Aoc 1340 .303

I have a couple of rounds of .303 headstamped “AOC 1340”. I know this was made by BPD in the 1950s for Egypt, and has a clandestine date.

However, what is the date supposed to be on the Islamic calendar that it was supposed to use? Also, when was the exact date in the 50s that thr rounds were made? They were apparently also chemically treated to make them look older, what was the exact type of treatment used?

I also have two different headstamp styles, were these made at different times?

My examples are both ball, were there any other load types made?

One of the rounds had “SUEZ DESIGN 453” written on it, does anyone know what this actually means?

Thanks in advance for any info.

I don’t think your round was chemically treated to age it. Lots of Israeli surplus ammo, including captured rounds, gets an acid wash. Not sure what they use, but it’s for cleaning purposes.

Falcon - Elks says these rounds were made in 1952 with a spurious date, by the Arabic calender, of 1922 on them, 30 years earlier. He also indicates they were artificially aged to give the impression of being as old as the date indicated.

I am not sure that I agree with Elks on the issue of aging. I am more inclined to think Jon is correct. I have seen these rounds “aged” but I have also had them, with both sizes of lettering (I suspect the lettering is just from two production lines), in perfectly clean, nice condition. The ones in my collection, when I did .303, were like that - very clean - only a little of what is generally called “finger-staining.” Certainly no chemical aging.
That’s one of those things that’s hard to know today. Artificial aging could have been done on some lots and not others, or as an after though with lots already shipped or crated not done. I doubt that there can be, perhaps ever, a definitive answer for a question like that. Finding documentation on a contract that was so secret they coded the maker’s initials and put a spurious date on the headstamp is not likely, unfortunately, especially from Italy, where they consider even the old information like that still secret today.

Jon - Falcon is correct, these rounds were chemically aged as part of the clandestine nature of the contract. They were captured during the 1956 Suez campaign and were only a few years old then. I have had mine since the 1960s.

The date they are supposed to be is 1340+582 = 1922. What the real date is I am not sure, but it was probably between 1953 when the Egyptian Republic was declared and 1956 when they were captured. It may just be coincidence but the date of Egyptian independence was 1922 also.

There are two or three headstamp styles but this is probably no more that different bunters being used.

As well as ball there is also a tracer loading with a red annulus.


Could the “clean ones” have been polished after aging?


Mine were not ever obviously cleaned. To fully believe that they were chemically aged by BPD I would have to be the first one to open a factory-sealed box or see documentation. Over the years, we had thousands of rounds of battle-field pickup ammunition of various calibers, from Israel, go through our store. Much of it, as Jon said, was chemically cleaned, some of it obviously with a chemical similar to commercial case-brite, since a lot of it, but no where near all of it, had the distinctive yellow color that chemical gives brass.

I am not saying it is impossible that it is correct that they were aged - all I can say is the ones in my collection, and others I have had, did not so appear, while certainly others did, and not to beat a dead horse, but I have seen no documentation proving that assertion that is was all artificially aged at BPD.

Thanks for the responses.

Is the date of this ammo based on the calendar that uses the date of the birth or death of Mohammed as the year 1?

This ammo must have been imported into the UK as shooting ammo, it is very common here today. I paid 25p each for my two examples.

Here are 2 of the .303 AOC 1340 ball rounds that John described that have not been chemically treated or polished.

Phil - thanks for posting your usual beautiful pictures. I don’t have my .303s anymore, and I was beginning to think I was going crazy and my memory was totally wrong. Mine were in that condition, and lots have gone through my hands (including some I shot up in my Lithgow No. I Mark III*) in similar condition.

By the use of nickel bullets and, to an extent, the crimping they do look very much older. Much more 1920s than 1950s

Do you think they were actually clever enough to do this intentionally to make it look older? Could they have been that devious?

Made in Italy yet everything about the case and bullet (except the headstamp) shouts British made to me. Were they made on old ex- British plant by any chance? Is it cordite?

Come to think of it, could they ever have imagined that 50+ years on there would be a bunch of geeks interested enough to be talking about it?

The lack of any annealing ring is interesting. It would suggest the cases must have been cleaned at some stage by somebody. It seems unlikely they would be want to be bothered with such a time consuming additional process during manufacture of clandestine (i.e. given away or sold cheap) ammunition. Usually only commercial manufacturers would think it important.

There is another possibility for what its worth. There was a big importer/exporter of surplus ammunition in Britain that was closed down about 18 years ago after a fire in a barn. The police discovered they were storing tons and tons of ammunition in inappropriate locations.

I wish I could remember their name, no doubt someone else will. However, they used to use industrial cement mixers to tumble their ammunition clean before selling it on. Just a thought really.
Any that came into Britain on the surplus market would have passed almost certainly through their hands, (and barns, and cement mixers).

Falcon, if you bought ths ammo for 25p a throw its a good buy, you are buying it below baseline price. Even total rubbish (for shooting) in .303 is selling for much more than that although why anybody would want it for shooting is beyond me. However, they do.

Italian .303 from the 1930s also looks almost identical to British made stuff.

I have just looked at some Italian contract .303 Drill rounds, for UK Cadet use, headstamps B.P.D. 952. The bullets are GMCS jackets but have the old style crimping, like the subjects of this thread.


Definitely a “covert contract” of .303 ammo for Egypt.

The “AOC” is a Caeser Cypher ( yes, Julius Caeser) made by shifting the l;etters one space in the alphabet. Hence “AOC == BPD”.

1340 looks like an “Islamic” date, , purported to be “1922” in the Gregorian calendar…only one problem in that, is that 584 ( Assumed date of Manhood of the Prophet, not his Birthday, which was CE 570.) is the commonly used ( Turkish) method of Islamic dating on ordnance…Most Islamic countries have also used 621.6 as a reference point ( AH Anno Hegira, the date of the escape to Medina) as the common everyday translation of Religious Dates.

Add to that the nature of the Islamic Year ( 364 days) against the Gregorian Year ( 365.26 days, and you can get an accumulated error, which the Julian ( Caeser again) and Gregorian calenders reduced by introducing the Leap Year.

As to whether the date of 1922 has the significance of Egyptian “nomal” independance ( from British suzereignety to the “Kingdom of Egypt” ( under the Farouk family) but still with a “British Resident” effectively controlling Egypt’s foreign Policy and defence; and the new found Nasser Independence of the Arabic Republic of Egypt…is a Hisdtorico-Political question…

Now the “chemical cleaning” of the cartridges…year ago I acquired hundreds of Surplus 7,9mm ammo, BPD 953, with a similar chemical wash colour…also purported to be Egyptian Surplus…48 round Boxes, etc.

The headstamp style (Bunters) and manufacturing “signature” was Identical to the .303 “AOC” cartridges.

Whether the wash was applied by the Israelis in the late 50s, or it was some other Importer’s doing, I can’t say.

What is obvious is that Italian made .303 Ammo ( it was also still in use by the Italian armed Forces in the 1950s and 60s) was based on the 1920s design of Mark VII (z) ammo ( CN plated bullet, large diameter primer), and this design was done by all Italian makers of the cartridge ( primarily for Regia Aeronautica before and during WW II, all forces after 1945). I have a Fiocchi catalogue offering .303 FMJ in the 1950s, and also the primer cups… .250" size ( ie, identical to British primer). The Italian Army and Navy had large qty. of SMLE and No4 rifles right up to the 1990s (used dropped off after late 1960s, for training mostly)

Doc AV


I have just looked at some Italian contract .303 Drill rounds, for UK Cadet use, headstamps B.P.D. 952. The bullets are GMCS jackets but have the old style crimping, like the subjects of this thread.

How’s it going in Portugal Dave? I haven’t heard from you in a while. Did you get your collection shipped over there in the end?

Thanks for the extra info DocAV

How’s it going in Portugal Dave? I haven’t heard from you in a while. Did you get your collection shipped over there in the end?

Thanks for the extra info DocAV[/quote]


I brought all clips and chargers over plus all drill and dummy rounds, no live stuff. Portugal is fine, I am not. Just out of hospital so I will be a little behind in correspondence for a while.


I hope that this link can be also useful
in the first link the whole Italian production is described up to 1943
the 7.7 Breda safat is dimensionally identical to the 303 British but with greater thickness of the case

in the second link the 303 british is described produced after the WWII for the weapons ex English in endowment to the new Italian Army

I apologize to all for my bad English