Why was this done?

Why was the headstamp defaced like this?


Possibly: Country BBBB asks Company AAA to manufacture some ammunition with a particular headstamp and for some reason Country BBBB decides that it no longer wants the ammo. Company AAA won’t sell it with Country BBBB headstamp so grinds off the Headstamp and sells it to another Company…of course I could be completely wrong :-)

I have seen that done when a country removes some brass to surplus, and also when one caliber of brass is reformed for another use or into another caliber.

I remember when Browning contracted with AMRON to make commercial cartridges with the Browning headstamp. There were some eventual problems with marketing and the venture was terminated.

Some of the pistol ammunition didn’t meet their velocity requirements, and instead of tearing down the rounds, they ran them through a lathe that cut a circular groove, like the one on your round, on the base, eliminating the headstamp. The brass was sold to surplus dealers.

Your round could be one of those. I have a .357 Magnum case that looks the same, and with a strong magnifying lens, you can make out the remants of the original Browning headstamp.

There are lots of examples of these effaced headstamps. Sometimes there is even another new headstamp stamped in the groove. I have an 8 x 57mm sporting round like that with an IWK overstamp. I showed it on a previous thread on this Forum. They are interesting!

Some of those overstamps are very collectable for wildcatters. Not too many years ago, brass cases were pretty much restricted to what the major factories were making and if you wanted a custom shape and/or headstamp you had to order a gazzilion of them. Guys like the late George Nonte would spend hours removing a headstamp and then stamping in his own wildcat cartridge name. Vanity has no bounds, I guess.


Do you know what the current dimensions are (looks like a .38 S&W), and what the original headstamp would have been (I think I can see “BRNG.” but can’t make out the rest)? I think it’s likely that this case would have been manufactured from another calibre entirely, and they removed the headstamp so that people wouldn’t try to fire them in the wrong firearm, as Jon says.

Looks like “BROWNING 38 S&W”.

I have a similarly ground-off Browning .380 Auto headstamp. These were marketed by Centennial Arms Corporation of the Chicago Area, Illinois, in white boxes with black print. I have the box for my round as well. They were probably supplied directly from AMRON to Centennial Arms, and not from Browning, after Browning switched to Winchester for their ammunition. That is just an educated guess. Off hand I don’t think I have any documentation to prove that. My feeling though is that Browning would have had no reason to sell off this ammunition after switiching to Winchester. Each original maker’s ammunition, AMRON and Winchester, with the Browning headstamp, are easily identified from one another by the Headstamp style. Since the headstamp was Browning, they would likely have just continued selling remaining stocks of the AMRON product right along with the Winchester. I am sure there were other calibers - perhaps all similarly-ground off Browning headstamped ammnition was sold off by Amron to Centennial Arms. Again, I just don’t know.

Centennial also sold at least 9mm Para and .45 Auto ammunition with anonymous headstamps (caliber only) in similar boxes. These were made by AMRON also, but are not on ground-headstamp brass, but rather were made new, but without the AMRON name on the headstamp. Of course, AMRON also marketed some ammunition with their own headstamp “AMRON” on the cases.

Are the heads on these ground off headstamps typically cut so deep? It appears that the pictured cartridge has had far more metal removed than would have been necessary if the intention was simply to remove the headstamp, so much so that I would be concerned that the rim might break off as a result of the cut in the head being in close proximity to the groove cut in the side of the case just above the rim.

During the mid 70’s there was a company which was re-manufactoring (reloading for resale) .223 and they took the original head stamp off this way. I would guess it would be a type of trade mark protection because the company used various types of brass. Vic

I have rounds with the headstamp removed in the same way, they were identified on this forum as being bulk purchases of surplus WW11 303 military rounds.
The grove now has the stamp of INTERARMCO, which I was informed was a large clearance house for surplus, with its headquarters in Virginia, USA.
The projectile was changed to a sporting type, but the cordite propellant charge appeared to be untouched in any way, down to the wad on top of the cordite., they were marketed in Australia as reloaded sporting Ammunition.
The original headstamp which small parts of same can be guessed at suggests they were possible tracer.
Your round for whatever reason has been treated in the same way, no headstamp , but most British commonwealth countries used as a military round the 38 S&W and then the 380 - 200 which was a 38 S&W with a heavier projectile for greater stopping power.
Whatever country released these rounds as surplus may have [guessing] put a caveat on the sale saying “remove our ID” to get by an embargo without exposing themselves or something similar.

Terry - I had the Interarmco alteration when I collected .303. They also had some new cases with their headstamp.

However, the .38 S&W round shown first on this thread is not a surplus round in the normal sense, nor does it have anything to do with any country that used forms of this cartridge in service. It is a Browning-headstamped U.S. commercial round made by AMRON and probably had the headstamp effaced after the Browning contract terminated, by AMRON, so they could sell their undelivered stock. Centennial Arms of Chicago, Illinois, was the ultimate seller of most of this AMRON ammunition, although I can’t say for sure the .38 S&W was sold by them.

John, Now that you point it out the Browning is easy to make out, and as you say rules out my hypothesis as this is a commercial round.