Unknown 5.56 NATO dummy

This is made in a very similar style to the East German dummies, but surely this is unlikely as East Germany was a communists state and this is a NATO calibre. The base is steel and there is no headstamp. This has a very wide plastic area on the base to act as a snap cap.

Falcon - while I have not heard of a 5.56 dummy round from the DDR, it is not impossible by any means. They produced the 5.56 x 45 cartridge in 1988 and 1989, in lacquered steel cases with brass primers, red primer and case mouth seals, and using an SS109 type bullet with lacquered green tip. At first, these were thought to be tracers since the green tip signifies such in most COMBLOC ammunition, and the color was the very pretty, lacquered green of those tracers, not the flat green of most SS109 ammo. Once the rounds became available enough to take one apart, someone discovered they were actually Ball, SS109 type, not tracers. Headstamps are “04 88” and “04 89” respectively.

I also have a rosebud crimped blank dated 88. Aside from lacking a bullet, and therefore also a case mouth seal, the characteristics are the same. The mouth crimp has 8 lobes.

Your dummy has all the look of East German types. The only thing that throws me about it, as to being East German, is that 5.45 x 40 Russian dummies produced in the DDR are not black plastic, but rather from standard live-round materials with veritcal flutes in the case. It seems towards the end they did away with the black-plastic dummy type. this still does not totally rule out the existence of 5.56 black plastic dummies from the DDR.

All that said, I have no real answer for you. The round looks East German, but could be something completely different. Plastic dummies are not unknown from other countries. I am not a .223 collector, although if this turns out to be from the DDR, if you ever find a seond one, would love to trade for it, as i have a fairly large DDR collection of metallic rounds (no shotgun shells - to hard to tell if they are “East German” or “Eastern German” (meaning made before or after the period of the DDR, but by the same factories).

A picture of the head would be helpful. You mention a “snap cap plastic surface.” In the late-type DDR Black Plastic Dummy rounds, this “mock primer” snap-cap surface is an extension of the plastic of the “cartridge” coming down thru a hole in the steel post within the cartridge, to form the snap-cap surface. It would be nice to see what this looks like on your cartridge compared to other known DDR dummies of the same type.

Why would the DDR have made 5.56 ammo, what need did they have for it? I have a 5.45 AKM DDR dummy, ball round parts with 4 flutes that extend just over halfway down the case. The “snap cap surface” is much larger than the mock primers of the DDr dummies i have, and measures 6.64mm across, compared to the 9.4mm base dia. of the round. It is also slightly raised, and forms a very slight convex. I could post a photo if you want.

Probably a blank dummy produced by Assmann in Austria (steel base, black rubber like material in the large primer pocket, pointed black plastic formed “bullet”).


Falcon - the base of the cartridge as you describe it doesn’t sound like it is from the DDR.

I don’t know for sure why the DDR made the 5.56 x 45 NATO round, but they did - that is undisputable. I heard that when the arms in warehouses were inspected after reunification that thousands of 5.56 x 45 claiber AK-74 type rifles were found. I think by 1988 and 1989 it was clear to everyone that runification was to take place, and that it was going to be reunification under a Western Government - the BRD - not under Russian influence. They may have been anticipating that, or the whole thing, guns and ammo, may have been an undelivered contract for someone else.

Perhaps one of our German friends has real information, not just heresay as the above is.

Regardless, we can be incredulous about the manufacture of 5.56 x 45 ammunition in the DDR, but it is simply a fact. I am not including my initial opinion of the dummy in question. I simply don’t know on that. Again, while the profile looks East German, your description of the base does not sound typical of their manufacture of this type “exerzierpatrone.”

Thanks, that sounds more than likely what it is, it has all those features.

[quote=“Maverick1112003”]Probably a blank dummy produced by Assmann in Austria (steel base, black rubber like material in the large primer pocket, pointed black plastic formed “bullet”).

That sounds right, what is the full address of the Assmann company?

John, looks like your post doubled up, it has now been identified.

The mention of Austria made me look into Volume II of “Austrian Military Cartridges,” by Josef Moetz. The Assman black plastic blank was esperimental and seems to have a much more round ogive to the mock bullet than the round you picture, as do the later issue types which are blue in color, so I do not think your cartridge was intended as an inert blank. However, there is also a color picture of a cartridge looking basically identical to yours at the top of page 228, item 1 in the picture. It is described as “Ex-Patr StG 77” (Exerzier Patrone Sturmgewehr 77; Exercise Cartridge Assault rifle 77). The steel base would make sense on a dummy cartridge meant to be used over and over again. I am sure that this Ex-Patr 77 is what your round is. There is a picture, in black and white, of the base at the top of page 229, and it has the very large diameter plastic surface. It was made by Assman/SMI and has been offered for Export as well. They made a white version for Australia. For those of us that do not specialize in cartridges about which questions are asked, sometimes to get it right we need a clue of where it might have come from. Maverick gave us that clue. Thank you.

I agree with Michel. This is definitely Austrian although I’ve got the manufacturer listed as SMI - or are SMI and Assmann the same company perhaps?

Michel was correct about Austria and the cartridge’s association wih Assman. Assman, by the way, is associated with SMI. He was not, in my opinion and reinforced by my interpretation of what is in Josef Moetz’s fine book on Austrian cartridges, correct that this is a “dummy blank.” The ogive of the bullet is incorrect for a blank. as well, probably, as the base material, which is usually brass or aluminum with Assman blanks. Moetz shows the virtually identical cartridge as Falcon describes as an “Exerzierpatrone,” which is a functioning dummy and has nothing to do with an inerted blank. It was good that he pointed the way to Austria for those of us who don’t kow this cartridge well.

Just a thought here. The several East German 7.62x39mm black plastic dummies I have sectioned had extremely hard steel bases. So hard that a hacksaw would not touch them and I had to use a dremed tool with a grind stone to cut the bases in half. Perhaps there is a way for you to test a small area to see how hard the steel is? It sure “looks” East German to me.

John, I am glad someone else thinks that the Com-bloc green lacquer color seen on tracers is “pretty” too! I think that a CWS case 7.62x39mm tracer with red CM seal and a green tip is about the most “pretty” cartridge I own!


Very common find here it is an Austrian dummy, See M

Jan - thanks for corroborating my answer. I couldn’t seem to get the point across, even with the same reference to Moetz. It is not East German, despite my first thoughts on the subject.

Austria dummy round with a compleet box.

Not Assmann, not SMI, but Hirtenberger! Thanks Gyrojet!

Thanks everyone for your help.

[quote=“Jim”]Not Assmann, not SMI, but Hirtenberger! Thanks Gyrojet!

Assmann has bought Hirtenberger in 1989
Perhaps Assmann until 1989, Hirtenberger after 1989


I have put it down in my records as Hirtenberger.

Gentlemen - it is hard to quote most of the chapter of a book on this Forum. As I said, Assman was associated with SMI. That is not incorrect. However, according to Moetz (no one on planet earth knows more about Austrian ammunition than Josef Moetz, in my opinion), Assman at one time owned the Hirtenberg factory, aroundd 1990, and Assman and SMI also have produced ammunition for Hirtenberg. One may call it what they like - it certainly has a Hirtenberg connection as well as that with Assman. If you have Moetz, and don’t read German, I suggest a complete reading of the German captions first, to get what you can out of them, from about page 223 to 230, and then read the entire .223 summary in English on pages 232 and 233.

It is not unheard of for one factory to make ammunition on contract for another, and to find that ammunition in boxes from the people the ammunition was made for, not by! that has happened with U.S. commercial ammunition, it has happened with ammo made in the U.S. for Mexico, and it has happened, just another example, with 8mm Mauser ammo made in Argentina for Ecuador. On the Ecuador boxes for the 8mm made by Fabricaciones Militares of Argentina, there is no mention of Argentina.

So, Falcon, to satisfy everyone, what you seem to have is a black plastic dummy .223 round made by Assman at whichever of his plants at the given time the ammo was made - according to Moetz at SMI - and marketed by Hirtenberg. Not an unknown situation in the ammo world at all.