French ammo, headstamps and practices?


I was dealing with some French headstamps recently, something new to me, and found that they seem to have marked their ammo with 2 codes. One seems to be for making the case and I assume the other marks the maker of the completed cartridge. (DE at 9:00 and BD at 3:00 as example) Was this common among European makers or something just the French do?

If I am correct and the brass is made in one place and the cartridge loaded in another, where is the headstamp made? Is part done at one and finished at another?

Lastly, would French made ammo, made during the period of occupation, be marked as other (pre-war) French ammo or as German-made?

I appreciate any education you folks could give me, or recommendations. (Be nice… Ray and Rick.)


Uh, par lez vous there Mr. Shot

Will deferr-o to el Ray-o re: detail-os

Just-o wanted to try out my el Francais

Jermapell el Rick-o


It’s the metal supply’r (not the case) and the cartridge manufacturer. The Swiss firms did also the same, can’t remember my any other country.
Wishes, Jan


Some French cartridges from the War Years have headstamps purely in the French Style, and some are in a German or modified German style. Remember, ammunition was made for the Vichy Government, which operated under some (not complete) autonomy from the German Government of Occupation of Non-Vichy France. Also, ammunition was made for the French Police, as well.

John Moss



Je ne sais rien.



Firstly, Je suis heureux that I know as much as K-Ray-on at least in one field.
Secondly, was there anything special (different from German) about Vichy ammo in terms of headstamps? I know rien about this subject. I don’t even know which calibre Vichy used.


As far as I know, Vichy used French Weapons (8mm Lebel, 7.5 French, 7.65 Browning, 7.65 French Long, 8 mm Lebel Revolver M1892, etc. I am not aware that they used any special headstamps, but rahter am of the impression they used headstamps of the standard French style. This would be best answered by someone like J-P, or PHilippe R. who really know a lot about French Ammunition. My knowledge of Viochy France is pretty much limited to the overview of their role in the Occupation of France in general, and their role in WWII. I have never studied anything “special” about their weapons.

John Moss


I know it is not French, it is from 1957, but what is it? Anyone fluent in Arabic?
Also, this box is un-open, and I am thinking of opening the bottom end, the one with 2 staples, so not to destroy the writing on top. Am I doing the right thing?



I won’t address your question about opening the box. I’m in enough trouble over my views on that.

Regarding your label, it looks very much like the boxes we had years ago of 7.5 French ammo from Syria. It also looks somewhat like one of my Syrian 9mm Boxes. I would, based on that, say it is from Syria. Aside from that, I can’t help on this one. Wish I could read Arabic.

John Moss


That is 7.5 French Ammo from Syria. I read on another forum that if you try shooting that Syrian ammo to expect alot of misfires. It is apparently also corrosive.


I’d agree it’s definitely Syrian. I’m pretty certain somebody posted a very similar label on the ‘old’ forum some years ago and got a good translation. If you’ve got a few hours to spare searching you’ll probably find it…and I’d open the box.


OK. Jim, I listened to you. Here is what’s inside the box.


Vlad–Here is a translation of the headstamp:

12 o’clock–The Arabic name for Syria “Suria”

9 o’clock–Date of manufacture–57 (1957)

3 o’clock–Caliber–7.5 (7.5 MAS)

6 o’clock–M.M.D. (indicates made by Defense Industries Establishments, Damascus)