7.92x57 with ~7.92 MM 44~ headstamp (2006/12/21)


Originally posted by [color=blue]Ray Meketa[/color]:

Speaking of 7.92 x 57mm, I was just looking for some foreign military for a friend and came across a cartridge that I have been meaning to ask about but always seem to forget. It is headstamped 7.92 at 10 o’clock, MM at 2 o’Clock, and 44 at 6 o’Clock. I have a gazillion fired cases and a couple of loaded with a non magnetic, cannelured GM FMJ bullet, circular crimped in brass primer with a black or very dark brown sealant. What is it? Since I have so many of them I assume it is worth dirt.


Originally posted by [color=blue]TonyE[/color]:

This, and the similarly headstamped 9mm ( 9 MM 44) were manufactured by Defence Industries in Canada for use with the Inglis 7.92mm Bren guns supplied to the Nationalist Chinese. There were several million rounds made.

There is however some controversy because this ammo also turned up in the 1960s as clandestine supplies to CIA backed insurgents in Central and South America. Some say that it was not made in 1944 at all but in the late 1950s with a false date. I am sure it actually dates from 1944, but whether a fresh batch was made later to confuse or it was simply that there was a suitable anonymous headstamp left over from the war I do not know.



Originally posted by [color=blue]John Moss[/color]:

Tony - how do you know that the cartridge dates from 1944? They start with 1940 dates. That is before DI was set up. Further, in the case of the 9mm, there is no way they were made when the cases are dated (40 thru 45).

The pilot lot of 9mm Para ever made by Dominion Cartridge was headstamped DC 42. With acceptance, the headstamp was changed to DI 42, reflecting the establishment of Defence Industries Ltd. That information from my now-departed friend Jim Houlden, who set up DI, and who kindly provided me with a sample of the trial DC 42 ball ammo, and several different try dummies. Further in 9mm the sequence of magnetic bullets is correct if you add about 10 years to the dates, and the black primer seal becomes correct, as in the 50s, Canadian 9mm had a black seal and not the purple seal they had in the 1940s.

Also, after Dunkirk, there was a plea from England sent out to their colonies asking for help in the emergency development of a non-corrosive 9mm cartridge. I think this went out in 1941 or 1942 - Lew Curtis knows. He saw the declassified document. I find it hard to believe that would have been necessary had Canada already been in full production of non-corrosive 9mm ammo for a year or more. Nothing makes sense for the 9mm to have been maufactured as early as 1940, and I firmly believe those dates are spurious.

Further, we know there was a CIA contract for the 9mm ammo. Unfortunately, we don’t have as much of a track record with the 7.9mm ammo to compare. However, since the headstamp format is the same as the 9mm, I am of the personal opinion that the story is the same.

What we do know is that if they were for the Inglis Bren Guns, it is odd that the ammunition in question is dated from 1940 on, with every year covered until 1945. The Inglis Brens for China were only in trial numbers in 1943, and mass production began in 1944. The deliveries of the Canadian-made Browning HP Pistols are a similar story. By the fall of 1944, production of the Inglis pistol had only reached the 3,000 mark, and that included both the Canadian fixed-sight version and the “CH” Chinese contracts with tangent sights. By the time these weapons reached China in any serious numbers, 1944 and 1945, the United States (primarily Western Cartridge Company) had already sent massive amounts of 7.9 x 57 ammo to China, bearing a Chinese headstamp. I have many specimens of these, including two different Chinese box labels. Further, they sent 9mm as well, in boxes labeled in the Chinese language,one of which I have, although with the standard American headstamps.

If any of the Canadian ammunition was made in 1944, which Curtis believes is the case and I do not, it was probably dated “40”, that is, if the year dates on this clandestine ammunition were even stamped in sequence. There is simply nothing pointing to this ammunition being made during the years stamped on the headstamps, especially the early years of 1940, 41 and 42.

It is clear that some of the ammo ended up in China, but a huge amount of the 7.9 was sold as surplus, in brand new condition, before China opened up and started selling off their old stuff. The same is true of the 9mm. We were selling the 9mm in our store in the early 1970s, as I recall, packed in the usual Canadian-style 64 round boxes (there is no dispute that this ammo was made in Canada), and the 7.9 x 57mm not long after that. China was not selling ammunition in the USA at that time, new or surplus, to my knowledge.

If you have documentary evidence that any of this ammo was made in 1944, it would be helpful to at least resolve that dispute between Lew and I.



Originally posted by [color=blue]TonyE[/color]:


You make a very convincing arguement for these being made post war. I know Lew’s thoughts as I have discussed these with him, and I know DocAV agrees with you. As you got your early Canadian 9mm from the horse’s mouth so to speak, there can be no argument with this.

I must confess to perhaps being a bit sloppy on this as, not being strictly British, I have not thought through the implications of the dates on these. They have certainly been around in the UK for a long time as I have had both the 9mm and 7.92mm for many years. I have a 7.92 with a 40 date but not a 9mm. Most of those seen over here are 44, hence my comments re: that date.

It will be very interesting if we can finally get the true story on these. On a separate subject I will mail you a couple of scans of early Kynoch 7.92mm that I believe were made for China. Recently a very nice ammo crate has turned up here with a Chinese label that came from Kynoch. What is interesting is that the label has an “H” number indicating a British military origin. I have never seen a “H” numbered label in a foreign language. I will send you pics.



Originally posted by Lew Curtis:

I believe John Moss is correct on this ammunition. He and I have argued for ~20 years on this, but the fact is that when I cut apart a batch of this ammo, the early stuff 9 MM 40 and 41 has the same type bullets and same case construction as the Canadian Military during WW II and some 41, and all the 42-45 has the same bullet and case construction as the Canadian military stuff they started buying 55 which was their first post-WWII buy I know of. This kind of locks in the dates.

I believed it was made for China because Jim Houlden told me it was, even when I told him that there were rumors that it was made after the war for the CIA. In fact, he said he had seen the production documents. I probably still have his letter somewhere. In addition, I have a document dated 21 June 1945 that confirms that Canada sent China, as part of the US Lend Lease program, sent the following to China:

                                        Shipment 1                  Shipment 2

7.92 Bren 5400 13500
9mm Sten 7000 23000
9mm Pistol 4000

9mm Ammo 12.8M 12.8M

No mention of 7.92, so it is very unlikely that any Canadian 7.92 was provided to China during WW II. Clearly about 25.6 million rounds of Canadian 9mmP was supplied to China.

When I was in Udorn Thailand in 1969, the helio guys who flew resupply into Laos brought back lots of Swedish K SMG, which were widely carried by NVA units operating in Laos. They also brought back lots of ammo, 99% of which was this 9 MM 4? stuff. I went through thousands of rounds looking for something interesting. The other 1% was French stuff dated from their war in Vietnam. China was a very major supplier of arms and ammo to the NVA. About 75+% of the AKs and SKSs and 7.62x39mm ammo I saw come back with these helio guys, which was lots, were Chinese. If the 25+M rounds of 9mmP supplied during WW II wasn’t the 9 MM 4?, then I sure didn’t see any of it in my small sample. I have never heard of any Canadian headstamped ammo coming back from China or Korea (from Chinese troops).

In the late 1970s and early 1980s when the AF Lab at Eglin AFB was working on 9mm pistols and ammo, all the 9mm M1 Ball ammo in the US military inventory was 9 MM 45!!! The early Eglin experimentals all have this headstamp.

Last year I asked an old (even older than me) retired CIA ordinance guy about these rounds, both 7.92 and 9mm. He told me this ammo was made in Canada for the CIA, initially for the Caribbean Legion. This organization dates from the late 1940s and, taking their inspiration from the D-Day-style invasions of occupied Europe, groups of political exiles organized a series of armed expeditions that kept the Caribbean in turmoil for five years. Although their actions were independent, the groups became known collectively as the ‘‘Caribbean Legion.’’ Though publicly condemned in Congress, this group was supplied with ex-German small arms, and eventually with this Canadian made ammunition. The 7.92mm also was produced in black tip proof loads, but this is not suprising if a CIA activity was inspecting then and perhaps reconditioning them. It is doubtful they would have bothered to reproof 9mm weapons. My belief is that the 9mm at least was produced for a lot longer than the 6 years on the headstamps. I think the 9 MM 45 may have been produced over an extended period of time, perhaps off and on.

British Ordnance Board Proceedings I have state that in 1942, the British government went out to all the Commonwealth looking for someone who was producing 9mm para, with negative results.

Well, there you have basically what I know. I am convinced that all this stuff is post WW II production for the CIA and perhaps later for DOD. I still wonder about the 25.6M rounds of Canadian 9mmP that was shipped to China before mid 1945. Somebody somewhere in Canada must know what that was and how it was marked and packed!!!