Canadian .5 inch Vickers

I am looking for information on the Canadian made .5 inch Vickers rounds.

All those I have seen were made at Three Rivers which I believe was run by the Dominion Rubber Munitions Co. According to the History of the Department of Munitions and Supply by Kennedy, semi-AP tracer and Incendiary were made.

The Woodin Lab has an excellent range of these rounds (as usual) some with the bullets completely coloured rather than just tipped. Are the red tipped rounds just tracer? There were no tracer rounds adopted for British service. Similarly there are blue red green tipped rounds suggesting APIT.

All the above are headstamped “44 TR”. This is quite late for the .5 Vickers but I am told these were for the Merchant Marine for AA defence. In a way this makes sense as by 1944 most warships had had their Vickers replaced by 20mm Oerlikon so Vickers mountings would have been freed for the Merchant service.

Any information appreciated.


Hi Tony,

I believe that the full coloured projectiles (found in red, dk. green, lt. green and lt. blue) are all factory dummies and made up for desk top displays.

The blue/red/green tipped round is APIT. I have an x-ray of such a round and it certainly appears to be this load. I have a red tipped round that I believe to be a tracer, but have never sectioned one. Incendiary (blue tipped) ammunition was also manufactured.

Here is a picture of the headstamp/primer variations I have.

I also understand that production was for the Merchant Marine, but have never seen any documentation. I know of no other Canadian manufactures of this calibre.

TR was run by Dominion Rubber Munitions Ltd (a subsidiary of US Rubber). My Grandfather was comptroller at the factory and I have his photo id/security pin and chrome plated 20mm Oerlikon representing the 10,000,000th round manufactured. This was March 17, 1945. Apparently 8-10 rounds were prepared for the officers of the company.



Thanks Paul, I was relying on you for some answers!

It is odd that canada developed loads quite late in the war that were not standard British issue. As I am sure you know, although some tracer was made for the Vickers it was never officially adopted. I have an example in which a “G” has been overstamped on a Ball Mark II case.

many thanks,

Tony, there is also an unheadstamped round with a ringed-in nickeled primer which is believed to be a Three Rivers product.

Flame tracer rounds were made by Kynoch for Argentina in 1938 but, coincidentally or not, most surviving specimens are plated dummies and the only known specimen of a cartridge loaded with a red tip bullet is some sort of presentation dummy without powder and covered with a thin layer of lacquer.

I forgot to add that Canada also used some armored cars and heavy vehicles armed with .5 Vickers Mark IV machine guns.

While we’re on this subject, I have this bullet that according to TonyE could be from a Canadian .50 Vickers.

The bullet on the left is a regular British bullet with the two concave cannelures. The the bullet on the right has a single knurled cannelure. It is on-magnetic with a lead core and CN jacket.

Paul (or anyone else) do you have any similar bullets?

Hi Falcon,

The projectile on the left is of the same profile as Canadian manufactured ones.

The one of the right is unrelated but very special. I think it is a projectile for the Winchester .50 rimless experimental (i.e. a forerunner for the .50 BMG and dating from 1918/1919). Nice find.


I note the bullet Falcon is asking about appears in the photo to have a copper-colored bullet. Yet it is referred to as a “CN” bullet. I see this often on the Forum. Is it a result of the color of the bullet looking copper when it is actually “silver” in color, or have there been changes to the description of projectile materials used by collectors?"

Since I have been collecting, the accepted abbreviations have pretty much been as follows:

GM Gilding Metal meaning a copper-base material with a copper color.

GMCS Gilding Metal Clad Steel (sometimes a steel core will influence the use of
this particular abbreviation, but properly using a weak magnet at the
very tip of the bullet, especially with pointed rifle bullets, will often reveal
the jacket is not magnetic, but rather it is the core drawing the magnet.

CN Cupro-nickel meaning a nickel-base or nickel plated (often used to describe
chromed bullet jackets or well-polished plain steel jackets, although
technically incorrect for that purpose)

CNCS The same as “CN” except a magnetic jacket. Same comments apply as those
given for GMCS.

Brass Jackets or other forms or jacket finish like bonderized, lacquered finishes, blackened bullets, etc. are normally simply described in that way.

In Europe, “Tombak” is often substituted for “Gilding Metal” or “Copper” and is perfectly correct.

Until the last few years, I had never heard a copper-color bullet jacket being described as "CN."
That’s why I ask this question. Terminology changes over the years in many fields - I just wondered if something had brought about a change in bullet-jacket material terminology, or if in truth, the bullet in question is actually silver-tone in color and only appears copper on my screen or due to the photo. I questioned it because of fairly often use of CN to describe bullet jackets that are clearly “GM.”

Thanks Paul. The bullet came to me in a .50 Vickers case.

Can anyone post a photo of the Winchester .50 Rimless Experimental?

John - Both bullets are silver coloured. The one on the left is CNCS (Cupronickel Clad Steel), and the right is Cupronickel. It appears much darker in the photo than it is in real life. It also looks darker next to the bullet on the left which has been polished. It is dull silver in colour when seen for real. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed any terminology changes.

Falcon - thank you for the clarification. I suspected that was the case with a picture you posted. The actual posting I made was because I occasionally see GM referred to as CN, when the jacket material is not visually in question, as it was with your posting. I figured you would get it right. Nice projectile, by the way!

There are 2 case variations for the .50 Rimless; a long and short case. The long case is 4.08” (103.6mm) and the short case is 4.02” (102.3mm).

Here is a picture of the cases with projectiles.

This picture compares the .50 BMG with the rimless cases.


Thanks Paul. That’s the same bullet alright.

What are the headstamps?