New Headstamps found on range

While setting up a cowboy shoot today at our local club, I picked up some loaded ammo dropped by police or IPSC shooters. Among them, I found two headstamps I had not seen before.

One is a .38 Super from Armscor of the Philippines, headstamped “AP 38 Super RL” - I do not know what the “RL” means. I wonder if it started its commercial life sold as NUPE brass for reloaders, and the “RL” means “Reload or Reloading?” I don’t actually know what it means. First time I have ever seen these initials after a caliber on any ammunition.

The other is a .223 with what I am sure is meant to be a NATO mark at the 12 O’Clock position and the date “04” at the 6 O’Clock position, without any manufacturer’s identifier on the headstamp (it looks like Federal brand ammo, though, and was found among headstamps “FC 223 REM” and “FC 05”.) Under a magnifying glass the nato cross actually looks like 4 dotes in a circle.

Joe will be posting a scanned photo of it soon.

The “NATO 04” headstamp has been inquired about many times on other forums with no definate answer. It is known to be found in bulk lots of once fired brass and also in remanufactured ammunition from “Black Hills” ammunition Co. It has also been found on police ranges, but wether it is from factory orignial ammunition or the Black Hills stuff is unknown. Other years are also reported.


John Moss Collection

How about RL = Reduced Load?


***hearsay/rumor follows:
Regarding the NATO marked ammunition: I heard a rumor that the US was running short on on .223 after OIF kicked off. The US turned to vendors outside of the US for .223. One of those vendors might have been the Israelis. Fearing repercussions of using Israeli ammo in Iraq and Afghanistan, the headstamp used was not clearly indicative of IMI production.
As we have seen with CCI, placing dots and dashes in certain locations on the headstamp can be coding system, indicative of different vendors. Could this be a possible answer to this?
Again, this is just rumor…


I had not thought of the “RL” on the .38 Super round meaning “Reduced Load.” It could, but in my opinion if it does, it is pretty silly. A reduced load .38 Super is the .38 Auto (.38 A.C.P.) cartridge! Still, its certainly every bit as good a guess as mine of “Reload.” It would be nice to know if Armscor, which I think does now sell brass for reloading, puts this mark on that brass, on loaded ammo, or on both. I even tried to come up with something to do with lead free. “Lead Free” headstamps are becoming popular. I just couldn’t find any words germaine to lead-free ammo to go with “RL.” Well, it was a good one for my collection. Not the first time I found a new headstamp on our range. A 9mm Para fired case I found has a headstamp that is, as far as I know, still the only known specimen in a collection, and I found it several years ago. I found another headstamp in the turn-in brass in our store, another 9mm of which I found three fired cases and they remain the only ones in collections that we know about. People think I am goofy (well, come to think of it, I am) going thru the brass on the ground, or boxes in the garbage cans, but I add plenty to my collection doing that. Often I am able to find loaded rounds because the fired cases I found told me that the headstamp exists.
and gave me clues where to look for live ones.

Being you found it at the range, maybe it’s just a “Range Load”!

I did a little search, and found the RL brass was $5 more per 1000, and it comes nickeled also. No mention of what the RL was for, but another site called it 38 Rimless.

Sam - you are right on! I suspect that we have the answer on this one and that “RL” stands for “Rimless”. In my old age I totally missed the fact that this is a rimless cartridge. The rim diameter on a specimen of .38 Super made by Armscor, headstamped “AP 02 38 SUPER” is approximately 0.404" (10.27m/m). This “RL” round has a rim diameter of only 0.385" (9.78m/m).

So, this cartridge is basically one more headstamp in the .38 Super rimless series of rounds, also called the .38 Super Comp.

Thanks, Sam. You did what I should have done - looked it up on the net or gone to my catalog file, where I have some pretty current Armscor of the Philippines literature.

I confirm what Christopher B. wrote: I have an IMI .223 ammunition box with the same headstamp.