Arabic headstamp question


Headstamp of a 9mm Para with magnetic projectile.
From which country and factory?


I can’t say I’ve seen one like that before, but the figure at 12:00 looks to be either the Cyrillic/Russian “F” or a character from the Ethiopian alphabet. Since the other characters appear to be definitely Arabic (reading “61” at 7:00 and “9” at 5:00), I’d say it’s Ethiopian.


No, Ethiopia has its own script, they don’t use Arabic. I can’t place the symbol at the top, but it could be an Egyptian property mark. I’ll run to check “Elks”.


Nothing in Elks even remotely resembling that symbol. The Arabic numbers are 61 and 9 if that helps. I have another publication “Headstamps with Arabic Markings” by Ahmed K. Al-Khalifa who was the head of the Public Security Lab, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which also has nothing like it.


Very interesting. I would focus my search around Egypt, Syria, and Iran. I hope John and Lew will chime-in here.


OK Jon, here I am. I can’t explain the marking at the top. It looks a little like the Iranian marking on their flag, which I believe stands for “Allah”
(God). However, it is too early for that flag. I saw one of these in Bill Woodin’s collection years ago. He thought it might be Egyptian commercial ammo, but I suspect a contract for someone else. There is no doubt in my mind that it is Egyptian. The headstamp layout is right, the primer crimps are right for the date (I have a standard UAR-headstamped Egyptian round, in Arabic of course, with the same date) and, not coincidentally I am sure, out of eight Egyptian ball 9mm rounds in my collection with the trinomial headstamp, all have non-magnetic bullets except the one with the same date that is on the pictured headstamp, which has a magnetic bullet. The purple primer seal is typically Egyptian, as well, although I do have one with a green primer seal in my collection. That is, however, atypical. If Lew answers in here, he may even know what the symbol means.


I went through Elks and my collection and I have to agree on Egyptian. I can’t ID that symbol but the construction is typical Egyptian. In the early 1960s the Egyptians were supplying weaponry to any number of African countries and groups, as well as insurgencies in Aden and Yemen. It will be very interesting to see that symbol identified.


Whatever it means, I wish the cartridge were mine! Nice headstamp beyond the norm for Egyptian 9mms. I understand the Elks is redoing some of his monographs. Perhaps if he does the Arabic Cartridge one, he will have an answer. I think that he has been at the Lab in Tucson to look at, at least, Japanese cartridges. Maybe he will redo the Arabic one as well.


Looking at the top symbol, it could conceivably be an upside-down crown, but Egypt wasn’t a monarchy in 1961; maybe Iran?


To all the contributors, thanks for your effort. I hope soon someone hits the jackpot.



There are two headstamps shown in Ian Hogg’s book “The cartridge Guide” that contain a symbol similar to the one shown in the photo see page 167 #2223 and 2224. These listed as Ethiopian.


The markings in Hogg’s book have not been translated, to my knowledge. No one seems to be able to read them, or even decide what language they are in. Further, while what Westerner’s would read as the first mark (on the left) is similar, it is not the same. The symbol in the center of the current Iranian flag is more similar to the 9mm headstamp symbol in question, but it, too, is not identical, as the figure on the pictured cartridge is missing the outside curved lines, that would run parallel to the two curved vertical lines, one on each side of the straight vertical line, if it were the same symbol as the Iranian national insignia. Admittedly, if it does represent the Iranian symbol, it could be a contract for Iran from Egypt. I have no doubt what-so-ever that the round was made in Egypt for the reasons I noted earlier in this thread. But, while there are differences in some Farsi numbers from their counterparts used in Arabic countries. the numbers on the headstamp in question could be read by anyone who reads Farsi. They are basically the same for those particular digits.

I am not saying it was made for Iran - there are still problems with the insignia as noted.


Hi Arthemis,

As John Moss already said:
The symbol looks like the Allah symbol from Iran as is seen on the iranian flag.

In the year 1979 The Islamic Republic of Iran was formed. Before 1979 headstamps contained the Persian Crown sign.

Because the Allah symbol is used in stead of the Persian Crown, the production year must be the Islamic year of 1361 which stands in the Julian calendar for 1982.
The symbol for 9 must stand for 9mm…
So I should say that this cartridge is Iranian made

Here is an example of a more distinct headstamp of Iranian origin (on a 7,62x51 cartridge):


Description of the Iranian flag:
Three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip, a symbol of martyrdom) in red is centered in the white band; ALLAH AKBAR (God is Great) in white Arabic script is repeated 11 times along the bottom edge of the green band and 11 times along the top edge of the red band.


Thanks Charles for the info.



I’m finally getting around to this posting. First, thanks to Arthemis for sharing this headstamp.

I agree with John Moss. This headstamp is very similar to the early Egyptian rounds and the load is identical to these rounds. Below are the two similar headstamps in my collection:

This headstamp reads Cairo 9 56

The character on this headstamp has not been identified (any suggestions???-variously translated as Egypt and Sudan) but the remainder reads 9 54. Two of these headstamps were found in a full box of other Egyptian 9mm Para Cartridges.

Both of these cartridges have magnetic bullets like the cartridge that Arthemis illustrated and both have the same primer sealer color and primer crimp.

I don’t think Arthemis’ cartridge is made in Iran although the symbol looks a bit like the symbol on the Iranian flag, which replaced the crown when the Shah was overthrown in 1979. If the round is from Iran, it is dated 1982 (in the Iranian Shahrivar calendar, 2007= 1386, so the 61 on this headstamp would equal 1982). The problem is that when I compare it to Iranian rifle headstamps the symbol doesn


Lew - the headstamp you show with a Arabic character at the top and “9 54” below it as “variously interpreted to mean Eqypt or Sudan,” is neither. The character is identified in Elk’s work on Arabic headstamps as the designator for Shoubra Arsenal (Arsenal 27) in Egypt. I do not know what relationship there is to Cairo and Shoubra; that is, if Shoubra is the name of an Arsenal or the name of the city or town it is in, and whether SHoubra is near Cairo or not. Elks mentions the Shoubra Arsenal being established “at Shoubra” in 1954, which would lead one to believe that Shoubra is a place and not just an arsenal or company name. I wonder if the date “54” is coincidental. I do not know of any “Cairo” Arsenal, and none is mentioned by Elks. I have noted many errors over the years in ascribing arsenals to certain places where there were only offices, or because they were the largest city near the actual location of the arsenal. I don’t know if that is the case with describing a “Cairo” arsenal in Egypt, or not. The Arabic acronym for “Alsudania” (Sudan) is quite different, as is the one for “Misr” (Egypt). The Shoubra marking predates the use of the numerical arsenal designator “27.” I believe. I have a very scarce version of the Shoubra headstamp, with trinomial headstamp like the 9mm but “7.92 54.”


I am continuing to research this 9mm headstamp. I just found that the symbol was used on two different headstamps on 12 Gauge Shotgun, leading me to wonder if it is some sort of commercial product of the arsenals at Alexandria or Shoubra, Egypt. While the mark is not explained, the headstamp on the 12 gauge rounds is identified as a product of the Alexandria factory by Otto Witt and George Kass, two of our very best headstamp authorities in the study of ammunition, world-wide. However, the characteristics of the cartridge in question are very much like those of the Shoubra Factory, Arsenal 27. The Alexandria Factory became “Factory Number 10” when the numerical identification system was adopted.

The marking on the 12 gauge headstamps is quite clear by the way, and looks like the letters “T” and “O” intertwined. Interestingly, in Elk’s work on Arabic Headstamps, he shows a very similar mark not on cartridges from Alexandria, but rather on a 7.9 x 57mm headstamp from Shoubra, used in conjunction with a U.A.R. Arsenal 27 headstamp dated “59.” The mark he shows is very much like the “TC” intertwined on Turkish ammunition. This could be a mistake in interpreting the mark, and it could be “TO” intertwined, instead. He mentions that the mark he shows is also seen on weapons and ammunition boxes. It does not appear on any of the dozen or so Egyptian 9mm boxes in my own collection.

It may be of interest to note that although the designator “TO” intertwined has been identified as a product of the Alexandria factory, that on other ammunition, according to Elks, that factory did not reference the country, caliber or date of manufacture on the headstamp until about 1958 (note: We have actually seen a picture of a 57-dated headstamp from Alexandria with complete information on it), a fact born out by an early Egyptian .303 with nothing more than “10” in Egyptian script on the headstamp at the 3 O’Clock and 10 O’Clock positions on the headstamp.

Whether or not the “TO” (intertwined) headstamp is a product of Shoubra or Alexandria, I cannot be sure. My gut feeling tells me it is Shoubra, due to manufacturing characteristics and the use of a similar symbol (perhaps the SAME symbol) on Arsenal 27 headstamps of 7.9 x 57mm ammo. I do not know the source for the information from Kass and Witt, however, and that may be unimpeachable. I will try to pursue that with them.

I will try to extract and have the pictures of the two “TO” headstamps on 12 gauge posted on this thread. I can’t promise when they will be posted, or even if I will be successful in isolating them on the documents I have at hand.

I apologize for the misleading and, as written, down-right wrong information on these two postings of mine, before I edited them.


John, Where was Arsenal 17 located? Are you saying that Arsenal 17 was in Cairo and later became Arsenal 27??? I only knew of arsenals 10 and 27.

This confused me a little. You referred to the Shoubra Arsenal as #17, but here you refer to the Shoubra Factory in Alexandria, which should be Arsenal #10 according to Peter Labbett. Are you saying that you think Arthemis’ headstamp was made by Arsenal 10 in Alexandria?

Sorry for being dense, but I didn’t follow these two posts.

Given the format of the headstamp, and the other headstamps with this headstamp—and the double primer crimp—this doesn’t look like commercial ammunition to me, but it could easily be Egyptian military ammunition from an arsenal other than #27 in Cairo.

Good work finding the mark on the Shotshells. Do you have a reference for this so I can take a look???

Cheers, Lew


I am not sure I shouldn’t stop answering stuff on the forum. Between my poor typing and getting so blind I can’t hardly read anymore, I am really screwing up. Rather than leave confusing, poorly worded and erroneous information on the Forum, I have edited the heck out of my last postings that Lew properly called into account, to reflect things more accurately and better. Here I will simply say I know of no Arsenal 17 in Egypt, so we’ll put that typo error to rest here.

I will try to post pictures of the 12 gauge headstamps with similar markings, as well as the headstamp in Elk’s book with a similar marking, although not identical as drawn in his book.


One area not mentioned at all is Saudi Arabia, whose usual HS is a Palm tree encircled by two scimitars, very similar to the stylised H/S on the 9mm.

For many years, Saudi has had its ammo made out of country, but with its own HS marks. They bought ammo from Egypt and European makers. Nowadays, the factory in Riyadh supplies nearly all their Domestic requirements.
The Iranian connection also has its supporters, but the HS would be “too simplified”, seeing the detail used on the 7,62mm HS…I concede that the 9mm casehead is smaller, and a simplified HYS would be easier to make, but there it is.

regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.