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.303 Headstamp Cartridge Identification
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IDENTIFING A .303 CARTRIDGE:
 
So you have a cartridge but would like to know what it is.  Well that can be done by following the following steps.  Most Commonwealth manufactures identified their product with a headstamp.  These stamps Identifies who made it, what year, model of mark, the type of powder and occasionally if it was special purpose ammo the use.
 
STEP 1 Identifing the Maker.  Looking at the headstamp compare it to the chart below which identifies most of the ammuniton manufacturers that produces the .303 cartiridge.  It usually is a two letter code sometimes seperated by a broad arrow,
 
STEP 2 Identifing the Year of Production.  The year is either shown in two or four digits.  For example it would say 1942 or 42.
 
STEP 3 Identifing the Mark or Model.  These were roman numerals that numbered from one to eight.  I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII Most WWII cartriges were Mk VII.(See the .303 Bullet Page for More Detail).
 
STEP 4 Identifing the propellant.  "C" following the mark indicates that CORDITE was used (See the .303 Bullet Page for More Detail). "Z" following the mark indicated that Niro Cellulose powder was used but this was droped since most later cartridges used this as the propellant.
 
STEP 5 Identifing the Purpose.  If there are markings on the headstamp left over these may indicate a special purpose round.  There is a chart at the bottom of this page that covers all of the commonly encountered special purpose rounds.
 

Known Manufacturers

A Pretoria West Metal Pressings, Pretoria SOUTH AFRICA

A Artillerie Inrichingen, Hemberg, NETHERLANDS

AE Arsenal do Ejecito, Libson, PORTUGAL

AF Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

AIF Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 1, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

AOC Bombrini, Parodi et Delfino, Rome, ITALY

APX Atelier dr Construction de Puteaux, FRANCE

AI Artillerie Inrichingen, Hemberg, NETHERLANDS

A-VE Atelier de Construction de Valence, FRANCE

A.VIS Atelier de Fabrication de Vincinnes, FRANCE

B Brimingham Metal and Munitions Co Ltd, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

BD Halls Telegraph Co Burghfield, UNITED KINGDOM

BE Royal Ordinance Factory, Blackpole, Worchester, UNITED KINGDOM

BLANCH J Blanch & Sons of Fenchurch St., London, UNITED KINGDOM

BM British Munitions Co Ltd., Millwall, London UNITED KINGDOM

BPD Bombrini, Parodi et Delfino, Rome, ITALY

C Pirotecnico di Capua, ITALY

CAC Colonial Ammunition Co., Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

CAC Colonial Ammunition Co. Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

CIL Canadian Industies Ltd., Montreal, CANADA

CP Crompton Parkinson Ltd., Guiseley, Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM

C18F1 Government Cartridge Factory No 1, Blackheath, UNITED KINGDOM

C-P Crompton Parkinson Ltd., Doncaster, Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM

C..F3 Government Caartridge Factory No 3, Blackpole, Worc, UNITED KINGDOM

D Dominion Cartridge Co., Brownsberg, Quebec, CANADA

DA Dominion Arsenal, Montreal, CANADA

DAC Dominion Arsenal, Quebec, CANADA

DAL Dominion Arsenal, Lindsay, Ontario, CANADA

DAQ Dominion Arsenal, Quebec, CANADA

DC Defense Industries, Brownsburgh, Quebec, CANADA

DC Dominion Cartridge Company, CANADA

DC CO Dominion Cartridge Company, CANADA

DF Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA

DI Defense Industies, Montreal, CANADA

DI Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA

DIL Defense Industies, Montreal, CANADA

DIV Defense Industies, Verdun, CANADA

Do Hirtenberg Patronenfabrik, Dordrecht, NETHERLANDS

Dominion Dominion Cartridge Co., Quebec, CANADA

DF Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA

DWM Deutsche Waffen Und Munitionsfabrik, Karlsruhe, GERMANY

E Eley Brothers, Edmonton, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Eatons Dominion Cartridge Co.(Made for Eatons Dept Store), Quebec, CANADA

EB Eley Brothers, Edmonton, London, UNITED KINGDOM

F Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

FC Federal Cartridge Co, Anoka, Minn UNITED STATES

FN Fabrique National d’Armes de Guerre, Herstal BELGIUM

FNM Fabrique National de Municoes e Armas Legeiras, Moscavide, PORTUGAL

FNT Fabrica Nacional de Espana, Palencia, SPAIN

FWL & Co. F.W. Lamplough & Co, CANADA

G Greenwood and Batley, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM

GA Grenfell and Accies Ltd. Perry Barr, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

GB Greenwood and Batley, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM

GBF Greenwood and Batley, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM

G18F1 Government Cartridge Factory No 1, Blackheath, UNITED KINGDOM

G..F3 Government Caartridge Factory No 3, Blackpole, Worc, UNITED KINGDOM

GKB George Kynoch, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

GEVELOT Gevelot & Gaupittat Freres, Paris, FRANCE

Hornady Hornady UNITED STATES

HN Royal Ordinance Factory, Hirwaun, South Wales, UNITED KINGDOM

HSA Hingston Arms Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA

HXP Greek Powder and Cartridge Co., Athens, GREECE

ICI Imperial Chemicals Industries, UNITED KINGDOM

ICIANZ Imperial Chemicals Industries, NEW ZEALAND

IMPERIAL Canadian Industries Ltd, Montreal, CANADA

IMPERIAL Canadian Industires Ltd, Plattsburg, NY, UNITED STATES

IVI Industries Valcartier Industies, CANADA

J Brimingham Metal and Munitions Co Ltd, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

K Kynoch & Co., Witton, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

K Indian Government Ammunition Factory Kirkee, near Poona, INDIA

K2 Imperial Chemical Industries Kynoch Factory at Standish UNITED KINGDOM

K4 Imperial Chemical Industries Kynoch Factory at Yeading UNITED KINGDOM

K5 Imperial Chemical Industries Kynoch Factory at Kidderminster UNITED KINGDOM

KF Indian Government Ammunition Factory Kirkee, near Poona, INDIA

KH Indian Government Ordinance Factory, Khamaria, INDIA

KN Kings Norton Metal Co., Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

KYNOCH Kynoch & Co., Witton, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

L Lorenz Ammunition and Ordinance Co, Millwall London, UNITED KINGDOM

L Ludlow and Co, Wolverhampton, Staffs, UNITED KINGDOM

LAC Dominion Arsenal, Lindsay, Ontario, CANADA

L-E Remington UMC, Bridgeport Conn., UNITED STATES

M Brimingham Metal and Munitions Co Ltd, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

M Nobel Explosives Ltd., Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM

MAXIM Maxim Arms Co., London, UNITED KINGDOM

MEN Maschinefabrik Elisenhutte, WEST GERMANY

MEXICO Fabrica National de Munitions, Mexico City, MEXICO

MF Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 1, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

MG Small Arms Ammunition Factory No2, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

MH Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 3, Hendon, AUSTRALIA

MI Societe Meridionale d’Industrie, Robert Paulet & Cie, Marseille, FRANCE

MJ Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 4, Hendon, AUSTRALIA

MKE Makina ve Kimya Endusrisi, Kuruma, TURKEY

MQ Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 5, Rocklea, AUSTRALIA

MS Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 7, Salisbury, AUSTRALIA

MW Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 6, Welshpool, AUSTRALIA

N Brimingham Metal and Munitions Co Ltd, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM

N Nobel’s Explosives Co Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM

N Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA

NI Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA

nny Privi Partizan, Titovo Uzice, YUGOSLAVIA

NORMA Norma Projectilfabrik, Amotfors, SWEDEN

OFN Government Ordinance Factory, Lagos, NIGERIA

OK Indian Government Ordinance Factory, Khamaria, INDIA

P Peters Cartridge Co., Kings Mills, Ohio, UNITED STATES

PC Peters Cartridge Co., Kings Mills, Ohio, UNITED STATES

PMP Pretoria Metal Pressings(Pty) Ltd. Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA

POF Pakistan Ordinance Factory, Rawalpindi, PAKISTAN

PP Privi Partizan, Titovo Uzice, YUGOSLAVIA

PS Pirotechnico Militar de Seville, SPAIN

QA Quebec Arsenal, Quebec, CANADA

R Dominion Cartridge Co.(Made for Eatons Dept Store), Quebec, CANADA

RA Remington Arms Co., Inc., Bridgeport, Conn., UNITED STATES

RA Raufoss Ammunisjonsfabrikker, Raufoss, NORWAY

RC Raleigh Cycle Co, Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM

RG Royal Ordinance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire, UNITED KINGDOM

RH Raleigh Cycle Co, Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM

RL Royal Laboratory,, Woolwich Arsenal, Kent, UNITED KINGDOM

RNRA Rhodesia National Rifle Association

R-P Remington Arms Co, Bridgeport, Conn, UNITED STATES

RR Ross Rifle Co, Montreal, CANADA

RRCO Ross Rifle Co, Montreal, CANADA

RTS Richard Threlfall and Sons, UNITED KINGDOM

R..W Rudge Whitworth Ltd. Tyseley, UNITED KINGDOM

S Indian Government Ammunition Factory Kirkee,Southern Circuit, INDIA

S Pirotechnico Militar de Seville, SPAIN

SAM South African Mint, Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA

SAAF Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

SBR Sellier & Belot, Riga, LATVIA

SFM Societe Francaise des Munitions, Issy-les-Moulineaux, FRANCE

SI Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA

SMI Societa Metallurgica Italliana, Campo Tizzoro, ITALY

SR Royal Ordinance Factory, Spennymoor, Durham, UNITED KINGDOM

ST Royal Ordinance Factory Steaton, UNITED KINGDOM

SWN Royal Ordinance Factory Swynnerton, UNITED KINGDOM

TH Royal Ordinance Factory Thorpe Arch, Boston Spa, UNITED KINGDOM

TM..B Pirotechnia de Bologna, ITALY

T. BLAND & SONS T. Bland & Sons, London, UNITED KINGDOM

TR Dominion Rubber and Munitions Trois Rivieres, Quebec, CANADA

U South African Mint, Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA

U Remington UMC, Bridgeport Conn., UNITED STATES

US United States Cartridge Co, Lowell Mass., UNITED STATES

VE Cartoucherie de Valence, FRANCE

VPT Valtion Patruunatehdas, Lapua, FINLAND

W Winchester Repeating Arms Co. New Haven Conn. UNITED STATES

WCC Western Cartridge Co., East Alton, Ill. UNITED STATES

W-W Winchester Western Division of Olin Industires. Conn UNITED STATES

WRA Winchester Repeating Arms Co. New Haven Conn. UNITED STATES

ZV Zbrojovka Brno, Brno CZECHOSLOVAKIA

Colour Coding of .303 Ammunition

Colour coding appears in several forms on small arms ammunition. The most common system with the .303 cartridge used coloured bullet tips or colour around the annulus of the primer cap. Other methods include colouring of part or the whole of the cartridge case. Originally markings arose from the need to make a quick visual check of the arrangements in a machine gun belt and they are now universally applied. As a general rule the absence of colour coding indicated a standard ball cartridge.

United Kingdom & Commonwealth Countries before 1955

including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa

Bullet Type                                Colour of Tip                           Colour of Annulus

Armour Piercing                       Green                                        Green

Ball                                              None                                        Purple

Incendiary                                  Blue                                           Blue

Observing                                  Black                                         Black

Proof                                           None                                        Yellow

Tracer Short Range                   White                                       Red

Tracer Dark Ignition                   Grey                                         Red

Tracer Long Range                    Red                                         Red

Belgium

Bullet Type                                Colour of Tip                           Colour of Annulus

Incendiary                                   Lt Blue                                      None

Tracer                                          Red                                           None

Finland

Bullet Type                                Colour of Tip                           Colour of Annulus

Armour Piercing                       Lt Blue                                       None

Italy

Bullet Type                                                      Colour of Tip                           Colour of Annulus

Armour Piercing                                                 None                                        Green

Armour Piercing Incendiary(Phosphorus)    Blue                                         None

Armour Peircing Incendiary(Thermite)          Green                                       None

Observation                                                        Black                                        None

Tracer                                                                   Red                                          None 

Letter codes other than Manufacture’s Codes on .303 Headstamp

AA                        Pomeroy explosive Incendiary Mk 2 Bullet (circa 1917)

B                            Incendiary Bullet

                           Cordite Propellant charge(pre 1912)

D                           Drill Round

E                           Smoke Bomb Projector

                          Semi Armour Piercing

FG                       Semi Armout Piercing Tracer

                         Tracer bullet

H                          Grenade Discharger

J                           Illuminating

K                          Brock explosaive incendiary bullet (circa 1918)

L                           Blank

                         Observation Bullet

P                           Practice Round

PG                        Practice Tracer

Q                           Proof Round

R                           Explosive Bullet

SPG                      Tracer made before 1927

                          Dummy Round

                         Armour piercing bullet

WG                       Armour Piercing Tracer

Z                           Nitrocellulose Propellant Charge

Sources for the above information comes from a variety of sources including the following
Skennerton's Lee Enfield Story
Stratton's  British Enfield Rifles
.303british.com
Harrington Museum in the UK
Various Museum Litterature from the UK
Various Government & Manufacture Documents