After watching this type of discussion for many years, and watching both the IAA and ECRA struggle with fakes and what constitutes a fake, I have decided that the core problem, as DK implied is that there is no common definition of FAKE. In fact, most of us probably have different definitions of fakes and what they are.
Are replica, fakes??? Any number of gun collectors and cartridge collectors create or have made replica cartridges to fill holes that they never expect to fill with an original cartridge. Never an intent to defraud, and usually these are not marked as replicas, like the case of a 9mm Walther Rocket, A round that has often copied into replicas with no intent to defraud, but also copied with intent to defraud, and replicas often sold as originals. One collector tried to prevent his replica from becoming a fraud by having it made from brass instead of steel!!! A good idea, but if I live long enough (unlikely) I would not be surprised to see a future owner writing it up in a future Journal or Cartridge Researcher as probably an experimental prototype.
Labeling a fake implies an intent to deceive which is a hard thing to determine. Is the sale of cartridges that have been loaded from original cases and bullets, even if they use the correct powder and primer actually selling fakes??? What if it is not the correct powder and primer??? I know this is not an uncommon practice with ammunition at cartridge shows in both Europe and the US because it is much easier to transport the rounds across the ocean as inert bullets and cases instead of loaded ammunition. If they are sold as recreated loads, they are clearly not fakes because there is no fraud involved. If they are sold as original loaded rounds than there is fraud involved. Usually though they are simply placed on the table, often in the original boxes, and no claim of originality is offered, and the buyer usually doesn’t ask. Is fraud involved? Are these fakes? Does the seller even know if they are original???
Collectors of boxes will often find a great box and then seek the ammo to fill it up. There are ads here and other places of collectors seeking rounds to fill a box. Do these refilled boxes become “Fakes”. I have seldom seen a box offered for sale that is noted as being refilled? Is this fraud??? Is it fraud if the seller bought it as a full box but didn’t ask if it had been refilled when he bought it. It is not unusual to see some types of boxes being carefully resealed so they appear as a sealed box. I picked one up lately that was exactly that.
In the case of the rounds that originated this thread, it makes little sense to me to label them fakes, particularly since the individual owns a company that offers some of these type items for commercial sales and is usually at the ShotShow seeking sales. There are very legit rounds made in very small quantities and fraudulent rounds made in some quantities. Does it matter if he sells more of a round to collectors than he uses for testing? Simply not selling a round commercially does not make it a fake. Again the issue is fraud. Is the round sold as Chinese production just because it is loaded in a Chinese case but actually made by somebody else—I think that if Fraud. If it is bought because the buyer thinks it is Chinese production without being told that, than it is simply a case of a buyer making unfounded assumptions. If that buyer resells it and asserts that the round is Chinese then he is committing fraud. If he sells it with no claim that it was original Chinese production than no fraud is involved.
The correct answer is for the buyers to beware and be cautious. Unless you are convinced that the item is original, then ask the seller to give you a written and signed note indicating the origin of the cartridge. If the seller will not do it, or tells you he doesn’t know than it is up to the buyer to decide.
Most sellers won’t bother if it is a relatively inexpensive round, I sure wouldn’t. If it is an expensive round, then an honest seller should be willing to write down what he knows of the round, otherwise the potential buyer has to make a hard decision.
I have often written down the story that comes with a round, and saved it with a note as to the source of the story. I have quite a few rounds I have some minor doubt to major doubt in my collection. I try to capture that doubt in a note on the round so the future owner understands it.
I frankly have little use for all the discussion of Fakes above. More useful would be a discussion of fraud, like a person removing the identification that a round is a replica and then selling it as an original—that is clearly fraud.
The second question is how deeply either the IAA or the ECRA should become involved in policing fraud in this hobby, or even determining when fraud has been committed. I have been involved in some of that type discussion when I was an IAA officer and learned great caution. An example comes to mind when an exotic round was labeled as a “fake” by a person involved deeply in the development of the round. After digging deeply, it turned out that the item in question was a very legit experimental which was clearly described in program documentation! Trouble is we almost never have access to complete documentation, and in fact seldom have any documentation.
I have found quite a few cases when items have been classified as “Fakes” by “Experts” based on opinions, not documented facts. I sometimes wonder which is worst in these cases, the individual who sells the purported fake with no intent to defraud, or the individual who asserts it is a fake with only speculation and no conclusive evidence. A credible expert will say “I think” or “for these reasons I believe” or “it is possible”, but I don’t see this very often.
Perhaps a website, with no affiliation with either organization where people could post their thoughts on fraud would help us all, but even that has many complications.
No easy solutions. Perhaps the only one is buyers beware.
Just my thoughts, which are worth exactly what you paid for them.