The question is: Does anybody know if China ever departed from their usual policy of using international numbers for their head stamp codes, by using Chinese characters for the factory ID? In other words, has anybody seen a head stamp which uses Chinese Characters?
mdj1000–As far as I know, and I am the author of the CD “7.62x39–A Master List of All Known Variations”, the answer is “No”. Russia has used Cyrillic date codes and North Korea has, also, but not China, at least not on 7.62x39. They have always used Western style numbers.
Whilst the Nationalist Republic of China still used Chinese characters for Dates up to 1949,( in the “Year of the Republic” style), with the Establishmnent of the Peoples Republic of China, all codes and dates were printed in Western Indo-Arabic Numbers and Gregorian calendar dates. Except for Chinese Commercial ammo ( letter and number codes which have some relationship to the Pin-Yin rendition of the Chinese), No use of classic Chinese Ideograms has been used from 1950. ( October 1949).
Identification marks on Outer wrappers and cans etc (Military) are still done in Common Chinese characters, but Numbers, dates and codes are all “Western”.
The exception to the rule of Western-style numbers on ammunition cans is when the numbers are part of the model, or “Type” variation. Then, on weapons, and on ammunition cans from China, the numbers are usually in the Chinese ideographs representing the proper numbers. I don’t recall seeing exceptions on ammunition cans, although there certainly could be some, but on the Chinese Type 59 pistol, the Model designation is written “59 SHI.” Not even the Chinese word “Shi” (usually written in English transliterations as “Shih,” is in Chinese. It is spelled phonetically in our alphabet on the side of the pistol. The Type 54 pistol, however, as the Type Number, including the word “Shi” completely in Chinese ideographs.
Doc Av - I just recalled that on Chinese 7.62 x 25 mm Type 51 (Tokarev) ammunition, their is a Chinese character on the headstamp from at least one arsenal, “121” as late as 1952. Found in Korea during the war there.
An excellent image of the headstamp type that John mentions here, from the Municion.org website:
They also use an “ACORN” symbol on 7.62x25 headstamps in 1953, but I have never seen anything similar on a 7.62x39 headstamp.
I agree with Jonny - I have not seen any 7.62 x 39 headstamps similar to these Tokarevs. But then, what is the earliest known Chinese 7.62 x 39 in a collection? Is there any documentation for that caliber or any use of weapons of that caliber by the Chinese in the Korean War? I have never seen any nor have I seen a single picture of Chinese troops in Korea with any AKs or even SKS carbines. I have seen remarks that they used them in Korea, but only anecdotal evidence, and have never met a Korean War vet that saw one there.
Does anyone know the meaning of the Chinese character that is on the Tokarev round pictured on this thread, by the way? I have never seen it deciphered.
John Moss–The earliest dates I have seen for Chinese made 7.62x39 are “31 56” and “71 56”. I think 1956 was the beginning of production in this caliber in China.
Ron, That would square with the adotpion dates of the AK47 and the SKS Carbine, both of which are called Type 56, in China, if my memory serves me correctly. It also lessens the veracity of any claim of use of either weapon in the Korean War, although it is remotely possible that some Russian ones were used there - “remotely” being the operative word.
Reading the above quote as it is written it doesn’t just refer just to 7.62x39 so I’ll add .45-70 to the list which show a Chinese “character” as headstamp
If we are going to expand this to any cartridge with Chinese characters, instead of just the 7.62x39 originally asked about, we can add the .60 and .75 Jingal’s.
Its going to be a long list if you start adding anything to it - a real project. I have .45 autos with Chinese Characters, and there are other calibers as well, including 7.9 x 57, etc. You might wait until Lew Curtis is back from Europe. He has a fair collection of Chinese cartridges, I think. There were lots with Chinese characters in 7.9 x 57 mm Mauser for sure, and probably just about every other caliber ever made in China as well. I think such a list will be a big job, especially since most cannot reproduce these characters quickly without simply making a photograph of all of them.
Not trying to discourage research - just pointing out it may not be as easy as it sounds.
Bin Shih and I did an article some time ago in the IAA Journal that pictured all the styles of Chinese headstamps. It included all the characters we were able to document at the time, excluding those characters which were date variations. The Index on the IAA home page would locate that issue for anyone with an interest. Most of the specimens pictured are from the Woodin Laboratory Collection which has an outstanding collection of Chinese cartridges.
Ken Elks who recently published the book on Japanese ammunition is presently working on a book on Chinese Ammunition from 1870 to the present day. He has also been working with Bin Shih and the Woodin Laboratory. I have a draft and it is excellent. Ken covers cartridges up to 30mm. He also covers contract ammunition made for China like the German 13mm Anti-Tank cartridges made by FN around 1930. The draft of the 7.62x39 section only illustrates numeric codes.
I am looking forward to Ken’s finished product.
There is a link to the article here: http://www.chinesefirearms.com/110108/articles/cart.htm#1