7.92 Black Powder?

I recently pulled the World War 1 7.92mm round shown in the picture. To my suprise I found it was loaded with black powder. Before I pulled it it certainly did not look like a reload, can there be any other explanation?

Are you sure it is “Black Powder”? ( ie, Carbon-Sulfur-Saltpetre Mixture)?

The little I can see of the Powder from the Photo looks like the regular square-Flaked “Gewehr Blattchen Pulver”-- G.Bl.P-- used in nearly all German made 7,9 cartridges from 1888 to 1945.

The Cartridge looks like an original DM ( DWM-Karlsruhr) 1915, Patrone 7,9mm, (ohne rille) [without bullet cannelure] ie…rifle ammo.

The primer is intact, the three stab crimps undamaged, etc.
Also look at the base of the Bullet for the Factory ID stamp (DM is Fraktur “D”)

Have a look at the Powder under a Magnifying lens to determine whether it is Smokeless or Otherwise.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Or else take a pinch of the propellant and stick a lighted match to it.

Gents absolutely no doubt it is black powder, I spent 20 years in the Army as an Ammunition Technical Officer and the last 17 working for the London bomb Squad. I carried out a flame test before the original post and the powder burnt instantly producing a white clould of smoke. Nothing like the slower cleaner burn of unconfined propellant. I have since videoed another flame test, but don’t think the rules permit posting it on this forum. I can put it on Youtube if you wish or email it.

So back to my original question why the black powder? Would a cartridge loaded with black powder explode and destroy the weapon firing it? There are documented cases of ammunition being doctored and left for others to find and fire, destroying the weapon and often injuring the firer in the process.

Kind regards


Buster: Black powder is far less powerful than smokeless and wouldn’t stress the rifle but even one shot sure would dirty it up! I wonder if perhaps the original smokeless charge was removed at some point and later the missing charge was replaced with the black. I’ve had rounds with sand and even dirt as “charges,” but I guess someone might try black powder to give the heft and sound of a loaded cartridge. Jack

Loose granular black powder would nowhere near produce the ballistics or the pressures. From my experiments trying to recreate .303 black powder loads I would estimate what you have in that picture as giving about half the pressure and about 1600 fps. maybe 2000 tops if it was heavily compressed. And that is very optimistic.
Also, if that powder had been compressed and in there since 1915 it probably wouldn’t come out looking like that. It most probably would have “set” into a solid lump and you would be digging it out in chunks with a screwdriver.

Blackpowder burns progressively up the barrel and with a 7.92 there is not enough barrel space/time to get the fire going. Some of that powder would be ejected from the end unburned if it were loose granules. The burning would start at the back, but too slowly and nowhere near hot enough, and just push everything in front of it up the barrel. The burning process couldn’t get from the back to the front of the charge in the time available. Once the powder got into the narrow barrel it would be even more elongated and seperated from the burning gasses to the rear.

Thats my theory of internal black powder ballistics, (for what its worth.)

.303 black powder charges were a solid pellet but it had a hole down the middle to carry the flame right through the charge. And they used a big (hot) primer to get things going.

Agree with VinceGreen. I have experimented a little with using black powder in various more modern bottlenecked rifle cartridges, and ballistic performance is poor. I have pulled bullets from 19th century US military .45-70 BP rounds, and the black powder has become more or less a solid cake up to the base of the bullet, and has to be dug out with a screwdriver, etc. I don’t see how a military 8X57 round from 1915 could have originally been factory loaded with black powder.

The other thing is if you are in Britain you need to throw that powder on the garden unless you have a licence for it. Black powder in a cartridge is OK but loose black powder is not.

Gents point taken about the ballistics. Vince did not know that. As of now what black powder!


The size appears to be 1F (.047"-.066") or 2F (.033" - .046"). Depending on where and when the powder was placed into the cartridge would be anybody’s guess, but if it was in the early 1900’s there were a number of b.p. manufacturers around the world.


Can you compare the early semismokeless powders with black powder.

I bought some very early 7.9s from Graham Irving years ago which were loaded with black powder.

These were long round nosed bullets and no headstamps.

The discoloration of the case here looks to me like some which I have seen come out of machinegun belts which have been exposed ; dark neck and brighter case. The base of the projectile looks like what black powder does to a jacketed bullet. The primer in the case looks original with primer crimps and seal.

The primer is definitely virgin, I have been mulling this one over in my mind for the past few days. The only official reason something like this may have been produced as far as I could imagine would be as some sort of trainer or to alleviate shortages. Neither of which strikes me as being particulary plausable. The shortages issue would not have kicked in till about 1917 I wouldn’t have thought.

Another little thing about black powder is that it can’t be used in automated loading machinery for a number of reasons*which is another fly in the ointment

  • it meters badly plus the danger of explosion from grain chopping or static

Thanks for all your responses, I guess for the time being it will remain a bit of a mystery.


Most of the top 7.9 collectors are at St.Louis. They should be back on the forum this week. More info should be coming.

[quote=“Buster”]Thanks for all your responses, I guess for the time being it will remain a bit of a mystery.

Oh we love a mystery, boy do we love a good mystery

I never really became expert in the 7.9 x 57 rounds that would have been early enough to even have black powder loads, since while I collected everything when I had my collection, I really liked the WWII era (all countries, not just Germany) and post WWII cartridges the best. But, that said, I have never heard mention of a black powder 7.9 x 57 mm cartridge in my life until this thread. I don’t read German well, so could not read anywhere near all of Windisch’s first book, and since I have no more book room and don’t collect 7.9 anymore, I didn’t get the second one.

Can anyone provide any credible documentation on black powder use in this caliber (not anecdotal please)? While I have no direct interest in the 7.9 anymore, I like information on any cartridges, and this one is coming from left field at me. I would love to absolutely confirm any black powder manufacture (not movies blanks, of course) of military service lethal ammunition in this caliber loaded with black powder.

I asked the president of german ECRA and one of the authors of the
ECRA 7.9 x 57 book and both assured me that this cartridge was never
loaded with black powder.


Strange things can happen. Someone could have pulled the bullet, replaced the smokeless powder with black powder, and re-seated the bullet - for unknown reasons.

The only similar thing I have encountered was that about 30 years ago, I bought a large quantity of loose WWII DEN-headstamped GI .30-'06 (I don’t remember the year) for shooting purposes. Anyway, I had one dud round. I pulled the bullet, and what I found was something resembling white silica sand instead of smokeless powder. Why it was found in only one cartridge of the bunch (or any cartridge) I cannot imagine. If anyone can come up with a reason for this, I’d still like to know.

You can’t disregard the possiblity that the blackpowder might just be somebody experimenting as I certainly have so often in the past. Or a joke, doctor one round and slip it back into the clip or whatever. Then somebody gets a big puff of smoke in the middle of their detail and everybody laughs. Silly, but thats the sort of things that I could imagine happening all to easily when a bunch of guys get togeather.

Maybe its just me, maybe it was my mis-spent youth, at least I am mature enough now to admit it.
Lucky to still have all my fingers.

I have been inerting some more WW1 7.92mm cartridges and have had yet another surprise, a round loaded with cordite, and no it is not 1st April. I think I have a possible explanation for this. The rounds that I have came from the collection of Major Freddy Mead, who is sadly no longer with us. As well as a great collector he was a keen researcher and, for example, co-wrote the book .303 Inch with Peter Labbett. I have established that Freddy was serving at Woolwich Arsenal when it was finally closed down many years ago. My guess is that at some point, and for some reason, the British carried out trials with captured German ammunition and reloaded them with black powder and cordite. I have no idea why. I suspect that at the end of the trial a couple of rounds of each were put into Woolwich Arsenal’s small arms ammunition collection. When the Arsenal was closed down and the collection dispersed I suspect that Freddy rescued these rounds and some others, but that any documentation that went with has subsequently disappeared. This is my best guess and would welcome any comments.