View Full Version : Bullet History

April 27, 2011, 12:05 PM
A student of mine has a bullet that he believes is from WWII.
I was wondering if you guys could help me with any information on the shell.

I tried looking it up online, but most of the sites are blocked from the school, which makes researching it difficult.

The Head Stamps says, "F A 60 9".

It looks like a .30 round to me. The projectile is missing and it has been cleaned inside, but was not fired.

I can try to get a pic if that would help.

Mike Irwin
April 27, 2011, 12:17 PM
It's not from World War II.

FA stands for Frankford Arsenal, a small arms manufacturer located in Philadelphia.

60 stands for 1960

9 stands for September.

Depending on the length, it could either be the military equivalent of the .308 Winchester (case would be approx. 51mm long) or .30-06 (case would be approximately 63mm long).

Don H
April 27, 2011, 12:25 PM
Correct terminology is important in an educational setting.

From the TFL Library:
Bullet - The object which is propelled towards the target. This term is often incorrectly used to describe a loaded round of ammunition (cartridge). The ensuing confusion has led to the use of the superfluous term “bullet heads”. The design of the bullet differs for various applications.

Cartridge - Complete unit of ammunition, comprising cartridge case, bullet, powder and primer.

April 27, 2011, 01:04 PM
Thanks for the help!

So the 60 would be the last two digits of the year. That makes sense.
What if it was 06? How would you tell the difference between 1906 and 2006?

Oh and am I correct in assuming the the bottom of each letter or number is oriented towards the primer?

Also, I corrected the students terminology at school, but forgot in my post. Sorry about that.

Mike Irwin
April 27, 2011, 02:46 PM
"What if it was 06? How would you tell the difference between 1906 and 2006?"


Frankford Arsenal closed in 1977.

And, no Government arsenal or munitions supplier was still manufacturing .30-06 ammunition with a gov't headstamp in 2006.

"Oh and am I correct in assuming the the bottom of each letter or number is oriented towards the primer?"


Depending on the specific time frame, generally the letters designating the manufacturer have the bottoms oriented toward the primer.

The month of production, IF there is one, often has the right side of the number towards the primer, while the year either has the left side towards the primer OR the top of the numbers towards the primer.

James K
April 27, 2011, 09:36 PM
FWIW, almost all headstamps, and all U.S. GI headstamps, are oriented so that they are read in one direction. So if you can read the "F" and "A", the date is just what you see.

Just a note that Frankford Arsenal was the U.S. Army's major ammunition factory; it was never a small arms manufacturer. One statistic is interesting. From late 1941 to late 1945, Frankford Arsenal produced 1.5 million rounds of .30 caliber ammunition - a day.


April 28, 2011, 12:15 PM
Thanks for all the replies.
I can't take a pic of the cartridge because my phone is dead, but I drew one.
Click For Pic (https://sites.google.com/site/random37squared/cartridge)

I think it is from September 1960, but it's hard to tell since they are sixes or nines.

Mike Irwin
April 28, 2011, 01:24 PM

That's not from 1960!

That's from June 1909!

I should have remembered that, at various times (normally during peace time), arsenals would stamp not only the production year, but also the production month on the cases.

April 28, 2011, 01:28 PM
Wow! That is awesome.

So was it a military use, or could it be civilian use?

Mike Irwin
April 28, 2011, 01:56 PM
Definitely loaded for the military. Commercial head stamps are QUITE different.

However, it's possible that it could have, at some point, gotten into the civilian market as surplus ammunition.

April 28, 2011, 05:44 PM
Frankford Arsenal 1909 it is. Those old .30 caliber rounds used a huge primer.

April 29, 2011, 06:15 AM
I thought the primer looked big.
What would it have been produced for?
I mean, what .30 cal arms would have been in service at the time?

April 29, 2011, 06:36 AM
The most common US military firearms chambered for this round at that time would have been the 1903 Springfield bolt-action rifle, and the Colt 1895 "potato-digger" machine gun; in 1909, the US also adopted the Hotchkiss "automatic rifle" (a strip-fed light machine gun) for cavalry use, which was later used in the Pershing Expedition against Pancho Villa.

Mike Irwin
April 29, 2011, 08:25 AM
In the civilian world, the Winchester Model 1895 lever action rifle was chambered for .30-06 at this time, as well.

Don P
April 29, 2011, 03:42 PM
Yep and the arsenal opened in 1816 and as stated closed in 1977. The story/history of the arsenal can be read here,

4V50 Gary
April 29, 2011, 07:23 PM
Thanks. I have the book that was cited in the article and it's somewhere downstairs.