Distinguishing CAC New Zealand and Australian production

I purchased a wrapped paper packet of 303 on the weekend which started me on this line of thought. How to distinguish New Zealand and Australian Colonial Ammunition Company products. I know there are similarities and differences but that is about the limit of my knowledge.
The ACCA and NZCC journals would have had a number of articles and info on this topic over the years.
I will start with the 303 packet but feel free to post about other calibres, packets and headstamps.

Hi Alpinehunter,

The close connection between CAC Australia and New Zealand has had collectors scratching their heads for years, over how to differentiate between packets and cartridges from each country.
In the case of Australia at least, manufacture of the .303s was dependent upon supplies of components from Britain, in addition to which completed cartridges were sourced from Britain, and packed in CAC wrappers. I am not sure whether some of these cartridges were also packed in CAC wrappers in England.

The most exhaustive study of the differences was done by the late Barry Temple, assisted by Les Butler and Stan Robinson. From opening packets, pulling bullets etc. they arrived at the conclusion the different fonts on the printing on the packets gave us clues. From memory the printing with serifs can be attributed to Australia, and that without serifs, to New Zealand.

After 1906 it is easy, since in that year CAC Australia started to include the month and year in the cartridge headstamp, which was not done in New Zealand. Any packet dated 1907 or later without the month in the headstamp of the contents is NZ.

After the leasing of the Footscray factory in 1921, all wrappers printed had different factory designations, therefore anything later than that with a CAC monogram on the the packet is from New Zealand.

I’m sure if Les reads this he will be able to elaborate more fully on the subject.



I agree with what John K has written regarding differences. It appears that Australian production during the years 1900 to 1902 has local and imported products and is an area requiring further research. Have emailed you drawings as pdf’s of some early NZ and Australian bundles with appropriate hstps.


Do you know what markings appear on the chargers found in these early packets?


I may be quite wrong, but cannot recall these early bundles containing cartridges in chargers. Not a field I’ve studied, sorry. I’ll check out a little about Australian chargers at a later date, but it will be many months before I can, unfortunately.

Historically this photo is interesting, although taken in a hurry with the plastic wrap still on it has bad reflection. It shows that they didn’t want to waste anything when the Commonwealth took over the factory from CAC, even using up the old stock of wrappers and overstamping them to indicate the new year and the new monogram SAAF. I don’t know the dates inside but will eventually find out.

Will be away for the next 6-8 weeks, so off the air so to speak.



303 cartridges in chargers were only issued in Case Chargers MkI and bandoliers and not in paper bundles. The Case Chargers held 4 chargers of 5 cartridges and bandoliers 10 chargers of 5 cartridges. The earliest charger with Australian 303 hstp CAC C 12 06 I have is a MkI with CWS entwined. According to David Mayne’s book on Australian SAA production the first Lithgow production of chargers was in 1912-13. It would appear that Australia was dependent on chargers from Britain up to that time. I have Case Chargers from 1911 which have a label ‘WITHOUT CHARGERS’ with 20 cartridges separated by thin white card and that there are no bundles dated 1911. Case Chargers from 1916 and 1917 are all with chargers. Examples: CAC C 4 17 loaded into chargers Mk II from Lithgow(nib), Kynoch and M.S(nib) while another CAC C 2 17 has all MkII Lithgow chargers without nib. A bandolier from Footscray Aug 1925 has cartridges in Lithgow chargers MkIII and early MKIV.
Hope this helps,

Thank you gentlemen. Les, those drawings are great and reveal the 303 bundle that started this off is Australian, based on the serif font of the 303 Inch line.
I will be sure to have more queries on this subject over the coming years!