Three 9 Parabellum info needed

Hi you all again, since I became a forum member some of my friends are gifting me some ammo for my collection. It’s a pleasure to have friends :-D

I don’t know anything about these three cartridges, purpose seem to be for piercing but the green one

All three are “AP” types.

  1. American teflon-coated KTW.
  2. French THV (Tres Grand/Gros Vitese).
  3. I think a French “Arcane” bullet.
    I’m sure further details will follow.

From the shape of the bullet, Jon is correct. However, I cannot associate “Arcane” with an Argentine case!!! I have seen lots of Arcane loads, all in boxer-primed American or Geco (German) cases. Can any of our Argentine members tell us if Argentia did any work with the Arcane-type bullets? Nice headstamp on that THV too - have never seen it before in relation to THV, but it is certainly French. Frankly, I though the THV was a bit of a dead issue before 1006, but evidently, it is alive and well.

hum !!
I think the arcane (!! ???) and the thv are not with their original cases.
Reloads for me.
And about the arcanes, they are so many floaring around I think someone is working in his garage.

Hi John,
You didn’t know the hstp shown on the THV ?

It is a common SFM hstp.


J-P. Firstly, from the standpoint of ammo found in America, the headstamp shown is NOT common. It is an odd arrangement with one entry removed. However, I do have samples of this headstamp type and am familiar with it. It may be common in France, but not in this country.

What I said was that I had not seen this headstmap in relation to the THV loads. Also, I did not realize that the THV types were being loaded as late as 2006, the date on the headstamp. I thought they became a dead issue before that, but evidently not.

Does anyone know if the THV loads are still in current production with SFM?


I have two THV with this headstamp, both headstamps identical (SF 9 88) but with two different THV bullets. One is identical to that pictured. The other is a much shorter, copper or GM THV bullet. Both came out of France. I also have a THV bullet like the one pictured in a case headstamped SF (NATO) 92. All three loads look legit and original. Two have red pa’s and the one with the GM THV bullet has no pa color.

I am not surprised that SFM was still playing with the THV in the early 1990s. I suspect these were not sold commercially, but were test batches or special orders.



Hello Lew and John !

  1. After using 4 entries on hstps, SFM used to remove one entry. The 3 entries hstps mean nothing special.

The date is not 2006 but 1990.

  1. SFM closed a long time ago (1992) but I remember in 1990 (perhaps in 1991) it was already the end (collections starting to be sold, papers and obsolete stock being destroyed, aso)

I doubt they were loading THV bullets in the last years.

  1. After the closing, a lot of components in many calibers showed up on the market:
    empty cases (umprimed or primed and even with primer annulus), loose bullets, full boxes, aso

A lot of components doesn’t mean only a few collectors ctges or components, but also full boxes of cases, of bullets aso.

Some people bought also the remaining staff (bullets, ctges and components by millions, full boxes by thousands or more)

  1. New loose THV bullets or new primered cases I still have.
    Like any French collector.
    And this, despite the fact I never been very interested by this staff and furthermore living far away from Paris.

  2. Now you think what you want.
    I am just telling you to be carefull. Very.

  3. Here are some tricks to check if a ctge coming from france is an original loading or a a reload made with original composants :
    Check carefully :

  4. the total length

  5. the nature of the crimping

  6. the height where the crimping is located on the bullet

  7. the powder (if it is powder !! and not sand or couscous flour ! lol)


Hi guys - yes, I did misread the date. I should have seen from the orientation of the lone “9” that it was a “90” date. I am making so many mistakes lately from lack of concentration on the small details - something I used to be good at - that I should stop sticking my nose into these things.

I love getting old.

While I cannot comment on these rounds, I have to say that I have seen lots and lots of what I feel are “component cartridges” come primarily out of Europe, but from the US as well. I have been offered “factory loads” sometimes at shows that clearly even have ejector and extractor marks and obvious case-head expansion. While it is true that even factories sometimes, for various reasons, reload cases fired in their test room, it still makes such rounds highly suspect. Others have just been poorly assembled, or have a mix of components that simply isn’t likely for that manufacturer. A few times, later inspection has shown that the “factory loaded round” has no powder at all in it, making any past thoughts based on its total cartridge wieght erroneous. I understand that some dealers HAVE to inert cartridges they sell, but they should be sure to explain that to the buyer.

When someone gets a fired case or a NUPE or NPE case in their trade stock, I wish they could just leave it alone. For those of use that are primarily headstamp collectors, a fired case is almost as good as a live round, and for anyone, in my opinion, better than a fake. I have purchased cartridges I absolutely knew were not factory assembled, because I needed the headstamp and was willing to make the trade or pay the price to get it, and broken them down to the unprimed empty cases. Collector or dealer-assembled cartridges will just confuse the future scholar with their mismatched components. They are a real minus when it comes to research accuracy. If I am not sure, of course I have to leave them alone even if highly suspect. My own collection is full of empty cases - it is a fact of life trading internationally and legally if you do not travel.

By the way, I am not commenting on the rounds in the picture. While I am highly suspect of the “Arcane” round due to being in an Argentine case, the KTW round is correct for sure, and the THV round looks good, but I am not qualified to comment on whether it is factory or not.


I must add something about Arcanes and THV.
I have said it already but I prefer to emphasise.
I don’t like the people get stung.

1) THV:
They were sold:

  • to governmental agencies but not by thousands of boxes.
  • on the French commercial market but only during a very short time period before they were banned.
  • to foreign countries (commercial and government agencies) but not much.

Because of the restrictions (in france and abroad) and the few used by police, it was not in fact a good success story.
(I don’t know how many times the french police men used it during operations (not many I think) but I remember when one cop shot a guy in the parisian subway and killed an innocent who was behind the bad guy. Therefore the efficiency on the field was not as good as the advertising about these ctges)

But they were on the market.
38 Special, 357 Mag, 9 para were the most common.
32 ACP and 45 ACP were a lot less common

The factory loaded ctges have the following hstp :
7,65 THV SFM or 9 mm THV SFM or SFM 357 MG THV or 45 ACP THV SFM

Now when you find one with a hstp not including the word THV in the hstp it is more doubtfull.
It is a question of confidence in the guy trading or selling it to you.
(and the fact you trust him doesn’t prove the ctges are genuine because there are so many trades among collectors)

Conclusion :
Not common when factory loaded (with or without THV in the hstp), but existing.
Handloaded by individuals are more common.
(I know at least five guys in my shooting club who are not ctges collectors but can sell you a funny chinese or pakistanese THV 9 para (or 38 special) and you will swear they are genuine)

  1. Arcane:

These ctges were never , never sold on the commercial market.
And never, never provided to governemental agencies.
In France :

  • The national police can use only ctges which have been approved by a special department
  • the city polices (in these days) was almost anywhere not armed and furthermore no way for them to buy such ctges
  • The army never used these ctges.

Therefore the only ctges officially existing were the few tested by the special departement of the police.
And they were quickly rejected because too high pressure, quick barrel wear out, amount of powder changing and so on.
The guy making them was alone: no quality control, no pressure test and so on.

Now where in these old days the Arcane on the French market were coming from ??
The guy gave some samples to :

  • journalists to make tests and writting articles, hoping to sell some because of the advertising
  • to collectors who know him
    (ask philippe how many he got from the guy he knew very well)

Conclusion : the genuine Arcane are very scarce.
Now, if you have a lathe, there is no problem.

The problem with collectibles is when something is scarce and therefore expansive. The price of one Arcane must be 10 dollars at least.
It is a good business if you have a digital lathe.


Excellent info gents. I had always wondered what the availability story was on Arcane cartridges - the original ones anyway. Nobody seems to have any of them, even some of the seasoned collectors I talk to. I have seen many copies in lead or Zamak. Hensley & Gibbs model 938 mold makes these bullets actually (in lead), and Ballisti-cast has a few Arcane type molds. I’m almost done penning the guidebook with U.S. state legal info and pistol-AP cartridge histories and info. Book-writing takes forever… I’ll post when I’m done and whoever wants one, can have a copy. About 120 pages total.

Hi DK,

  1. Philippe Regentreif can give you better info than me on the Arcane story because he knew very well the guy making them.

  2. Except from people knowing the guy like him (he got only a few rounds, not full boxes !)
    or from journalists (try to contact to the guys who have written the articles I have sent to you)
    or from one or two guys working (or having contacts) in the police department where the ctges were tested in small quantity,
    there is no way the ctges have showed up.

And this was about twenty years ago !

  1. People often imagine when a factory or a police department test ctges they do it with thousands of rounds.
    This could be true when the tests are advanced, but not during the first trials.

As an exemple, everybody knows the PPI loadings in 30 Nato and 50 Brg.
But these bullets exist also in 20 mm.

I know very well the guy who made them and test them at the SFM.
Do you know how many rounds were made and tested ? Only 10 !
And now only one new and one fired bullet are still existing.

  1. A short note on THV ctges now.
    If you want to know if yours are genuine, take the ctge apart, weight the powder and send me a close picture of it.


Thanks everybody for the info provided. I didn’t think this cartridges would be so rare, specially the Arcane type I have similars from Geco …

Jean Pierre, I am not going to disasemble any of them, I am sorry, I would do it if I have more than one round, but I’ve just got one of each.

John Moss, you said the Arcane is in an Argentine case, if someone could tell us if they were in use or tested there could help us.

The fact and the truth for me is they came from a friend of mine with close relationships with armed and security forces, he is not a fool ammo collector but just a weapon expert and likes to “collect” rare items from weapons world, so I think all three are original, maybe not but for me are.

I started reloading 17 years ago, hundreds of rounds per month as sport shooter. I reload handgun and rifle ammo and though I could have sometimes doubts about rifle rounds if original or not I almost can assure 99% if are in straight handgun cases, more if I can touch and see it closely, crimp edges, case walls, slight shinny marks on bullets or cases, … If a fake it is a great job.

You make me work …more details of each cartridge:
KTW 172.5 gn 1.127"
THV 117.7 gn 1.157"
Arcane 140.6 gn 1.044"

Closest pictures I can take with my camera:

RM44, I have watched this thread and finally decided to jump in. We collectors assume we have far greater insight into what was done than we actually do. I have quite a bit of insight into how US military labs work, and a bit into ammo production in a few places. I believe a lot of the comments above relate to PRODUCTION ammunition (that is ammunition produced in quantities of roughly 10K or more for commercial sale or operational use by military or police, including contract production for other countries. SFM THV production and KTW production fall into this catagory, however both SFM and KTW did quite a bit of development work. There are a wide varity of SFM produced bullet shapes in THV, most may have been test or limited production loads, but there appear to be a number of different shapes that were sold or produced for the military/police/commercial sales. The THV shows up on the commercial boxes. I have not seen a military or police box from SFM so do not know what headstamp was used. I do know that I had quite a few THV rounds from trusted sources well before the first THV headstamped loads became available.

SFM is not the only producer of THV loads. South Africa made THV loads with bullets they produced in a number of shapes, including one headstampede W-W 9mmLUGER on fake W-W cases they produced. Iraq also produced copies of the THV loads. The first one I documented was owned by a senior Iraqi policeman in 2004 or so, who said he picked it up in a police station in northern Iraq during the war with Iran. I was sent the photo by a US police adviser who was shown the cartridge. Subsequently these loads have shown up in a number of places in Iraq and a number of US collectors have examples. The Slovak firm PS recently produced a version of the THV round with a distinctive bullet shape.

I have a Geco headstamped THV with a bullet that is differs from any of the SFM styles (but is very close) which was made in Switzerland in the same timeframe that the first SFM loads showed up. Reportedly this load was made for testing of the SFM THV concept. I have seen a number of these rounds in collections in Europe. Similarly, I have two different THV rounds from Finland with SAKO headstamps which again have distinctive bullets but very close to the SFM bullets which were reportedly local tests early on. Finally, I have a seperate bullet that came out of GFL that is roughly like the SFM, but a quite different shape.

The “THV” story is pretty complex since the concept generated considerable interest when it first came out.

This brings me to the subject of test and lab and trial cartridges. Remember there are formal, documented test programs, there are informal trials, and there are very informal lab projects which are sometimes referred to as (hobby shops). It is not unusual for a lab or a test facility to produce a few (5-10-50-100-500) cartridges to test, depending on the formality of the project. I have an Israeli item that came out of an Israeli lab with a Canadian frangible bullet in an Israeli case. In this world of test cartridges, almost anything is possible-but many of these are just the early stages of things with no documentation, which is why it is so easy to fake items. There are other things produced in significant quantities that have, as far as I know, never shown up among collectors. There were some very unique rounds produced by/for a US lab that I have seen, and have the unique cases for, but no production rounds have ever surfaced. The same is true of the British made Cobra Dart load (wrongly and imaginatively identified as an Israeli Sky Marshall cartridge) I have spoken with the man who holds the pantent on this round and have a bit of documentation on the round. First, as far as I can tell, never even sold to the Israeli’s, but the rounds that have shown up were loaded into IMI commercial cases which were purchased in England. The US reportedly was far and away the biggest customer of the items, and I have a description of the US items and packing, but I don’t know of a single round showing up among collectors or forensic labs. The cartridges that entered the collector market were the unsold production residue left over when the company was disbanded and sold in the 100 round plastic boxes used in the loading process.

There are lots of test items out there in THV. I have a THV tracer from RSA although this was not a production item. I also have a fired French Nylon THV bullet. What was it intended for??? Is it legit? I am sure it is. I got it from a French Policeman. A fake would have been loaded in a pretty case and cost a lot of money, not handed to me free.

Bottom line, I believe your SF 9 90 load is probably legit. I suspect SF may have loaded some of their residue THV bullets in their last stages, but it is also possible that whoever bought the residue of SFM may have loaded them. They are very likely not production items as defined above. Could they be fake, of course, but unlikely from your source.

As John Moss said earlier the KTW is clearly a production item.

The Arcane is unlikely to be French production. As I have written recently in the ECRA publication, The USAF bought a very small quantity of Arcane loads for testing with three different bullet types, including one usually used in 380 Auto. The Arcane was written up in a number of places when it was first made available and there was some interest. As JP said, it is not a difficult bullet to make, and I suspect a number of labs just turned out a few bullets and fired them to see what they did. Most Arcane I have seen have US commercial headstamps however two of the earliest are reloaded HP cases. I do not believe the “Arcane” you have was made by the guy in France, but from the date on the headstamp it makes sense that it was done in Argentina to test the Arcane concept.

I am confident that quite a few labs and manufacturers across the world made their own versions of the THV and Arcane in various quantities. Just because we collectors haven’t seen them, or the documentation on them doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that they are “fakes”. In fact, I have a couple of items that appear to be knock-offs of the KTW loads (US made I think).

Like everything else in this world, the deeper you dig, the more complex the story becomes.

Note, all the comments above relate to 9mm Parabellum cartridges, the only area I know anything about!



The THV shows up on the commercial boxes. I have not seen a military or police box from SFM so do not know what headstamp was used.


The police boxes are the same as commercial ones.


Thanks JP!

I have a THV headstamped round with an orange base. Do you know what it may be???

I also have a THV shaped bullet in some kind of composite that has expanded and cracked the case down to the base. The case is a reloaded R-P case. This also came from a very well placed French source. Any idea what this round is?



Hi Lew,
Sorry I have no documentation on these ones.

I was sorting drawings of modern ctges to find AP ctges for a guy on this forum and started to put some THV drawings on a topic but stopped soon because it looked like to interest nobody.
Therefore I jumped on other ctges drawings to sort.
When I will have some time I will search again but I am afraid I will find only regular THV drawings.

About colors on the bases, I know SFM was putting color strips on the bases when they were making powder trials. Only that.

Now concerning any bullet on a case not hstped SFM, it is sure it is not from SFM. They had thousands of available cases, they didn’t need to use US ones.

Last thing. If your very well placed French source is a guy who unfortunately has passed away, be carefull. Funny guy, liking the good pleasures of the life, but loving to play with his reloading press. lol!

In the eigties there was a boom on ctges collecting (very high prices)
Therefore any guy (including me) was trying to visit factories to pick up rounds.
But some very well placed people (because of their job) did more.
Asking the people to make special rounds for them ! lol!
Anything was good : painting, special colorants for plastic, and so on.
And the workers of the plants being not stupid, and discovering they could make some good money, the market was flooding with "experimental"ctges.
I remember the French shows in Paris and at least two people coming with full suitcases of experimental 223, 7.5, 30 Nato, 9 para and so on at 40 each. Now the same ctges are at 6 .

Hi 44RM,
New cases, new bullets, knowledge of reloading and you will never see the difference with a factory load.

I repeat:
The genuine SFM THV (meaning loaded by SFM) can be 100% recognized only if you take them apart.
Why ?
First because many people handloading them don’t put the right amount of powder, and second because SFM was using a powder not available on the commercial market.

A few year ago showed up in France ultra light JAP bullets (tombac jacket with aluminium core and tip) coming from SFM.
Same story as THV.

Are they scarce bullets ?? Tell me. If yes I can show you some.

JP-This guy has not passed away, at least as of last fall. He then gave me a cartridge that was subsequently anounced at MILPOL. This THV with the composite bullet is in poor shape and was a gift. Doesn’t sound like a fake. There are much easier things to fake than an aged and deterioting composite THV bullet that has split its case. A lot of work to give away. Why the R-P case??? Any French collector who would fake this would have a better choice of cases. Was it made by SFM??? I have no way to know.

I have seen my share of fakes from France, including the 9mmP Aluminim cases with the ball and tracer bullets which were never loaded in those cases.

Thanks for your warning, we have had people who had cartridges made up in a number of countries. On the otherhand, even the senior engineers in the labs and factories do not know all of what goes on at the workfloor or work bench. I doubt collectors who can pronounce things to be fake because they have not seen them before or because they do not follow a set of rules set by collectors, or that collectors believe are true of companies.

I’m very interested in the THV drawings if you get around to copying them. Would like to put them on my website.



Some infos:

  1. Looking at the pictures of 44 RM, his "arcane " sounds a little bite more brass than copper.
    And I have confirmation by mail from him: it is brass.

Therefore it is 100% sure that (even on any hstp of any country), it is not an Arcane.

The Arcane bullets are copper.

  1. The only cases SFM made test with are Norma ones.
    Never RP.

  2. During tests and before THV went on the market, they were on SFM regular hstps.
    Therefore if you find a THV on a 9 para with hstp 82 for example it could be a good one.

  3. I double and triple checked with serious French collectors and with a very good friend of mine who was the manager of the R & D department at the SFM.

You have very very very little chance a 9 para THV with hstp 90 is a good one.

  1. I asked also to some friends if they had seen a box of 9 para THV with ctges not wearing THV hstp. They have never seen one.

  2. And for who could these ctges be ??
    Police ? no (they were not allowed to have 9 para in these times)
    Army ? no
    Regular Gendarmerie ? no
    GIGN (special department of Ge,ndarmerie) could be the only customer.
    But they used in these time 357 Mag revolvers most of the time (if not all the time).