From left to right: m1891, m1891 Dummy, Armor-Piercing, "L" bullet, Dummy 1914
From left to right: "L" bullet 1930, "D" bullet 1935, B-30 Armor-Piercing, Wartime Steel Case (no copper wash), ZP Explosive, Tracer, APIT, API, "LPS" 1953, SAAMI Proof 1987, Blank

Imperial (Czarist Era) Headstamp codes

III T Tula  
Click on the code for an image of the headstamp


Click on the picture for a larger image
Stripper Clip of M-1891 Round Nose cartridges
Stripper Clip of M-1908 "L" bullet cartridges

There is a large variety of Imperial headstamp codes. The most common are listed above. The early pattern of markings follow the style used on 10.6mm Berdan. A Cyrillic P, which looks like an inverted U, represented the factory at St. Petersburg (Petrograd). The T represented the factory at Tula.


Modern (Post 1917) Headstamp codes

17 38 46
60 188 528
529 544 545
T 3B (ZV) 3B inverted
Click on the code for an image of the headstamp

The Soviet system of headstamps displayed a factory code (usually a number) and a two digit date code. The stripper clips became simple. The small "fingers" were eliminated, instead the corners of the clip were bent inward to hold the rounds in place.

Click on the picture for a larger version
Stripper Clip of M-1930 "D" bullet cartridges
Stripper Clip of "LPS" cartridges

Bullet Types

The first bullet used in 7.62x54R was a cupro-nickle jacketed round nose. In 1908 production changed to a much lighter 147 grain "L" type lead core bullet, still retaining the cupro-nickle jacket. The Model 1930 "D" bullet with a yellow tip color used a "Tombac" jacket material (which added copper plating) and increased the lead core bullet weight to 172 grains. A copper plated "L" type bullet with no tip color was loaded in ammunition as late as 1952. In the early 1950's production shifted to the mild steel cored "LPS" bullet. The weight decreased to 147 grains and a silver tip color was used until the 1970's.

Click on the bullet type for a picture of the bullet

Tracer -Green tip
Armor-Piercing -Black tip, Type B-30, Made from 1930 until 1940's when replaced by API
Armor-Piercing Incendiary -Black over Red tip
Armor-Piercing Incendiary Tracer -Purple over Red tip
Explosive -Red tip, see discription below

Cartridge Case Types

Early production military ammunition will have brass casings, switching to copper washed steel around 1935. This conversion date will vary between factories, with some using brass as late as 1944. 300 meter target ammo manufactured under the Extra brand is still produced using brass casings.

Cartridge Bases

Round base with raised headstamp
Beveled base with impressed headstamp

There are two types of cartridge bases, round and beveled. Early loadings were round based transitioning to a beveled base around 1933. Raised headstamps were used until the late 1970's. Begining in the early 1980's, the impressed headstamp was moved to the central portion of the base away from the edge.

Letter Date Codes

During the 1950's, Russia marked the headstamp date code with a single Cyrillic letter instead of a two digit number. This practice reverted back to a two digit date code after 1956. The table below shows the Cyrillic code letter, its English equivalent and the corosponding year.

Click on the year or letter for an image of the actual headstamp

1952 1953 1954 1955 1956


Shkas Machine gun rounds

From 1939 through 1945 7.62x54R ammunition was specially loaded for the Shkas aircraft machine gun. This ammunition was loaded to high pressures and could be dangerious if fired in rifles. To differentiate Shkas ammunition from standard rifle ammunition, the Cyrillic letter sh was added to the headstamp and the primer was colored red. In addition, the Shkas round has a slightly sharper taper to the base of the cartridge. The majority will be loaded with API, APIT and Exploding bullets. Do not confuse the 1954 "E" date code with the Shkas headstamp. The symbols used are similar. Shkas rounds will always have a WWII era date code and the letter sh will be the third code on the headstamp.

ShKas (note red primer) 1954 "E" Code



Click on the picture for a larger image
Sniper Ammunition

Special ammunition was produced for the SVD (Dragunov) sniper rifle. Very little of this ammunition has surfaced in the West. Made to a high standard of accuracy, it used a 147 grain hardened steel core bullet (see the picture of the sectioned round above). Bundles and tins were marked "Sniper's" in Russian. Individual rounds will show no special colors or markings.


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Exploding Bullets

A devastating exploding bullet was invented by the Russians in the late 1930's. Called the type ZP, it differed from a common incendiary bullet as it contained PETN high explosive and a detonater. These bullets were quite complex, housing a firing pin and drop safety device as well. They have a red tip. The majority that are found today are ShKas machine gun rounds, unsafe for use in bolt action rifles.

Sectioned Lead Core "L" bullet and T-46 Tracer



7.62x54R cartridges are packed in 15 round boxes or 20 round paper wrapped bundles. After the early 1960's stripper clips and the 15 round boxes were no longer used. 22- twenty round bundles (440 rounds) are packaged in a tin, two tins to a case. 18- fifteen round boxes (270 rounds) were packed in a tin marked with a "brackets" symbol denoting the inclusion of stripper clips. The transition from the early rectangular galvanized tins to painted tins with rounded corners occurred in the very early 1960's.

The type of cartridge is stenciled on the tin. If it is Tracer, API or APIT, then a bullet tip colored stripe is painted on the tin and on the side of the wooden case. Unlike other countries, Russia did not paint a silver stripe to represent "LPS" ammunition. Instead the letters, "LPS", are included in the markings.

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15 round string tied box containing 3 five round stripper clips. (1961)
270 round tin of "LPS". Special [] markings show rounds are loaded in stripper clips.(1961)
20 round bundle of Tracer (1960's)
20 round bundle of Tracer (1950's)
7.62x54R Headspace Guage