No headstamp


A long time ago I purchased someones “collection,” a dusty box of filthy cartridges rattling around. I started digging today and pulled this out at random. I’ve never seen a cartridge with no headstamp markings. based on measurements I would guess 7.7mm Jap. I would be interested to learn more.

Bullet diameter .311, case length 2.271", OAL 3.14"


Yes, that’s a typical looking base for a 7.7x58 Japanese round. The big question is whether it’s rimless or semi-rimmed.


Revolver, the longer you collect the more unheadstamped mysteries you will see. Early U.S. BP sporting rifles Sharps Remington & such is just check full of them, also early US pistol revolver & case types that were common to early CF repeaters [such as 44WCF]. Plus lots of European pistol & revolver not to mention Japanese cartridges for various hand weapons.

So just because a cartridge is not headstamped don’t pass it up, the variations are seemingly endless & keep in mind some of these mysteries solutions don’t come easy or seemingly ever, but the search is great fun, you’ll learn a ton & make some great friends in the process.

My 2¢ for whatever that’s worth & just my opinion.

PS buy books some great information already in print.
Ken Elks has covered Japanese in great detail, if of more interest to you.

See the IAA site’s books listing.


There is whole field of cartridge collecting involving cartridges without headstamps and that is ‘clandestine’ ammunition. Ammunition produced without a headstamp in order to try and hide its origin etc.
As examples here are a few threads on clandestine unheadstamped or very limited headstamp ammunition: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=13367



Don’t forget the many modern cartridges that were developed as experimentals and prototypes using cases with no headstamp. Some that come to mind are the 222 Rem Mag, 243 Winchester, 308 Winchester. 307 Winchester, 356 Winchester, 338 Winchester Mag, 458 Winchester Mag, 35 Whelen, 350 G&H Magnum, just to name a few.



Even the first couple of variations of the Winchester-made .40 Smith and Wesson auto pistol cartridge were without headstamp, and today, just a short time in the overall history of ammo after their development, these prototype versions of the .40 are very hard to find, and (should be) prized items in any collection.


How does one tell which of the plain 40 S&W’s was the 1st?
I have one & it is prized!


I am not sure. For the few that were available to most of us, it is the one that has the pretty standard Winchester 180 grain HP bullet, and a nickel primer with NO primer seal. I also have a npe case that has a red primer seal.

As I recall, Woodin Lab has a number of .40 Winchester items leading up to the finished, serially-produced “first loading” (the 180 grain HP).


Mine has the red annulus seal, a quite flat (almost flush looking) nickel primer & the 180 gr HP bullet