AMMUNITION COLOR CODING SYSTEMS
Ammunition items are painted for three reasons. The first and foremost of these reasons is to protect the
ammunition and prevent rust or corrosion. The second reason is for camouflage, and the third reason is to aid in
identifying the ammunition. Color coding is used to indicate the primary use of ammunition items and to
emphasize the specific explosive, flammable, or toxic hazards associated with the items.
Two color coding systems are described in MIL-STD 709, MIL-STD 709A, MIL-STD 709B, and MIL-STD 709C.
An extract of MIL-STD 709C showing the colors used in both systems is provided in the Appendix at the end of
this subcourse booklet. Ammunition manufactured prior to 1962 used the color coding system described in MIL-
STD 709A and MIL-STD 709B. This lesson will address only the newer color coding system, which is described
in MIL-STD 709C.
Color coding is used for all ammunition items, except for the following:
Small arms ammunition (discussed later in this subcourse).
Pyrotechnic devices. (However, color is used to indicate the pyrotechnic effect. The color is marked on the
top of ground signals.)
Demolition accessories and ammunition components that do not require color coding for identification
Ammunition color coding is interpreted according to the combination of the base color, the color of the markings,
and the color of any special ammunition marking symbols present.
AMMUNITION MARKING SYMBOLS
Before describing the color coding system, some basic symbols need to be explained. The seven symbols are
shown in Figure 1-3. These symbols are used in combination with the current color coding system to identify
specific munition features. The following paragraphs describe what each symbol indicates about the ammunition
on which it is used.
When a band of diamond-shaped symbols is painted around the body of a projectile, the color of the diamonds
shows the type of payload in the projectile. White diamonds indicate that the munition is filled with inert items
(such as flechettes or slugs). A yellow band accompanying the white diamonds indicates the presence of an HE
charge to scatter the flechettes or slugs. Yellow diamonds indicate that the munition is filled with explosive sub-
munitions (such as grenades) to be expelled during flight. These munitions are referred to as improved
conventional munitions (ICM).
Yellow triangles forming a band around a munition indicate that the item is filled with small explosive mines to be
expelled during flight.