An little story to amuse you


I have carried this story around for many years and told it many times but I thought I would tell it on here as it is sort of ammo related.

A friend of mine worked for Marconi Defence Industries for many years. It was a very high security plant.
One day he and a collegue carried a large missile between the two of them out through the security gate and out into the car park, put it in a car and drove off with it. The guards on the gate just lifted the barrier and let them go through unchecked.

Actually, it was a dummy, bound for an exhibition but the guards didn’t know that.

His problem then was this, should he report it and cause all sorts of trouble. Probably getting the guards fired and all the consequences that would involve. Or should he just let it go and say nothing?

In the end he chose the latter, but its a neat story and it makes you wonder what might have been if they had been in the pay of the Russians.

Ever since he told me that story I have wondered about all the experimental and prototype cartridges you guys have in your collections. How did they all get out? Every one must have come out in somebody’s lunch box. There are so many around it must have been going on all the time.


I think you would be shocked to learn how many experimental cartridges simply got plucked out of the trash, or just were given to office visitors.


I have only visited two major factories making ammunition in my life - FN Herstal and SIG in Switzerland (not an ammo factory, but at the time, handloading some 9 mm Ultra cartridges for experiments). In both cases, I was given, above-board, by people of authority there, samples of things they were working with, but were not necessarily going to be serially produced.

At Mauser, in Oberndorf, in 1972, a top executive of the factory gave me one live round and one fired case of Finnish-made 7.65 mm Parabellum proof loads that were being used in the in-house proofing facility to proof the then-new Mauser Post-WWII Luger pistols of that caliber.

I have visited smaller factories also, in the U.S., and been given items, but do not count them as they were privately owned, small companies where I knew the owners, who are the ones who gifted some cartridges to me.

So, it is not all “pinched” as one might say, by any means. Jon was absolutely correct about the source of other rounds.

John Moss


George Kass taught me to always ask. We were in the Liege Proof House many years ago. In a display of proof ammo in a display case was a 9mm Proof load headstamped FN that I had never seen before (or since). At George’s urging I asked for a sample. Our guide, a senior manager, said yes and went in the back and came out with the FN prood with the copper washed case that most of you are familiar with, and which I had in my collection, and gave it to me. I told him I had it already and explained that it was the varity in the case I was lacking. He unlocked the case, gave me the one that had been on display and replaced it with the copper washed version!!!

Always Ask… The first rule of cartridge collecting, particularly when visiting factories. Doesn’t always work, but it often works.




I have on several occasions been given or sent examples of experimental cartridges by the developers or (in one case) a senior manager of the company involved.

I have also bought a lot of such cartridges from other collectors. How they came by them I’ve never enquired…


Its just an interesting question to me. The ammo collecting world seems to be well supplied with experimentals and prototypes. Thank goodness for that because without them many questions would remain unanswered. Some of them are very significantly revealing. It just interests me to know how so many got out when the obvious inclination of the various agencies would surely be to keep these matters under wraps. Some of them must go into the catagory of being classified at the time. Others would have been commercially sensitive at least.

Its no big deal, Im not out to make a major point here, it just strikes me as being interesting.