Cataloging and ID marking methods?


How do you guys keep track of the cartridges that you keep in drawers readily accessible for show and tell, photos, or for research?? In other words, what sort of ID and Catalog system do you use?

I write a small number on the base of each cartridge and then keep a catalog on my PC. I try to use a halfway rational numbering system such as all 22 caliber cartridges have ID numbers that start with 22. For example, in the photo below, the cartridge on the right is a 22 Hornet and the ID number is barely visible on the right and is 2239.

Obviously, such a simple system gets more and more complicated as the number of cartridges grow but I’m not really inclined to start something new unless it would be a fast and easy conversion. My only hope is that my time will run out before the numbers get too long. :)

I’m like most of you, into one drawer or another almost every day and without that ID number I’d be lost to try and find a particular cartridge quickly.

Any ideas?



Years ago, I started creating a dBase system with multiple relational databases and various programs to call up images, etc. The codes assigned were internal only and not physically associated to the specimens.

If I were to complete this today, I would likely create a code which associated a specimen number to a location number with concantenation (appending together), something like 22a345.A2-77 (nominal bore diameter - cartridge designation - unique specimen number . drawer number - row number - slot number). This is just off the top of my head for illustration; I doubt very much that would be the system I would use.

I’ve not had time to work with it, but I purchased CartWin about a year ago and, IIRC, it has fields for tracking location in addition to fields for virtually any characteristic one wishes to note.



I have a simple Word list of all my rounds, including the metric calibre and the headstamp, in which the rounds are divided into categories (commercial rifle, military rifle, pistol, HMG/anti-tank, cannon) then listed by calibre first, followed by case length. I store the rounds in the same order. It doesn’t usually take me long to find the one I want (but then, my collection isn’t as big as some).


When I started collecting ammunition in 1999 I got the dbase program MSelect ( This program uses a unique indexnumber, a drawer/row/place field, an ECRA number field, and a GR and/or DWM number field.

So I write the indexnumber on the case itself (with a magic marker) and place the cartridge in drawer x, row y and place z. The drawers are for the same calibers and/or families/groups of ctg’s. In the program there’s also place for a photo or scan of the headstamp (searchable) and a picture of the cartridge itself. Collected documentation now also is accessible from the database (from word docs to pdf-files and graphic formats).

For storing I use these steel cabinets with small drawers in A4 format ranging from 20 mm high till 50 mm high and with corrugated cardboard. As I only collect cartridges to caliber of 20 mm, all of them can be stored in these drawers.

Another thing: MSelect is capable of importing the most important data from the ECRA Caliber DataViewer. This ECDV is the digital catalog of the ECRA.

click on the picture for blow-up


It depends on collection’s size. Mine is small. I am sure you’ve seen my infamous transparent sample trays (I plastered all over the forum). I buy paper labels at Walmart, write headstamp on front and additional info in the back, I roll it like a cigarette and place it loosely around the cartridge in its cell. I can lift it, replace it or alter info any time. I can see it through the tray so I don’t have to open it. I put country of origin and calibre on the outside, so it is easy find a particular round.


Your system doesn’t really need to involve much more than a listing (preferably in a computer-based spreadsheet) of each item in your collection with all the descriptive elements that are important to you, and an organized way to store them. Here in Florida, a major factor in determining how you store your collection is the high humidity, which compounds the lead oxidation problems associated with wood storage cabinets and acidic paper. Displaying my collection is not an option. I store the individual cartridges in small (2" x 3", 2" x 4" and 2" x 5") resealable clear bags. Each cartridge is numbered, added to my computer list, wiped with a greasy rag, and put in its bag. I store these bags in groups of 25 in resealable sandwich bags, which are numbered 1-25, 26-50 and so on, and stored in watertight surplus metal military ammo cans, which I label with the starting to ending numbers. I have quite a large collection, and I find this system works to my satisfaction and gives me some peace of mind in knowing that I’m doing all I can to ensure the cartridges in my collection don’t degrade while in my possession.