Cartridge terminology and ID help

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Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:27 pm

Hi all

With the number of members seeking help identifying cartridge cases, thought I would put together a guide to terminology, as well as the basic differences between cartridges that will help you identify, (or get identified), your cartridge.

Terminology first.......

ANVIL - A portion of the primer pocket or primer which provides resistance to the crushing action of the firing pin which causes the priming mixture to detonate.

ANNULAR RING - A circumferential crimp or indentation around the primer. In some military rounds, a dye was used in this ring for waterproofing and often to identify some characteristic of the cartridge.

BALL ROUND - Originally referring to round balls as opposed to shot or shell in early muskets or artillery. Now used in military parlance to denote the basic nonspecialized bullet type, as opposed to armor-piercing, tracer, etc.

BELTED CASE - A case with a distinct raised ring around the head just forward of the extractor groove, used to headspace the cartridge. Found on many high velocity rifle cartridges.

BERDAN-PRIMED - A centerfire cartridge design by Hiram Berdan (patent #82,587, 9-29-1868). A primer consisting of a metal cup filled with priming mixture and sealed with foil or shellac was inserted into the primer pocket of the cartridge case. The anvil is part of the cartridge case, i.e. a raised portion of the primer pocket which was perforated to permit the ignition to set off the powder charge. Starting in the early 1870s this type of priming system was widely used for both military and sporting ammunition.

BOAT-TAILED BULLET - A bullet whose base is tapered similar in profile to a boat's stern. The purpose is to reduce ballistic drag. This has also been referred to as a taper-heel bullet.

BOTTLENECKED CASE - A cartridge case having abrupt reduction in its diameter toward its open or mouth end. This permits large case capacity without making the case overly long.

BOXER PRIMER - A priming system developed in the late 1860s by Col. E.M. Boxer of England. (U.S. Patent #91,81 of 6-29-1889) as an improvement to Daw's Patent. The primer contained both the priming mixture and an anvil. This system is used in most modern U.S. centerfire cartridges.

CANNELURE(S) - The circumferential swaged, machined or milled groove(s) around a bullet (for sealing; also often for identification) or cartridge case. Often used to provide visual or tactile identification of special loadings of military ammunition. They are also used to hold lead bullet lubricant.

CASE LENGTH - The longest measurement of a cartridge case.

CORDITE - A type of smokeless nitrocellulose powder which was used widely in British military and sporting cartridges. Cordite grains usually resemble very thin strands of spaghetti but sometimes have other forms.

EXTRACTOR GROOVE - An annular groove machined into the cartridge case, usually just above the rim which provides a grip for the gun's extractor to pull the fired or unfired case from the chamber.

FLASH HOLE OR VENT - One or more holes through the bottom of the primer pocket to trans-mit the primer flame to the powder charge.

HEADSTAMP - The markings imprinted on the base of the cartridge case, usually containing information on the caliber and manufacturer or his logo; on military ammunition, the date of manufacture.

LACQUERED CASE - Usually a steel case which has been coated with lacquer for corrosion protection. Most frequently found with German WWII or Soviet bloc military rounds. Also found in shotshells to improve waterproofing.

MOUTH - The open end of the cartridge case into which the bullet is seated. The "mouth diameter" is the internal measurement of this feature.

NECK - The front portion of the cartridge case into which the bullet is seated. The "neck diameter" is the external measure of this feature.

PRIMER - The ignition component of a cartridge.

PRIMER ANNULUS - The circular joint around the primers. Colored lacquer is sometimes introduced into this area to provide a visual seal and often to indicate type of loading.

REDUCED (or "REBATED") RIM - A centerfire cartridge case whose rim diameter is smaller than the diameter of the body of the case.

RIMLESS CARTRIDGE - Cartridges with extractor grooves, whose rims are approximately the same diameter as the rest of the head.

RIMMED CARTRIDGE - Cartridges with rims which are larger in diameter than the rest of the head.

SEMI-RIMMED (OR SEMI-RIMLESS CARTRIDGE) - Cartridges with extractor grooves whose rims are larger in diameter than the rest of the head.

SHOULDER - That part of a bottlenecked case which connects the body and the neck.

SPITZER BULLET - A pointed bullet; from the German word "'Spitz" meaning pointed. Most modern military bullets are of this type.

STRAIGHT CASE - A cartridge case having little or no taper along its length and no abrupt change in diameter as would a "Bottlenecked" case.

TAPERED CASE - Cartridges with cases tapered in diameter from base to mouth or base to shoulder. The purpose is to assist extraction.


So there are your basic terms that you are likely to come across if you need a cartridge identifying.

One of the most basic facts about all cartridge cases is that they all have specific measurements. These measurements are simple to understand, with a little bit of knowledge! Read on for that knowledge.......

Take for instance the standard American 50 cal cartridge. This cartridge has the correct title of the 12.7x99 cartridge.

The first number is the diameter of the projectile, better known as the calibre, in millimetres. The second number is the overall length of the case, from the head to the top of the neck.

The second basic thing about a cartridge refers to the rim or lack off at the base, (correctly termed the 'head'). There are five basic types of 'rim'.......
image.jpg
The type of rim is also shown in the normal nomenclature of the cartridge. So, a German 20mm Solothurn is belted, and the case length sis 138mm. This becomes a 20x138B cartridge. A British Oerlikon 20mm cartridge has a Rebated rim and a case length of 101mm. This becomes a 20x101RB cartridge. A rimmed cartridge has an 'R' at the end, and semi-rimmed an 'SR'.

So here is what you need to do to either identify a cartridge yourself, or enlist help in this forum with identification. Provide this information and you will get a much faster answer!!!

1. What type of rim has the cartridge got?

2. What are the markings on the head, (the headstamp)?

3. What is the diameter of the mouth?

4. What is the overall length of the case?


With that info you won't go far wrong :)

Hope this post helps members with cartridge identification, and helps them understand what I am blathering on about most of the time when I get all 'technical' :)

RRPG
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Last edited by RRPG on Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by alloverover » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:34 pm

You enjoyed that didnt you :)) :)) :)) ::g

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Resurgam » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:37 pm

A great post Steve. A great many thanks for taking the trouble to improve our
ordnance education. ::g
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:40 pm

AOO - Might have. Not telling though. 8-} :P :P :P

Resurgam - No probs. Enjoyed doing it, but don't let AOO know. ::g :D
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by MilitaryMetalMagnut » Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:24 pm

Nice thread, matey ::g
A few more to add, if I may;

WEB - The thickest part of the cartridge case at the base/head end.

Projectiles;

MEPLAT - A Meplat Is the flat bit at the very tip of a 'Splitzer' bullet. Some Splitzer bullets don't have a Meplat & are sharp & pointy.

OGIVE - The 'crurvy' end of the bullet that goes into a point or a rounded nose.

LANDING SURFACE - The flat sides of the bullet which touches & grips the inside of the barrel.


Best regards, ::g

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:33 pm

Thanks MMM. ::g

Both you and I forgot the most important one though.

BULLET - The projectile that leaves the weapon at high velocity when a propellent charge is ignited when 'firing' a weapon. A cartridge is the brass, steel or plastic case in which the propellent cartridge is held, along with the projectile, AND NEVER EVER CALLED A BULLET!

::g s;..
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by MilitaryMetalMagnut » Mon Apr 06, 2015 12:00 am

RRPG wrote:Thanks MMM. ::g

Both you and I forgot the most important one though.

BULLET - The projectile that leaves the weapon at high velocity when a propellent charge is ignited when 'firing' a weapon. A cartridge is the brass, steel or plastic case in which the propellent cartridge is held, along with the projectile, AND NEVER EVER CALLED A BULLET!

::g s;..
Yes x; not sure how we overlooked that one... lol
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Martin B » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:55 pm

Thats a very good glossary RRPG,

It might help stop my personal bug bear - people using the phrase 'bullet head' ! B| The head is the part of the cartridge with the 'headstamp' on and the primer in it! >:P

I shouldnt get annoyed, but after being involved in cartridge history and development research for so many years, I do cringe a bit at poor terminology!

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Pastmember01 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:20 pm

Ok, cartridges that I assume are .303

All rimmed.
All 55mm or 2 and 3/8th long.
Approx. 9mm or 5/8th external at mouth.
All blank fire as mouth was crimped and have been fired.
The one in the picture has a head stamp which I assume is Birmingham 'B', cordite 'C', MkV but not sure what the mark is beside the V?
All of the others have no head stamp and the cartridges (found 4 in square yard) have remnants of being completely red.

All found on top of local hills but not sure why so many blank fire cartridges. Any ideas.

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by MilitaryMetalMagnut » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:22 am

Certainly the right measurements for a .303. The 'B' doesn't look like a 'B', looks more like an '8' to me (Presumably 1908?) A Birmingham Metals Co would have two Broad arrows with the 'B' marking. Looks like the makers mark begins with 'A'? Stumped on this one. lol.
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Pastmember01 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:02 am

Thanks MMM,

definitely a B. Slightly better picture attached.

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by JBM » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:11 am

A very interesting post.

Something for us all to learn about the subject. ::g Jerry.

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Dave8472 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:30 pm

'C' is for Cordite, that would make it an early one pre c.1912

Version numbers are in roman numerals, like VII but yours looks reversed

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:32 pm

The reason for the other mark on the headstamp is rather straightforward really. It was a Mk II case but has been modified into a Mk V. The II has thus been crossed through. The Mk V had a bullet where the jacket didn't reach the tip and was classed as 'expanding'. The Hague convention banned the use of expanding bullets so the remaining stocks of Mk V cartridge, (45 million), were used for training purposes only.

The B is indeed a B and is for Birmingham Metal and Munitions Co Ltd, Birmingham.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Pastmember01 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:21 pm

Thanks RRPG. Much appreciated. You learn something new every day.

Any thoughts on the other .303 cases that have no head stamp? They are all blank fire and appear to be red on the outside. I've just given up on a field (well its a grassy hill which drops on all sides) and is littered with the cases. They give a really good signal about 6" down which you can't really pass by, just in case, but I just got fed up digging them.


Cheers,

Chris

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:59 pm

They aren't grenade launcher cartridges are they? Although these were usually only coloured over half the cartridge case, I have heard they were sometimes fully coloured......
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Pastmember01 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:46 pm

I looked up grenade cartridges and for the most part they would not have been crimped - they used a wax plug. The later ones were rose crimped but they also all had head stamps. I'll do a bit more research and see what I can find out. If I get a result I'll post the answer. It's not that important other than I would like to know.

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:38 pm

If it's any consolation, I have about 100 303 blanks, all from WW2 sites, none with headstamps :) (plus double the number with headstamps)

::g ::g s;.. s;..
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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by liamnolan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:10 pm

WVAM wrote:I looked up grenade cartridges and for the most part they would not have been crimped - they used a wax plug. The later ones were rose crimped but they also all had head stamps. I'll do a bit more research and see what I can find out. If I get a result I'll post the answer. It's not that important other than I would like to know.



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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by Beach-Comber » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:40 pm

Thanks for all your information and breakdown.

I found these two sites very helpful when trying to Id some very old bullets, that I had detected and a cartridge case type of which I had found many.

https://sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/home" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.ammunitionpages.com/categori ... cat_id=138" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I thought particular the second link has some great downloads of the cartridge headstamp codes.

Solved my ID problems anyway.

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Re: Cartridge terminology and ID help

Post by RRPG » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:18 am

There is a sticky thread in this forum on headstamps with links to ID pages.

http://www.metaldetectingforum.co.uk/vi ... 61&t=21211" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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