HP IN 9x19


Is it IN or NI?
What does it mean?


If you read all the letters from “HP” you will see they “head” up to the primer; so “NI” which is the symbol (Ni) for Nickel. Since the cases are Nickeled, this is the first obvious interpretation.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


“Nickel” may be the most obvious interpretation of the “NI” on some Hirtenberg 9 mm Parazbellum headstamps, but it is NOT correct. I do not know the actual meaning, but I have two different headstamps for Hirtenberg 9 mm with “NI” as part of the headstamp, that are on plain, yellow brass cases.

The Nickeled cases, I am told, were made in Slovakia by PS Grand (Povazske Strojarne) for RUAG, who owns the “Hirtenberg” name as applied to SAA. This would figure because the dates on the nickeled cases are after the small arms ammunition lines at Hirtenberg were shut down.

John Moss


Why would it necessarily be read as NI rather than IN?

IIRC, I’ve seen similar headstamps where the “top” marking is read as viewed. Although not a perfect example, the pic below shows dates “heading” to the primer, but FA heads away.


The answer as to why it would be read NI is easy but not satisfying, I’ll admit. Experience with Hirtenberg headstamps and their formats. That’s it. Nothing more to be said, really. You can necessarily equate a Frankford Arsenal Headstamp with a Hirtenberg headstamp format. Every factory has their own “style.” That said, it is not impossible it is “IN” if they didn’t follow previous patterns, just unlikely.

John Moss


Actually, I find the explanation of familiarity with Hirtenburg formats quite satisfactory. Thanks, John.

They could prevent such confusion by not using letters (such as I and N) that look the same rightside up or upside down. ;^)


Stanc - Amen to that! A lot of headstamps in the past have been misread for that very reason. When the Germans adopted the letter codes, in the Third Reich era, they wisely put a period after codes that could be read upside-down, such as “dou.” which without the period, could be read as “nop” instead. There was similar confusion over a Korean headstamp on .30 Carbine that if read from the wrong orientation, could look like somewhat stylized Western letters, when actually, they were Korean ideographs. I argued that headstamp with similar people who thought they were Western Letters.

I guess that’s why headstamps are my first love, which is why I moan a lot about all the new ones coming out at a pace that makes it impossible to learn them all, much less obtain a specimen of each. I would rather get a totally new headstamp that is produced and distributed by the millions of rounds, than the rarest experimental loaded in a case with a headstamp used on a hundred other loadings. There is a lot of detective work involved with some of them - kind of like reading a good mystery novel and trying to figure out whose guilty before you get to the end.

Well, each one of us has our own slant to the hobby. A lot of guys think mine is the result of sipping too much wine, or just because I am a crazy old man. They may be right. : ) : )

John Moss


I just discussed this headstamp with Morten Stoen, of Norway. He said he had discussed it with others, including Josef Mötz, probably the world’s foremost expert on Austrian and Hirtenberger ammunition. He expressed an opinion the the “NI” MIGHT stand for “Niedersachsen” as a contract for the Niedersachsen Police. He was not sure though.

Ther is a similar headstamp with the letters "NS: oin it, and that one is totally unknown, evidently even by Colonel Mötz.

John Moss