Jason - I would not fire one more round of the ammunition you have if you have any left of it. You are fortunate that you did not damage your pistols. It is probably a credit to the quality of the guns you own that you did not.
I will quote an Associated Press artical, dateline Washington, 8 November 1996, not long after this ammunition appeared for sale in the United States.
"An Austrian ammunition manufacturer has advised the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that certain of its ammunition is unsafe for use in handguns.
"Hirtenberger AG of Hitenberg, Austria, says some of its 9 x 19 mm caliber ammunition was produced specifically for use in submachine guns under adverse conditions, according to ATF.
"The manufacturer advised that up to 12 million rounds of this ammunition has been recently sold on the world surplus market.
"ATF said it had no knowledge of the ammunition having entered the United States and that it will take action to keep it out.
"The ammunition can be identified by the following headstamp on the bottom of the cartridge case:"
12 O'Clock position: HP
3 O'Clock position: 90, 91, 0r 92
6 O'Clock position: L7A1
9 O'Clock position: The marking of a cross within a circle
I will not quote the entire article, but the RSACCA Bulletin #202, Page 6, (repeated in the ECRA Journal 2688/204/18), talks of this “hot” ammo and shows the case labels. One side of the case is labeled “A2 SMG USE ONLY.”
Another advisory printed in the Indiana Hunter Education News Spring 1997 Main Page, entitled “HAZARDOUS AMMUNITION ALERT”:
"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has been advised by Hirtenberger AG, of Hirtenberger, Austria, that certain 9 x 19mm ammunition produced by Hirtenberger is unsafe for use in any handgun. The ammunition, designated L7A1 and produced from 1990 through 1992 was made for the British Ministry of Defense specifically for use in submachine guns under adverse conditions. The ammunition was loaded to produce pressure far in excess of that intended for use in handguns.
"The manufacturer advises that up to 12 million rounds of this ammunition has recently been sold on the world surplus market. This ammo can be identified by the following head stamp located on the bottom of the cartridge case:
NOTE: Repeats information already given above
"THIS AMMUNITION SHOULD NOT BE FIRED! We are not aware of any of this ammunition being imported into the U.S. and the ATF will take action to prevent the commercial importation of this ammunition. for additional information, contact MaryJo Huges, Chief, Firearms and Explosives."
The National Rifle Association took this advisory seriously enough that they reprinted it in “Random Shots,” American Rifleman, January 1997, page 6.
I purchased some of this for collection purposes only from Cascade Ammunition, of Roseburg, Oregon, in or about March 1997. To buy this ammunition (which you will note BATF, not noted for the accuracy of their own records even though vehemently enforcing almost impossible standards of accuracy on dealers (see current American Rifleman), was not aware of any commercial importation even though this ammunition was being widely sold in the United States!!), I was required to sign a waiver of responsibility for Cascade. Of course, I would not have bought it for shooting, but since BATF had said, and as far as I can see never lived up to, that they would prevent sale of it, I wanted a box for my collection, before it was withdrawn from the market. Cascade Ammunition was foolish to even sell the ammunition knowing of the problem, waiver or not. This kind of waiver doesn’t due well in civil courts, if someone is badly injured.
I know that some will scoff at an advisory like this. This is foolish in the extreme. When the factory that made the ammunition says that it is dangerous to fire it in pistols, it is the wise man who heeds that advice.
I have been told independently that tests of this ammunition revealed pressures beyond the norm for factory high-pressure proof loads. Unfortunately, I can not find documentation for that, not that it matters one way or anohter. The number of advisories that went out on it tells the story plain enough.
In truth, the British Government should be ashamed of itself for even selling this ammunition on the world market. It was highly irresponsible of them to do it. Ironic that a government that fanatically restricts the right of their own citizens to fair access to firearms and ammunition would poison the world ammunition market with millions of rounds of ammunition not safe for 90% of civilian-owned weapons in this caliber. A real shame that they have no sense of integrity.
At any rate Jason, you can, of course, do what you want, but you noted the ammunition seemed “very hot.” Aside from the hard primer issue, which in comparison to the possxible consequences of firing this ammo in pistols is a minor annoyance, it IS HOT and unsafe for handguns.