John Moss, EOD and I have had an offline conversation on a Geco 9mmP cartridge that showed up in the US in 1969 which is when I bought two or three boxes at the Ohio Gun Collectors Association show in Columbus Ohio.
The headstamp on the cartridge is strange since the caliber is “9mmP” when none of my other Geco headstamps use this nomenclature. This headstamp uses the standard (for the time) Geco date code for 1969.
The box clearly says it is made in Germany but some elements about the style of the box don’t look Geco, and it is 25 round in a period when the Geco commercial products I know of are all 50 round. In addition the headstamp looks Hungarian, not German! It has also been identified as Czech and I had the round in my database as either Czech or Hungarian.
I do not know if John’s box is identical to this since he got his from Europe. In addition, my rounds have a non-magnetic bullet, but John’s rounds have a magentic bullet! Both are 124gr.
We spent time looking at the box which is of identical construction as Hungarian and S&B boxes of the period. The significant difference came down to the plastic tray in the Fake Geco box which was of a translucent gray/olive green color and the contemporary S&B trays are black (shown in the photo below).
Note that the Fake Geco tray is significantly different. The shape on both the round supports of the reinforcing rip (cylinderical instead of conical on the S&B tray), and the end reinforcement on this rib are different shape (larger and rounded on the S&B tray) is obviously different. In addition, the cornor post is significantly larger on the Fake Geco tray than on the S&B trays. Finally, there are differences in the shape of the top of the posts in the two trays.
I looked at about 20 S&B trays (both 25 round and 50 round) from the 1960s through the mid-2000s and they are all very consistent in these design elements. In addition almost all are black, except for one white and one red.
I also looked at six MFS trays from the mid to late 60s until probably the 1980s or 1990s. All have the same design elements as the Fake Geco tray, and five are the identical translucent gray/olive green plastic. The other is cream color.
However, this is still all a guess. Perhaps these rounds were made by S&B after all and packed in trays bought from Hungary!
Regardless of who made them, the two most probable explainations for their manufacture are:
- MFS (or S&B) used fake headstamps and box labels to sell the ammo in the US which in the 1960s barred the import of commercial ammunition made in Communist Bloc countries. Perhaps this was done through one of the US ammo dealers operating back then.
- Geco was looking for inexpensive ammo to sell on the US market so contracted MFS (or S&B) to make the ammo with the “made in Germany” labels so they could sell it in the US.
As far as I know, this ammo was only for sale for a short while, but I could be wrong since in the Spring of 1969 I went off for a tour in Thailand and when I returned this ammo was no longer on the market.
It is not very unusual to see ammo with one company’s headstamp but made by someone else. I have a Geco headstamped commercial round made by SFM, and a FN round with a military headstamp made by Geco/DAG.
It would be great if someone out there had some information or insights into these cartridges. Perhaps even knows the company in the US who was acting as the distributor.
Perhaps someone knows where the ammunition was actually made.
Any information would be helpful.
PS: All my S&B commercial loads with nickel plated bullets are magnetic. I don’t have any MFS rounds from the period with nickel plated bullets. My MFS rounds from the period all have GM color bullets, but with identical case-mouth and primer seals identical to the Fake Geco rounds.