British (Hirwaun) 1943 9x19 Blackened case and bullet

Today I acquired a Hirwaun made 9x19 round off someone at my shooting club. I had been told about him having the round but it being live, so I took my puller with me. When I pulled it I found that it contained no powder. However two separate bands of oxidation on the bullet make the round look to have been pulled and reassembled without powder at some time, as the bullet was seated slightly too far out of the case. However there are no vice or plier marks, and there were no traces of aluminium from a puller collet left on the rim before I pulled it and discovered it had no powder.

The case and bullet appear to have been blackened, they look too dark to
have acquired a patina with age, but the dark colouring is now pretty well worn if it was intentionally blackened. The portion of the bullet inside the case mouth was plain GM. The primer is unstruck, and the round has the typical British purple primer annulus of a ball round.

The headstamp is also new to me, as the Ms in the calibre designation have dots after them (9 M.M.), I have only ever seen the Ms separated by a slash (9 M/M) or nothing at all (9 MM) on 1943 Hirwan 9mm rounds. The full headstamp of this round is: “H/|\N 43 9 M.M.”, bunter slightly off centre as typical with these rounds. Was this chemically blackened for a reason, or has it simply become blackened due to being damp etc.for a long period of time at some stage. See photo below:

I cannot explain about the bullet being pulled on your round, or the blackened appearance. There can be many explanations for that. A cartridge just on the ground in the sun for a while can turn very black. If the bullet was pulled with a conventional bullet inertia bullet puller, firstly the collett doesn’t always leave aluminum on the case (That depends somewhat on how carefully you put the case into the collet so you don’t scrape either the brass or the aluminum on the sharp edge of some collects) and secondly, like any other residue, that can disappear in time, so it doesn’t tell us much that there is none on your round.

Hirwaun variations of 9mm Para ball rounds are endless. I have 32 different Hirwaun-made 9mm Para in my collection and I don’t collect dates, meaning that they are all different from each other in some way other than just the date. There are diferent letter sizes, letter shapes, punctuation or lack of it, headstamp content, magnetic and non-magnetic bullets and one or two that are special loads, although in just ball the varieties are legion! I don’t even look at Hirwaun 9mms anymore or compare ones that come into my hands against my collection. I am satisfied that what I have gets the point of their variety across, and I don’t need any more variations.

I suspect it is merely a patina with age. The British 9mm headstamps from Hirwaun and Blackpole come with and without slashes and dots between the Ms of the calibre designation. When the 9mm Mark IIz went into production, 1945 Hirwaun headstamps can be found as IIz, 2z and MK.IIz.

It seems to have been at the whim of whoever was making the bunter.


I also think it is probably patina with age. The guy who gave me it said he had had it around at his house for years. It came in a bank change bag with a WCC 41 .45 ACP and the 2 copper cased rimfires discussed in another thread.

The picture wasn’t posted when I answered your posting. That looks to me like what I call “sun blackening” often seen on rounds picked up off the ground after they have been there for some time. I could be wrong, of course. It is sometimes impossible to tell even holding the round. I have an Australian dummy that is blackened, of the type with red flutes in the case. I thought it was just from the sun, as the round is in good but used condition, but two Australian collectors visiting me pointed out that unlike all of the others of this type from Australia, this one was not plated underneath the black, whatever the black was caused by. The red paint is in almost perfect condition, but the few little pieces that are gone reveal clean, shiney brass with no plating. The point is, I had this round to examine for weeks, and I thought it was sun-blackened and it is not - it was purposefully blackened, probably as what one great Canadian ammunition person, Mr. Houlden, described to me as “try dummies.” That is, dummies presented to the military to see if they would like that pattern, with some being adopted and some being rejected.

Thanks John, I posted the photo just as you and Tony replied. I suppose this could have been a dropped round picked up from a firing range somewhere a while after it was dropped.

This may have been in water. I had a full clip of 6.5mm Japanese which had turned entirely black except for the pink mouth ring after having been thrown in a creek and resting there for some unknown period of time.

The round being immersed in water for some time did come to mind.

Copper sulfide is black and the sulfer in high sulfer water could turn the cartridge black after a time.

Talking of sulphur turning metal black, I don’t think you can buy flowers of sulphur in the UK without a chemicals licence, so that’s your suggestion of re-aging polished rounds with sulphur and vaseline out of the vindow. I sprayed some WD-40 into the holes on those copper cases rimfire rounds to kill the primers, and where the WD-40 and black powder residue has seeped out, it has darkened the copper on the outside of the case around the holes so much that the darkened copper looks even older than the rest of the already old rounds.

Sulfer can make explosives so the license is understandable.

There are a variety of available products which are high in sulpher and could be used for your purcpose. Maybe one of the chemists who visit here can help with that.