Some pistol cartridges to ID

I have a small lineup of cartridges that come from a small plastic clamshell case that seem to have been set aside because they are special. The only one I know for sure is the plastic Hush Puppy chamber plug in the center, and that this type is the typically encountered variation for this sort of plug.

If you can’t read the headstamps they are, from L to R:

  1. SEL 91
  2. 539 ^ D ^ (I think it is a “D” symbol at bottom?)
  3. 21 78
  4. ELEY 9.P
  5. 21 81
  6. P.0-1-83 9mm

I presume the one with the spring is some sort of snap cap, and it, like the steel case with white projectile load, and the aluminum case CCI load are 9x18mm, while the light blue plastic load is .380 auto. The 7.62x25 with purple tip has “HPT” written on the side to suggest it is a high pressure test. I don’t know what might be special about the Eley 9x19.


The “A” code on #2 is a symbol for 1953. The round is usually identified as a “Reference” load, used to test the usefulness of long-stored surplus ammo.

DK - First picture on the left is a prototype CCI Blazer 9 x 18 mm Makarov round. Cases were made from 9 mm Para intended for the military sub-caliber tracer with red and blue tip. Black stripe is legitimate and on all I have seen. The story of CCI production of this caliber is a miracle story, but one for another time.

I concur with Jon on the second one - a 7.62 x 25 mm Tokarev from Tula (code 539). The “A symbol” is the Cyrillic Letter D.

The third round from left is a military Hungarian short range round.

The fourth is a Hush Puppy chamber plug. They also came in white plastic. Something looks different to me - perhaps the funny band around the case above or at the rubber o-ring, but I would have to research it for best ID and I don’t have time now.

The next round is commercial Eley 9 mm Para. Possibly made as early as pre-WWI, and almost certainly made before the mid-1920s, when Kynoch took over production and headstamped all pistol ammo “KYNOCH.”

The next one is a military Hungarian dummy round - absolutely legit, NOT an inerted ball round,. There is a spring inside which is clearly visible at the hole in the case.

The last one looks like a .380 auto, but I think it is 9 mm Para caliber. It is a Geco-type short range round, except made by Plastics Oromil, in Spain.

Hope tis helps.

Excellent John, Thanks!

Matt & John, the Spanish short range cartridge by Plásticas Oramil is a .380 Auto, as the 9 mm Parabellum is headstamped “9-P.”.

This Eley cartridge with truncated nose bullet is illustrated in Eley’s Tracing No. 705 of 1910.

Fede - thanks. I though it looked like a .380, but in the picture on my screen, the case looked longer than the 9 Mak next to it. I was right in my head about the Eley round, but hedged my answer as I had no time to check it. Rushing my computer stuff between visits to my wife in the hospital the last several days. Guess she will be home this afternoon.

Jon, the purple tipped TT is a much disputed round. It exists with hs from 1953 and 1954.
As the Russian reference cartridges have white tips (also the TT) the purple one would be a sole Czechoslovak marking if it is a reference load. Back in 1953 Czechoslovakia made it’s own TT cartridges so it is somewhat unclear why they should use Russian cases or even cartridges marked in a non standard Russian way.

Russia itself has 2 different IDs for the purple tip:

  • The very first tracers had purple tips as per Russian documents. That will not fit the hs of 1953 though.
  • Official manuals are listing the purple tip as an identifier for steel cored projectile on the TT

The problem now is that the shown cartridge with purple tip has no steel core and should not be the cartridge as described in the manual.

These cartidges came in plain and unmarked standard 72rd. boxes as they were not uncommon in Russia.

So this cartridge is a small mystery.

True, Alex, but Reference is still the best current explanation. It is possible that the Russians marked the rounds in such a way for the Czechs to use on wartime supplies of Soviet ammo that they still had in stock. Perhaps someday we will see documentation on these cartridges.

Jon, speaking about likelinesses is very difficult here.

Also these are no wartime production (which would have been remarked then what makes it even unlikelier).

Further so far we never observed the Russian applying foreign color markings for export. Taking that back to 1953-1954 makes it even unlikelier to having happened.
To what I have seen Czech boxes would have respective markings and the one here is unmarked.

The reference and proof rounds the Russian delivered to Czecholsovakia (those we know of) always had the standard Soviet markings.

Alex, some recent Russian articles describe this as a proof round designated “УЗ” (UZ) , is this also an unproven identification?

For what is worth, it is also reported with a ▷ 539 ◁ 50 headstamp.

Fede, I have an unidentified loading with a yellow tip and 539 > 50 < headstamp, but I have no report of the purple tip you mentioned. Can you post more info on those recent Russian articles…and perhaps a link to an English translation?

Jon, you are right, I confused the description of these cartridges, there is not purple tip with ▷ 539 ◁ 50 headstamp, sorry! Regarding the yellow tip, this is described as an experimental PST cartridge with boat tail bullet.

I have the yellow tip Tokarev from 1950 (as well as the 1953 code-dated purpole tip round) and unfortunately, since the round with the yellow tip is in a brass-washed steel case, I cannot do a magnet test to find the length of the bullet. X-ray is the only hope, and it is not really available to me.

The yellow tip I have recorded with these hs:

539 < 50 (brass washed steel)

  • 38 * 50 (brass)

John, if noone else will be faster I shall com back with the measurements and the weight for the projectile.

EOD - go ahead, my friend. I don’t want to pull the bullet on mine, as it ruins the stab crimps (flattens them out). I think the measurements and the shape of the yellow-tip bullet will be more valuable than the weight, although I could be wrong. One only has to lengthen the jacket on a steel-core bullet to allow making it the same weight as a lead-cored projectile. Also, did I read here that is supposedly with a boat-tail?

Correct, it has a boat tail.

Let me digg for the details then.

Matt, John correctly identified the 4th round as a Hushpuppy Chamber Plug. They come in Packs with the live ammo and the caps to cover the muzzle tip. I have no idea who made these plugs which, with the muzzle cap were intended to keep water out of the pistol barrel and allow a live round to be loaded by simply operating the slide. I have the 4 variation pictured. If anyone has photos of others, please post them.

I have no information on the plug on the far left and on the brown plug which differ from the original shape, but suspect the one on the left is simply a later version and the brown plug may be a later version or an earlier trial item.


Lew - wow, I have never seen or even heard of that odd black one and the brown one you show.

But, you did my work for me. I was going to look at mine. Enlarging the first picture that started this thread, I see the “anomoly” I saw at the groove for the rubber washer was the strange shape of the washer itself, which looks almost like it has some sort of fastener - a “buckle” of sorts. Base on all of these I have seen, I don’t believe that “O” ring is original to the cartridge. The one shown in Lew’s picture is the only one I have seen before, in handling many of these black plugs and in literature on the Hush Puppy system.

John, I think the O-Ring in Matt’s photo is a normal O-Ring that has just aged & hardened, and is cracking. Other than the cracks, it looks original to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, and my thanks to all the Forum members.


The chamber plug and muzzle attachment cap are illustrated in the patent filled in 1969 by personnel of the White Oak Lab, Silver Spring, MD (since 1974 became part of the Naval Surface Weapons Center).