Colt links

Colt links 303 British

Good items, where are the bullets?

Also known in .30-06 also just showing the Colt logo & in 7.9 x57 Mauser with a “7.9” next to the Colt Logo.

Perhaps others?


I bought these .303 British linked liked this several years ago. I remember that I pulled one at that time, and I think they are not tracers, but that is open to conjecture, as I cannot lay my hands on the round that I pulled.

The headstamps appear to be triple stamped, The best that I can make out is that they are all stamped 3A over 40 twice and 38 star over H once.



Does anybody have the story on these?

Super interesting post!

Colt marked links are a new one for me! Are these for the Model 1895 machine gun only? Did the links originally come empty with the gun as an accessory?

First “triple stamped” head stamp I’ve seen. Seen a few “doubles” but never a “triple”.

I vaguely remember having a similar appearing cartridge, a 7.65 Argentine as I recall, with the same cupronickel jacket and unique red colored tip. I think it was an AP… Not trying to presume or compare anything other than “that looks familiar”.

Thanks for an interesting thread!


I have same as Bruce shows but for 7.65 x 54 Mauser…One link marked COLT and the other 7.65


I believe the headstamps shown are Dutch, but I forget what all the entries mean, and why some seem irregular.

The .303 with the multiplicity of headstamps is Dutch, for their Airforce (both Metropolitan and KNIL – East Indies).
The “38 H” is the Hirtenberg Plant at Dordrect ( Netherlands) which was set up to manufacture both for the Dutch Government and as a “covert” manufacturer for Foreign sales ( Austria was prohibited under its WW I peace treaty from exporting Military supplies). Dordrect also supplied empty cases, which were filled (Loaded) subsequently by the Dutch in their own arsenals

The cases have subsequently been Loaded/Reloaded in 1940 ( either in Holland or more likely in Java). Colt supplied the Links, and also the ANM2 BMGs in .303 ( also adopted by Britain (BSA) and Canada (J.Inglis Toronto) before and during WW II.)

The other Links supplied by Colt ( 7,9mm, 7,65mm etc) where for Buyers of the various 1930s Models of Colt export MGs. FN also supplied BMGs to European etc. Airforces before 1940 in .303 and 7,9mm etc.

Interesting assembly of ammo and link.

1947 Turk. 7,9

This might be a little off topic but here are some US 1920s dated .50 BMG in Colt marked links:

Thank you for the ID.

I guess there is no way of knowing whether these were reloaded twice in 1940 or just run through the restamping process twice, but can anyone identify the entity that the 3A, stands for (or the identity of the reloader). Now I am also curious where the Dutch fit the duty of reloading into their KNIL organization. Did they have an arsenal in Java, contract this out or utilize some other organization? I guess that is assuming these were reloaded overseas, as DocAV suggests, but that seems most logical to me.

The KNIL did load and reload their own ammunition locally, and in fact produced cartridge cases for their revolvers by altering 6.5 m/m rimmed rifle cases. In addition to Doc’s comments I’d suggest the “3A” in the overstamp likely refers to a powder lot number. Jack

The .303 British in KNIL service was called Scherpe No. 23 (scherpe=live). Red bullet tip means hardened steel cored bullets (No. 23P) . Green tip was tracer (No. 23L). L=lichtspoor

Dear J Peelen, I think you are confusing the 7.7x56R (.303) with the real “Patroon Scherpe Nr23” ( 7,9x57R) which whilst looking very similar to the .303, was developed before or during WW I for the Schwarzlose MG 07/12 Army MG, as the 6,5 cartridge was not oif sufficient Balli8stic capabilities for Long range MG use.

The Germans considered the PS Nr23 so close to the 8x57JRS, that they repacked a lot of it in 1940-41, and issued it to the Luftwaffe Bomber crews, for their Survival Drillings ( by Kreighoff)–2x 16 gauge, 1x 8x57JRS…for use in the Arctic ( Polar bears etc) and in North Africa. Being anh FMJ cartridge, it could also be legally used against Enemy soldiers.

The Arsenals of the KNIL were Bandoeng (Bandung) and Soerabaja (Surabaya), both in Java. Both were very well equipped, could load, and reload ammunition, convert 6,5 cases to 10,4 Surabaya Pistol ammo, and under Japanese occupation, converted Dutch rifles to take Japanese T38 Bayonets etc

Doc AV.

Doc AV, the designation used by KNIL for this .303 cartridge was indeed “Patroon scherpe Nummer 23 pantser”, as mentioned by JPeelen, but it looks like a mistake because it is duplication of the one used by the Dutch armed forces for the 7.9x57R.

DocAV, as far as I know the KNIL never used the 7.9 rimmed. Schwarzlose MGs of the KNIL were for example converted to 7.7 mm (.303 British), not to 7.9 mm.

I think it is important to keep in mind that (at home in the Netherlands, not for KNIL) the decision to change the Schwarzlose MGs from 6.5 mm to 7.9 mm was made in June 1925, not earlier. This cartridge belongs to the interwar period, when countries with 6.5 mm cartridges decided to adopt a powerful 8 mm caliber for long range machine gun fire (Italy, Norway, Sweden). The same thinking led the U.S. to adopt the .30 M1 (1925), Germany the sS (1930), and -not so well known- Finland the D166 bullet as standard; in other words a machine gun cartridge was adopted also for rifle use.
Ironically, in WW2 long range machine gun fire practically did not happen, because mortars filled that role much better. (OK, the Brits will have a different view, but they are also in love with HESH.)

I hope one day I can get hold of some Dutch 7.9 mm rimmed to have the pressure measured. The muzzle velocity of 780 m/s is extremely high for the short Schwarzlose barrel (compare to German 785 m/s from the 740 mm Gewehr 98). I would not dare to try it in a break-open Drilling due to the relatively weak construction.

P.S.: The KNIL numbering differs from the home numbering in several places, for example No 9 is 6.5 rifle tracer in NL army use and 7.63 Mauser pistol in KNIL use.

Colt logo links come in most of the Colt-Browning export calibers of the '30s. Confirmed so far:

7x57 with a 7 breaking the lower limb of the C;
.30 '06, logo only;
7,65x54, 7,65 with logo;
.303" , logo only, difficult to distinguish from '06;
7,92x57, 7,9 with logo;
.50 BMG, logo only.

They went to various countries other than the US, UK, France, or Germany. For instance, the 7,9 links went not only to the Netherlands, but also to Turkey. These links are usually tinned, but can be found blued (quite rare) and possibly coppered, all finish choices current in the period of use.

Argentina also acquired a lot of Colt Links, as they habought Colt M1927 Water-ooled Brownings (7,65 Calibre) and also Colt-Browning .50 Water-cooled for Naval Use.

Doc AV

Doc AV
Do you mean Colt M1917 WC Brownings? The Colt M1927 is Argentines designation for there M1911A1 pistols.