Help identifiying 9 mm in vanilla box of 64

I just received some plain vanilla type boxes with no labeling of 9 mm, in quantities of 64 rounds. Each brass case has 9, mm, 40, stamped on the bottom.

9 mm ammo 1

I am curious;

  1. Where and when was it manufactured?
  2. How many grains is it…I.E. 115 or 124?
  3. Is it collectible or just normal 9 mm ammo that I should shoot.
  4. What is it worth if collectible ?

Can you get some pictures of the headstamp?

Looks like British Sten gun ammo.

I’d say it is those Canadian ones made for the US.

Does the headstamp say something like “9MM 45”?

See the earlier thread on this ammunition here: 9mm Round


To answer your questions 2 and 3, based on the linked sources saying these are Canadian manufactured 9 mm, implying similarity to the British type.
The bullet is 115 gr.
When shooting, take into consideration that the primer mix is corrosive and contains mercury.

9 mm 4

Most of them say 40 only a few say 41

These were made in Canada and the dates are spurious. It is my opinion that if you change the “4” to “5” it is likely the year they were actually made. These rounds have been found in various parts of the world, as they were made for an Intelligence Agency. There are 7.92 x 57 equivalents for all dates that are actually found on the 9mm. The 7.9 rounds have the same basic headstamp as those on the 9 mm, changing only the caliber, of course.

There is some disagreement about what years the dates actually signify, but no argument that they are phony dates, as the Pilot lot of 9 mm Luger ammunition ever made in Canada was made in 1942 and headstamped DC 42 9MM.

These cartridges are not corrosive primed, and generally fire well, but remember, they are now almost 70 years old (if made in the 1950s, which I am sure they were).

edited to improve wording only.

John Moss

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Actually 124 grain 9mm, not 115. Great shooting ammo, I buy it whenever it appears at a decent price.

Canadian Made, 124 grain FMJ Ball as John Moss and others noted. Reason for 64 rounds unknown. Ive seen them in 50 round boxes as well. Shoots good but certainly not made in 1940! Non corrosive BTW. Ive got a bunch of different dates in this and 7,9 Mausere as well. Even have some once fired brass that came in lot of once fired stuff. Ive loaded some and its worked good. Hope price was right!

I would assume 64-round boxes would load two Sten mags to full capacity, 32 rounds each.

They were originally made for the Caribbean Legion, a group put together by the CIA and the story is on the internet and makes interesting reading. It also had some interesting members early on. The Agency equipped them with ex-German weapons from WWII which is why the the 9mm is 124gr. It is also why they also supplied 7.9x57mm rifle/MG ammo. The 64 round boxes is because the MP40 has a 32 round magazine.

Subsequently this ammo was distributed all over the world. In 1969 I had the opportunity to go through a few thousand rounds of 9x19 that had just come out of Laos, and almost all of it was this ex-CIA stuff!

The 1940s dates was because the cover story was that it was made by Canada for the Nationalist Chinese during WWII. Both John and I have had senior people at Dominion, who would have been involved in the effort, swear to us that it was made for and shipped to China during WWII…

Historically a great item, but also very common in the US, primarily because much of it was being sold as surplus in the 1970s and perhaps earlier.

I agree with John’s dates of manufacture, but am not sure production ended in the mid-1950s. As late as 1980, when you ordered 9mm M1 Ball ammunition from the Army Single Manager for munitions, you got this stuff dated “45” . That would have been 25 years after production and seems a bit long to hold it in inventory, but that is just a guess. Maybe they periodically tested it and kept it in service.


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While it is true that the German MP40 held 32 rounds, I believe this ammunition was packed in 64-round boxes because that was the standard Canadian packaging at the time, rather than specifically because it was being issued, in circumstance, for use in the German machine pistol. The British Sten Gun and, I believer, the Sterling-Pachett SMG, both used by Canada at one time or another, also had 32-magazines.

The 7.9 ammunition was packaged in boxes of 48 rounds, I believe the same box as Canada was using for most Ball ammunition of .303 caliber at the time. Like the 9 mm, the boxes were devoid of any markings.

They must have made huge quantities of this ammunition, both 9 mm and 7.9 x 57, as it appeared on the US Surplus market as early as the late 1960s or early 1970s in very large quantity, and yet was evidently still available for requisition thru US Govt supply channels as late as 1980.

From the cartridge characteristics of the 9 mm version, I still believe that all of this ammunition was made for six years during the 1950s. However, it remains conjecture since “hard” information is hard to come by concerning this clandestine production of 9 mm and 7.9 mm ammunition. All we know for sure is that no 9 mm ammunition was made in Canada prior to 1942, which immediately marks the dates (40 - 45) as spurious. It was that information, obtained from a very important figure in the history of Defense Industries Ltd., that started me on an examination of this ammunition which has been ongoing for decades. The information came from Mr. Jim Houlden, who related to me an excerpt from his plant daily record book: “Feb. 26/42. Starting first trial run, (lot 50,000,) in C.I.L. plant with 9 mm Luger tools. Destined for use in new “Sten” guns.” This was the ammunition headstamped “DC 42 9MM.”

John Moss

Wow, what a great amount of information and education on these.
My 86 year old uncle said he had bought them at a gun show more than 30-40 years ago and couldn’t remember anything else about them.

So I guess they’re not that collectible or worth more than standard new 124 grain 9 mm so I might as well shoot them. But maybe I’ll wait until I run out of my newer 9 MM.

Ostbob - I don’t know if you are a cartridge collector or not. If you are, I would put aside a couple of boxes for collecting purposes, and shoot the rest. Right now, it is still a common cartridge, but cartridges that were “shooting stuff” when I started cartridge collecting about 57 years ago, are now hard to find by collectors.

Just my opinion.

John Moss

Not a collector but maybe I should start.

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I got suspicious of these cartridges way back when I started cutting them up.

What first caught my eye is that the “40” rounds and some of the “41” had a magnetic bullets. The other “41” rounds had nonmagnetic bullets as did the rest of the years through “45”.

The Canadian DA production in 1945 had magnetic bullets, but the pre-production DC 42 9MM round had a nonmagnetic bullet as did the 1942 and some 43 production at Dominion Industries, (DI) which was a seperate facility. The remaining DI production (43 & 44) was magnetic bullets and in 1945 9mmP production moved back to DA with magnetic bullets (DAC 45 9MM).

Once WWII ended there was no 9mmP military production until 1955 when DA production resumed with headstamp D.A. 55 9MM CDN1 which was loaded with a non-magnetic bullet as was all subsequent production with this headstamp through 1964.

It is interesting that the DC 42 (pre-production) and the DI 43 magnetic load I just grabbed from the collection are both 115gr bullets (177gr oaw) while the DI 44, DAC 45 & DA 55 all have 124gr bullets (186gr oaw)

Assuming that the 9 MM 4? bullets were consistent with current Canadian production, some conclusions can be drawing.

  1. The 9MM 40 and early 41 loads could which had 124gr magnetic bullets could not have been produced before 1944
  2. the conversion from magnetic to non-magnetic bullets likely happened when, or a bit before Canada re-adopted the non-magnetic bullet in 1955 or sometime before this. It is possible that this could have been as early as 1946/1947 when copper was no longer a critical material and it could be available for bullet jackets without excessive cost. I have to wonder whether the CIA would change the bullet jacket unless it was cheaper. Clearly the “41” conversion in he CIA ammunition occurred between 1945 and 1955.
  3. The Carribbean Legion was established in 1946 and attempted an invasion of the Dominican Republic, which failed, in 1947. In 1948 they were successful in overthrowing the government of Costa Rica, but failed again in a 1949 invasion of the Dominican Republic. This would imply that the CIA support probably started in 1947 so it seems likely that “9 M M 40” was produced in 1947. There is no reason why the CIA would change the year date each year. Rather they probably changed it when they placed a new order on the contract and this production could have continued for 10-15 years or more.


Interesting points on the production dates, but still conjecture. One could argue that there was no reason to change the date at all (I don’t agree with that proposal, by the way).

Is there any proof that this is ammunition that was used in the Carribbean Legion’s 1947, 1948 and 1949 “endeavors?” There was not shortage of foreign 9 mm ammunition around the world in those years, and the use of any ammunition not of American manufacture would have served the same “alibi” provision as purchasing new lots of ammunition with a nondescript headstamp and phony date.

In fact, is there any proof that this ammunition was ever used by the so-called Carribbean Legion? I am not saying it was not. I simply don’t know, and in all the research the two of us have done on this ammunition, I have not, to date, seen any evidence that it was used by the Carribbean Legion, or for that matter, that it was not used by them. These cartridges have been found many places - SE Asia, southern South America, on the US surplus market, etc.

Regarding the change of the bullet jacket, lacking documentation, one would have to wonder why Canada changed the bullet material on their properly-headstamped, Canadian issue ammunition from GMCS to GM. Since we have not “regular” issue Canadian military 9 mm between the years after 1945 and before 1955 with which to compare to the clandestine headstamp, again, we are left out in the cold for knowing precisely when the “9 MM 40” and its full date sequence were made. A simple code of a single-number change would be an easy and sensible thing to do, and the huge quantity of this ammo that showed up on the US MILSURP market, not to mention around the world, would not rule out six years of production. The sequence of magnetic and non-magnetic bullets (“40” always magnetic, and while I don’t have one, I understand that “41” is found with magnetic bullets as well as the non-magnetic one of my specimen) would fit very nicely into the possibility of the dates of 40 thru 45, actually representing 50 thru 55/

Of course, all the opinions I have expressed are also pure conjecture. All inquiries I ever made to Canadian contacts brought back either the answer, “I don’t know,” or “they are not Canadian” (silly answer in my view), or “the dates are the actual dates of manufacture,” also silly, since it is well known that the 9 mm was not produced in Canada until 1942. I am sure that some of the answers received were sincere, and that many others were made as perhaps the subject was “classified” under Canadian laws or factory policies.

I doubt we will never know the full answer for this unless government records in Canada and/or the USA are released as public information at some future date. I doubt that will happen for a number of reasons that don’t need discussion here.

For all the arguments and information see the referenced previous thread on this ammunition, with the link shown by “Ordnance Guy.”

John Moss

The reason I’m interested in this thread is that one of my Dardick Tround 9mm adapters is loaded with one of these with a non-magnetic roundnose bullet. I’m trying to confirm that it’s possible the cartridge was loaded into the adapter by Dardick circa 1960, and based on all of the above, I guess the answer is yes. Interestingly, the polyethylene case has a big crack, no doubt caused by the adapter bore being undersize for a 9mm and the resulting stress for the past 60 years.

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Asking for “proof” of things the CIA does is truly a waste of time. As you probably suspect, even when they “admit” to something there is a negotiation on what is “admitted”. This is not unique to the CIA but is the way all western intelligence organizations work. I don’t have any insight into the internal workings of those in totalitarians governments, except they are much less transparent than western organizations. .

I had never heard of the Caribbean Legion until I was talking to a friend I had met through Herb Woodend. Amazing guy, Marine from WWII & Korea, who had been with agency in the gun business for many years, He once ran a long range training camp near the border of Namiba & Angola where he trained teams in long range sniping using a single shot 14.5mm rifle made in the US. I know for a fact that there was still at least one of these rifles in the inventory in the early 1990s. He died at 87 about 5 years ago and was still working for the Agency. one night at his house I asked him about this Canadian 9mm ammo, and he knew all about it. He told me that it was initially made for the Caribbean Legion and told me a bit of the history. I later looked it up on the internet, Apparently a predecessor of the CIA helped establish the Legion which was formed in 1946. The CIA was established in Sep 1947 same month the Legion attempted to invade the Dominican Republic. The Legion had been disbanded by 1950 or so with the group dividing into two seperate activities. This all lined up with what I had been told by the Agency guy.

I later met and got to know a pretty senior Agency ordnance guy in San Antonio about the time I retired. This guy knew my other friend. The guy in San Antonio had been pretty senior in the ordinance business in the Agency and also knew the story of the CIA and Caribbean Legion and told me essentially the same story, but in less detail.

Neither of these guys were participants in the Caribbean Legion activity and it occurred before their time in the Agency, but they both had heard the same story about this ammo. Being the Agency, this Caribbean Legion story could be another cover story put out for internal CIA consumption and the real story could be something else entirely. different.

I tentatively believe the Caribbean Legion story which would date the “9 M M 40” rounds from late 1946 or early-mid 1947. Given the model of the Bay pf Pigs, there would have been some time to train and equip before they attempted an invasion.

If you dig, there is some interesting information on US intelligence activities in the Caribbean area from at least the beginning of WWII. There was concern that the Autocratic Leaders in the area might sympathize with Hitler and threaten access to the Panama Canal. Some US officials thought it might be smart to replace these guys with new leaders who supported the idea of democracy, This is kind of the lead into the establishment of the Caribbean Legion.

Given the origin of this ammo, and the time that has passed, none of us will ever be confident we know the real story.