Headstamp errors

A sideways four was mentioned in the discussion of the ‘WW2 bunters, again’ thread. I have not seen that headstamp; here’s one error I have in the collection, the backwards ‘2’ on this Dominion .303 headstamp:

Headstamp bunter errors are fun. I am not referring to the occasional headstmap with part of a number or letter missing, which is usually from a broken bunter, but rather things like mispelled words (“LUGAR” instead of “LUGER”; “CLOT” instead of “COLT”, etc.) Also the wrong caliber on a case, of which I have a couple in my own collection of auto pistol rounds. I also have four instances of the wrong material code on 7.9 x 57mm German ammunition - brass-case code on steel case or steel-case code on brass case. I am not sure if they were errors or simply expedient, purposeful use of the wrong bunter. I suppose if all calibers were added up, there would be quite a list!

Weren’t the German 7.92s with errors late war? I suppose they couldn’t afford to scrap a run of cases at that stage just because they had an error on the headstamp.

No falcon, it happens all the time. A good example is the 7.9

Cheers Dutch, Interesting array of headstamps. The range of headstamps and factories in German 7.92 seems so vast, no wonder a few mistakes were made. I suppose they realised that it would be madness to scrap perfectly good ammo no matter how far through the war they were.

Falcon - as you have probably seen from Dutch’s posting, all of the German headstamp errors were NOT late in the war. I have a WWI cartridge 6/18/SE/C/ with a brase case. With the “SE” it should be copper-washed steel. I have a platzpatrone 33 with headstamp “hlc S* 1 43” but with a lacquered steel case. Then, there are the instances of the use of ST+ steel-case designator by “ak” on brass cases. I am not convinced this is an error in the truest sense, This factory made so few runs of brass cases, it might have been a conscious decision to use the steel-case headstamp bunter as a cost-saving device. I have “ak St+ 24 43” and “ak -St+ 8 45” the latter of which is very late war, and has a steel primer. I believe there are other examples of the use of the steel symbol on brass-cased rounds by “ak” but I don’t have them in my own collection.

This brings to mind a question that has always bugged me. Why even bother to mark an obviously brass case with the “S*” in the first place, and concurrently, why bother to mark an obviously steel case with an “St” ? The purpose of the headstamp is to help identify the ammunition manufaturer and lot number, should it be defective or out-dated right? Wouldn’t the trained ammunition inspectors be able to tell what the heck they were examining without the need for the case material marking?! Or, is it a case of something just being “over-engineered”?


AKMS–Actually the case materail markers have more meaning than just “Brass” or “Steel”. In the brass cases there is a “S” case which is 67% copper alloy brass and there is “S*” brass which is 72% coppor alloy. In the steel cases there is “St” wjhich means a steel case with original web thickness, “St+” means strengthened web and "-St+"
is a strengthened web case with a single berdan flash hole instead of 2.

Ron, I am aware of all the variations and meanings of the case marks, it just seems like a lot of time, effort and expense to make bunters with all that information for what little value it really provided. Say the ordinance department got a report that 7,9 cartridges from “aux”, 5th lot of 44 were giving problems in use. Wouldn’t there be production records available, or even box markings to tell the inspectors that the cases were “St+” or whatever other infor they needed? Seems overly complicated and pointless, like every part on a Maueser being marked with inspector stamps or serial numbers, even small screws!


I agree with you in the main, AKMS. Of course, box labels were not always available to go along with problem cartyridges. However, I do think that headstamping like the Germans did during the post WWI period was cumbersome and unnecessary. The U.S. had no problem with quality control measures using simply a factory designator and a date, along with normal loading identifications (tip colors). It has always been a source of wonder to me that some countries copied the German system after the war (Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia come to mind immediately). With the huge amount of ammunition produced by the COMBLOC countries in a myriad of countries and literally dozens of factories, the simple manufacturer’s designation along with a date seemed to work as well as it did for the U.S., and perhaps is a better analogy to the German situation since Germany had more factories for small arms ammunition production than did the US during WWII, or at least it seems that way to me.

I have also never understood, from a standpoint of quality control, why the Germans used the material code composed of Roman numbers, small letters and an Arabic number(s) on the 1930s steel case cartridges, especially since it is not unknown to find the same manufacturer’s code, the same case lot production number and the same year, on the same loading, but with three and even more different material codes. There must have been a reason for it, but I always learned that lot numbers - manufacturer’s lots - were done to insure uniformity within a given quantity of product, and to find many different steel providers, platers, etc. on the same production lot of cases says anything BUT uniformity.

I am probably missing something, as I am not any kind of “expert” on manufacture of ammunition.

I think that the deep and underlying truth is that there was a conspiracy by the German headstamp bunter manufacturer’s trade guild to ensure steady work for it’s members, even during the lean war years.


Here is a normal 7.9mm brass cased avu S* 1 44 SmE round and a brass cased avu St+ 1 44 SmE round which normally would be lacquered steel.

The headstamp only ID the case. It is no loading data or ID of the complete round.
The main reason for loading this cases with wrong hs is that the case are still
100% useable.
So why throw them away. Former or later the mistake was corrected and production run.