Radway Green 9x19-Military Hsts-Soft Point Bullets

Over 40 years ago, I found my first RG hst 9x19mm Soft Point (cartridge on right below dated 1959). I was told it was a manufacturing error that occasionally turned up in boxes of RG 9mmP ammunition. The cause was reportedly that after the lead core dropped into the GM jacket, the two got turned upside down and the press process that formed the bullet resulted in a SP load.

Since then I have found two more of these RG SP loads with military headstamps. One is dated 1955 and the other (in rough shape) dated 1963. In all these years of collecting, I haven’t encountered another “accidental” SP load with a military headstamp by any manufacturer at any time over the 100+ years the cartridge has been in production. The fact that I have collected three of these rounds by RG implies one of a couple of things.

First, the RG bullet machine design was uniquely poor in that it allowed these accidental SP bullets to be created in the first place. Secondly, it implies that the RG quality control process over at least 15 years was poor enough that it missed these SP rounds with some regularity. I have not noticed other recurring production defects in RG 9x19mm production.

Alternatively, it could be that these “accidental” SP loads are not actually accidents at all. The UK faced some interesting problems during the mid-50s to the mid-60s in places where the ban on SP bullets would not be relevant.

Has anyone else examples of this type round, military with SP bullet, by RG or any other manufacturer.

The only thing similar I can recall are the DWM loads, pre-WWI, with truncated HP bullets and military headstamps. I strongly suspect these were intended for use by the German Colonial Forces which were under the Foreign Office and totally seperate from the Army, except that the officers, and perhaps some NCOs, were drawn from the Army. These DWM HP rounds are found in sufficient quantity that they were clearly not “accidental”.

Thoughts and theorys welcome. Facts treasured!!!


Lew, I am not sure if that “upside-down” theory works as the jacket is drawn separately and only when inside a die which is formed like the bullet the lead core is swaged in. Means the jacket would have to be inserted upside down first and then the core put on top of the bullet nose, kept balancing there and then swaged all the way back into the jacket which would have to be dranw back all way and then into the same shape again just “all way back”. I really doubt that this is technically possible (with my limited knowledge).

Also if that would be possible we should have seen such things from other manufacturers and not only from RG in the 1950s.
So I think your loads are made like this on purpose.

As you say the UK well could have been using SP loads in all sort of special operations like many countries still do today. Like when no uniform is worn no such laws have to be observed (with all possible interpretations of this fact).
Further such ammo can be used for guard duty inside country and also by MP (against own personnel) and body guards of high ranking mililtaries.
The German Bundeswehr for example is using for such purposes the Action 5 (9x19). Maybe one of our German experts can shed more light on this issue.

most of my pistol shooting was with Geco brand FMJ factory ammunition. Over a period of about 25 years there were 2 instances where I was surprised by “soft point” bullets in a FMJ box. These were FMJ bullets rotated 180 degrees somewhere in the manufacturing process which had escaped quality control. Both were from lots produced at Stadeln, long before the move to Hungary.
The shape was quite different from ordinary 9 mm Geco soft points. So I see no chance that some ordinary soft point bullet found its way into FMJ production.
Alas, I do not have them any more, because I sent the cartridges to Geco and received a full box in return.

In other words, I have encountered accidental soft points happen at a time when standards at Geco were much higher than they are today under the prevailing cutting corners fetish.

EOD, I agree with you. In 1955 the British were tied up with the EOKA on Cyprus. The Mau Mau Uprising was from 1952-1964. There were quite a few places where SP bullets would have been useful.

I have seen a number of production lines and have quite a few draw sets, The jacket is drawn into a cup and then pressed into the shape of the FMJ bullet. The lead core is also shaped before it is put into the jacket. From my draw sets and boards, this seems like a pretty standard process. I have a hard time envisioning how these can result in a SP bullet. It would have taking an extremely unlikely RG bullet machine to allow this to happen. But, it has happened before that my imagination has failed me. Perhaps JPeelen has the answer!


I do not have any answer how it happened. But from the bullets I saw, I think the 180 degree explanation is much more plausible than a stray soft point bullet.
In hindsight, it was a bad idea not to keep those two cartridges.

Jochem, I do not have the explanation of course but once saw a UK military list of barred lots of small arms ammo. There in the remarks section a brief reason was given and it was not only one case where there were single 5.56x45 rounds inside claimed 7.62x51 boxes.
So going from this I see no reason why no stray SP bullets can make it into loading machinery where for example some corners of machinery may have had stuck or loose bullets laying around or containers used to refill loading machinery simply had some loose bullets from a prior operation where the containers were not entirely emptied before. This I know from other factories to have happened as a person I know used to inspect all empty containers which made it out of the “security zone” (strict control and accounting, metal detectors etc.) and still contained all sort of “goodies” (bullets and cases).

An advanced British collector just sent me a list of the Radway Green soft point, 9x19mm cartridges in his collection. The headstamps are:
RG 56 9MM 2Z
RG 57 9MM 2Z
RG 58 9MM 2Z
RG 59 9MM 2Z
RG 60 9MM 2Z
RG 74 9MM 2Z

All six were sold as manufacturing faults.

Has anyone seen similar errors on British WWII production by other companies?


All dates from your list are from 1956 to 1974. The dates coincide with major world disturbances, as you correctly say. Many “norms” were dropped after WWII. So I think it supports your theory of intentional (not error) production of soft point. They may have been sold as “manufacturing faults” to hide the original forbidden intent.
If the above were not true, then we’d see some dates from 1920’s or 1930’s.

During the 1960’s we opened a few 9mm cartons at Tipnor rifle range, Portsmouth, Hampshire. This was RG 60 9mm 2Z stuff. As we filled magazines (Browning pistols and Sterling SMG’s) a couple of soft nosed bullets were noticed. The most that I saw in 50 round cartons was three soft nosed in one and a couple in each of two more. We may have already fired off others without spotting the anomaly.

The explanation given at the time was faulty manufacture with the bullet reversed in the final pressing operation. I no longer collect pistol calibres and the seven that I kept have long ago been passed to other collectors.


Great input!

This seems like a pretty high percent of SP bullets. If these are quality escapes as implied by your experience, why is this problem apparently pretty well limited to Radway Green ammunition???

JPeelen’s experience with Geco 9x19mm from the old RWS facility at Stadeln is the only other report of these “accidental” SP bullets and that problem apparently disappeared when production moved to Hungary.


When Geco moved from Stadein to Hungary, did they use new or different machinery?

I would hazard a guess that the machinery used at Radway Green was at least WWII vintage, if not earlier (having been transferred from another ROF). Well past its best before date and evidently of a design that allowed inversion. It should be noted from at least 1971, we were buying in 9mm from countries such as France and Portugal, which seems odd when we had the apparent manufacturing capacity.

You make some good points! This condition could conceivably been the result of the bullet machine design. I just don’t see how it could have occurred by accident based on the draw sets I have which all indicate that the bullet jacket is shaped to the final ogive before the lead core is inserted. If the jacket with the core inserted were then put upside down in the machine designed to seat the core firmly into the jacket and crimp the base of the bullet into the lead base it is not clear to me how this would result in a hollow point. I suspect it would result in markings on the base of the bullet from the crimping tooling. I probably should pull one of mine and see if these marks exist.

I don’t think the UK had tooling for the 9x19mm production before 1941, except for Kynoch which was specifically excluded from 9x19mm production during WWII. I have no idea where RG got their tooling for 9x19mm. The earliest RG production of 9x19mm I know of is 1952.


Not odd at all. Two factors are involved, politics and price. Government owned facilities will usually be more expensive.

Personally I fail to come to grips with the inverted bullet manufacture. Surely, if it was at all feasible, RG should have picked up the problem and not let it go on for years. I’m of the opinion the production was deliberate.

I decided to pull down one of my SP rounds since it was so grotty anyway. For comparison is a 115gr bullet from an HN load.
The base of the FMJ load (at right) has a slight crimp line around the tail of the jacket just adjacent to the lead. This line does not appear on the RG SP base.

So, I pulled down an RG 1956 round (at left) and—no crimp line.

Below are the later stages in bullet manufacture from a Polte board from about 1934. It looks like the tail of the jacket is turned into hold the lead core in place in one stage and the next stage (different tooling) finishes the base of the bullet. In this case it appears this last step is done in two stages.


I have checked draw sets from four other countries and they all form bullets basically the same way. Unfortunately, none of these sets are RG or even British.

It appears that if the fourth or third stage from the right were turned upside down it would take a considerable increase in pressure to reshape the entire bullet, compared to what appears to being done in these last three stages. In addition, it appears that if the fourth or third stage were inserted upside down in the feed line they would not fit down more than about halfway into the next stage die and more likely cause the machinery to jam rather than totally reshape the bullet.

No data for a firm conclusion, but I am still having great difficulty figuring how these bullets could be made by mistake.

One possibility is that the SP bullets were made intentionally for Special Operators, but when RG switched from SP to FMJ, they didn’t always clear the bullet machines and as a result a few of the resulting SP loads got mixed into the normal FMJ production. This could also explain the Geco SP loads mixed with FMJ ammo. Again, just speculation.

A couple of hours work, and no better insights. I’m going to go upstairs and have a wee drop of Whisky from a land where they talk funny…


Lew, a totally weird question: did you compare the weights?

No, but the bullets were all the same length and all had a base cavity of about the same size.


I weighed the three SPs and compared them to WWII HN rounds from a full box. The weights are identical at 1183gr so all are 115gr bulletets.

The British collector mentioned above sent a photo of his RG softpoints (below). He has not encountered similar SP bullets on Military hsts on Kynoch or other British military cases.

Do any other collectors have examples of these RG softpoints, or SP bullets in military headstamp cases from anywhere?


I have a similar item picked out of a box many years ago - clearly this was an accidental loading. I also have one in .38" Enfield MkII. Folklore states that there were some deliberate SP loadings for special use made by inverting the jacket - but I have no documentary evidence. Mispacking did happen - my one and only 9mm MkII Daily Proof of Work (green primer annulus) came out of a box of regular ball ammo………

Were both of these (9mm & 38) both Radway Green manufacture??

Very interesting insight.


Will check in a couple of weeks’ time and revert.