Complete list of Australian Military Headstamp Codes


#1

Hopefully the following list will clear up a few errors which have circulated for years. To my knowledge it is a complete list of headstamp codes used from 1898 to 2014 on military small arms ammunition made in Australia.

No. 1 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Victoria.

CAC Used from beginning until April 1918
→CAC← This monogram replaced the first monogram in May 1918
→SAAF← April 1921
A↑ F` January 1924 although one lot in March 1924 also used →SAAF←
↑ F March 1925
M F May 1926
M F 1 Used for a very short time in 1940 when the No. 2 factory commenced manufacture.
M. F. Significance of dots (If any) not known. Seen on .32 auto pistol round.

No. 2 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Victoria.

M F 2 1940 First monogram used to distinguish production from that at No. 1 factory.
M G Changed to this in early 1940. The G denoted Gordon Street, Footscray.
M F Factory instigated change, approved on 12th May 1949
A F F This change in monogram happened in 1988
A D I The last monogram to date occurred in 1993 and is still current (2014). Date edited 12th Feb. John

No. 3 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Hendon, South Australia.

M H Wartime factory. Used from 1940 to 1945

No. 4 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Hendon, South Australia.

M J Wartime factory. Used from 1941 to 1945

No. 4 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Annexe, Hendon, South Australia.

M J B Wartime factory annexe. Used on a small quantity of .303 Incendiary B Mark 4 in 1942

Explosives Factory, Salisbury, South Australia. This was not a Small Arms Ammunition Factory.!!

M S Only found on Tracer G2 and G2Z. 1944. Metal components made at M J.

No. 5 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Rocklea, Queensland.

M Q Wartime factory. Used from 1942 to 1943 when factory was closed.

No. 6 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, WelshPool, Western Australia.

M W Wartime factory. Used from 1942 to 1945

Cheers

John


#2

John,

Thank you for the list.

Brian


#3

Thanks John that’s fantastic, The only thing to watch out for is the use of CAC & C.A.C. is by the Colonial Ammunition Company of New Zealand “formally Whitney & Sons” New Zealand CAC & C.A.C. can be found on

MH Cartridges for the Maxim MG
.303 Ball
.303 Match
.303 Grenade (H) MkIZ
.303 Military blanks
.303 Commercial blanks
.303 Drill/Dummy
.303 Sporting rounds
7.62 x 51mm (Nato)
308 Win Sporting
7.62 x 51mm Match
.243 Win Sporting
.30-06 Springfield Sporting
.270 Win Sporting
.30-30 Sporting
.303/25 Australian Sporting
.310 Cadet
.410 Buckshot

12g & 28g Mortar Primary Cartridge

Cheers
Rich


#4

Rich,

I’ve avoided the NZ stuff to date, as I’m concentrating solely on that produced in the Australian factories over the past 125 years. As to CAC in Australia, in the 1890s evidence is pretty strong that any drawn case ammo headstamped CAC made prior to 1900, was actually made in the UK by Greenwood and Batley, although CAC bundles will be found with other headstamps such as Eley, Kynock, Kings Norton and possibly RL. Pulling the bullets will identify it by the mark on the base, although I still have to find out which company marked their .303 bullet bases with VC. I’ve got a pretty good handle on production after 1900, and am currently trying to finalise my research on the 1888-1900 era.

We initially thought (40 years ago), that CAC NZ and CAC Australia were completely separate companies. Not so, the head office was in Britain, and both were controlled from there. In the early days a considerable amount of ammunition for the Australian Colonies was ordered through London with the local CAC basically acting as a buyer’s agent.

To your NZ list add .303 Gaudet Short range practice, many varieties of .22s and air rifle pellets. The latter are of interest to me, since both the Aust. Army and Navy ordered reasonable quantities. I think some came from ICI Australia, but there was also another brand, however I don’t have any information on that. I’ve been wrong so many times I’m past stating things without cross referenced evidence, but I do have a copy of a “Proof firing” of air rifle pellets at Footscray, weird eh.!!!.

Cheers

John


#5

Hi John

I have a .303 with a headstamp of CAC 1943 VII I have two questions

  1. Is this an Australian Round.
  2. in the book “Headstamp Guide .303 inch British Service Ammunition” under Australia (page 122) by Tony Edwards… it say the factory was in use between 1890 to 1920.

thanks …Paul.


#6

Paul your round is a Colonial Ammunition Company of New Zealand MkVII round, An Australian 1943 dated round would have had either MF, MF1, MF2, MG, MH, Mj, MQ or MW depending on where it was manufactured so yours if definitely a NZ CAC round. Has it got long slit crimps? Pre 1943 MkVII NZ CAC rounds should have 3 small slit crimps and no crimp after 1946

John VC is Defence industries, Canada. I will add Gaudet and .22 to my list.
I have a really good pamphlet/book on “The Colonial Ammunition Company in NZ” and it says that CAC was formed on 11th December 1889 with Shareholders in England and Australia, I have read somewhere that Kynock had something to do with it.

Cheers
Rich


#7

Rich
Thanks for the VC explanation. Will have to see where this fits in during that time period.
Who wrote your pamphlet/book on CAC NZ.? There have been a number of interesting books written about CAC. Unfortunately I had a 40 year hiatus until last year, so am not up to date with all the things published. I’m currently tracking down one written by an old mate, Stan Robinson, which he would have thoroughly researched. He only printed about 40 copies, so he told me the other day, when I finally tracked him down. I expect it will fill in a lot of gaps in my knowledge.
Another interesting read on NZ is a book published in 1981 by the NZCCC, called “A little further, a little faster”. Again, hard to come by as only 300 numbered copies were printed.

As well as a few others, Kynock looked at building an ammo factory in Australia, but their demands were too steep for the Colony. (Victoria that is). Remember this was all before Australia Federated, so each Colony was doing its own thing.
Whitney at the same time was looking for assistance to expand his NZ factory, and came to an agreement with Greenwood & Batley, to form a Company, which they called the Colonial Ammunition Company. I quote “The company which consists of Messrs. ‘Whitney and Sons; Messrs Greenwood and Batley, of Leeds; T. Hall, Esq., of Mount Morgan; J. D’ Arcey, Esq.; Captain de Lusada, R.N.; J. Clarke, Esq.; and T.Y. Cartwright, Notts”.
The Company was registered in London on 30th January 1988 with an initial capital of £50,000. It was originally formed to expand his NZ operation, but they decided to approach the Victorian Government (which had been actively looking for someone to build a factory), about building a factory in Australia. Thus was born CAC in Australia. It was however controlled from London.

Timeout: From May 1906 all Australian CAC .303 Ball will have both month and date in the headstamp. The last Aust. CAC .303 is dated 12 20. When the Commonwealth leased the factory from January 1921, the headstamp was changed to →SAAF←. There was possibly no production during the first three months of 1921, at least no specimens have come to light to my knowledge.
Therefore, any CAC headstamps after 1920 are definitely of NZ manufacture.
Cheers

John


#8

Thanks guys, thats one more round ticked off and put to bed!


#9

The book I have been reading is “Whitneys Heritage by Barry W. Gracia” that is where I got the date for CAC from and the Kynoch reference came from one of the late Tony Edwards .303 books. So it looks like it was GB not Kynoch that were a part of the CAC group.

I am still a novice in the collecting world but at 43 I hope I still have a many years to digest all the info I can get together, this is what keeps the light burning for me I like to know where my .303 rounds come from not just what they are.

Rich


#10

Rich,
I started collecting when I was about 16 and continued on until around 1978, when common things like family, finance and time caught up with me. During this time I made many good friends like Barry Temple (deceased) and Stan Robinson (now 86). Initially I collected anything, then was stimulated by guys like Barry and Stan to seriously look at Australian production. The search for information became the major interest and I somehow managed to get a great rapport with various managers at Footscray. When I sold my collection it went to another collector with like passion for Aussie stuff, and he did what I expected, and kept the combined collections. Unfortunately, he and Footscray are about 1800 klms away, which makes things difficult.

Still I have access whenever I get a chance, and I still have all my old notes etc. About 12 months ago I decided to try to document what I know of Aussie production, including photographing every known Australian headstamp (if possible), and at 73 am hoping to live long enough to do so. The reason for this, is so that guys like yourself have factual knowledge, which may be difficult to find now.

I did have a look at TonyEs website, and noticed he has MS listed as SAAF No. 7, a common misconception. From memory he also had the incorrect number for either Rocklea and or Welshpool. The problem with this is as an “expert” these errors keep being accepted as fact. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes in assuming things, or not checking information received, which has made me a lot more careful to cross check. Recently I did an article on stuff which had been covered much better some years ago, and I was way behind with my knowledge. Taught me a lot.

Keep on keeping on.
John


#11

John I have sent you an email can you check the attached list and let me know what is incorrect

thanks
Richard.


#12

John,
please go on with your plan to document what you know about Australian production.
You will have a lot of very thankful readers.

Or as Solly Zuckerman put it: All that knowledge stored in so many heads, gone forever.


#13

JPeelen,

I intend to do as you request, initially concentrating on normal production items from .45 MH to 5.56mm, even though some of the lots were in the hundreds, or low thousands. After that, time permitting, I’ll try to document what I can find on cartridges produced for internal use, or as experiments etc. such as the attempt to produce a steel cased .303. Abject failure I must admit, but still interesting. Footscray were always testing, trying, or experimenting internally. Fortunately some of the verbal communications were recorded, which adds authenticity, but without that most strange things are only curios. It is frustrating, I recently examined the all black 9mm in the possession of John Moss, and am convinced it was produced like that at Footscray, but have no evidence to support it, other that my experiences with Footscray.

Cheers

John


#14

Looking through my collection of .303 headstamps, I was astounded to find another variation of the SAAF headstamp. This one without the arrows, which from the setout was original. It is on a Mk VI drill round.
I know its history and when it came out of Footscray, and is genuine, the only one of this headstamp style I’ve seen.
Always something new to find, which makes this hobby so interesting.

Cheers

John


#15

Just one small slip, John: ADI Footscray ceased Operation at the end of the 1993 Production Year…No Manufacture of SAA is recorded for 1994, and ADI Benalla commenced with only 5,56mm Ball in 1995.
.50 cal re-commenced in 1999 ( it had ceased in (AFF) 88-89); Neither 9mm Para nor 7,62 were commenced in the New Benalla Factory, although since then ( about 2009) 7,62 production has recommenced. Also, 5,56 Blank was made in alternate two and three year cycles, the one set of Automatic production Machinery having to be “re-set” from Ball to Blank. I think both Ball and Blank 5,56 are now made concurrently (Two trains of Machinery), as well as a separate 7,62 Line. Resetting the “Scamp” type Machinery ( currently European design, NOT G+W of the USA) takes several Months.
9mm is still imported (CBC and Winchester)
The Increased requirements of Training and Use (Iraq, Afghanistan, Export Sales) has seen an increase in Volume out of ADI Benalla…also their Foray into the USA retail market has maintained the production now that Middle Eastern Deployments are ending ( but ISIS is causing an upswing in Exports to the Coalition Forces ).

Doc AV


#16

Were No.1 and No.2 Small Arms Ammunition Factories, Footscray, Victoria geographically next to each other or far away? Probably far away, hence the need for 1 and 2 numbering. Why not to have one large factory instead of 2 smaller ones?


#17

DocAv: Thank you for the correction of my typo, and the additional information which is really welcome. I haven’t really got my teeth into the details of the Thales operation, so all information is very good to have from a reliable source. I’m also pleased to have information on the .50BMG production. I was never really interested in that calibre, but recently decided to include it in my studies.

You are right about the production ceasing at Footscray in 1993. Notes from July 1993 show they were still making 5.56mm and stockpiling it as the agreement with ADI was to start production of 5.56mm in 1995. Also they were not taking the G & W machinery to Benalla, but using Swiss equipment. This is also confirmed by you. Apparently in 1993 they made a batch of 5.56 proof with black bullets, after Lithgow was let down by the French.

sksvlad: No 1 and No 2 factories were very close geographically but there were reasons for having them separate. The No 1 factory was out of date having been in operation from 1890 (with improvements) and prior to WW2 was scheduled to be closed and demolished. The No 2 factory was planned as a modern replacement factory, but the onset of war changed all that. From producing about 3,000,000 rounds a year( skeleton staff), the requirements for SAA increased dramatically. So both factories went into full on production until the end of the war. The monograms were merely used to let Inspection know the source of the finishing factory. The factories at Hendon were also very close to each other, only separated by a few hundred feet, and officially were treated as one unit. Again, the monograms just identified which building did the finishing.

Cheers

John