FN Fakes?


#1

Here are two rounds that are widely believed to be the “fakery” of someone at FN. Does anyone have others?
Left (38 N) is a 7.62 Tokarev and right (71 84) is a 9mm Makarov.


#2

Yes, these two uncredible specimens are very probably fakes ,from a guy that almost everybody knew in Europe, and also in the USA. He had a post of responsability at the FN Ballistic laboratory, R&D section, and made an uncredible number of fakes of any kind that he sold abroad “bona fide” (!), as everybody could not believe thart fakes could come from a man in his position. So a number of fantastic experimentals did show up…without any document to attest their quality, but who cared? When you love something, it is the same with girls, you do not dare to count, or find if the chick is qualitatively correct or not!

He also was very found to let know that he had some doubts, about their authenticity, but was clever enough to mix them wit absolutely genuine other rare specimens… Of course, he was "selling them because he had no more room in his house for his collection, and had to make some sacrifices, having changed his field of interest"

Some times in the 80ies, our “friend” went a little too far, even for a Belgian(!) and was fired from ECRA (he had been a long time member, from Emile Timmerman’s ECCC time).

He also was fired from his job at FN-Herstal, when they discovered what he was actually doing, but yhis was a little bit too late…

Many of his “precious products” still figure proudly in some advanced collections (ask Bill Woodin why he has made a special "fake drawer!).

The trouble is that it unpossible to figure exactly what is good or not, as there is no document of any kind to attest their exact nature.

And also, some victims are anxious not to let other people find what exactly happened to them!

Forgeries and fakes have been common, since somebody, for the first time, decided to put a value in cash on a cartridge.

This is, unhappily, unavoidable, and will last until the end of our hobby, like any other hobby, in the world, by the way.

I remember a time, in the early 60ies, when the biggest collectors refused strictly to sell any of their dupes, preferring to give them to the beginners… ! Happily, many of us were lucky enough to start their collections this way, but this is now very far away like a kind of fairy tale !

The only thing to be told, especially to young collectors, is to be aware of such things and keep care.

Philippe.


#3

OK, I’m going to be a bit picky here, but before we throw around the term “Fake” lets try defining it!

Is a fake something that isn’t a production item??? No, because many of us are proud of the experimental cartridges in our collection.

OK, now we are on a slippery slope. If the item was made by a government or commercial lab, by someone who worked in the lab, what would it take to make it a fake? Lack of a test report?, Lack of a formal task order or contract to develop the item, No testing ever done? I don’t think any of these would cause something to be a fake. When Lake City Arsenal was producing the 7.62x39mm, thay made up 50 chromed dummies (at least the one batch I know of) and handed them out as gifts to visitors. Were these fakes??? I don’t think so.

I fully agree that a round made in a lab could be misrepresented as for official government testing when it was made up on a whim, but that would be a tough distinction to make without some very direct insight into the lab.

I once asked a lab for three GAU-8 dummies to give to three people. Of course the lab had the capability to make dummies, so the guy gave me three different experimental GAU-8 cases (two funny color aluminum and one steel) and three experimental projectiles from the early testing. To him this was junk with no value and he thought it would be cute to make me three “pretty” dummies. No, this was guy who made dummies (and loaded test rounds) weekly and he used the same material he often used in his work. Were they official test dummies-No!!! I gave them away to the three collectors with exactly the story I got from the guy who made them. I know at least one has since been passed on and I have no idea what the new owner thinks of it.

I am familiar with the FN story, and have a 9mmP “triplex” load the individual reportedly made that is simply three experimental rifle bullets crimped into a 9mm casing. The front part of the case is deformed enough by the process that it could never be made to chamber in a weapon. Is it a legitmate test item—No! Is it a fake, only if it is represented as something it isn’t.

Frequently cartridges are misrepresented. One of the most common is to have someone (not in a factory or lab) load a rare case because collectors “like” loaded rounds, not empty cases. The most famous (or infamous) case of this are some very nice experimental French aluminum case rounds (no headstamp). The legit loaded rounds were very rare with brass jacket bullets with a white tip (similar to a French tracer) or with a pale green tip (very unusual-I still don’t have one). Then 20+ years ago a batch of the primed empty cases turned up, but they didn’t stay empty. Now most nice 9mm collections have these cases loaded with a GM bullet or with a GM white tip tracer bullet with a purple cms (but only on the bullet, not the case). I have been told on good authority that a collector “improved” these empty cases by loading them. If he passed them on as original experimental loads, they were clearly misrepresented, and sure have been misrepresented since then many times. Still, the cases are legit experimentals.

“Fakes” are a complex subject and, in my opinion, the term is often thrown around carelessly and the cartridges are frequently misunderstood. I think we are better off using the term “misrepresented.”


#4

In my humble opinion fake is cartridge developed by someone with commercial reason with purpose to cheat buyers by giving beautiful background story to rise up price (like soviet 5.45 caseless).


#5

Hi!

Lew’s story about the French 9 mm P alu cases is absolutely exact.

I knew very well the guy who loaded them, from a lot discovered in a EOD destruction park for ammunition, at the outskirts of Paris, in the late 70ies, and as far as I know, you did too, Lew…!!!.

By the way, they were also .30 M1 US carbine cases within the lot.

Not a single one was ever found factory loaded, they resulted from a ministerial directive dating from the French Vietnam war, for a program to manufacture lighter ammunition for our troops in this theatre of war.

They never functonned correectly, as the metal was too soft and most of time cracked at case mouth level … So the program aborted and remaining quantities were disposed for destruction.

As I already said, the guy who found them was a very good friend of mine, now passed away, a quite folkloric figure, well-known from most of the Collectors in Europe and abroad in this times… as "Inspecteur Clouzeau !!!

He did not figured exactly the importance of his find, but he took me with
him the second time he went to the deposit, and we grabbed everything was left of this cases, approx. 150 of each, all new primed empties. Besides, we had big bags(!) and were able to save from stupid destruction many other pretty good rounds, like French coiled case 1 inch Gatling, or German DWM 7,92x57 alu cased from WWII vintage.

The problem is that when I met him again, I discovered that he had got the bright idea to load the new primed empties, probably in order to exchange or sell them better! He a was the kind of guy who could not accept the sight of an empty case, so he loaded them all! So he dismantled a quantity of service rounds to get the projectiles. The powder load was, of course totally approximative, or even missing…

As he was not extremely cautious in reloading, some of the cases did not resist to the hard RCBS press processing, but there was still a good number available, in like-new condition. Probably to give them a nicer look, he also loaded some 9 mm P with white-tipped French tracer bullets (why not, after all?!)

I must confess that he had a bright success to the next ECCC meeting (it was in Ettlingen, W.Germany) with his bunch of alu cased ammo…

So I believe that every body possessing such loaded ctgs, Ball or Tracer, in their drawers, shoud unload them cautiously, in order to to get them back to their original condition.
There is, as far as we know, from the Amament Archives in Chatellerault, NO DOCUMENT in existence, about the actual loading and trying of this cartridges, as the whole program was performed in the Cartoucherie de Valence (VE), where the complete archives were lost or destroyed after the closure of the factory.

The alu cases found in the Parisian EOD facility came from the SFM, who tried to test them, having obtained some quantities from Valence, but without succes. They finally decided to get rid of them.

These n.p.e. cases are extremely good specimens, unloaded., but if loaded, as far as we know, they are, for sure, all faked .

I actually believe that they do not deserve such a “post-mortem” cosmetic treatment.

Philippe


#6

In my opinion, when someone makes a cartridge for which there was no purpose other than to sell it to collectors, it is a FAKE, unless it replicates a known cartridge and is clearly identified as a replica. Can’t go along with my dear friend Lew’s term of “misrepresented cartridge.” An example of a once misrepresented cartridge would be the 5.45 x 18mm Russian, which was originally sold at fantastic prices as being a secret KGB cartridge, when in truth, at the time it was being sold, the gun and ammunition were already shown in a Russian gun book that any citizen of Russian could buy (the book I mean), so where was the secret? Also, it was never specificially and only for the KGB. It is not a fake cartridge, but was misrepresented about its manufacture to boost the price.

When the rounds in question were made at FN, there was no reason for their production - that is, no purpose for the cartridges made. They were made to look special and to be sold at high prices to collectors. I was offered the Makarov Loads at Chicago one year, and passed because no one could tell me why they were made - that is, what type of gun or apparatus was being tested, etc. Of course, a lack of knowledge alone about a cartidge doesn’t brand it a fake. I had other hints about their origin.

The dummy cartridges Lew talked about, depending on the circumstances of the gift, could be considered absolutely legitimate as dummies commissioned for a specific purpose.

The stuff from the guy at FN, when they were not among the real, purpose-driven factory originals he was also selling - FAKES! The only word that should apply in my opinion.

Yuri - are you intimating that the caseless Russian round is a fake? I have a caseless round that you know about - is it a fake? I sent you a picture of it once, and it appears in Regenstreif’s book.

Phil is right - we all have fakes in our collections, and the problem is always knowing which they are, compounded when they come from sources that also provide really good cartridges of known and legitimate history.

Philippe is also right, although I know some will find it hard to believe, that the first few years I was collecting I don’t think I paid case money for any good cartridge I got. When someone bought a whole box of a new round off the shelf, they would ask for a fair price for the individual round based on the price of the box and its quantity. It was very hard to buy the good stuff. It was either given among friends, or traded only. Money didn’t have a heck of a lot to do with the hobby. There were a few “professional” dealers, but the prices, even adjusted for inflation, were not the astronomical prices asked now for even moderately good rounds, and everyone was glad to buy from them. Auctions pretty much ended that. I am not criticizing the current market - one continues to participate in the hobby or not as they please - it is not something any of us are forced to do. I am simply joining Philippe in remembering a somewhat different time in our hobby. To this day though, I find it very painful to sell an expensive cartridge, especially if it is friend that wants it, although sometimes we are forced to do by circumstance of what we paid or why we are selling.

I guess it is all these things that makes our hobby interesting! But, like any other purchase one makes, Caveat Emptor. It is a shame that there is always someone who cannot be satisfied selling honest cartridges at honest prices, and has to make up stories, or the cartridges themselves, simply to prey upon collectors who always want very much to add something new and exciting to their collections.

By the way, regarding the aluminum-cased French rounds in 9mm, with white tip only (no case mouth seals) and with pale green tip, I had them both in my collection, originally in the collection of Mr. Sal Guarini, one of the early “greats” in cartridge collecting. Those two rounds existed in Sal’s collection years before our French Detective friend, with a fondness for good wine and Viet Nam vacations, loaded the empty cases he had found. I suspect I saw them in his collection as early as as the early 1960s when I first met Mr. Guarini and saw his then-fabulous collection. They were quite different than the ones offered latter, with bullets obviously pulled from other rounds in the cases. Fakes? I simply don’t know. Possible, of course. There was faking going on then, too.


#7

This should be the “Russian Caseless”.
I think I was told about a second one which was slightly different.


#8

I thought the discussion of fakes would generate some interest.

John & Yuri, I agree with your definations of fake, but the problem with the defination is it’s application. The defination is based on the intent of the person who creates the cartridge. The problem with this is that it is almost impossible to know what the intent was? A defination based on things that can’t be measured or observed is basically worthless, because it’s application is pure conjecture. I have seen quite a few legit cartridges labelled as fakes for this reason. Maybe it is my technical background, but if you can’t measure it you can’t know how long it is—pure speculation!!!

I can however know when something is represented as something it is not. There was the case of a set NATO rounds about 40 years ago that were being sold as being produced by a specific company for a particular organization. A bit of research and peoples connections with the company with the organization confirmed that the story was untrue and the items were not as represented. There is no way I can know who made the cartridges and where the chain if deciet began.

I remember a time when a very close friend bought a box of Civil War carbine cartridges at a gunshow. The story was that they came from the collection of an old and very advanced collector of US Civil War carbines. Some were pretty common items but some were really outstanding, and the price for the batch was good (from the guy selling the carbines). Some time later, it turned out that most (almost all) of the good items were replicas filled with sawdust! The guy had made beautiful copies of the rounds he couldn’t find as accessories to his guns. He collected the rifles, not the cartridges, so he had no concern about having replicas and he had no reason to label them as replicas-they were never intended for sale. When sold, the seller had not misrepresented them. Not fakes by John’s and Yuri’s definations. Had the collector who had them put them back together and sold them as original rounds—then they would have been fakes. When the collector pass on and they collection is sold, will they be fakes???

This hobby runs as much on rumor. It is very difficult to know much for certain about anything we have, particularly the more exotic rounds. We often construct logic trails that are often correct is the actual data turns up, but often there is no “actual data”. In that environment it makes sense to be careful, particularly about expensive items, and as Philippe says “This is, unhappily, unavoidable, and will last until the end of our hobby, like any other hobby, in the world, by the way.”

I still receive most of the really outstanding cartridges I receive as gifts. I also give away a lot of cartridges as gifts to a circle of friends. I generally avoid auctions, but have to admit that acutions and increased prices sure have brought out a LOT of really outstanding cartridges that would probably have never entered the collecting world had it not been for the prices they would command.

Philippe, I also saw and photographed the two “legit” French aluminum case rounds in Sal Guarini’s collection in the mid 60s and a few years later saw another set in the Woodin Lab collection- Both had been in the collections for quite some time. Eventually I found the white tip round in another old US collection and know of one other. As far as I know there are only two of the green tip loads and four of the white tip. I suspect someone told our friend of the white tip loads which is why he loaded the white tip tracer bullets. I have a set of the loads from the 70s in my collection next to the legit round. Our friend gave/traded it to me at the Ettlingen show you mentioned.

Jon C is to be commended for picturing the rounds at the beginning of this article. Knowing the source of the rounds is important. I got some rounds I suspect from this individual, but also some amazing rounds that I am confident are legit, but who can know for sure.


#9

Lew
Could ypu please post pictures of both the correct, original white tipped tracers with the fakes next so one can identify the fake & then be able to remove the bullet without inadvertently destroying an original.
Thanks
Pete


#10

FAKES ?


#11

Cobb - I would file those under “homemade” or “small production run” / experimentals. I don’t think they were trying to imitate anything, and so they aren’t necessarily fakes. If the seller/maker tried to pass them off as some sort of legitimate KGB poison bullet, then I suppose they would then be faking, but it only depends on how they are labeled. I’m still looking for a firm history on this one:

I’ve been told everything from “It’s an experimental AP load”, to "It’s a fake with ball-point pen parts in the tip. It has a T W 4 headstamp, and the projectile is a typical steel core based on its magnetic characteristics. The thing in the tip appears all-copper, it is metal, and is not magnetic. It is perfectly centered in the tip.


#12

The mouth of the .30-06 case looks uneven, and the crimp looks like a hand load. I’d guess this one was a product of an overactive imagination.


#13

Cobb, I have four of those five rounds in your photo-I don’t have the red tip. The guy who gave them to me told me he made three of the four, and then had a story on who made the one with the steel tip bullet. I got the ones I have for little or nothing-less than $5 each. I was later told by the guy who made the three that he enjoyed making up odd bullets to see what they did. He (Al) made the three and didn’t misrepresent them. Not fakes in my book!


#14

My point was…one mans “fake” is another mans prototype/experimentals.


#15

DK, any way you can get that round x-rayed?


#16

Cobb, You and I are in complete agreement!!!

Jon C, Is it confirmed that the two rounds that started this discussion were made solely for commercial sale to collectors? If so, how was that confirmed? I am curious since I have not seen similar confirmation on the FN guys 9mms that have been questioned, but that is not to say that it isn’t out there and I have just not bothered to look deep enough.

Cheers, Lew


#17

I’m not sure what would constitute confirmation, or how you would get it. Their source is suspect, there is no know or documented reason for their existence, no “story” about them really holds water, and they were sold to collectors for money. I love to have rare and mysterious rounds in my collection, but I consider these fakes unless proven otherwise. I got them at the time “just in-case”.


#18

It could be that certain workers at FN or any ammo manufacturer might have had a chance to fashion their own special projectiles in attempt to pitch them to their boss. “Hey boss what do you think of these”? and the boss might say: “Nice, but no thanks”, hence, there could be these “genuine” experimentals that have no documentation or reason to exist. They could just as easily be fakes made to excite collectors.


#19

Jon, That is my point. There were lots of genuine experimentals that came out of that lab. In fact, I made a trade and picked the experimental 9x19s I wanted out of the individual’s personal collection.

I have not seen documentation of any of the things that came out of the FN lab-but perhaps others have. Like DK I can think of lots of reasons there was never documentation. Clearly considering something a fake is a personal choice. I would think that publically branding it a fake would require some justification other than the source being questionable, particularly in this case when the source also had access to practically all the experimental stuff being done in the FN lab. I once visited him in the lab and was allowed to dig through some cabinets and picked up some stuff, like dummy rounds with the base painted purple (there was a full box in the cabinet-no label). Neither the person we are talking about, nor any of the others around the lab at the time had any idea what they were, but I took one in any case.

This goes back to my original comment. A person is free to consider anything they want a fake, but to publicly brand it a fake should only be done when the individual can lay out a logical case for it being fake. Perhaps there is a case on your two rounds—I have just not seen it here.


#20

Thus the “?” at the end of my Subject Line. I consider them fakes, but I am open to any info on them. I am hoping that others may have them or know of them. Perhaps someone can attach some legitimacy to my examples.
Do any of the 9x19s you got resemble in any way the two examples I showed? Do you have any info from FN on sabotted rounds or any “fragment test” rounds? Are you still in contact with anyone who is/was at FN who can cast some light on these rounds?