Reference sheet / quick-guide for pistol AP

Here’s a handy-dandy visual reference guide for those wanting to know how to classify pistol AP cartridges (The cartridges are all approximately the correct size in terms of relative scale - though some are pitched at slightly different angles). This chart took me about a week to make in a photo editor and I find it well worth it to be able to email this to other collectors wanting to know what the heck I am talking about on certain cartridges, or just for sending a want list around. They all look fairly unique in their own right, and so a profile image goes a long way in identifying one. I have a higher-quality full size image if anyone wants one emailed from me, and you can print your own glossy full page. I started including this page in my book a couple months ago:

Very nice, DK!

That would make a nice poster (suitable for framing!).


Nice picture/reference have PM’d you.

Many thanks.

What were the parameters for including cartridges in this beautiful picture? They do not all seem to be “armor-piercing” cartridges by designation. I just wondered.

It’s true, they are not all “armor piercing” per se, but I just put many of the most obvious “enhanced penetration” cartridges, or cartridges with projectiles capable of greater-than-average penetration in the photo. Admittedly, a couple are there as much for interesting appearance as anything else such as the Omnishock, which is laughable as an AP cartridge - although according to the BATF it is legit, being on their list.

I understand that FN’s 5,7 x 28 SS-190 is armour piercing too, although it’s not identified by bullet colour. The bullet is similar to the 5,56 SS-109 but is aluminum+steel core instead of lead+steel.

The 9x19 “Tula AP” is the 7N30.

The Chinese 5.8x21 is not officially designated as AP.

The Chinese 7.62x25 Type 64 is a subsonic round.

I believed that THV bullets were intended for opposite results than AP bullets ( they loss velocity quickly due to their low mass and penetrate much less than standard FMJ bullets , losing their energy into a shorter through-target travel)

It’s true that the pointed Type “P” for the type 64 SMG is subsonic, but it has a steel core and is derived from a pistol caliber, and the 5.8x21 also has a steel core in this regard. I know the term “AP” is rather debatable in terms of application for certain projectiles, but again this chart is to show projectiles capable of relatively enhanced penetration (blowing through body armor, etc… where other typical projectiles would fail). On the THV, it certainly does have a dual-purpose effect in that it causes great wound cavity, and it also will penetrate considerably more than the average FMJ bullet (will penetrate Kevlar, etc…)

I was under the impression that the 7N30 was just a variation of the other older-style exposed steel-core tip projectiles common to the 9x19 and 9x21 cartridges which had been in Russia for some years as shown in the photo below?? The “Tula AP” 9mm cartridge on the diagram was a pic which I took from the Wolf commercial ammo website( ) - {lower left corner of page} under their Law Enforcement / military section and I had thought this was a newer effort? The projectile does look to have a much larger exposed steel-core tip protrusion. Altough these Russian AP projectiles are not my specialty and they do seem to have a wide array of variations and multiple code numbers.

DK, there are some errors in the last image.

  • There is no 9x19 APT just an AP, regardless which version. The designation 7N31 is for the AP only and not shared with other designs
  • There is no 9x21 API-T, just an AP-T which correct designation is 7BT3 and not 7BTZ (typical error of non Russian speakers which adds the incendiary effect)
  • The 7N30 is some unidentified verison and the 7N30 is the one I have identified above, regardless what Tula says
  • The image showing the 7N21 and 7N31 with projectiles shows a not clearly identified version of the 7N21 (“sharp” edges on core)

The 7N30 is the last officially adopted 9x19 (2006). There is also a similar version of the 9x18 Mak. which has no “steps” above the casemouth and remained experimental to my knowledge.

If we talk about steel cores then the S&B 7.65 Br. with steel core should be added. In general I would consider cartridges to have an AP capability when the cores are hardened or consist of a tungsten alloy.

Thanks EOD, many of those 9x19 and 9x21 AP variants were translated from Chinese, and I have only ever found those particular images from a Chinese site which showed these variations. “7BT3” sounds right also. instead of a Z. Part of the problem with the Russian designations is that they don’t even seem to know how to clarify their own designations, unless something is being lost in the translation? Like here in the Rosoboronexport catalog (second page - pg109): they show only a couple variations as they label one as the “PBP” which is also the SP10 I guess.
I wish I had some of the S&B 7.65 steel core cartridges, but I have none to photograph, not that they would appear particularly different. I have been buying lots of old surplus S&B 7.65 for a few years now with no luck in finding a steel core version. Does anybody know what the box type of headstamp style would be on that? Any distinguishing sealer or style to it? Thanks.

DK, the S&B one we discussed here already and I had an image posted which is long gone from my photobucket account. I shall digg for it.

The box for it is commercial. To identify them you have to pull one I guess.

Here it is:

It would help one find one of the steel-core S&B 7.65 mm if we knew the headstamp that was on the one shown. Some where to start!

John Moss

12.00h: SBP
3.00h: (bomb)
6.00h: 7,65
9.00h: (bomb)
All red primer. The projectile is of course longer than usual lead cored ones.

Sounds like the key will be finding the longer projectile. Of course what I have been doing is just buying several specimens or boxes of older 1950’s, 1960’s vintage S&B 7.65 ammo and just pulling some bullets and melting the cores with my torch to see if a steel core remains. So far just lead, and I have a pile of it melted near the bottom of my bench-vise…

Alex - is the longer projectile normally seated out, or is the cartridge OAL the same? I assume we are NOT talking about the normally green & white tiped ZM75 round here. Are these steel-cored rounds hard to find? I don’t believe I have ever seen one, despite having a pretty fair 7.65 x 17 mm collection. Of course, a magnet is not much help, since most S&B GM bullets are magnetic due to mild-steel jackets.

John Moss

John, the AOL is the same as on a regular round otherwise it would not make much sense.

In terms of the steel core 7.65 from S&B, which of these boxes might be the one which could have this sort of load: I know it is not the top left, or top center, and I am guessing it is the top right or the lower left box which might?

EOD - I thought it might make some sense if the round were for the Skorpion or as some sort of round involved with the ZM75. Perhaps not. There is a “long bullet” dummy for the ZM75 series - I have one. Certainly, you are correct if one is thinking only 7.65 mm Pistols. Have never seen a Skorpion, so don’t know the magazine parameters of it.