7.92mm BESA

This 7.92mm BESA has me confused and may well not be genuine but hopefully somebody out there can tell me otherwise. It has a very dark, almost black, purple lacquered tip and a purple primer annulus. The GIIz headstamp indicates that this should be a tracer load but it should then have a red and not a purple annulus. The crimping appears intact and the annulus and tip colours appear to be original. Any ideas please?

I have seen a simular round in a friends collection. It has the same headstamp and markings, i.e. dark purple tip and annulus. It weighs 416.3 grains/27.98 grams which we thought would make it a ball round. Why the purple tip? Don’t know. Maybe John Moss can shed some light.

When I had this round in my collection, I was told that it was an incediary round. I always had a problem with that identification, since the dark purple tip color would not be either British (or that of any other UK country) or American standard for the identification of an incendiary load. I would expect, regardless of the primer-seal color, to find a blue or silver tip on a British incendiary load, if indeed there was any tip color at all. Truthfully, I have never understood the use of tip colors by the British, which seem to be a random thing. I can understand it if a cartridge is loaded on finsihed primed brass with the wrong colored seal and the wrong headstamp loading identification, in an emergency shortage of the cases with the proper headstamp and primer seal color for loading identification, but I have, for example, AP rounds with the normal green seal, but also a green tip. Technically, in the British system, no tip color should be necessary since both have green primer seals.

My round, by the way, had the identical headstamp, and the identical almost black, but purple, tip color, although on mine, I noted that the tip color was quite short.(approximately 6.5mm, a little more than half the length of the tip coloration on most British rounds. I see now that was just a manufacturing variant, not by design, as the one pictured on this thread has a pretty normal length. I now attach no significance what-so-ever to the length of the tip coloration that was on my round, as we all know that varies tremendously on ammunition with colored tips from most manufacturers world-wide.

I would suggest that this ammunition was probably for some kind of in-house testing - I can’t think of any other reason for the primer seal, tip seal, headstamp combination. I have a round with purple primer seal and a ball “2Z” headstamp that has a grey tip, and was represented to me as an AP, and I had another with a silver tip on a case with purple primer seal but headstamped simply “K61 7.92”. That round also had a knurled cannelure on the bullet, perhaps 3mm above the case mouth. I still have two AP rounds with green primer seals and green bullet-tip markings, one headstamped “K59 7.92M/M” and the other “K61 7.92”. On the bullets in each of these rounds are three knurled cannelures, equally spaced beginning about one mm above the case mouth. I also have two rounds with sporting headstamps, one with FMJ RN GMCS bullet, headstamped “KYNOCH 7.9 OR 8mm” and one with FMJ Spitzer GMCS bullet headstamped “* KYNOCH * 7.9 OR 8mm”. Both of these round have a large portion of the case between the top of the extractor groove to a point somewhat below the beginning of the shoulder stained purple. Neither have any primer seal. I am sure they are from in-house testing, but have no idea what was being tested.

These British 7.9s are interesting and more varied than some think, and while there is good coverage of most in Peter Labbett’s works, there are still many unanswered questions about them, perhaps only for those of us who are not British and closer to the information sources.

To make a long story short, I have no positive identification of the round pictured by Jim with which I am comfortable. Again, I was told it was an incendiary, and for that reason, had to give it up from my collection, but I was never convinced, one way or the other, of the accuracy of that identification.

I can’t remember where I’ve read this but I think that a purple tip was for trials/experimental.

You are correct in saying that purple often signifies ‘experimental’ on British ammo but that would be a very different lavender-purple, almost a deep pink. This is an unusual glossy lacquer just one shade from black which I’ve certainly not seen before. I am relieved that other’s have seen this cartridge also or I would have concluded that it was a fake.