Cartridge Database

Again as a beginner I dont really know if there is a standard set of things I need to record about each cartridge. Anyone out there using a database? What are the fields you are recording. Obviously caliber, maker but what others are good choices. How do you record headstamps as a circular line of text it has no begining or end so how do you break it down (This is also applicable to another questio regarding how to decode headstamps).
I am already behind as I have 300 plus rounds and growing. Memory is never good enough and simple lists dont work well for me.


Your data base or catalog can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Some guys put more effort into their catalogs than they put into their collections. I prefer a simple catalog myself. It shows caliber, headstamp, a brief description, and a number so I can quickly find it in my collection storage system. Just be sure that you leave yourself a lot of room to expand, because you will soon run out of numbers. Your 300 will soon grow to be 3000.

This has been discussed several times on the Forum. You should be able to search for some of the threads. Or, just wait and the data base junkies will be here shortly to describe theirs.

Good Luck.

I keep track of primer, primer shape, crimps & sometimes size, annulus color, case material, or treatment, as perhaps tinned or copper washed, basic shape (necked, tapered, & etc.) & type (semi-rim, rimless & etc) bullet crimp, bullet shape & material, magnetic or not, & and cannelures on the bullet, plus any colors on the case or bullet.

That said you need to decide how much detail you feel you need to record. Some folk who just collect one case type just draw the headstamp & then note case material / colors & bullet type / material /colors, pretty basic information.

I give this round and description a number, (XXX) & also put the caliber/name in another book. Then if I get another variation of this same case type I write SA (same as) XXX then record this number in another part of this same book under the original number (but the full description is in the 1st book) I have in one place all the numbered rounds of a certain case types. I can look back to the original if needed or find my description of others with perhaps white bullet tips. So two books; one has a list of numbers & descriptions including the formal name (but only on the original entry) The other book has two lists; one the formal name & original number & then the list of other rounds of the same case type filed under the original entry’s number.

This method allows me to put things in the books as I find them & record the case type / name under a number, then if later I find another variation of this case type I can record and then see all the numbers of that case type in one place, should I wish to see if I have a new one or not. With a computers ability to sort this might be a lot easier, so something to consider.

I’m pushing 15K numbered with an easy 25K or so unrecorded at the moment, so it would take me forever to put it all on a computer, but if I was starting I’d be putting it on a computer. However it needs to be one something you can take with you to a show.

I use abbreviations to save space Cu=copper, Br=brass, S=spitzer, Rl=rimless, RR=rebated rim, ba=base, nk=neck, pi=primer, anyhow you get the idea, use whatever, as to how you relate ,and bullet tip colors are written as one color over the other color.

As to headstamp as I use a pencil (with an eraser) & paper I just draw it. I also try to note the shape of “three’s” as sometime they have a flat top or a round top. And watch carefully for spacing and periods or dots in headstamps also the length of dashes may be of import. However you chose to record it just so you can understand it. With a 4 position headstamp how I write in my sale catalogs is: the 12:00 then start from the left and go to the right. (9:00, 6:00 & then 3:00).

Since your collecting MN you will have to note the relationship between the factory code numbers to either the primer or the rim as two countries factorys use 21. & one is written the other way round in relation.

Hope this is of use, best way to however it makes sense to you. your the one who will have to use it so you don’t buy duplicates

Important is to get a quality caliper, so you can make reliable measurements. My recommendation is to not buy a cheap one. Sooner or later you will buy a quality product anyway. Skipping the cheap one will finally save you money.

If you use a computer (which you should do because of search capability) it is of utmost inportance to regularly make backups on different storage media. As said above, “sooner or later” the disk -or the entire machine- will fail. (I work in a computer center. Believe me, it happens every day.) All your work will be irretrievably lost if you do not have backups. Check backups for readability from time to time.

I think the advice from DocAV about what data to record is very sound. Subtle details may turn out to be important. Better record more items than less.

Having a computer, you should also save photographs of cartriges and headstamps. Invest some time in learning to make clear photographs with good lighting of the objects. Look at the photos contributors like Dutch, Wolfgangross or RayMeketa show on this forum.


The sound advice I refered to was given in the post by Pete de Coux, not by DocAV. Sorry for the error.