7.62 x 54R Bulgarian (?) Dummy


I have a 7.62 x 54mm dummy round based on a Bulgarian case but is of typical Austrian appearance. It has a blackened empty bullet jacket and is headstamped ‘10 53’. Is this a Bulgarian-made dummy, is it Austrian-made for Bulgaria, or is it Austrian-made for their own use?

  • Jim, from your picture I can see that the headstamp markings [“10” over “53”] are impressed. From what I know the code “10” was used by Russia and Bulgaria but both these coutries and Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary made 7.62X54R rounds with raised headstamp markings [not impressed like the round you have] during the 1950s when your cartridge was manufactured. Unfortunately I don’t have a precise answer to your interesting question. Liviu 02/08/07


I think the Russians stopped using the “10” designation at the end of WWII. I would say this case is unquestionably Bulgarian. I have a number of 7.62 x 25mm Tokarev, 9 x 18mm Makarov and 7.9 x 57mm Mauser cartridges from “Arsenal,” in Bulgaria, and on many of them the font is the same as on the 7.62 x 54R round shown, and the format is pretty much the same on the pistol rounds, although all but one of the Mauser rounds I have use a take-off on the old WWII German headstamp system. Sorry, I can’t say anything about who made this into a dummy.


Munnery had these with him on German ECRA shows, he told it is Bulgarian.


Pardon my ignorance, but what about this cartridge makes it “Austrian in appearance”? The rather sharp projectile profile does not look normal for a 7.62x54r, but maybe it is just the picture? I am also surprised that there are no crimps or other visible means of securing the projectile to the case. One would think that there would be something done to make it durable enough to withstand being used as a dummy or drill cartridge. Any chance there is a rod inside the case to support the projectile? There is also nothing to make it apparent that this is not just a misfired cartridge, except for maybe the feel of it in the hand as being lighter? I wonder if this is some sort of homemade drill cartridge or something done at the armory level. As for the Bulgarian headstamp, my checklist shows this exact headstamp in a raised version. Headstamps from 1948 to 1953 are shown as being of the impressed type, with “3 10 53 *” being the last of the impressed style and “10 53” being the first raised type. Apparently your cartridge falls between these two. Interesting!


  • It is something strange here. The ogival shape of the bullet looks like a WW2 type 7.92mm projectile used by the 7.92X57 rimless cartridge. There is also the impressed headstamp [I also mentioned above] which doesn’t look right to me. Liviu 02/08/07


The headstamp on this cartridge looks perfectly o.k. for Bulgarian. The “1” is the same as on most of my rounds. The “0” is identical, very narrow and straight-sided, not just a circle. the “5” is identical to that on my Tokarev rounds. the only point of departure is that on my Tokarev rounds the “3” is not flat-topped like on this Mosin cartridge. There is no particular reason that I am aware of why a 7.62 x 54R round has to have a raised headstamp. The fact that many countries seem to make it that way on this particular caliber doesn’t mean that Bulgaria couldn’t get smart and use a less complex (I would imagine) bunter-making process to directly stamp the heads of these cartridges.

The bullet is the funny part, not the headstamp. I agree that it looks like the shape of a German s.S. ball projectile, and perhaps even the sharper type P.m.K. ogive. It is not a shape I normally would associate with the 7.,62 Russian rimmed round, but then, while I have had hundreds of them go through my hands, and used to shoot a very minty Polish Mosin-Nagant M44-type carbine, I have never collected this round and am no expert on them, and fraqnkly, have never paid a whole lot of attention to minor points regarding them, such as ogive.

I see that John Munnery brought these to a European show. That guarantees their Bulgarian heritage. John is a knowledgeable collector living in Bulgaria. For dummies, they used odd components as they had them, or if they were cheap to make. I have a Bulgarian 9mm P dummy with a wood bullet and on a WWI-vintage Spandau case. I have a couple more with the same wood bullet on much, much later Bulgarian cases, indicating to me it was not uniquely an early Bulgarian type (Bulgaria did have 9mm Luger pistols in the WWI era, along with those in 7.65 Luger caliber). There are 7.9 x 57 Bulgarian dummies with wood bullets also, made on salvaged fired cases of about any headstamp.

Again, I admit the bullet is odd, but see no reason at all for questioning the Bulgarian heritage of this round. As to it being an original dummy cartridge, I cannot say, but if it came from JM, (not this JM - John Munnery) it almost certainly is.


I have this exact headstamp on a normal loaded round (normal bullet, not like this one).

  • From Romania I know the dummy cartridges 7.62X39, 7.62X54R and 14.5X114 used by the army. All of them had 1 or 2 holes into the cartridge case to show a dummy round. At the same time the fired primer of a dummy round was hit many times. Each soldier learning how to cycle a dummy round liked to pull the trigger before extracting the dummy round. From the photo posted above, it can be seen that the primer was hit only once. Well, maybe it is a dummy round which was never used for its purpose. Liviu 02/08/07


AKMS - I suggested that this round might have been produced by Austria as I have seen 7.62 x 51mm dummies made up by Hirtenberger in a very similar manner - i.e. a chemically blackened empty bullet jucket reassembled in to a fired case. The only obvious difference between the two calibres being that in the 7.62mm NATO version the primer was removed and replaced with a black rubber plug. Having seen reference made to John Munnery I do now recall actually buying this round from John.


[quote=“JohnMoss”]There is no particular reason that I am aware of why a 7.62 x 54R round has to have a raised headstamp. The fact that many countries seem to make it that way on this particular caliber doesn’t mean that Bulgaria couldn’t get smart and use a less complex (I would imagine) bunter-making process to directly stamp the heads of these cartridges.

John, actually it is easier to produce “raised” head stamps since the bunter then just has to be engraved. For an “impressed” or “flat” head stamp the bunter has to be made in a way that the markings which shall appear in the head stamp later must be raised. This means when making the bunter the whole surface has to be removed and only the markings remain raised.
The “negative” is then on the head stamp.
This is also the reason why raisewd markings on head stamps are always on the angled edge of 7.62x54R or like on Russian 12.7x108, 14.5x114 and some 23mm are in a “round pit” around the primer.


EOD - I also thought that ease of making the bunter may be the reason why so many eastern bloc headstamps were raised instead of impressed like the US and European ones. I actually asked this same question in another topic (can’t remember which) ages ago, it may even have been on the old forum.


Well, back in the old days it was a common procedure which the Russians also used on their M1891 Nagant cartridge, The rounded/angled base edge was a welcome place for this technique and so it was used and also transferred on to other calibers just in a slightly different place. Saves a lot of work.