Japanese ammunition


I’ve just received amazing information from a contact in Japan revealing some unknown data about japanese ammunition production. For example:

  • 6,5 mm Type 38 ammunition with STEEL CASE was actually produced (read latest Ken Elks comments about this).

  • So-called 6,5 mm for primer-actuated mechanism is in probably a reloadable gallery practice case. There are several variations of these, none alike.

  • Confirmed use of rosete crimped 6,5 mm blanks in Type 2 grenade launcher.

  • 11 mm Murata dummy with hollow brass bullet with two rolled cannelures (already known in 9 mm Type 26, 7 & 8 mm Nambu, 8 mm Murata and 6,5 mm Type 30).


Nice infos - that are really news


Fede - did you get any information concerning the headstamp on 8 mm Nambu blanks with red wood bullets? I have one in my collection, but have never read any satisfactory explanation of the headstamps on them. There are at least two, similar headstamps. A curved line with one “tick” mark above it, like mine, and the same curved line with two “tick” marks above it, like the ones in the Woodin collection.

Just wondered. Any information about these rounds would be welcome, including confirmation or denial that they were for the cup-type tear gas launcher that would attach to the Type 14 Pistol, for Police and Military riot control purposes.


John, I did not get any response to the meaning of those symbols found in various calibers. However, I can confirm that the symbol is not related to the purpose of the cartridge. A previously unknown 6,5 mm Type 38 proof round identified by means of a purple painted primer cup and mouth seal also bear this same mark in its base.


Here is drawing of the Type 90 (1930) tear gas grenade launcher mounted in a Type 26 revolver. The cartridge used is a bulletless blank with a carboard wad closure. A similar 8 mm Nambu blank was probably used. Specimens of both of these rounds are unknown in western collections.


Fede, awesome info, thanks a lot!


Fede - It could well be that the Japanes launching cartridge for the tear gas grenade used with the Type 14 pistol has a paper wad like the revolver round. Since we have no documentation on this ammunition, it could be anything. However, if there was a requirement for the cartridge for the Type 14 Pistol to feed from the magazine, it almost certainly would not have been. A revolver round does not have this requirement, so the two could very well be different. All conjecture of course. I would think, though, that if the 8 mm Nambu red-bullet blanks were just training rounds (noise blanks) they would be a bit more common than they are. I believe they are quite scarce.

If anyone has one of these, with plain wood or red wood bullet, could they report it here? I have one with the red bullet, and I believe the Woodin Laboratory has two, and also a plain wood one. Not positive about the latter.


John, you are absolutely right. Specifications for Type 90 Grenade launcher only describes its cartridges as “blank ammunition” (空包).

Here is a picture of the mentioned “shi” symbol headstamped on a 6.5 mm Type 30 proof round:


Fede - from memory (sometimes dangerous with senile old men like me) that is the same headstamp that is on Bill’s 8 mm Nambu red-bullet blanks. He has them made with two bunters - the little tick marks above the curve has different spacing apart from each other as I recall.

Mine has only one tick mark. It was kind of dismissed out of hand by a well-known author on Japanese ammunition, who never actually saw the round, saying that it originally would have two marks, but one simply was missing due to a bad headstamp strike. My answer to that, on this specimen I have, is no way. Wish I knew the real meaning of these marks.


Same symbol in 8 mm Nambu and .5 Vickers (12.7 mm Year 1 Type):


This a a partial picture of an unreported 6.35 mm Browning 25 round box (note correction over “7.35”):

Two variations of 7.65 mm Browning boxes (one below an Inagaki pistol from 1940):


Fede - I have the 7.65 Browning box in my collection, but had not seen the 6.35 mm one, although I have the cartridge. Years ago, I had about seven or eight rounds of the 6.35 mm, but they came loose in a box that turned out to be 7 mm Nambu. Those rounds long gone now.
The only Japanese 6.35 mm box I have is a Post WWII box, for the police. Women officers in Japan, at least for a time, carried the Browning Baby 6.35 mm Pistol.

There is a lot more to Japanese Pistol rounds than many think. The only caliber constantly attributed to them that I have not been able to verify by SEEING a cartridge I believed to be Japanese, is the 9 mm Browning Short - .380 Auto. I have seen a couple offered as Japanese, but they were pretty obviously Belgian unheadstamped rounds, which are common.

I am NOT saying that Japanese 9 mm Short rounds don’t exist. There has been some minor documentation eluding to them, although sometimes it is hard to tell if that means manufacture, or simply imported ammunition available.

The 8 mm Nambu in the pre-1946 form was manufactured in Japan for 40+ years so there are lots of manufacturing variations, even though all I have seen to date except the wood-bullet rounds are without headstamps. Rim thickness, square-edged rims, beveled rims, differences in the width of the extractor grooves and bevels, placement, shape and size of the stab bullet crimps or complete absence of them (rare enough that they could possibly be rounds that missed the crimping operation - I just don’t know for sure), etc., all in addition to the widely known GM and CN bullet variation.

Interesting subject - at least to me. The Post-war pistol rounds are interesting too, and for everyone we know about, there are probably dozens we don’t, since they probably have made the .45 ACP and the 9 mm Para for many, many more years than the dates we see in collections.


These are the first pictures I have ever seen of the unknown steel cased 6.5 mm Type 38 round. Purple painted primer denotes it was a proof load.

Elks comments from his last book:


Hello John,

I took this information from an Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) report dated April 2, 1944. It deals with secret ordnance codes translation.

= Kobe Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

= Asano Heavy Industry Co. Ltd.

This last katakana character is pronunciated tsu but there is also this similar character pronunciated shi. Headstamp seems to be of this last type that is not illustrated in the secret ordnance code list.


Fede - the headstamp on my 8 mm Nambu blank is like the bottom one you show, with the wide end of the stroke at the bottom left end, not at the top like “Kobe.” However, it has only a single stroke above it, as with the “Kobe” mark. The round is in about new condition and the headstamp is sharp and clear. I do not see it being struck with a bunter for a three-stroke character.


It should look like this . This katakana character is pronunciated n.

It’s a shame is not in the secret code list either.


Fede - that’s pretty darn close. As you know, “seal” writing (characters transcribed onto metal or wood stamping devices, such as headstamp bunters), is often simplified in the ideographic languages like Japanese and Chinese. This is a simple character, though, and looks very much like your rendition of it.

Thank you. Knowing it is the letter “n” is more than I knew an hour ago. I wonder if there was an ammunition factory at Nagoya. Many of the Japanese pistols were made there, as I recall.


A symbol was assigned to Nagoya Army Arsenal but it’s no alike. We must find a list of secret codes for small arms ammunition (if it does exist!).