Unknown headstamp

help me, if you can.

tiengulden–I can not help you with the headstamp, but I do have two suggestions for you and anybody else it applies to. When posting a picture, add a brief explanation of what the picture is. In this case, what type of cartridge is it (I assume it is either 7.92x57 Mauser or .30-06) and what does the headstamp say? The reason for this request is that sometimes the image link does not work, so without a text description, the posting becomes useless. Also, sometime the image is too dark to see clearly, so, again, a text description of the headstamp would be VERY helpful.

I can’t check my books or files right now, but I believe that is a Dutch or German clandestine headstamp for the Spanish Civil War.

It is very hard to read on my screen, but I think the headstamp is " X A X 37". If I have read it correctly, then the round is a German cartridge made for the Spanish Civil War, using a clandestine headstamp. It is a product of Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken A.- G., of Berlin Borsigwalde. Other headstamp symbols for this factory are “DWM”, “P131” and “asb”.

This headstamp has been found on ball cartridges, type s.S. (schweres Spitzgeschoss - Heavy Ball) and on armor-piercing incendiary rounds type P.m.K. (Phosphor mit Kern - Armor piercing incendiary with steel core), the latter having a red primer seal.

There is a whole series of these clandestine headstamps, a few of which are still unknown as to who produced them.

Reference: German 7.9 x 57mm Headstamp list compiled by Willen Van Eijk with input by 7.9 collectors all over the world.

The interesting thing is how Spanish Civil War ammunition made its way to China. I have seen similar headstamps in 7.63 Mauser that somehow also got there.

Depending on the timeline, is it not possible ammunition intended for Spain ended up, after the war there ended in 1939, in another hot spot? JG

It is possible. I would be interested to know if it was sent from the original manufacturer, or via Spain or some other route.

I think these rounds ended up in lots of hot spots. Some German (and those from other countries as well) clandestine headstamps made for the Spanish Civil War were found with the communist forces during the Korean War. It is likely they were with the Chinese forces, rather than the North Korean. I have seen lots of comments about headstamps found in Korea, but none identifying which army, the CCF or the PRNK forces, they were found with. Sadly, I have not kept records of those, as I should have. One, though, “CI 1937” (drawing showing one entry of the trinomial headstamp as missing, but it probably actually had a askerisk-type star (*) perhaps faintly stamped) is shown as item 504 in “The Cartridge Headstamp Guide,” by White and Munhall.

Spain probably had a lot of war materiel left over after their Civil War, and likely sold it off in an attempt to raise money to repair the damage done to the country’s infrastructure during the Civil War. Either or both sides of the Chinese Civil war, that ended with Mao’s Government taking control, would have been a good market, probably, among many others. I suspect the ammo would have gone to China, if sent directly from Spain, after WWII, rather than in 1939 or 1940, as while the Franco government did little to support Germany during WWII, it probably would not have sold ammunition to China for the use of fighting the Japanese aggression there, since Japan was allied with Germany.

Of course, that is applying logic, and when it comes to international commerce (money) that doesn’t always apply. It is just a guess on my part.

Jon - what 7.63mm Mauser headstamps are you referring to? Clandestine ones made in Germany? Of course, with China being a major market for the “broomhandle” pistols made in Germany and Spain, clandestine-headstamped ammunition made in Germany could have been shipped from Spain after the Spanish CW, but of course, Germany sold plenty of 7.63 Mauser ammunition to China long before WWII or the Spanish CW, and it is possible Spain did as well, since Azul and Astra pistols of that caliber were sold there. I just can’t think, off hand, of any Spanish CW-type clandestine headstamps in 7.63mm Mauser, so the headstamps to which you are referring are of interest to me. My collection in that caliber is not the greatest, and I am sometimes finding information about headstamps I didn’t know existed.

During the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949) there were huge amounts of ammunition sent to China, or so I’ve been told. The Nationalists were out buying in lots of places. It is likely that this stuff was bought from Spain after WWII and had it shipped to Spain. From 1937 until the war ended in 1945, it would have been difficult to ship this ammunition to the Nationalists, or anybody else in China since the Japanese controlled the costal ports. I guess it could have come over the Burma road, but I think that was essentially all the Lend Lease stuff.

I’m glad to read Lew’s response since it pretty much goes along with my own feeling that there were simply too many factors against any ammunition from the Spanish Civil War days going to China from Spain befor the end of WWII, and certainly it would not have gone to China from Germany in that era, what with the Nationalists and the Communists both forming a temporary and uneasy alliance to fight the Japanese, Germany’s ally.

Frankly, I didn’t even think of the logistics part of the problem. It just adds to the political problems involved with any theory that it was sent between 1937 and 1945.

After a second look at my collection, the only 7.63 I have that fits the bill is:
“B 38 3 V”

Sorry, these photographs from a friend, and he saying that this is Japan’s T-99.
“X A X 28”

Kent lists it as German for Spain.

Tiengulden - I am sorry, but your friend is not likely right. First, the better picture you have posted since most of us responded to your inquiry is clearly the “A X X 37” headstamp we have all been discussing, wihich is on a 7.9 x 57. Further, the Type 99 is 7.7 Japanese and should not be found with this style of headstamp at all, much less one dated “28” which would predate the 7.7mm Japanese cartridge by about a decade, if I am not mistaken. Of course, on a clandestine headstamp even the date could be spurious.

Regardless, a close examination of your first-posted picture shows the “A X X” portion of the headstamp as being identical to the better-condition cartridge you pictured later. Note especially the unusual flat-top of the letter “A” on both headstamps. The cartridge case in the first picture is battered and scarred, and I believe your friend is reading the date upside down, and mistaking the “3” of 37" for an “8” and mistaking the “7” of “37” for a “2”. I will admit in the latter case it looks like a “2” but I think the curved line that would be the top of the “2” is actually just a scar on the case head.

It is very hard to tell, as unlike the second picture you posted of a different cartridge ( a type s.S. ball round, by the way), the first picture of the headstamp is not good, regardless of the condition of the case.

All of this is just my opinion, based on experience with this caliber of ammunition, Japanese ammunition in general, and the closest look at your pictures that was possible.

Jon - your “B 38 3 V” headstamp is very exciting considering the caliber, 7.63 x 25mm Mauser. I have not seen it or heard of it before, that I can recall.

That cartridge would be a product of Silva Metallwerke G.m.b.H., Genthin, Germany (“P345” and “avu” codes). The identical headstamp appears also on 7.9 x 57mm Mauser. “B” designates a Polte activity, with the Roman Numeral “V” indicating production at Genthin. I would have thought that caliber would have been made at Magdeburg if at any Polte factory, but then, they could have supplied the machinery peculiar to this caliber to Silva Metallwerke. I would think that would be more likely than the Genthin factory tooling up from scratch for what must have been a very limited run of ammunition in 7.63mm. If the Magdeburg plant had run the ammo, it would have the Roman numeral “I”.

Since from the 7.9 production it is clear that the “3” is the case lot number, than there must be a “1” and a “2” as well as the “3”, unless they were completely rejected lots. Interesting. Great cartridge!

Perhaps our German friends can tell us if the lots 1 and 2 have been encountered.

I’m sure I sent you a pic, or at least a drawing, over a year ago. I’ll try to repost it here, probably tomorrow.

These headstamps are copied from the German code list.

B 37 S II - sS
B 38 1 l - SmK
B 38 1 III - sS
B 38 2 II - sS
B 38 2 III - sS
B 2 38 IV - sS
B 2 38 IV - SmK Lsp
B 3 38 IV - sS
B 38 1 V - sS
B 38 2 V - sS
B 38 3 V - sS
B 38 5 V - sS
B b 38 V - sS
B V q 38 - sS


451kr - I have the 7.92 x 57 list. We are talking about the same headstamp, but in 7.63mm Mauser pistol.

Didn`t notice.


Here is my 7.63 Mauser cartridge that came out of China.