Is there a "standard" way to record headstamps


I’m in the process of cleaning up my collection database, and a big problem I have is that I am not consistent in how I record headstamps. Sometimes I read them clockwise, other times counter-clockwise, etc. I figure that it is probably is a matter of personal preference, but I thought I’d ask if there’s a generally-accepted/standard way to do it - i.e. “start with the element at 12 o’clock and read clockwise”.



I do not believe there is a standard way to type a headstamp on line. No single way is satisfactory in my view. If a headstamp is teo position, 12 O’Clock and 6 O’Clock, then it is easy - the 12 O’Clock position should be typed first and then the lower position - examples:

“11 64” Geco 9 m/m WRA 9mm LUGER

With standard German WWII headstamps, the logical way is to start at 12 O’Clock, where the factory designator always is (again - I said STANDARD headstamps). Example: faa St+ 2 44.
This works even if the headstamp is not in the usual order, which sometimes they are not. For example: aux 2 44 St+. In this case the St+ marking is at the 9 O’Clock Poisition instead of the usual 3 O’Clock position.

NOTE: I am making these headstamps up as I go along. They do not necessarily represent actual headstamps by any single piece or multiple pieces of the information shown, but they do represent formats that are found on cartridges.

Where I differ from the Clockwise system of typing a headstamp is when it can confuse things.
Dates where one number appears at 9 O’Clock and another at 3 O’Clock are good examples. I would type that, for example, as “5 Geco 6 9mm” which shows the date to be 1956 and with the digits in the order the eye recognizes on the headstamp. Typed clockwise, the headstamp would read: “Geco 6 9mm 5” and would immediately confuse many people, as the eye would record the date as 1965 instead of the correct 1956,.

These are just examples. For my own use, I always type a headstamp in what seems to me to be the most logical and clear order that I can, recognizing that I may go back to that note 10 years after I originally typed it, and perhaps still not have the cartridge in my colletion.

Of course, everyone does it the way that is clearest for them or pleases them the most. It is not hard science written in stone, and many may disagree with my dispensing with uniformity in an attempt to gain clarity.

John Moss


There are almost as many ways to record cartridges as there are collectors. Many of us haven’t crossed over to the computer age and still keep paper records. I use small 3-ring binders and have a quarter-sized circle and an inch of space to record each round’s headstamp and details, about 12-14 to a page. Try to take a peek at the records a few collectors and steal ideas that work best for you.


I have had this same question in the past and hope to have solved it for myself here in the near future. My goal is to have my whole collection digitized and on my website by the end of summer. I already have a lot of my cartridges with images of the cartridge online. I hope to have actual high resolution images of headstamps for all cartridges very soon too. I will still record the content of the headstamp like any text, numbers, or description of images so information can easily be searched, but the way it is stored or written really will not matter.

For me this is perfect because it is easy to add or change information, I have infinite storage and can display results however I want. Most importantly though is the flexibility of having the information at my fingertips wherever I am with the mobile formatted version of my site.

My long term goal is to make this technology easily implemented for other collectors so they can easily record their information if they choose.


I have been recording my collection cartridges for over 30 years on a pre-printed card file, with a “Washer” ring about 3/4 inch (20mm) diameter, where I can record the actual details of the headstamp, including primer crimp style ( stabs, rings, none). I then “Interpret” the headstamp, with a Linear description in full, so that “two digit” dates are fully described with 4-digit years, avoiding confusion ( ref: “5 Geco 6” HS). Also included is label information if possible ( esp. German labels)…Any Historical or production details are also included.

A similar system to this can also be Computerised, so complete details can be transmitted to other collectors for trading and information use ( different Type Fonts/sizes, spacings, etc. denoting possible different Lots, Runs, or sub-factories.)

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


You poor centerfire collectors really have it rough. Us rimfire collectors have it easy specially with the intricate European ones.

Scanning and enlarging does well for me.



[quote=“Gourd”]You poor centerfire collectors really have it rough. Us rimfire collectors have it easy specially with the intricate European ones.

Scanning and enlarging does well for me.


Yes to that! I sure picked a great type to collect, old American and European non-centerfire cartridges.

All we have to record are things like: “U” “US”… oh then tough ones like RAISED “US”

The European ones on the other hand are tougher… “SB” in a box, “SB” in a shield, oh and tough ones, “SB” overtop of a 9! THOSE ones are tough…

I kid I kid…


Thanks everyone for the input! I think I’ll end up using the general approach of starting at 12 o’clock and going clockwise, but make exceptions where that would lead to confusion like the backwards dates that John mentioned. Since this is eventually destined for my web site, I’ll be scanning the headstamps as well. That should clarify any ambiguous entries in the database.

Then again, maybe I could change my collecting specialty to cartridges without headstamps…


Try starting at 9 oc for the shotshells.
Very often the hstp starts at 9 oc with : N° or Cal or the gauge number or the fisrst initial of the factory and so on