Japanese color coding

I have been looking at several Japanese 7.7mm cartridges and the color coding.

In the first two pictures appear a 7.7x56R cartridge that should be an ball round. It was manufactured around 1927/1928 by what became the Tokyo Second Army Arsenal, However, according to the color coding for IJN cartridges, the neck band should be black for Ball, but if you blow up the picture it is purple, which should indicate HE. It should not be an HE round as it has a pointed tip, rather than flat.

The third picture is from my collection. Two IJA Type 92 7.7x58SR rounds are depicted. The one with a black neck band is clearly AP and reacts to a magnet. The round to the right has a purple neck band, which according the army color coding should indicate HE/Incendiary. The bullet reacts to a magnet and does NOT have the flattened tip of the normal HE/Incendiary cartridge. I suspect it is also AP despite the neck band color.

Can anyone explain these discrepancies? Any help would be appreciated.

Frank Allan FCALLAN4647@yahoo.com

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Sorry, the pictures loading in reverse from the order I expected.


I misspoke. The purple on the two single pictures is on the PA. The two-photo picture has it on the neck band. Sorry for the confusion. I am all thumbs today.


Frank, your 7.7mm Rimmed round is most definitely a ball round. 7.7mm Rimmed rounds didn’t have casemouth seals and are identified by their primer annulus colouring.

I think the 7.7mm Semi-rimmed pictured on the right is most likely an incendiary. This should have a magenta casemouth seal but yours does appear a little dark - possibly it has just darkened with age. It looks like the bullet is knurled at the casemouth and this also would indicate that this is incendiary.

The round on the left most probably is an AP however the bullet should have a brass jacket. Yours appears a little dark for brass but again it may have darkened with age.

The only way to be sure would be to pull the bullets and weigh them - 162gns for the AP and 164gns for the incendiary.

Dear Jim:

Thanks. The left hand round does seem to have faded which accounts for the color difference.


On the base of the cartridge, what is the meaning of the H.S. marking that sort of looks like an “Ordnance Bomb”?

I am fairly sure it has been explained before, but I have no notations for it.


Jack, its the mark of the Tokyo Explosives Factory.

Dear Jack:

Flaming bomb is a apt description. This is the early logo, that in 1928, represented the Army Arsenal Itabashi Powder Plant, that was part of the Tokyo Arsenal complex. The logo evolved into the image discussed in the attached MSWord page. This plant went by several name changes and is better known by its WWII name “Tokyo Second Army Arsenal”.


Francis C. Allan Lynn Anne Allan 20 Courtney Place Palm Coast, FL 32137 386-445-4225

(Attachment Logo of the Tokyo 2nd Army Arsenal.docx is missing)

Dear Jack,

The MSWord document will not attach for some reason. Send me an e-mail and I will send the document directly to you.

Frank FCALLAN4647@yahoo.com