Is This IMI TZZ 9MM Ball Ammo USGI?

Seasons Greetings to All:

Not long ago I picked up this 50 round box of IMI manufactured 9MM Ball. The cartridges are headstamped TZZ 87 9MM. I believe this stuff pre-dates the adoption of the M882 9MM Ball cartridge by the US.

I am aware that IMI supplied other handgun ammunition to US forces (M41 .38 Special Ball, .45 ACP Match and .45 ACP Ball) during the 1980s, but I had not seen any 9MM Ball by IMI previously. In poking around the site I noticed that member DocAV had mentioned in an old post that some IMI produced ammo was procured via the “Offshore Procurement Program”.

Is this IMI 9MM Ball ammunition which was purchased for US forces as well? Was it for use in the early Beretta M9 pistols or was there another weapon that was to use this stuff? Thanks for any input.

Yes most-probably a USGI contract. I believe it was the first use of the TZZ instead of just TZ, a requirement for US procurement.

Thank you, Jonny, for your reply.

Do you think this ammo was intended for use in the Beretta M9 or perhaps in something else?

I think that first contract was for the Navy, so it could have been used in Berettas, Sigs, MP5s, or whatever else those underwater mammals decided to play with.

I was told it was a US Navy contract when I first encountered it. I have no documentation.


I have this .45 box is this one from the same time period?

Your box at least has a lot number in the format introduced by U.S. MIL-STD-1168A of 1975 while the first box shown has not.
(I have never seen MIL-STD-1168 of 1965 but doubt that it already defined the “modern” lot number format.)


That is an interesting observation. I had not noticed that fact on the 9MM Ball box. Gyrojet’s .45 ACP Ball box appears to be coded for manufacture in December, 1985. Now I am wondering why the 9MM Ball box does not comply with the lot numbering format dictated by MIL-STD-1168A…

A lot of things bought by the SOF guys do not require Mil Std markings. They have always had broad latitude that the normal procurement people do not have. I wouldn’t read too much into the lack of 1168A markings.


[quote=“Lew”]A lot of things bought by the SOF guys do not require Mil Std markings. They have always had broad latitude that the normal procurement people do not have. I wouldn’t read too much into the lack of 1168A markings.
Lew[/quote]An observation I have also done on the often very specialized ammo our SF guys use. Makes it a bit hard to distinguish except when you have a friend on the inside… ;-)
A recent training day for the US embassy marine detachment netted some commercial/LE boxes of 5.56 and 12 ga. I’ll make a post with it when I get back from the holidays.


I am reviving this old thread I started on the TZZ head stamped 9MM Ball ammo as I have come across another version of it. This new-to-me example is a 64-round box. That size of container is reminiscent of the WW2-era Dominion 64 round boxes of 9MM Ball which, I think, was intended for use with STEN SMGs. Those had 32 round magazines for which this size box could supply two full magazines.

I had never seen this variant before I found this one at the Tulsa Gun Show. The cartridges are head stamped TZZ 86 9MM. One unusual feature (at least to me) is the use of the tan colored tape with the Lot information. Is that tape covering up some obsolete information printed on the box?

At the top of that tape is printed the number 53711. I assumed that to be a CAGE code. A search revealed that this number is a CAGE Code for the Naval Sea Systems Command located at the Washington Navy Yard. Perhaps that number is not a CAGE code after all, but if it is I wonder what it did not come back as the code for IMI?

Can anyone decipher the other number on the tape: 5557343 (B)?

Last question. For what weapon would this 64-round box have been used? The STEN gun was long obsolete by 1986. I considered the MP5 SMG but it uses a 30 round magazine. (Of course, a 30 round mag would not preclude the use of this ammo, but I have to think that there was some particular reason for using a 64 round box in the mid-1980s.)

Thanks for any insight on this ammunition.

Charlie Flick
IAA Member

While I am not attuned much to all the little ins and outs of lot numbers, I can tell you that perhaps the first official use of 9 mm by U.S. Military Personnel not of special operations units - regular troops, so to speak - was likely the Smith and Wesson Model 39 9 mm pistol used by some United States Navy Air Arm personnel. This pistol later was made in a special ops form of silenced pistol referred to as the “Hush Puppy System.”

Regarding the use of the Model 39 by Naval Air personnel, perhaps Mel Carpenter will have a better explanation of this for us.

By the way, 64 rounds would precisely fill 8 Model 39 9 mm 8-shot magazines.

John Moss