A couple 45 ACP rounds for ID

Here are a couple 45 ACP rounds I picked up recently. Any ideas on what they may be? I have not seen any WCC rounds before with this finish.


Dave - Have you checked the case with a magnet. It should be a steel case.
They come with both a knurled case cannelure approximately 0.990 mm (0.3895") down from the case mouth to the bottom of the knurled ring, and a smooth case. The bullets hould be GMCS and the primers domed brass cups.

I have never seen ne with a nickeled primer cup, as one of yours appears to have, nor the a nickeled bullet. These would not seem right to me for WCC military rounds of that period. However, I guess one should never say "never."
A lot was done during this period we will never know about. In Frankford arsenal stuff, I have heard it said by people who should know that for every FA .45 we know about there are probably two or more that we will likely never know about.

The ones with GMCS bullet and copper primer are not rare, but then they are not super common either. I think the one with the kurled cannelure is found less than the one with smooth case, but then that is just an impression I have based on what I have seen - certainly not based on any real evidence.

Hey John,

The one with the gmcs projo is steel cased as you point out.

The one with the nickeled primer and projo has a magnetic projo, but the case it not magnetic.


Both appear to me to be standard High Pressure Test cartridges. Tinned brass case and stannic stained steel case.



The one with nickeled steel case is described in HWS II p. 14 as an experimental case finish development that was rejected because of its expense and the possibility of nickel shortage during the war.

Dave - I cannot explain the nickeled-brass case cartridge at all. I have not seen before a case with this military headstamp that was nickeled. The only FMJ RN .45 bullets that come to my mind, and that I could find in my collection, that are silver in color (I use this non-technical description of color because I am not sure if the bullet I will mention is CN or Zinc-plated) and magnetic, are found in steel-case dummy rounds “F A 5 6.”

We do have the case of purely commercial ball, found by the thousands of rounds in Remington commercial packaging, with nickel cases, GM FMJ RN bullets, and the headstamp “R A 6 8.” They are common.

I also have in my collection, not so common, a loaded round with flat nickel primer, nickel-plated case, GM FMJ RN bullet, and knurled case cannelure, headstamped “W C C 6 0” as well as a fired nickel case, also with knurled case cannelure and nickel-cup, flat primer, headstamped " W C C 6 4."

Further, there is the instance of obvious reloads, load with what appears to be a Hensley and Gibbs 68 200-grain lead bullet and flat nickel primers, with “TZZ 85” headstamps, military contract headstamp from Israel, with various comibinations of dots on the headstamp as is normal for these rounds.
However, the nickel-plated case is NOT normal, and in my view, was probably done privately. That is, normal brass cases nickeled by someone other than IMI.

I have no explanation for any of those headstamp anomolies listed above.

Your “WCC 42” round with brass, nickel-plated case almost looks like a reload using one of the CNCS Frankford Arsenal bullets that they only seemed to use in 1956 dummies, but of course, to know that, bullets would have to be pulled and perhaps even sectioned to make a scholarly, analytical comparison.

Sorry I am of little or not help with this question.

Both Fede’s and Ray’s answers were posted while I was typing my second reply.

Ray - I am not sure that I agree with you about these being proof loads. Firstly, I will admit, as I did above, that I know nothing of the brass case with nickel finish that Dave has. Nothing seems to fit - the nickel finish of the case, the domed, nickel-cup primer, nor the odd CNCS or zinc-plated FMJ RN bullet, which as I mentioned, I only find in F A dummy rounds of a much later date. Secondly, the Remington military proof loades of the time, or the only ones I have seen, have a blackened-brass case. My specimen, from “41” does have a nickel primer, but it is a flat cup, not domed. I have never seen or heard of a war-time, Remington proof load in a steel case.

Also, please explain “Stannic-stained” in the context of Dave’s picture. They appear to be common nickel plated to me, in the picture.

Fede - I tend to agree with you about experimental case finishes. Cartridges of the M1911 type and with headstamps from 1942 are found in many variations. “WCC 42” is in my collection in plain brass case, plain brass case with a kurled case cannelure, and the two nickel-case variations I described initially. The common thread among those four are GMCS bullets and domed, brass primer cups. One also finds “R A 42” in a larger selection of variations, as follows:

Smooth brass case, GMCS FMJ RN bullet, flat copper primer cup with dark purple PA.
Brass case with knurled cannelure, GMCS FMJ RN bullet, flat copper primer cup with purple PA.
Steel case with a bonderized, dark gray finish, FMJ RN bullet with what appears to be the same finish (dark gray), flat copper primer cup with purple PA
Copper-washed or plated steel case, GMCS FMJ RN bullet, flat copper primer cup with purple PA.
Smooth brass case from a different drawing process, large dot between “R” and “A” in the headstamp, GMCS FMJ RN bullet, copper primer cup with no visible PA on my specimen.
Same as above, with dot in headstamp, except for GM FMJ RN bullet (non-magnetic).
Yellow chromate-coated steel case, GMCS FMJ bullet, copper primer cup with purple seal (This may have been the adopted form, as I have a cartridge “R A
43” identical to the “42” date except that it has a non-magnetic GM FMJ RN bullet.

So, it seems that 1942 was a year of a lot of “playing around” with the .45 M1911 cartridge. I did not look at other loading types such as proof, dummy, blanks, nor tracers (which I only have written record of those I had before I gave up my license). Frankly, I did not feel they applied to this particular identification.

Dave, Fede and Ray,

I decided to look at my other loading types. There are dummies that I would described as nickeled-brass cases with “R A 42” headstamp. They have empty boxer primer pockets and GM bullets (I forgot to take a magnet to the bullet, but for right now, that is not important as we are centering in on that nickeled brass cases with military headstamps) and the odd bullet. So, that is another you can add to that list of R A 42 rounds.

You guys are the experts when it comes to the Cal .45 Pistol cartridges. I’m like Sgt Schultz - “I know nothing.”

High Pressure Test cartridges was just my SWAG. It’s based mostly on an example I have, headstamped FA 42, that looks to be exactly like the top cartridge pictured. HP cartridges from 1917 and 1918 that I have appear exactly like the bottom one.

Question. How do you determine that cartridge cases are nickeled rather than tinned?

John - Stannic stained was a process used to “tin” both bullets and cases. It differed from a tin plate applied electrically by using a chemical bath instead. The early 45 cartridges with tinned bullets are the best example. I think the terms “plated” and “stained” were used interchangeably and can often lead to confusion.

Again, I’m far from an expert and ask questions to learn.


Ray - Thanks for the “Stannic-stained” explanation. Not having any cartridge that while I was holding it was identified to me as “Stannic-Stained” I could not identify that process by look on any given round. I have no idea what it looks like “in hand.”

I separate nickeled cases from zinc by color tone. Nickel gleams with a yellow tint. Zinc, if not otherwise treated like some of the cases with “yellow chromate” finishs on them, to my eye has a flat gray appearance, although if someone takes the polished rag to them, they can be made to look almost chrome plated, I think. Believe me, it is not always an easy call. Metal finishes are a problem for the average collector. I see ones where I know the finishes from other scholarly sources, misidentified all the time. I probably have done it plenty myself. I have ZERO background in metallurgical subjects.

I have to go back into my last answers and do some editing. While putting cartridges back that I brought upstairs to the computer, it dawned on me that I got totally confused between WCC 42 and R A 42 rounds (although I intended to include both in the discussion to show the work that was going on with this round in 1942).

I have to make sure I didn’t type anything pertaining to the WCC rounds dave has and identify them as R A cartridges!

Let’s see - what year is this…? :-(

Back when I was “into” Civil War and Indian War re-enactments I made most of my own equipments and accoutrements. Many of them required plating of some sort. Gold, silver, brass, copper, nickel, tin, etc. I used both the electric and bath processes. Regarding tin, the surface preparation of the original item played a big role in how the final finish appeared. If highly polished it was hard to tell tin from nickel. Left natural, tin tended to be rather dull appearing whereas nickel was always more “shiney”.

I’ve noticed the same thing with cartridge and bullet finishes. The stannic stained Cal .30 M2 bullets, for example, are very shiney, almost a blue color. Many cases, OTOH, are a dull silver-looking, most likely because the brass cases were not polished before hand.


Thanks for all the relies everyone.

I appreciate pointing me to WHS II for the steel cased round.

Although it does look a lot like an FA proof load, I have seen no reference to anyone making them other than FA & RA. Maybe the all tinned brass case round is a homemade fantasy round? I’ll put it in the “unknown” drawer for now.


Here’s a terrible photo that tries to show the differences in plating vs staining.

left - CN
middle - tin plated
right - stannic stained

My point? I think both of dak21’s cartridges are tinned (stained) rather than nickeled.



Nice picture as always! I have saved it for my own reference.


While they may not be any known U.S. military contracts for WRA 42 High Pressure Test rounds, it is possible that Winchester loaded them for their own use, or more likely for use of other manufacturers in New England producing .45 ACP weapons for lend lease or foreign sales, or even commercial sales. Savage made a huge number of Thompson submachine guns during WW2, and Colt may have been making all sorts of things in .45 ACP for various buyers.

Or, it indeed may be some sort of fake or fantasy round.

Pictures and text courtesy of John Moss:

Ray - your bullet photo is a great photo. However, the finish on that tinned bullet, as it appears on my screen (and as I recall, as it appears in “real life”) is atypical of tinned bullets in my view. It is very dull (non-reflective) and very “white, silver-white,” or however one wishes to describe it) in color. Most tinned bullets I have seen in European rifle calibers, at least, and in pistol calibers in the USA and other countries, is shinier and much darker gray. Attached is a photo of three bullet-jacket finishes from Frankford Arsenal, on .45 M1911 cartridges. The first on the left is Cupronickel (CN), from the first lot of FA M1911 serially-run ammo. The middle is the later tinned bullet (only a few months later, actually, and the one on the right is GM (or GMCS - I didn’t check as they look the same). That gray finish on the one in the middle is very typical. I have hundreds of auto pistols rounds with bullets of that finish. These are all known finishes, which is why I chose them for an example. No guess-work on my part.

My picture is poor compared to your photography, but the jacket colors do show accurately, as I know yours does also.

I don’t recall ever seeing many of those “frosted white” (as I call them) tinned bullets on rounds other than those .30 M1906 rounds. There may be in other rifle calibers, but certainly not in auto pistol rounds.

Photo and collection John Moss.


Yes, I’ll admit, that photo is not my best work. The tin-plated color is “washed out” because, as I remember, the photo was taken with a flash. But it is definitely a different color than the stannic stained bullet on the right.

The middle one has a CN jacket, electro-plated tin; the so-called “tin can” bullet from the 1921 Cal .30 (30-06) National Match ammunition. The plating is .0003" thick, making the bullet diameter .3085".

Colors are affected by the finish of the item before the plate or stain is applied. A polished brass case can almost appear to be chrome or nickel plated when it is stannic stained. And, of course, any tin based coating can change color after years of exposure to the atmosphere, especially dirty air such as you’ll find in today’s big cities.

I’ve shown the following photo more than once. It clearly shows the difference between CN and Stannic Stained GM


So, Ray, is the “Stannic Stained” finish a tin finish, something commonly called a tinned jacket, or is “tinned” a total error of identification for the finish I have called tinned most of my collecting days? No sharpshooting, by the way, I really would like to know. I am really ignorant of the technology involved with these various bullet jacket “formulas.”


I’m not a chemist nor a metallurgist so someone can correct my fumbling with words.

I understand that there are 3 basic ways to apply tin to a metal surface. The first involves heating the object (a pot or pan) above the melting point of tin and then immersing the object in a large container of melted tin. The tin will adhere to the object in whatever thickness the artisan chooses.

The second consists of electro-plating. The object is attached to an electric source (either positive or negative) and then immersed in a solution of tin salts which is also charged, but in the opposite direction. Galvanic action ? causes the tin in the salts to attach itself to the object.

The third uses a chemical bath of water and an oxidizer such as a potassium salt, and small pieces of sacrificial tin such as block tin or a high tin content alloy such as solder, pewter, etc. When heated (boiled), the oxidizer causes traces of the tin to transfer from the source to the metal being tinned. This is how stannic-stained bullets and cases were made.

I’m sure a chemist can describe many other ways to tin metal objects. I’ve used all three so I am a little familiar with them although I’m completely ignorant of how and why they work. In the good old days, the corner druggist could supply you with everything needed at a very small cost. Today, asking for some of this stuff would result in a call to the SWAT team.


One thing I do know is “TM 43-0001-24 ARMY AMMUNITION DATE SHEETS SMALL CALIBER AMMUNITION FSC 1305” refers to it multiple times as “The cartridge is identified by stannic -stained (silvered) cartridge case. Purpose: This cartridge is used to proof test caliber .30 rifles and machine guns”


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