporary handgunsl of Holland for European troops was first a revolver and then the Model 1922 FN-Browning, sporting a “Crown over W” crest on the top of the slide.

So, there definitely was an FN connection with ammo supply to the Dutch East Indies, and I am sure it applied to ammunition and components for the rifle caliber, as well. The afore-mentioned book on the 6.5 cartridge deals with the question of the Indies, but doesn’t identify the major suppliers to the Dutch Colonial Forces there.

Reference: “The Dutch Luger,” by Bas Martens and Guus de Vries, pages 237 to 240. This is, in my estimation, one of the eight or ten best gun books ever published. One can be interested in the subject or not, but that is irrelevent to the quality of the book, combining high quality of research, writing, photography and the physical preparation of the book itself.

[quote=“J. Gill”]Bob: I can cite no published source but I have handled, broken down, and reloaded a lot of the East Indies 6.5 m/m. The various overstamps seen on the cases in addition to the FN 22 original marking appear to be relatively consistent with similar practices used by the Netherlands home armed forces.
The use of a copper wash on the brass appears to me to be an attempt to protect it from the tropical humidity in the Indies. It may be possible for these questions to be researched in the Netherlands, but I wouldn’t be surprised if all the original sources perished in the now long gone Dutch East Indies. JG[/quote]
Thanks -J. Gill, John and Liviu

this is the book “The Dutch Mannlicher M.95 and the 6.5 x 53.5 R Cartridge,” published in 1995 by the Netherlands Association for the Study of Ammunition and Ballistics.

I don’t know if this book is available.
But you can send a PM to me if you looking for one!!
most often we have a couple available at the St-Louis show.

Not my speciality, these M95 rounds, but the K and H on the ‘17’ dated rounds are identified as lot numbers (or rather letters) by several sources. ‘17’ is the production year, the producer being the Hembrug arsenal in the Netherlands.

Nothing to add about ‘FN’, which indeed stands for ‘Fabrique Nationale’ in Herstal, Liege, Belgium. The Belgian company has had a long lasting relationship with the Dutch army as a supplier of guns and ammunition.

The development of the Dutch firearms for use in the Netherlands themselves and those for use in the East Indies shows the dividing line between common cheapness in the home country and the pragmatic approach in the East Indies rather well. Since the KNIL actually did some fighting on a regular basis, their needs were based upon experience and their choices relatively sane (within budgeting limits, of course). It is interesting that during Parabellum field trials in the early 1900s the Dutch had their reservations about the small .30 luger round and requested something with better stopping power, which also prompted the KNIL to adopt the 9mm para round eventually. Seen in that light, the eventual choice of the FN model 1922 in .32 acp seems a bit strange.

But the Dutch political view in the late 19th, early 20th century was one of neutralism and they hoped that by remaining neutral to the rivalling countries around them they could avoid war, and thus keep a relatively inexpensive army. This view is reflected in the choices made with regards to military equipment and an obsession for small, cheap and generally useless cartridge shapes, like the .32 acp and the 6.5 mannlicher.

They were pretty much cured from this after the German invasion in 1940.

While I find some serious faults with that book, please everyone, understand that if you are a serious cartridge collector, and build a library, you need this book. It is worth having for its strong points, which are many. I hope that it is still available for others to obtain.

Hi Bob,

I’ll try to add more info about your question;

As already explaned by mr Gill, the cases are produced in Belgium (Fabrique Nationale) and bought by the Dutch department of colonies for the Dutch Indies, These cases had only FN and 22 (year of production) as headstamp. The cases were loaded in the Indies and two more marks were added on the headstamp. If you have a closer look at the headstamps, you might find out that some “added” markings are rotated 90degr. and some -90degr.
the meaning of the triangle is not exactly known but some people say it has to do with a change of the powderlot within one ammo lot.

I’m working on a website about the Dutch 6.5mm cartridge, by have not started yet with the Dutch Indies…

this is the box of 50 rounds ball mk 1 (photography by Hank Baks)

here in Australia, over tyhe last 50 years, quite a variety of Dutch made and reloaded 6,5x53R ammo has circulated, both as shooting ammo and as collectibles.

Firstly, during WW II, large numbers of Dutch KNIL and native Ambonese troops were evacuated through Northern Australia to escape the invading Japanese; these brought with them small quantities of Mannlicher Riflkes and KNIL ammo (the KNIL Air Force brought their Johnson Rifles, freshly acquired in mid 1941).
At the end of WW II, the mopping-up operations carried out by Australian forces souvenired small amounts of “Karabijn” (for use as sporters) and again, ammo.
Dutch settlers fleeing to Australia during the “political actions” of the INA and eventual Independance, brought more rifles and ammo.

Then all fell into obsolescejnce and rarity, as ammo was shot away hunting, older colonials died, and the rifles became wall hangers…until the early 1960s, when Dutch new Guinea also was handed over to Indonesia…more Dutch refugees arrived in Australia, again with 6,5mm military and sporting rifles…and ammo (mostly pre WW II manufacture).

Then in the 1980s, an enterprising Sydney importer did a deal with Jakarta, and purchased a goodly quantity of Original KNIL/INA/Japanese capture
M95s and ammo…some of it still in the pre-1939 “biscuit tins”, but with BOTH Dutch and Japanese stencilled markings.

The packets inside the tins were the 10-clip cardboard steel cornered packs, with lacquered clips (plum coloured) containing either FN22 loaded ammo, or FN22 Reloaded in 1930s, or AI produced new ammo of 1937-39; occasionally some “Do” (Dordrecht Plant of Hirtenberg in Holland) and some earlier “H” cases appear.

The ammo is ( I still shoot some of it in my “Pape of Newcastle” M1892/93 Sporter) still functional, especially the “Factory fresh” ammo…some of the reloads are a bit less reliable.
The brass on all of these cases has the Georg Roth Patent Berdan Primer Pocket ( 5,0mm or .199"), with a fine, single flash hole THROUGH the anvil.

This centrally located flash hole allows “pin-decapping”, albeit with a piano wire pin…I use Hydraulic decapping instead.
The KNIL of course, had large Arsenal complexes at both Bandung ( “Bandoeng”) and Surabaya ( “Soerabaja”), which virtually made all the ordnance needs of the KNIL (they did not “make” new ammo, but reloaded all the Issue types, and were on the point (in 1941) of finalising a deal with Australia for the supply an entire .303 British cartridge production line when the Japanese invasion of the East Indies put paid to that project…the KNIL had an Airforce fitted with .303 guns, and had also acquired(since the fall of the Netherlands, in 1940) a large number of Infantry MGs in .303 (mostly Vickers).

So the FN 1922 contract of 6,5 AMMO consisted of Live loaded ammo, primed cases, projectiles, primers, and powder, and clips. By 1928, the KNIL was reloading the FN cases, and adding the lot and year number at 90 degrees to the original FN marks ( although occasionally the placement of the case in the bunting die was a bit off, resulting in close to or overlapping marks.)
More fresh ammo was sent out in the late 1930s (AI , lots 37 A, C and D, and also 38 lots) but reloading FN cases continued ( I have a 1939 and a 1940 reload.).

As far as I have seen in Aussie remains of KNIL ammo, only one reload of factory ball cases was ever done…l.the Home method of adding a dot, stroke, or triangle to indicate reloads, is seldom if at all seen in KNIL ammo
(not saying it did not occur, it may havem just that the marked shells just are not there today.).
Blanks for training were made by KNIL, and I assume they were marked(overstamped) in the same way the Home Blanks were made (dots, etc)

As I mentioned above, I have a 500 round SEALED tin of “Patroon Scherpe Nr.1.” with the Dutch indications stencilled on one side of the black lacqured tinplate, and Japanese Kanji saying the same thing on the other side…The Japanese made extensive use of Captured Dutch ammo in its various captured Islands during WW II, much favoured were the Mannlicher Carbines (found in New Guinea, Guadalcanal, the rest of the Solomons,even the Philippines and Indochina:) Much use was also made of the light, and short, KNIL Madsen LMG of which the Dutch had a reasonable number in service.

My problem is “Do I Open it” to see and test the ammo within it, or do I “leave it intact?” maybe to have my descendants sample the internal air in another 50 years time, as some sort of “time capsule” of the early 1940s?

Doc AV
AV Ballistics

  • I only have 3 clips for the 6.5X53R rimmed cartridge and since the cutout from both walls is large, the clips were used by the Dutch. Two of the clips are marked on the bottom with “22” and one with “05”. The clip marked with “05” has a zinc / nickel finish and both of the clips marked with “22” have a brown lacquered finish. What is the precise meaning of the markings “05” and “22”??? Thanks in advance for any help, Liviu 10/28/08


marking “22” is the factory but is that with AI or H ??

AI =Artillerie Inrichtingen ( the netherlands)
H =Hollandia (the Netherlands)

marking “5” unknown!!


sorry !!

Another question on Dutch Mannlicher ammo…how rare/scarce (if at all) is German manufactured 6.5x53R ammo? I have a few rounds of it with laquered steel cases, I assume it was produced for use in captured Dutch guns?

I don’t have the headstamp info handy, but it is typical German type headstamps…

Just curious as I’ve never seen German production ammo much.

Hi pzjgr

German manufactured Dutch Mannlicher ammo is a relatively
scarce item over here in Europa.

I think you mean this round with laquered steel cases!!


The Brown (or "Plum) coloured lacquer is typical of the heavy rust protection given to KNIL service clips.

The “22” ( there is also an “FN” somewhere there on most clips) is a sign of the FN 1922 Contract. Sometimes the heavy lacquer obscures the markings from easy viewing.

As to the “05”, that would be “1905”, if it is a tinplated clip. Most probably made in Austria or Germany, where Holland procured nearly all its pre-1914 ammo, under “Coded” letter headstamps.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.