Updated Australian .303 factory headstamp codes

Its been a source of frustration to me, that most lists of Australian codes, contain errors and omissions, even the list by the late highly esteemed Tony Edwards.

For the benefit of anyone interested in the .303 cartridge, I’ve compiled the following list, which I’m certain doesn’t contain any errors, and probably no omissions. Enjoy!!

The correct list is as follows:

CAC Colonial Ammunition Company, Australia possibly as early as 1898 to April 1918.
←CAC→ Colonial Ammunition Company, Australia May 1918 to December 1920. Production gap from January 1921 to March 1921 after Factory leased to the Government.
←SAAF→ Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray April 1921 to December 1923, although Also found on March 1924.
SAAF Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray Only seen on one specimen of Mk. VI Dummy Drill.
A↑F Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray January 1924 to February 1925.
↑F Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray March 1925 to April 1926.
MF Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray May 1926 to 1945.
MF1 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray Only used for short time in 1940 when the Gordon St Factory commenced production.
MF2 No. 2 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Gordon Street Footscray Only used for short time in 1940.
MG No. 2 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Gordon Street Footscray 1940 to 1948.
MG/MF` No. 2 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Gordon Street Footscray MG monogram changed to MF in 1949 which was used until 1962. No production of .303s in 1961.
MH No. 3 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Hendon 1940 to 1945.
MJ No. 4 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Hendon 1941 to 1945.
MJB Incendiary Annexe to MJ Factory 1942 only, Cases supplied by MJ.
MQ No. 5 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Rocklea 1942 to 1943.
MW No. 6 Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Welshpool 1942 to 1945.
MS Explosives Factory, Salisbury. Only loaded tracer projectiles into cases supplied by MJ in 1944. It was never a Small Arms Ammunition Factory.



Thank you very much, very useful, I get easily confused with all these “M” something headstamps. Why do most of them start with “M”, is it “manufacturing”?


To elaborate on your question. To the best of my knowledge the following is an explanation of the codes. The use of the word “Munitions” is due to the fact that a number of these small arms ammunition factories also manufactured ammunition and fuses for larger guns.

CAC is Colonial Ammunition Company
SAAF is Small Arms Ammunition Factory
A F is Ammunition Factory
F I guess is just Factory
MF is Munitions Footscray
MG is Munitions Gordon Street, Footscray
MH Munitions Hendon
MJ Munitions Hendon (2nd Factory)
MQ Munitions Queensland
MW Munitions Welshpool
MS Munitions Salisbury

Hope that clarifies it for you.




Thanks for the lists/information.

Job well done.


Further to the above Lists, there are some subsidiary Codes, mostly used in the 1950s and 60s. This was an Indication of Commercial sale items (to State Police Forces and Rifle/Pistol clubs)

Eg: MF c on .38 Special Cases. (no year)

Also, there is rumoured a HS of “Ms” (lower case “s” for initial cases made for Salisbury Loading of Tracer.

MF also made Berdan .303 Cases for Riverbrand Ammunition, ( “RBA” in a 120 degree spread) using .250" (#6000 )RWS Berdan primers. Before Riverbrand got Boxer Cases, it was Re-loading Australian Military (MF etc) .303 cases with RWS Berdan Primers (Sinoxid). It later did the same with MF 7,62 Nato cases ( Berdan .217") using #5608 RWS Primer ( Nato Milspec). The Reloads had no new HS or ID Marks other than the original Military HS (even if converted to the various .303 Derivatives, or .243 WIN).

Doc AV

Thanks DocAv,

I must admit I’ve not heard the rumor of an “Ms” headstamp on Salisbury tracers, however, it cannot be discounted. Would love to sight a specimen, or even a headstamp photo.

The MFc headstamp you mention was not used on .303s. It was used on .38 Spl, the c designating “commercial”.

The Footscray/Thales commercial production, and other military calibre headstamps is worthy of a thread of it’s own, which I will attempt to do in the near future.



Here is the MS headstamp I have attributed to Small Arms Annex #7, Salisbury, Australia. Tracers only and made in 1944 only.


Very nice, scarce, round and a good photo. Thanks for sharing.
Please change the attribution to Explosives Factory, Salisbury, South Australia.

Just in case there is any confusion, DocAv was referring to the possibility of one with the monogram having a lower case “s”.
There also exists a similar round to yours with MS 44 GII headstamp. Note the Z is missing.


Sorry I misread the post and saw you had the MS already listed and that the Ms was the one in question. Have not seen or heard of that one either. Good work on the research.

MS is Scarce for two reasons…only 4,5million rounds were assembled, and most was Burnt as being unsuitable (Tracer was erratic in both Ignition and Burning); Australia used mostly Canadian Made (DI Z) tracer for Aircraft use in WW II; some British GII was also imported during the war ( a difficult and long trip); It is uncertain whether any of the 4,5 mill. rounds of MS GII and GIIZ actually saw Combat use.

As an Aside, Australia always had problems making successful SA Tracer…the only 7,62 Nato tracer cases I have seen are F3 1971, and 1973; All .30 cal and most other 7,62mm Tracer was imported from USA (Lake City) or Belgium (FN) or Israel (IMI).
I don’t know now, with 5,56 and .50 cal ( and recently, re-introduced 7,62 Nato,) whether (Thales-ADI) Benalla actually makes the Tracer Projectiles, or simply Loads imported ones…

Doc AV

To round out the discussion on the .303 Tracers from the South Australian factories.

MS not only produced Tracers bullets which they loaded, they also received the completed bullets from MH and MJ, filled them with tracer composition and returned them to those factories for loading.
The only production details I have is that MS filled approximately 7 million projectiles between September 1943 and April 1944. MH completed tracer rounds at least in 1944 and MJ in 1943 and 1945. Perhaps there are other years from these two factories which I haven’t sighted.
I also have notes that approximately the last 10 lots of tracers were completed at MS, a lot being about 100,000. This would mean only about 1,000,000 were loaded at MS.

On 7.62 F3 tracers, they were made in the following years. 68,69,70,71,72,73 all of which I’ve seen.



John, thank you very much.