French-made Ethiopian (?) headstamp


I will be posting a picture soon, but ahead of that, does anyone familiar with the cartridges of many calibers (.32 auto, 7.65 Para, 7.63 Mauser, .45 ACP, etc.) made by Soci


A .45 ACP headstamp made by S.F.M. of France using three letters at top that have not been deciphered to my knowledge.

John Moss


Hi John,

For each of the ctges made by SFM (with regular SFM hstp) there is a drawing (more than 5000 of them are existing).

But often a customer requested to have his special hstp and there is about 2000 drawings of customer hstps with order number, caliber, details and so on!!
(it is like that I discovered that most of the high prized British gunsmiths proprietary shotshells are not made by Eley or Kynoch but by SFM ! lol!)

These customer hstps drawings are in big books (very wide and difficult to scan or copy). I do not have this book (except the shotshells pages), but If you put pictures we can try to find you the info.

Philippe Regenstreif knows a lot about these special hstps coming from SFM, he made two books on hstps.



Jean-Pierre. I have all three of our dear friend Philippe’s books on headstamps, the original book and then the two-volume set done later.
“Culots de Muntions Atlas, Tome II, Codes Non-Latins Chiffres et Symboles,” under the chapter on headstamps of “Amharique - Birman - Coreen” alphabets, page 47, the French headstamps are shown although the letters in question are not drawn perfectly. Unfortunately, while the cartridges are identified as French, made for Ethiopia, the letters shown are not defined. Further, they do not match anything I could find in a search of the Amharic alphabet, under which they are shown in the book, and they are certainly not Burmese or Korean.

I believe that the letters simply are a form of “S.F.M.” but I don’t know that, and I believe that someone in this world must know what alphabet these characters are from, and from there, perhaps we can decipher them. They certainly weren’t just imaginary letters drawn by someone at S.F.M.

I have posted a picture of the .45 headstamp. The letters are the same for all the other calibers in my collection made by S.F.M. for, we assume, Ethiopia. If they can’t be found from that photo, I have nothing else to offer.



A .45 ACP headstamp made by S.F.M. of France using three letters at top that have not been deciphered to my knowledge.

John Moss[/quote]
Impossible to read the characters.
The picture is too small


I can read it off of my screen, although it is small. Using a magnifying glass up to the screen, I can see it even better. However, Joe will be posting another image, from a 7.63 Mauser with the same letters on the headstamp, in a few days. I left it up to him to choose between resolution of 200ppi, 300ppi or 600ppi. Frankly, none of them looked good on my screen or on a printed copy - all way too fuzzy when I made them bigger. The .45 headstamp looks better. We will see though. I know nothing about making these images any better than what I have posted, and I spend too much time on them getting them that good, not to mention Joe’s time.



Here is the SFM drawing of the head stamp.



Here is a scan of a 7.63 Mauser headstamp, which is stamped a little better than the .45 previously shown. Perhaps everyone will be able to read this one.

John Moss


Chassepot - thank you, that’s great. That is exactly what the headstamp letters look like on the cartridges. Very shortly there will be another picture of a 7.63 Mauser headstamp posted. We did this before you supplied this.

We now have one great piece of information - the year these were made.

Do you, or does anyone, know what “Arslan-Fresco” on the drawing means.
I would still like to confirm that these cartridges were for Ethiopia and find out what alphabet these characters are from.

John Moss


The document shown by Chassepot is named :
Arslan-Fresco marquage
(Arslan-Fresco hstp)

The details of the order is in another document called :
Cartouches pour la commande “Les fils d’Arslan-Fresco”
(Cartridges for the order: “The sons of Arslan-Fresco”)



O.K. That’s some more information, but who iare the sons of Arslan-Fresco, and how do we see that “other document?”

We are desparately trying to establish two things. Were these cartridges with this headstamp actually for Ethiopia, as many sources say with no offer of documentation to that effect? What is the alphabet used for those three characters at the top of the headstamp, and what do they represent in the Western Alphabet?

We are going everywhere but the main questions, even though I am not complaining a bit about the other information - it is interesting, and important. Finding the year they were made is, by itself, a great piece of information.


Hi John !

The other document is the reference 10168 from SFM.
It has all the details of the ctges and of the order.

Some people have it in France. I do not have it.



OK, I have an interesting monkey-wrench to throw into the works.
If you “google” Arslan, you get all sorts of Turkish references. We have a number of different calibers, made by SFM, with these “Ethiopian” characters. We also have a number of different calibers, made by a few different European makers, with FTCI headstamps. I seem to recall some recent discussion that these FTCI rounds were simply commercial ammo distributed around the world advertising some vague Turkish origin. Perhaps that same Turkish company planned to market this “Ethiopian” ammo in the same way, to disguise its origins. There might be no Ethiopian connection at all.


Regarding the alphabet, here is a link where you have a lot of alphabets. … 2FIMAGE%2F

It is extracted from the Encyclopedie of Diderot and Alembert.

Here is the link for Ethiopan and Abissian alphabets. … ata/IMAGE/

If I rember well these ctges were bought through a Turkish dealer.



Jon - I have never heard in my life that the F TC I-headstamped cartridges “were simply commercial ammunition distributed around the world advertising some vague Turkish connection.” What is the source for that astonishing supposition? It is off topic a little and in fact, my next go around with our French friends, especially, was going to be the “F TC I” headstamps to try and find out what the “FI” really means. Considering a lot of cartridges so marked were not made in Turkey, I have real doubts about the interpretation of “Fabrikalar Iskenderun” (literally “factories at Iskenderun”). Since it came up here, though, might as well go with it here.

Chassepot - any documentation on the F TC I headstamps made for Turkey (or for whatever other use) in France, Belgium and perhaps Germany as well?

Jean-Pierre. I have searched a half dozen copies each of various alphabets used in the Middle East and North and Central Africa, to no avail. I have not seen this Abyssinian Alphabet, that I recall, though. I will have to compare carefully between the headstamp letters and the letters listed. The form looks similar, but a quick glance didn’t show me any identical letters. I have printed it out so I can make a direct comparison, and will study it later.

Do you know anyone with the other document you mentioned, that you could put in contact with me? I would love to get copies of the relevant sections. There are a few of these headstamps that after having a ton of questions about them for the last 40 years, need to be pinned down finally, if they are ever to be. Time marches on and more and more old records disappear, and more and more of us who have done extensive headstamp research are disappearing with them.


I would have sworn that we had that discussion on this very forum, within the last month or two. All (most?) of the FTCI rounds I’ve seen were definitely not made in Turkey. The Aslan/Turkey/FTCI coincidence made me think there might be a connection between the 2 headstamps.

If the FTCI headstamps weren’t discussed here on the IAA Forum, I have no idea where I saw it. Does anyone else remember that discussion?


Jon - no question that most of the pistol rounds with the F TC I headstamp were not made Turkey. They were made in France, Belgium and perhaps Germany. That’s precisely why I question the interpretation of the F I part referring to a factory in Turkey. In the case of AEP F TC I headstamp on 9mm Browning Long, for instance, why would a cartridge headstamped and known to be Belgian from a specific Belgian country have the initials of a Turkish factory as Iskendurun?

It is the idea that they were some sort of commercial round not really intended for the Turkish Government but rather to sell around the world as some sort of Turkish overrun or surplus that took me back. I have never seen that on this Forum. If you find it, let me know. As I said, it is another headstamp I would like to take the guesses out of.


I know I didn’t just pull that out of my ear, so I’ll try to find the reference. However, if it’s news to you perhaps I interpreted something else wrong.

I would not discard the possible “Turkish” connection to both the FTCI and “Ethiopian” cartridges. Might be a direction for investigation.



  1. I will try to find you this document.
    I know who has it, but it will take time.

  2. Regarding the alphabets, I checked many of the ones given in the link arabian, persan, efrican ones aso.
    (first because they are many used in Ethipia, second because I told you , if I remember well, these ctges were bought trough a turkisch dealer).

  3. I din’t spent hours but I think it is not easy :
    first the characters are perhaps upside down,
    second, the characters are perhaps made more beautifull by addition of small picks

  4. Arslan must be the turkish dealer, and Fresco the end user.

  5. I put a shotshell hstp in a topic some time ago, with different characters.

From the P. Regenstreif book, it is coming from the same source (Ethiopia by the way of a turkish dealer)

Why don’t you ask to Philippe ? If he put that in his book it means he found a SFM document giving this info, he didn’t invent it.



J-P - I think the document he probably used has already been posted here. It was probably from the SFM headstamp drawing of 1924 that mentions Arslan-Fresco. Phil and I have discussed this headstamp before, and at that time he didn’t have any information that is not shown with the headstamp in his book, which is scant.

I looked at the characters upside down as well, and still could not match them to anything. In “look” the Abyssinian alphabet came the closest but still no matches as the letters are shown on the headstamp. It is true that they could be in an archaic or some fancy form.

Another problem is that sometimes rather than made more elaborate, characters are simplified when metal die stamps are made for them. This happens with Japanese somewhat in what they call “seal writing” where some of the tiny nuances of a character are eliminated or slightly changed in the interests of making it easier to make a metal stamping tool.

I think it would take a real language scholar, which I am not, with a direct knowledge of the language used on the headstamp to identify and read this. The problem is, until we know what alphabet it is from, for sure, we can’t even look for such a scholar, even though I live near several very large and prestigious Universities.