Stamped Out

The Nomenclature System

Army Nomenclature System
The United States Army designates ordnance equipment in accordance with the Army Nomenclature System as defined in MIL-STD-1464A 15 May 1987. These type designators are generally known to the collecting community as "M" numbers. A new designation is assigned when an additional new equipment item enters the Army inventory system. These alpha / numeric type designators are not unique throughout the system, only within a certain category of equipment.   This means the full designation for an item within this system must always include an item name for identification purposes. Without the name designator an M1 could be a bayonet, rifle, tank, truck or any other item in the system. There are more M1 designations, it being the first in the line, then any other in the military.


(1) This designates the military name of the item, this is always part of the complete nomenclature. According to MIL-STD-1464A, the name must be written in capital letters, and is to be followed by a colon. The name should be selected from DoD Cataloging Handbook H6 ("Federal Item Name Directory") whenever possible.

(2) An arbitrary number typically used in progression but may jump within the equipment category. Skipped numbers may have been adopted and used but dropped in subsequent years so items in stock may not have a direct lineup ie M1, M4, M5, M6, M7, M9.

(3) Two different prefixes are typically used:

* XM - Item is in the development phase. Replaced the older "T" designation
* M - Item is classified as "standard"

(4) A letter/number suffix used to denote modifications of the equipment. Two different letters are used:

* A - Alteration (modification of service equipment)
* E - Experimental

Modifications of equipment currently in use carry the suffixes A1, A2, etc., while experimental modifications use suffixes E1, E2, etc. The suffixes can be used in combination, e.g. M3A1E2 would be the first modification of the M3 scabbard in itís second experimental form. If the M3A1E2 would be accepted as a standard service item, the designation would change to M3A2.

Note: According to MIL-STD-1464A, dashes or spaces must not be used in Army Nomenclature numerical designators. To write it correctly only M3A1 is correct nomenclature, while variants like M-3A1, M3-A1 or M3A-1 are all incorrect.

Please select a topic from below:
Army Nomenclature
Navy MARK/MOD Nomenclature
Telecommunications Security (TSEC) Nomenclature
Joint Photographic Type Designation System
Joint Optical Range Instrumentation Type Designation System
The Standard Nomenclature B-List
The Standard Nomenclature C-List
The Standard Nomenclature F-List
The Standard Nomenclature G-List
The Standard Nomenclature H-List
The Standard Nomenclature K-List
The Standard Nomenclature M-List
The Standard Nomenclature R-List
The Standard Nomenclature S-List