7.62x54R Tip Code

I have a round with a HS of E 17 40, steel case (plated) and steel core bullet. The bullet tip is black over violet (the latter well worn). What does this code mean?

This is an API-T cartridge for the ShVAK machine gun. The E in headstamp is a Cyrillic “Sh” and refers the gun.


The machine gun should actually be the ShKAS; the ShVAK is basically a scaled-up ShKAS, only chambered in 12.7x108R or 20x108R. This is a very unusual design where cartridges are withdrawn from the belt in incremental stages as they rotate through a “squirrel cage” before being fired, and empty cases are pushed forward through an ejection tube, and it’s believed that the designers (Shpitalny, in this case) chose this weird method of feeding to prevent cases from being torn or jammed during the process.

SDC, the 20mm is the 20x99R.

I believe the color code for APIT is purple over violet, but the purple can look very dark, almost black.

It could also be a black over red API load. Sometimes the red can fade over time and look a little more violet than red.

Both loads are known with your headstamp.

Since bullet weights for these two types can be similar, weighing might not help ID them.


Let my keyboard get ahead of my brain on that one, EOD; I meant to say that the 20mm ShVAK was developed from the 12.7mm ShVAK, but it didn’t come through the way I meant it to.

Anyone have a side by side photo of the red/black and purple/violet codes?

Here are a selection of Soviet tips in this calibre (from L to R)

  1. 7.62mm T-46M (modified tracer - dark green tip)
  2. 7.62mm Armour Piercing (not really a colour but a copper tip)
  3. 7.62mm B-30 (armour piercing - black tip)
  4. 7.62mm BT-30 (armour piercing tracer - violet tip)
  5. 7.62mm B-32 (armour piercing incendiary - black over red tip)
  6. 7.62mm BZT-44 (armour piercing incendiary tracer - violet over red tip)
  7. 7.62mm PZ (ranging incendiary - red tip)

SDC, you are right. I mistyped it

Thanks Jim. I’ve been looking for one of those for a long time. At one time I had decided that some of the info out there was wrong and that it didn’t really exist because I couldn’t find anyone that actually had one. I finally saw one at St. Louis but someone beat me to it.
Your photo is the first time I’ve seen a side by side comparison of the colors and I bet it will help many. Thanks!

Thank you Jim for the great picture! I have gone back and studied my round at about 20X, for quite some time and I am confident that it is black over red, a B-32 API.

There was a crate full of AP’s at the gunshow today, wish I had gotten one.