9mm Para Odd rounds - Identification?

I have two 9mm “unknowns” in my collection that I acquired from a dime box (literally) at either a gun show or a cartridge show, I forget which. If at a Cartridge Show, it would have been at the Chicagoland Show many years ago, perhaps even when it was at Mundelein. If a gunshow, it would have likely been at what was once a large show held at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, California.

First, neither of these rounds are in cases that show any evidence of being fired, although one may have been chambered in a firearm (the Frontier-headstamped round). The “work” on the cartridges is well done.

The first round has a standard-looking GM RN FMJ bullet, but with a reddish-purple strip around the bullet not ar below the nose. The primer is lacquered all green. Headstamp is “FRONTIER 9mm LUGER.”

The second round has a lead, truncated, flat-point bullet, very well cast, and the primer is lacquered purple. Headstamp is “NEVINS 9mm LUGER.”

Both of these rounds have a red dot on the head at approximately the three O’Clock position. The odd thing is that the dots are indented, apparently by the point of a very small drill bit, and the paint applied into the indentation.

I have no idea what these are, and have pretty much regarded them as fakes, interesting enough to pay a dime each for them, and put them in my collection along with a few other suspect rounds I have.

My partner Joe is going to post pictures of these rounds when he has a chance. I would suggest holding off any answers until the pictures are posted. Thanks for any help or opinions.

Two 9mm Parabellum cartridges referred to in John Moss’ question above.

Collection of John Moss

John, Very cute. I like them! If you decide they are fakes, let me know and I’ll take them off your hands so you won’t be embrassed by them.

I don’t have a green primer cartridge in my collection nor a purple primer Nevins. Do you think that they were inerted for some reason and the red indent was an ID? What do the two rounds weigh???

Interesting items.


Could the rounds have been bought loaded, and the drill point mark filled with red paint is someones way of identifying their brass at the range? Just a thought.

Lew - I had never actually weighed them before. I don’t think they are inert. Both rounds are somewhat heavy.

Frontier factory 9mm with 124 grain bullet: 188.5 grains
Frontier Odd Round with red spot on base: 192.1 grains

Nevins factory 9mm with 125 grain bullet: 185.2 grains
Nevins Odd Round with greedn spot base: 211.4 grains

Of course, the Nevins is a cast lead bullet, and there are many different weights available from various small bullet shops, in available molds, etc.

The FMJ RN round is not enough different in weight, in my opinion, to be a special bullet. Probably a 124 grain with just a different powder charge.

Jason: I have been a reloader/shooter for almost 50 years. I have never seen anyone go to that kind of trouble to mark cases. Most of us just used various colors of dots, coated primers, coated bases, “Xs” and stripes across the base to mark our brass. I originally coated mine totally red with marking pens, but quit when the buildup of the ink caused the firing pin of my Colt Commander to be captured in the full forward position after dry firing, and causing a jam when I went to reload the pistol (I used to carry it daily). Full-foreward position with the commander meant that the firing pin was sticking out of the face of the breech about a half inch or more. The primer of a round is the forward “stop” for the firing pin of a Colt Govt Series pistol. I changed to simply a red spot on one side of the head.

Actually touching the head with a drill and them filling the indentation with red paint would be a huge task. Most of us that were serious target pistol shooters reloaded not a couple of boxes at a time, but on progressive loaders, like my Star, in the thousands. I loaded from about 15,000 cases and strived to keep at least 5,000 loaded rounds “on the shlf” at all times. I was a budget shooter. I know some of the great shooters were firing 75,000 to 100,000 rounds a year so imagjine the number of cases they used.

I just don’t think anyone would go to this trouble for nothing more than fired-case recovery at the range. JMHO.

If they were made as fakes, whoever sold them to me probably didn’t do it, not at charging 10 cents apiece for them. Plus, they were singles in the dime box. Had there been more, I would have bought them, just in case they were something.

One question I did not ask and meant to was if anbody has any cartridge in their collection similarly marked, regardless of caliber, including revolver and rifle calibers?

First thing that comes to mind when I see the red dots is possibly some aftermarket Tracer loads???

John, I also thought it was alot of trouble to go to for case marking. BTW, you seem to have confused me and Jason.

Falcon - I have no confusion between the two of you, but do confuse the names. I think it is because while Jason is a bit older than you, by my standards, you are both very young, very bright, and very helpful to the IAA Forum and its members. Easy for an old fuddy-duddy to confuse one name with the other. Heck, half the time, I don’t remember my own name, which is confused by the fact that depending on which group of friends, people call me by five different names! No, they are not criminal aliases!

Leon - I thought of that, but lead bullet rounds, aside from not seeing many lead-bullet tracers (not impossible of course - I think I had one lead bullet tracer in my collection some years ago, an after market thing, although with all those gone now, I can’t be sure of it), that bullet is pretty heavy, perhaps as much as 150 grains. I don’t want to pull them because neither looks like a reload - that is, it looks like the mouth crimps are original, and the minute they are pulled, the mouths will look like reloads.

If I had to guess that they are real, special purpose loads, I would have guessed subsonic on both of them. While subsonics usually have heavier bullets in this caliber, they all do not. The FMJ bullet is probably a 124 grain.

I really don’t know what they are, which is why I have kept them. If I knew they were fakes, I would dispose of them.

On the FMJ round, could it be a Hornady Vector? Hornady sold a 124gr 9mm tracer round called the Vector…and as casestamps go, Frontier often = Hornady.

I can’t recall if the Vector had any bullet marking/coloring to distinguish it from standard ammunition. It’s been a long time since I used or had any tracer stuff.

John, do you know anyone who could X-Ray it? That would be an interesting thing to do. If it was a tracer you would likely be able to tell as the base of the bullet would be hollow.

MWinter and Falcon - I can’t deny that the one in the Frontier case could be a vector tracer, but that would not explain the unusual primer marking or the red dot, since both markings (although different colors on the two rounds) also appear on the NEVINS case.

I have no one local to X-Ray a cartridge for me. I would have to send it or take it down to the Lab in Tucson to do it. Maybe I will next time I go. I don’t know if it will show a tracer cavity of not. It does not reveal steel cores, for example, since they are sheathed in lead. The Vecttor has a very small diameter, vertical tracer-material cavity in a lead core, so I am not sure the X-Ray could reveal it.

Factory Vector tracers, in my opinion a poor practice, have no tip color or any other identication of which I am aware, other than the box labels. Out of the box, they can quickly lose their identity. I am going by early rounds. I don’t know what occured after they were prohibited in my state.

Could it be possible that these rounds were marked so that they could be fed into the chamber and fired in a certain position (maybe pressure testing?)

Conjecture, but a good thought. Yes, that would be possible. Doesn’t explain the red band on the bullet of the one, and the non-factory bullet in the Nevins case, though. Usually, with copper crush method, there should be a hole in the case, sealed, opposite to the dot (a notched rim was the standard way to orient these round). However, with the new methods like (forgive any mis-spelling) piezoelectric or whatever it is, I wouldn’t know though. I haven’t studied pressure-test cartridges much in years, so forgive me.

John Moss says

You are correct, X-ray will not detect that.
Standard diagnostic X-ray cannot detect hollow points (in lead) either.