Sterile 45 ACP cartridges

Hi guys,

I have the two sterile 45 ACP cartridges shown in the photo below :

Does anyone have information regarding the manufacturer and period of production?

Thank you

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I cannot identify the time frame, but from the look of those cartridges, I would say they were Chinese. I have about six or seven unheadstamped .45’s of varying quality, all of which were culled out of a shipment to me from Navy Arms of 1,000 rounds of .45. There were also some headstamped Chinese rounds in the shipment. All of the ammo was from China. One friend, a collector, ordered 1,000 as well, but ended up with almost 900 rounds of it be steel-case WW2 Ammunition from Evansville Chrysler. My shipment was better, for sure. Only about 25 rounds of the very, very common EC and ECS US-made ammo.

China had lots of US Pistols in .45 as well as Thompson Submachine Guns, both American and native copies. The American weapons were, of course, given to them in WW2, although ironically, many showed up on the Chinese side during the CCF Intervention in Korea in 1950. They also made a copy of the Mauser C.96 “Broomhandle” pistol during the early 1920s.

Because of the features, I suspect that your cartridges may be from the 1920s or early 1930s. By the late 1930s, the Chinese were making fair quality, well and uniformly headstamped .45s at at least two factories. Most of those had Gilding Metal bullet jackets, rather than cupronickel, like those on your rounds.

That timing, I reiterate, is just a guess on my part.

John Moss

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Thank you John, very interesting information!

Are those bullets actually CN jacketed? They almost look like lead to me.

They are jacketed but the jackets are darker than the average cn jacket

Those bullets seem seated way low almost like a .455 Automatic MKI cartridge.

Without measurements of the two cartridges originally pictured on this thread, we cannot tell. However, if you look at the thickness of the two rims, both different, you can see that this was not high quality ammunition. It appears from other characteristics evident in the picture, which is quite good, that both rounds were made at the same factory or shop. I think the bullets were simply seated too deep, or something has happened over the years to push the bullets back into the case a bit. The two seem pretty uniform in OACL, but that does not preclude pushed-in bullets, since they would stop on the compacted powder charge. Uniform powder charge could result in uniform bullet-seating depth, even if the bullets are pushed in deeper than they were originally seated.

The .455 Webley Automatic Mark I cartridge is semi-rimmed, which the two Chinese rounds pictured are not.

John Moss

John-have you ever seen any unheadstamped Chinese .45ACP without shell cannelure and primer crimp?


Hi Sheng!

Yes, I have, at least I am assuming they are Chinese, since they came directly from China, in mass (no packaging other than crates), in a huge quantity of .45 ammunition sent to Navy Arms (aka Service Armament), years ago. All be a trifling few of the thousands and thousands of rounds were either unheadstamped, or with Chinese headstamps from Shenyang Arsenal in Mukden or from the 20th Arsenal, built with resources from the Chunking and Nanking ammunition factories. There was also a very large quantity of ammunition supplied during World War 2 by the US to their Chinese allies, primarily from the Evansville Chrysler factories. The shipment included a very few of the American-made rounds for the Shanghai Municipal Police, with SMP headstamp marking, but I was not fortunate enough to get one of those.

None of the Shenyang or Arsenal 20 rounds in my collection (and I do collect dates in the .45 caliber, so I have quite a number) have either a visible primer crimp or a case cannelure.

I have ten variations of unheadstamped rounds from the Chinese shipment, all assumed for one reason or another to be of Chinese manufacture. Of those, I have four rounds that do not have a case cannelure or primer crimps. I have one round with a bullet very similar to the ones in Nikkal83’s picture, including a short over-all cartridge length (bullet seated deeper), but it has what most would call a cannelure, although it is actually an instance of the front of the case being slightly larger in diameter than the lower portion of the case, forming an internal shoulder to stop bullet set-back. This is a feature also very common on American .45s of early manufacture. However, this round is not the same as Nikkal83’s cartridges, as it has six primer crimps, the ones on one side of the primer being very long and thin stamped-in lines, and the other side wider, almost square crimps. Really an odd one.

The other five rounds all have cannelures, but two of those do not have primer crimps.

Edited to correct numerous typos.

John Moss

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John-Thanks for your detailed answer.
I believe those unheadstamped .45ACP with 3,4 or 6 primer crimp were made by Taiyuan Arsenal in Shanxi province. This arsenal also made .45cal broomhandle pistol and Thomson SMGs


Sheng - I am an elderly person living in an area (The San Francisco Bay Area) that has always had a very large Chinese population, but until recent years, it was almost 100% Cantonese. With the establishment of a national language in China, would “Shanxi” be the same location as what we know as “Shansei” Arsenal?

Thanks, by the way, for the information. You are a wonderful asset to this Forum.

John Moss

Yes,Shanxi=Shansei in English

Shen - Thank you. I like to get things right, but have only very minor foreign language skills, and none in Chinese.


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Excellent reply! I happen to have one of those Chinese-made C96 pattern “broomhandles” (Chinese Type 17) and have been looking for Chinese origin .45 ACP ammunition.

Any ideas!