Russian TCW 5.56 Ammunition


Maybe 10 to 12 years ago, I bought several hundred rounds of Russian steel-cased 5.56 FMJ (says L.C.B. 56 grain) ammunition at a gun show, at the amazing price of a dollar per 20 round box. I shot all of it up, but I just ran across one empty box I still have. Box is plain white, but it has all warnings printed on the back side in English, so probably made for the US market.

Box has one top flap only, with one-piece black plastic separator inside of odd design. Front side says: TCW AMMUNITION/.223 REM. (5.56X45 mm)/MADE IN RUSSIA/20 ROUNDS On one end flap is a symbol which is a diamond with three Cyrillic characters inside (which I guess are TCW). The characters inside the diamond look like r - backwards N - c if that helps.

So who or what is TCW? (maybe Tula Cartridge Works?) What does L.C.B. mean? Maybe Lead Core Bullet (like FMJ)? I haven’t seen these boxes anywhere else since.

It was Berdan-primed, so I didn’t save any cases. I should have bought a lot more than I did - it was pretty good-shooting stuff, and grouped well as I remember.


You have guessed correctly on two out of three. “LCB” means “Lead-Core Bullet.” The initials “TCW” mean “Tula Cartridge Works.” However, the letters in Cyrillic that you described are not “TCW” but rather “GIS” in our alphabet. I cannot reproduce the Russian name here, as I don’t know how to put Cyrillic letters here, and explanations from others have alsways ended in failure for me. I can use them easily in personal correspondence. Basically, GIS is the Government Proof Station, and this mark is found on Russian commercial ammunition boxes from various makers.

Edited for typo errors only


Right you are. I just looked at a couple of different Tulammo boxes I have, and they also display the same diamond symbol on them, but larger. I notice that the Tulammo boxes list manufacturer as: OJSC “the Tula Cartridge Works” What does OJSC mean - Maybe something like “Limited” or “Incorporated” or “State Corporation”?

I am assuming my white box was made prior to the more commercialized western-style branding and package graphics that are now used for Tula products.

I will say I recently fired a couple of boxes of factory Tulammo steel case 9mm (a rare event for me, as I usually shoot only reloads) and was very pleased with their functioning and grouping.


I believe that OJSC stands for “Open Joint Stock Company.” I have it in my notes somewhere, but since I have three full file drawers of notes on Russian Makarov pistols and ammunition alone, I just don’t have time right now to verify it. There is no questiontion that the “JSC” stands for “Joint Stock Company,” however. Just not positive about the “O.”

The white boxes, sometimes with purple print and sometimes with black, were the first commercial boxes, other than the B-West brand ammunition, which was made by Tula, that appeared in the USA. The kept adding information to the box as the evolved, eventually adopting the cartridge-box art (commercially attractive boxes) of Western makers.

Even the quality of the cardboard and the quality of the box inserts improved as time went on.


The printing on my box is purple.

Doing a little research, OJSC does mean Open Joint Stock Company, in English. In Russian, it would be Акционерное общество (AO), at least according to Wikipedia. I had thought Tula was somehow governmental, but apparently it is presently a publicly-owned company. Maybe something like how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are governmentally-backed entities but shares trade openly. I have no idea as to how Russian enterprise operates. Maybe someone can comment on how Tula is organized. The only references I can find are in Russian, and about the only word in Russian I can understand is Vodka.


The Tula ammo plant was started in 1880 with privet capitol and approved by Alexander the II. So it is a privately owned company. Just as in the USA mfg. have both military contracts and civilian output. Now in 1712 Peter the Great ordered a armament plant in Tula and is not related to the ammo plant. Also steel has been mined around Tula since the 1600’s or before. So when a reference to Tula is made it’s more of a geographic reference than a building. Hope that makes sense, I tried to simplify it as much as possible as it relates to this subject.


Dennis, do you mean one of these?:

They are standardization marks for passed tests like CIP, SAAMI, DIN, ISO or what else there is in this world.


The diamond on the right side is the one on both my old TCW and new Tulammo boxes. Strange that it’s a marking I overlooked for so long. I don’t see anything like that on the left side. What is it for?

I take it that this Russian GIS organization is a counterpart to SAAMI that has developed a similar set of ammunition industry standards, and the diamond symbol on the box is a certification that ammunition meets those standards. Does GIS go beyond just guns and ammunition by establishing industry standards and specifications for other manufactured products?

I couldn’t find anything appropriate by doing a search for GIS - all references came back as having something to do with geographic information systems in Russia. There is a Russian organization for that purpose having a symbol using the same Cyrillic letters, but inside a rectangle, not a diamond.

It might be interesting to start a thread to gather information about SAAMI and similar organizations in other areas of the world that are involved with setting ammunition manufacturing standards. I remember one of the editions of COTW had a story in the back about the history of SAAMI.


TCW== Tula Cartridge Works== Tulskiy Patronnyi Zavod (Russian)
written T II 3 ( te pe zet).

Joint Stock Company: Term used to describe most of Eastern Europe former Government entities when “privatised” in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism, usually by buy-out by the staff and management (as happened to ZV ( S&B) in Czechoslovakia ( as it was 1989-1992)…S&B has now been bought out by Magtech (Brazil).

The Corporations Laws covering JSCs is similar to that of US and UK Company arrangements (Stocks or shares, etc in both Public (Gov’t) and Private (investor) hands.).

The term Joint Stock Company is a throwback to the very early days of Company Formation ( back in the late 1700s, early 1800s) where to differentiate from previous “joint ventures” such as partnershps or “Venture Companies” where all members were liable to the full extent of their assets and cash, to a system where members were only liable for the amount of money actually contributed to the scheme of any particular business venture. Before that time, the only “protected” company system was that by Royal Charter. The “Joint Stock Company” also created the “Legal Entity” of the Company as separate from the Individuals which were members ( 1820s case in UK, Solomon which agreed that an investor was not liable for the debts of the company beyond the value of his investement (or “Share”) ).

Why the Eastern countries used the term “JSC” for normal corporation arrangements ( Inc, Limited, etc) is a mystery. Probably because what is best described as their “primitive” understanding of the Corporations Law principles, not having “private property”, for between 40 and 70 years, for the most part. ( it is instructive to note that China had no such problems… they slipped into private ownership (individual and corporative) quite easily, along with a two-tier Stock market as well.)

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


Here the TPZ-logo: … 0_logo.jpg


[quote=“DennisK”]The diamond on the right side is the one on both my old TCW and new Tulammo boxes. Strange that it’s a marking I overlooked for so long. I don’t see anything like that on the left side. What is it for?

I take it that this Russian GIS organization is a counterpart to SAAMI that has developed a similar set of ammunition industry standards, and the diamond symbol on the box is a certification that ammunition meets those standards. Does GIS go beyond just guns and ammunition by establishing industry standards and specifications for other manufactured products?

I couldn’t find anything appropriate by doing a search for GIS - .[/quote]

The “GIS” is in fact the “Federal Test Station” responsible for testing and approval of civilian and military small arms and ammunition.
This facility (headquarter) is located at “TsNIITOChMASh” in Klimovsk and has inspectors allocated to 11 weapon and ammunition facilities. So basically they are the Russian counterpart to CIP AND SAAMI.
They do not do anything else than small arms and ammunition testing and certification and are not related to other industrial products or the like.


yes it its. I think proper English term is "Proof house"
No gun or ammo is allowed to Russian market without GIS proof marks.


There is really no such institution as a “Proof House” in the USA. Such proofing and ammunition testing is done by individual manufacturers. Enforcement of gun and ammunition safety in the private sector is instead performed by an army of plaintiff’s product liability lawyers, a very prolific breed in the US. They seem to concentrate mainly on the manufacturers of drugs.

The US SAAMI organization sets manufacturing standards for ammunition and gun chamber dimensions, principally to ensure both safety and gun-cartridge compatibility, SAAMI also has standards for pressure and pressure measurement methods. It does not have inspectors at factories, as apparently the GIS does. SAAMI standards are voluntary, but virtually all manufacturers follow their standards as a matter of commercial necessity. It’s not good for business if Federal ammunition won’t fit in Ruger rifles.

I’ve had several past contacts with SAAMI personnel, and formerly had access to their database (and still do if necessary), but I have been out of that loop for a long time.

For military weapons and ammunition, i.e., products purchased by the US government, the US government does employ inspectors who oversee contractor’s manufacturing operations to ensure contract performance specifications are followed. That system seems closer to what is done by the GIS organization.


Dennis - a better statement would be that we don’t have a “National Proof House.” Most of the better manufacturers of firearms in America proof their products, although just as you said, the proof houses are a function of their companies, not of the National Government or any National
Organizations. It is true, though, that SAAMI provides (I am sure at a cost) proof ammunition, or used to, as well as what I guess most of us still call “Ballistic Standard Ammunition.” I just wanted to clarify this for those that did not know how proofing in America works.


Regarding proof test ammunition, I don’t know how it is obtained. My guess is that one or more of the major U. S. loading companies makes it, tests it, and somehow provides (sells) it to the various firearms manufacturers. That could be done through SAAMI as an intermediary, I suppose. I doubt SAAMI does any such proof round loading itself, but again I do not know.

What I do know is that I have been told personally by both Winchester and Remington ammunition technical personnel that what I’ll call calibration ammunition, e.g., for calibrating pressure test instrumentation and chronographs, can be made up by any of the loaders. If, during routine QC testing, a particular production lot of ammunition is determined to demonstrate high uniformity of chamber pressure and velocity, it will be tagged for calibration use and some of it may then held back for distribution to the other ammunition manufacturers for ballistic standardization purposes. I have no idea about how the procedural logistics of this transaction are handled, but I am sure that the ballistics personnel from all of the loaders communicate with each other about such things daily.


I did access the SAAMI procedures for “Reference” ammunition and also proof test ammunition. Unfortunately, I have no way to easily copy and attach this information, which is fairly extensive.

Basically, the SAAMI member ammunition companies load both types. In very brief summary:

  1. Definitive Proof Loads
    Maximum average proof pressure = 1.4 X Maximum Probable Lot Mean Pressure MPLM)
    Minimum average proof pressure = 1.3 X MLPM
    Definitive proof standard deviation = 1.25 X service load standard deviation

There is a table provided of minimum and maximum values of proof pressures for each caliber. E.g., for .30-'06 220 grain, it is 670 to 715 (CUP/100); for .223, 55 grain it is 695 to 745. Using pressure transducers instead of CUP, the corresponding ranges are 800 to 860 (psi/100) for .30-'06, and 735 to 785 for .223

Exactly how proof ammunition is identified, tracked, and distributed is unstated.

  1. Reference ammunition for calibrating pressure and velocity
    Again, the source of this ammunition is SAAMI member loading companies. Test conditions for reference ammunition are specified, including use of standard SAAMI-dimensioned test barrels, instrumentation, and temperature conditioning. Also, it specifies that there should be a 5-year supply of such reference ammunition maintained (presumably at the manufacturer’s location).

Whenever reference ammunition is produced, it is reported to the SAAMI office. SAAMI then formally notifies individual test stations (which I guess are the manufacturer’s ballistics labs) of the availability of a new lot. The form of this announcement is provided. SAAMI has a specific lot identifier for reference ammunition which goes as follows:

“C. F. LOT x-y-z mm” where x=caliber, y=bullet weight, z=lot number and mm=manufacturer ID (WW, RP, FC, etc.). Exactly how, say, a .30-'06 is distinguished from a .300 Magnum is not stated. Maybe the caliber is spelled out in full.

Therefore, it appears that SAAMI acts principally as an information center resource for its members for who has what reference ammunition available.