7.7 x56R Question

I bought quite a lot of Japanese .303 at Bisley last weekend and I have been able to catalouge it all apart from the round in the attached photo. It is headstamped ᅥ 2-I 7.7 I belive I am correct in saying was manufactured by Toyokawa, Japan in the 1st quater of 1942 and the annulus colour “Violet/Purple” denotes an explosive round but the bullet is not a NC flat tipped bullet, It has a GM non magnetic bullet and it has neck crimps which an explosive bullet is not suppossed to have. I do not have a lot of info on Japanese .303 I do use Munizioni website that has some fantastic info on Japanese rounds.

Also can anyone clarify if all 7.7x56R rounds are type 89 or are they type 92, I was speaking to Ken Elks about it last weekend but I am struggling to get my head round it.

many thanks as always for any help

The cartridge is a naval tracer. It was used in guns of designation type 89 (Vickers) and 92 (Lewis). Not sure of ctg designation. Jack

I am not holding your cartridge in my hand, but I would, solely from the photo, descibe that primer seal as being red, not violet/purple. Red is a tracer round.

The Type 89 cartridge is semi-rimmed, and was only loaded, it seems, in ball and AP. The type 92 cartridge supplanted the Type 89 c.1932. These particular Type numbers denote the machine gun Types 89 and 92, as I recall. The Type 92 gun will utilize either the Type 89 or Type 92 ammunition. I believe the change in the two had only to do with the powder charge, but I am certainly no expert in this field.

The cartridge you picture is the rimmed navy version, which is actually nothing more, in my opinion, than Japanese-made .303 British.

The lacquer on your primer is thin, and I think the brass color of the primer cup reduces immediate recognition as being red. However, as I said, I can only go by your photograph as it appears on my computer screen.

I will say that when I had a rather large 7.9 x 57 collection, I had lots of Japanese rounds. Until giving up a special license I had for my state, I had a Japanese “Incendiary Ma 101” which is what the Japanese designated the flat meplat cartridges, according to Elks. The violet color tone of its primer seal did not even faintly resemble the color, as I see it on my screen, of that on your round.

John Moss

Bear in mind that each of the armed services in Japan had its own system of nomenclature. This from memory but I think the Vickers was a type 89 in naval and army service, and the army air force also had another type 89, the flexible gun based on the Nambu type 11 lmg.

The naval Lewis was the type 92, not to be confused with the army’s type 92 heavy Hotchkiss ground weapon. All the rifle-caliber army mgs were for the 7.7 m/m semirimmed cartridge, while the equivalent naval guns were in .303 (7.7 m/m rimmed). Too much to try to keep up with, and probably most of the foregoing has at least one exception, especially after 1932. Jack

I wondered about Tracer but its not Red, the colour doesnt show up well in the light I took the photo but it could be. I think I am going to have to pull it to make sure.

As for the type question, what you say about the gun types makes sense. This is what Ken Elks said to me that its the Machine gun type not the Ammunition typw but every reference I have always says 7.7 x 56r type 89 or type 92 so what would be the correct reference for these .303 cartridges. Should I call them 7.7x56r and not actually put a type in my descriptions ???

thanks gents

Jack so how do I know if a 7.7mmx56R round is a type 92 or a type 89, I want to make sure I have them catalouged correctly.


I think it would be good if someone who has labels for these 7.7, rimless, semi-rimmed and rimmed Japanese rounds could see if the cartridges themselves were ever designated with the type numbers reflecting those of the guns most often used with them. I am talking here of any service that used any of these rounds.

I simply don’t know - it is out of my field. Nambu boxes show the Type numbers 14 and 94, depending on the box, but I am not sure if a fluent-Japanese reader would relate that as a model for the cartridges, or for the guns to use them in, or both. Something I have never given much thought to, I suppose because the Japanese ammo question is not so complicated with the handgun ammunition and relating to use by various branches of the military, as is the rifle ammunition.

Richard, I wish I could show you a color photo of the “purple” seal that is on the flat-tip rounds. It really IS nothing like the seal on the cartridge you pictured. The tone of the brass would indicate that the picture I am seeing is relative “color accurate” by the way.

If it doesn’t have the flat tip, it will not have a violet/purple seal on a .303 rimmed.

John M.

Many thanks John, I have just pulled the bullet it is definitly a Tracer, as you say it is such a thin laquer. I have seen various shades of primer colour before so it isnt a surprise that this is a tracer it just doesnt look very red to me but mystery solved now with pulling it.

I have just scanned through TM 9-1985-5 Japanese Explosive Ordnance and it just says 7.7mm Aircraft ammunition for the 7.7mm rimmed ammunition it does not say a Type So I am going to remove the type from my descriptions in my catalouging. It does state type for the Semi-Rimmed and Rimless though. But I dont collect them so I wont have to worry about it.

thanks again

Richard: John is correct in saying what a complex mess Japanese ordnance material is, particularly ammunition. My guess is that the .303 tracer is a close copy of the original British mk. I tracer and for the entire period of its manufacture it was the only rifle-caiber tracer available to the naval service so the matter of year designation never came up. Jack

I wanted to ask if you could show a side and back picture of the ball, measuring its length.
I am very interested in how much I have been able to study, because unfortunately the Japanese are particularly rare here, the copper-brass balls are structurally different from those in CN, if you could also weigh it would be the maximum

Yes no problem Giovanni, I am just in the process of buildng a lighting rig for me to take better photos. I will send you the photos of this and the wooden japanese drill round as soon as I can

all the best