Canadian 7.92MM and 9MM Hdstmps

This is the relevant stuff from 3 different threads on the subject. I did not/could not post the contributors names, but you will recognize most of the characters.

"Regarding the Canadian-made 7.92 x 57 ammunition with anonymous headstamps (caliber and date only), there are 9mm counterparts that were not made during WWII, although dated like the 7.9s - 40 thru 45. There is no reason to believe that these 7.9s were made during WWII either. This was all explained on an earlier thread, and has been gone over in various Journals, etc. It is to long a story to retell here, but it will suffice to say that this was a covert deal involving U.S. agencies. The ammunition went to various places.

These were made in the late 40s and early 50s for an US Agency and along with the 9mm version were issued with captured German weapons. As John said, made in Canada.

Dominion Arsenal made this ammunition and here is a display board with both the 7.9 and 9 x 19 shown with all of its manufacturing steps. The 7.9mm is headstamped '7.92 MM 45’
The 9 mm is headstamped ‘9 MM 45’

VERY interesting! Any date on the board?

I have 2 other boards which were most likely made by the same employee - all use the same constructon, method of attaching the rounds to the board, signage, etc. The .30-06 AP and Tracer Board is headstamped '51 and the .303 ball and blank board is '56. But no, nothing on the board itself which dates it.

The '51 and '56 tend to supoport the “clandestine” theory of the MM headstamped 9mm and 7.92 rounds.

I am glad to see those boards. If the rounds in question were made in the years the headstamp numbers indicate, which they were not, the Boards would be earlier, I would think, and from Defense Industries. The dates of the series of boards are significant. I am still of the opinion that you can substitute a 5 for the first 4 of the headstamp date, and have pretty much when these were made. I know that it is felt some were made as early as 1944, but I don’t really agree with that. Everything physical about the rounds - sequence of magnetic bullets and black PA points to 1950s manufacture for all of them.

Speaking of 7.92 x 57mm, I was just looking for some foreign military for a friend and came across a cartridge that I have been meaning to ask about but always seem to forget. It is headstamped 7.92 at 10 o’clock, MM at 2 o’Clock, and 44 at 6 o’Clock. I have a gazillion fired cases and a couple of loaded with a non magnetic, cannelured GM FMJ bullet, circular crimped in brass primer with a black or very dark brown sealant. What is it? Since I have so many of them I assume it is worth dirt.

This, and the similarly headstamped 9mm ( 9 MM 44) were manufactured by Defence Industries in Canada for use with the Inglis 7.92mm Bren guns supplied to the Nationalist Chinese. There were several million rounds made.

There is however some controversy because this ammo also turned up in the 1960s as clandestine supplies to CIA backed insurgents in Central and South America. Some say that it was not made in 1944 at all but in the late 1950s with a false date. I am sure it actually dates from 1944, but whether a fresh batch was made later to confuse or it was simply that there was a suitable anonymous headstamp left over from the war I do not know.

Tony - how do you know that the cartridge dates from 1944? They start with 1940 dates. That is before DI was set up. Further, in the case of the 9mm, there is no way they were made when the cases are dated (40 thru 45).
The pilot lot of 9mm Para ever made by Dominion Cartridge was headstamped DC 42. With acceptance, the headstamp was changed to DI 42, reflecting the establishment of Defence Industries Ltd. That information from my now-departed friend Jim Houlden, who set up DI, and who kindly provided me with a sample of the trial DC 42 ball ammo, and several different try dummies. Further in 9mm the sequence of magnetic bullets is correct if you add about 10 years to the dates, and the black primer seal becomes correct, as in the 50s, Canadian 9mm had a black seal and not the purple seal they had in the 1940s.
Also, after Dunkirk, there was a plea from England sent out to their colonies asking for help in the emergency development of a non-corrosive 9mm cartridge. I think this went out in 1941 or 1942 - Lew Curtis knows. He saw the declassified document. I find it hard to believe that would have been necessary had Canada already been in full production of non-corrosive 9mm ammo for a year or more. Nothing makes sense for the 9mm to have been maufactured as early as 1940, and I firmly believe those dates are spurious.
Further, we know there was a CIA contract for the 9mm ammo. Unfortunately, we don’t have as much of a track record with the 7.9mm ammo to compare. However, since the headstamp format is the same as the 9mm, I am of the personal opinion that the story is the same.
What we do know is that if they were for the Inglis Bren Guns, it is odd that the ammunition in question is dated from 1940 on, with every year covered until 1945. The Inglis Brens for China were only in trial numbers in 1943, and mass production began in 1944. The deliveries of the Canadian-made Browning HP Pistols are a similar story. By the fall of 1944, production of the Inglis pistol had only reached the 3,000 mark, and that included both the Canadian fixed-sight version and the “CH” Chinese contracts with tangent sights. By the time these weapons reached China in any serious numbers, 1944 and 1945, the United States (primarily Western Cartridge Company) had already sent massive amounts of 7.9 x 57 ammo to China, bearing a Chinese headstamp. I have many specimens of these, including two different Chinese box labels. Further, they sent 9mm as well, in boxes labeled in the Chinese language,one of which I have, although with the standard American headstamps.
If any of the Canadian ammunition was made in 1944, which Curtis believes is the case and I do not, it was probably dated “40”, that is, if the year dates on this clandestine ammunition were even stamped in sequence. There is simply nothing pointing to this ammunition being made during the years stamped on the headstamps, especially the early years of 1940, 41 and 42.
It is clear that some of the ammo ended up in China, but a huge amount of the 7.9 was sold as surplus, in brand new condition, before China opened up and started selling off their old stuff. The same is true of the 9mm. We were selling the 9mm in our store in the early 1970s, as I recall, packed in the usual Canadian-style 64 round boxes (there is no dispute that this ammo was made in Canada), and the 7.9 x 57mm not long after that. China was not selling ammunition in the USA at that time, new or surplus, to my knowledge.
If you have documentary evidence that any of this ammo was made in 1944, it would be helpful to at least resolve that dispute between Lew and I.

You make a very convincing arguement for these being made post war. I know Lew’s thoughts as I have discussed these with him, and I know DocAV agrees with you. As you got your early Canadian 9mm from the horse’s mouth so to speak, there can be no argument with this.
I must confess to perhaps being a bit sloppy on this as, not being strictly British, I have not thought through the implications of the dates on these. They have certainly been around in the UK for a long time as I have had both the 9mm and 7.92mm for many years. I have a 7.92 with a 40 date but not a 9mm. Most of those seen over here are 44, hence my comments re: that date.
It will be very interesting if we can finally get the true story on these. On a separate subject I will mail you a couple of scans of early Kynoch 7.92mm that I believe were made for China. Recently a very nice ammo crate has turned up here with a Chinese label that came from Kynoch. What is interesting is that the label has an “H” number indicating a British military origin. I have never seen a “H” numbered label in a foreign language. I will send you pics.

I believe John Moss is correct on this ammunition. He and I have argued for ~20 years on this, but the fact is that when I cut apart a batch of this ammo, the early stuff 9 MM 40 and 41 has the same type bullets and same case construction as the Canadian Military during WW II and some 41, and all the 42-45 has the same bullet and case construction as the Canadian military stuff they started buying 55 which was their first post-WWII buy I know of. This kind of locks in the dates.
I believed it was made for China because Jim Houlden told me it was, even when I told him that there were rumors that it was made after the war for the CIA. In fact, he said he had seen the production documents. I probably still have his letter somewhere. In addition, I have a document dated 21 June 1945 that confirms that Canada sent China, as part of the US Lend Lease program, sent the following to China:

Shipment 1 Shipment 2
7.92 Bren 5400 13500
9mm Sten 7000 23000
9mm Pistol 4000

9mm Ammo 12.8M 12.8M

No mention of 7.92, so it is very unlikely that any Canadian 7.92 was provided to China during WW II. Clearly about 25.6 million rounds of Canadian 9mmP was supplied to China.
When I was in Udorn Thailand in 1969, the helio guys who flew resupply into Laos brought back lots of Swedish K SMG, which were widely carried by NVA units operating in Laos. They also brought back lots of ammo, 99% of which was this 9 MM 4? stuff. I went through thousands of rounds looking for something interesting. The other 1% was French stuff dated from their war in Vietnam. China was a very major supplier of arms and ammo to the NVA. About 75+% of the AKs and SKSs and 7.62x39mm ammo I saw come back with these helio guys, which was lots, were Chinese. If the 25+M rounds of 9mmP supplied during WW II wasn’t the 9 MM 4?, then I sure didn’t see any of it in my small sample. I have never heard of any Canadian headstamped ammo coming back from China or Korea (from Chinese troops).
In the late 1970s and early 1980s when the AF Lab at Eglin AFB was working on 9mm pistols and ammo, all the 9mm M1 Ball ammo in the US military inventory was 9 MM 45!!! The early Eglin experimentals all have this headstamp.
Last year I asked an old (even older than me) retired CIA ordinance guy about these rounds, both 7.92 and 9mm. He told me this ammo was made in Canada for the CIA, initially for the Caribbean Legion. This organization dates from the late 1940s and, taking their inspiration from the D-Day-style invasions of occupied Europe, groups of political exiles organized a series of armed expeditions that kept the Caribbean in turmoil for five years. Although their actions were independent, the groups became known collectively as the ‘‘Caribbean Legion.’’ Though publicly condemned in Congress, this group was supplied with ex-German small arms, and eventually with this Canadian made ammunition. The 7.92mm also was produced in black tip proof loads, but this is not suprising if a CIA activity was inspecting then and perhaps reconditioning them. It is doubtful they would have bothered to reproof 9mm weapons. My belief is that the 9mm at least was produced for a lot longer than the 6 years on the headstamps. I think the 9 MM 45 may have been produced over an extended period of time, perhaps off and on.
British Ordnance Board Proceedings I have state that in 1942, the British government went out to all the Commonwealth looking for someone who was producing 9mm para, with negative results.
Well, there you have basically what I know. I am convinced that all this stuff is post WW II production for the CIA and perhaps later for DOD. I still wonder about the 25.6M rounds of Canadian 9mmP that was shipped to China before mid 1945. Somebody somewhere in Canada must know what that was and how it was marked and packed!!!"


I would think most have seen these headstamps but on the off-chance someone hasn’t, here are the ones for 7.9mm

Dominion Arsenal of Québec, Canada made a run of 7.9x57mm that carried the headstamp “DA 49 7.9”. I have always been under the impression that this was a contract for Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist China. If the “49” in the headstamp indicates the year 1949 that creates a problem getting the ammunition delivered unless it went to Taiwan. In October 1949, the Communists founded the People’s Republic of China and in December 1949, Chiang evacuated the government to Taiwan.

Does anyone have more authoritive information on the Dominion Arsenal 7.9mm ammo?

1 Like

Phil, nothing to say but a great bunch of head stamps.

To round out Phil Butler’s information, in the headstamp “7.92 MM 40” there is also a drill round, with no primer seal, four holses in the case, and a plain wood spacer, and with the headstamp “7.92 MM 45” a blank of some sort, Approximately 57 mm OAL, with a rosebud crimp with five lobes, and a shallow cannelure on the neck below the crimp. It has the normal black primer seal. There is alway the chance, as with all of these blanks that have the same case length as an empty case, that it was made later from a ball round, but it is very professional - that is, it looks “factory.”

Phil - there is also the headstamp “D.A. 48 7.9.” I don’t know if it is scarce or common, but it certainly doesn’t show up as much as the “D.A. 49 7.9” headstamp. It has a GMCS spitzer bullet and a nickeled Boxer primer cup.

John Moss

John - Thanks for the additional types, especially the DA 48 7.9. I haven’t seen that one before. That opens a couple of possibilities (all conjecture of course). IF they were meant for Nationalist China, maybe the 1948 dated rounds were delivered and the 1949 dated rounds couldn’t be. That could account for the difference in availability.

Too many “what ifs” and “maybes”. It would be nice to have some solid information about this ammo.

1948-1949 hasn’t been that long ago. I remember the period fairly well (but don’t ask me what I had for breakfast!). There has to be someone out there that knows the whole story. I wonder where he lives.

I wish I could add something besides pictures…

The round on the left is a dummy load in that it has no powder, but is otherwise complete with primer seal. The 4-hole dummy pictured here does not have a wood spacer.



Here’s a picture of the ’48 dated round and unprimed ’48 and ’49 cases – both Berdan primed, which is interesting.



One other very slight variation is the ‘7.92 MM 44’ headstamped round that is without the primer seal. My black tippe proof round is headstamped ‘7.92 MM 42’.

On the subject of the Dominion Arsenal boards mentioned earlier in the thread, I’ve recently added the ‘missing’ board to my collection. It is a early 7.62 Nato board and it has a date plate on it - 1956.



Some nice cartridges, thanks for showing. I was surprised to see the Berdan anvil and flash holes in the 48 & 49 dated cases.

My Proof round is also a 7.92 MM 42; I forgot to mention that.

Paul - great posting. Have never seen or heard of those chromed dummies with the clandestine, spurious-date headstamps.

Regarding the 48 and 49 D.A. rounds, was shocked to find out they were Berdan-primed. I assumed both were Boxer due to the nationality and manufacturer, and the use of nickel primer cups which are normally, but of course not always even in other nationalities of ammunition, Boxer primers.

You learn a lot on this Forum!

John Moss

I’m fairly certain you guys are talking about my late Grandfather, Major J W Houlden. I’ve heard many many stories about his days at CIL, then DIL, and have 4 old wooden ammo crates that I use for mitts & hats! I think I still have this really cool lamp he made out of a giant cartridge, about 18" tall. It was heavy! How did you all know him?

Jim Houlden was somewhat of a cartridge collector in that he was in the industry and things came to him. He would write articles & maintain correspondence with interested folk plus he would occasionally come south across the border & visit a cartridge show.

I’m sure he would also learn from those he contacted as we would learn from him.

I only met / saw him a couple of times & he was a very nice & very knowledgeable guy.

Hope you still have that lamp! It would be a keeper.

How did I meet Mr. Houlden? Years ago, I was writing a series of articles on auto pistol cartridges, alphabetically by country, for, I believe, the California Cartridge Collector’s bulletin. When I got to writing on Canada, I got out my notes which in general were correspondence between me and many Canadian cartridge collectors (In those days, there were more active collectors in my field in Canada than now, and I was much more active in individual correspondence), along with material from the Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting (I could have that title slightly wrong - this answer is totally “off the cuff”). I wrote the article, in several parts as I recall, and sent in the first installment, which was published. In a week or so, I got a letter from whoever was the editor of the CCCA publication at that time, passing on to me a letter from a man in Canada, who I did not know and knew nothing about. I was shocked! Frankly, the letter was a bit vitriolic and basically said that he was “damned sick and tired of amateurs getting the stories of CIL, DIL, and DA incorrect,” etc. ad nauseum.

Being much younger then, and realizing my sources for my info were among the top people in Canada for “modern ammunition” information, and being always a “Pissant,” as Lew Curtis is fond of calling me, I wrote Mr. Houlden a very nasty reply. Before I mailed it, I had second thoughts and told myself that I was letting a bruised ego take over my reason, so I destroyed the letter
and wrote him a very humble note apologizing if I had made “a few mistakes” and informing him that I did not know him and therefore could not judge the accuracy of his comments, but that if he would write me back, tell me who he was and where his knowledge and information came from, and give me correct facts, I would cancel the already-printed first part of the Canadian Article and start over, with an apology to all. To this day, I am glad I let reason prevail over temper in the letter I actually sent.

I got back a beautiful, apologetic letter ackowledging that his letter had been a little bit rude in its approach, and explaining his credentials to me - I don’t think I need mention the credentials of this important figure in the history of modern Canadian ammunition production and, by the way, a “tall figure” (in more ways than one) in Canadian international match shooting. He then gave me a summary of the whole history of CIL, DIL, and Dominion Industries in general, including a college-like outline to make it easier for me to understand.

Needless to say, I was impressed. I did as promised and rewrote the entire article, and we republished “part One - Corrected” in the bulletin. I won’t bore you with his reply other than to say that it was positive to the effect that I was walking on air from his reaction to it.

Long story somewhat shortened - we became friends and correspondents, which probably imposed on his time but greatly enriched my life as a cartridge collector. He sent me pictures of himself, one holding his match-tuned Rifle No. 4 Mark ??? and dressed in military garb for competition shooting. I guessed his age to be about 45 at the time of the picture, and was informed he was much, much older than that at the time (I forget the age - I seemed to recall “64” or thereabouts). He sent another picture of him standing at attention for the photo, dressed in what appeared to be a black Canadian military uniform. Pardon me, but I am not that familiar with foreign dress uniforms to know what it represented. Very impressive though.

My opinion - when he passed, we lost a great gentleman and ammunition scholar from our ranks, and I lost a dear friend. What a fine man he was! I used to have those pictures, but as I recall, after he passed, I sent them to Chris Punnett, who was much closer to Mr. Houlden than was I, and expressed a desire for them after I offered them to him. Of course, he and Chris are men from the same mold!

I still have an unapplied decal of a maple leaf with “Canada” in English, Russian and Chinese around it, an item that was on every crate of ammo sent to foreign allies according to Mr. Houlden. I prize it. It was very interesting to me, because at the time (before 1971) I still had my auto pistol collection, including a Candian Inglis-made Browning GP 9 mm pistol, and it had a smaller rendition of this decal affixed to its front grip strap, although some of it had worn off.

Mr. Houlden (out of respect, he will always be “Mr. Houlden” to me, even though I am now 74 years old) is one man that I truly have never heard a bad word about. Little wonder why!!!

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it brings back memories of my Gramps. He was so proud of what he had learned at Queens University and CIL. They were lucky to have him in their employ. He used to tell us about this special passport he was issued during wartime and he was NOT allowed to leave the country, I guess for fear he might sell information to the enemy!

I only corresponded with your Grandfather, and he was always extremely helpful with a young (back then) collector. A really grand gentleman.

Lew Curtis

Being a bit sensitive about sloppy use of 7.9 versus 7.92 versus 8 mm, I think it is worth mentioning that

used (German) figure 7.9 as its caliber designation, not the ubiquitous 7.92. Could the cartridges with 7.9 in the headstamp have been intended for Yugoslavia?
The time frame 1948/49 fits the adoption of the 7.9 mm as a part of Tito’s distancing himself from Moscow. I am aware that ordinary Yugoslav headstamps only have manufacturer and year.

Yugoslavia had adopted the 7.9 m/m cartridge shortly after the end of the first war, so its use post-1945 was merely continuation of local policy. That’s not, of course, to say that this ammunition might not have been made for export to Yugoslavia or elsewhere. I had thought it was made in Canada because their armed forces might still have had armored vehicles carrying Besa MGs and it was needed for domestic use. Jack

I was always under the understanding that these rifle rounds stamped 7,92 MM and 40
plus other years were made by Britain for their 8mm Besa machinguns I have a wood
plug blank 4 holes and a live primer ( 7,92 MM 40) no reload!!!

Sheryl - the rounds you are talking about are Canadian, not British. That is for sure, no matter what year they were actually made, since that is still in question. Regarding your description of the cartridge you have, I am not sure what “a wood plug blank 4 holes” means. If it has four holes in the case, than it is not a blank, but rather a dummy round.

John Moss

Hi John
The cartridge in my possession has a brass case with 4 holes,than there is a wood
piece round the lenght of the case inside a normal ball bullet and a nickel primer
and yes you are right I cannot make my mind up either is it Blank or Dummy,and thanks
for the info,that is were this Forum is for now I know these rounds are Canadian and not
British.In general there is often very little info available about such small details,yet it
completes the picture on items.

Sherryl - again, it is a dummy round. I cannot be a blank, which are designed to make noise, with four holes in the case and a wood bullet spacer to prevent bullet set-back thru repeated use of the cartridge for action-manipulation training drills, function checks, or whatever else a dummy is used for.

I have about a dozen specimens of 7.9 with this headstamp, including a couple of barrel-proof loads and a grenade blank, and they all have brass primers. I have never seen a dummy, and can make no comment on its originality. The four holes and the wood spacer is consistent with one type of dummy made the in United Kingdom (note I did say just “England”), but I have to wonder at the nickel primer. It will take someone far more expert in Canadian ammunition than am I to confirm or deny whether it is factory original from DA, or made up later by someone else, be it an official conversion by some other country or a home made dummy. I simply don’t know.

John Moss

Read your note with interest.I will send soon as I can a pic of 2 of the same cartridge they have in this case the same stamp,and THE SAME PRIMER (NICKEL)One I have for trading or sale.But never the
less those 2 came from a handfull of others with all the same primer.What puzzelt me was the fact of
the live primer??That is why the Question Dummy or blank??John i really do not think they have been
diddelt with.I need the cooperation of my wife on these things,since I myself remain on a war footing
with anything electronic.