7.92x57 propellant question

This 7.92x57 with “fb-St+ 15 44” headstamp does not make the usual rustling sound when I shake it. It seems to be unfired. The other Mauser WWII cartridges (all came in an auction bag) make gun powder-moving sound. Am I missing something?

My bet is that moisture got to the powder. If enough moisture seeps into the propellant body, it can basically turn it into a solid mass. I have seen this before on rounds that I have pulled the bullets on. When this happens, it usually makes the powder swell as well, so it usually doesn’t rattle either.

Some rounds that have a compressed charge won’t make the sifting noise when you shake them either. And, if it shows signs of having had been disassembled, it is possible that there isn’t any powder in the round at all, but I am still going to say it was almost certainly moisture.

100% agree that the powder is clumped into a solid mass. I’ve seen this a lot on WWII German steel cased 7,9 cartridges. I once fired off a large mixed-lot of this type of ammo. Even cartridges that were in excellent shape externally were horribly rusted inside and the powder was in bad shape. Many cartridges split from case mouth to head when fired. Some cartridges had the powder clumped to the case walls and only the little bit of powder in the center would ignite, resulting a projectile that would only go downrange about 50 feet!


AKMS - exactly why I said on a previous thread some time ago that I would not drop a firing pin on any German WWII-era steel-cased 7.9 x 57m/m cartridge ever made, at this stage in time. Some rounds that appear mint are in ghastly condition internally. I attempted to pul the bullet of a 7.9 ball round because one tiny rust pin hole had appeared on the case, and I wanted to get it cleaned out before it got too bad. When I struck the inertia puller a good blow, the entire case separated into the powder chamber of the pullet, totally broken off from a spot about two m/m below the shoulder.

I know all the arguments about “having shot thousands of rounds of this thru my MG34” etc. Meaningless. Shooting this stuff is inviting everything from splits right through the case head to case head separations, to bullets stuck in a barrel because of partial combustion of the powder. If it were sold for one cent a round, this ammo would not be a bargain.

Just my opinion, but I have examined “a few” 7.9 x 57 rounds over the years.

Here a nice example. Two months ago nothing to see on the outside, now this cartridges is rusted from the inside to the outside. The only way to stop it ,Pull the bullet.


Is this due to purely the powder used or the steel as well? I know the US steel cased Evansville Chrysler .45 ACP ammunition is still regularly fired as shooting ammo today without problems. Does the steel that those cases are made from have a property that the German steel does not which prevents rusting?

Well, this will probably get me some comments, but I will say that I have fired thousands of rounds of Evansville Chrysler .45 and a small amount of EC .30 Carbine. I don’t recall ever shooting any steel-cased .30-06 ammo, although I may have in the Army - its been a long, long time. The .45 was shot in pistols, M3 Greaseguns and the Thompson SMG. Some so dirty that you couldn’t read the headstamp. I never had a bobble with any of it. I would still shoot it today if the need arose, with good confidence in its serviceability.

Now, get out the hangman’s noose, because I will say flat out that U.S. steel cartridge case technology in WWII was far superior to that of Germany and the few other countries that fielded large quantities of that type of ammunition. I have heard the arguments that the ammunition was good in “its time.” That, of course, has nothing to do with the technology of it.
They never, during the war years, perfected the propellent/case finishing needed for development of truly good steel-cased ammunition in the other countries. The U.S. did. I am speaking here only of small arms ammunition. I know little about artillery rounds, and their propellents. It may be that the aricraft cannon rounds and large artillery pieces had good storage life. The small arms ammunition, other than American, did not for the most part. In fact, some countries that made this ammunition, ascribed a very short service life to it, which was probably wise.

That is my opinion, People can argue the point, but my opinion is based on my observance of tens of thousands of rounds of German rifle ammunition with steel cases, some Japanese, although a miniscule amount comparitively speaking, and the observation and shooting of thousands of rounds of American steel-cased small arms ammunition of the the WWII period.

John, knowing now what I did not know then (we were all young and dumb once), I would never attempt to fire WWII German lacquered steel cased 7,9 ammunition. How about the 9x19mm though? The half dozen or so that I have pulled apart to section were in pretty good shape inside. Just luck?
I’ve heard it said that the lacquered steel cased ammunition was not intended to last very long from production to use due to wartime pressures. Perhaps there was no incentive to refine the process since there was no expectation of storing it for years or decades?


I believe the pistol powders are a different situation. I have seen rust-through on a couple of German Steel cased rounds, but to such a tiny percentage compared to the rifle cartridges that I doubt it is from the same causes. I think it had to do with the combination of the steels and steel finishes they used and the chemical composition of the propellants. I am not sure - I am neither a chemist nor a metallurgist, and that type of technically has never been a primary interest to me as a collector - I am far more interested in the history of the companies and the cartridges, and the meanings of headstamps, than I am about any chemical properties of ammunition. That is speaking as a collector.

As a shooter, I am equally interested in what I call “Firearms Hazards” which includes ammunition of course, and even poor holster design that I consider present hazards to gun handling. That is where my interest and I think careful observation of ammunition deficiencies comes in.

I would agree with the “short life expectancy” theory if the Germans, in particular although it could apply to other countries of course, had not been experimenting with steel cases in the 1920s to a minor degree, but in the 1930s to a large degree. You do not embark on war expecting to lose, and the NSDAP looked forward to a “Thousand Year Reich.” Had the steel cases only come out towards the end of the war, I would say it was an emergency matter and that criticism of the poor technology employed was not warranted. In fact, they had worked on steel cases since WWI, and in my opinion, made very poor progress right through to the end. How much steel-cased ammunition was made in America before, say, 1940??? Yet, by the end of the war, not only was American steel-cased ammunition dependable and available in such quantities that production of some was halted with the war expected to go on for another two or three years (although it did not, of course), that same ammunition is still relatively dependable to use today, some 64 years after most of it was made.

The corrosion found in German Steel cased ammo (both WW II and 1960s DDR) is of simple explanation: Nitric acid decomposition of the powder with age, on top of “Stress-induced” fracture of the Shuolder-Body juncton…the most common area of deterioration of German 7,9 Steel cases.

The reason US steel cases did not fail is (1) they were plated, and (2) they were straight cases (No stress areas) as in .45ACP and .30 carbine. It is significant that no great quantities of .30/06 or .50 cal steel cases survived the war, except as Drill/Dummies…in fact, the 1944-45 production of Steel .30/50 cases was soaked upby the need for “Drill rounds” from trest batches of cases.(Mostly FA production)

It is pertinent to note that German “Galvaniziert” (plated cases) don’t rust as easily as the “Lackiert” cases ( bare steel internally).

Lackiert cases WERE made from 1940 onwards as an econimocal means of production…and were meant to be used up in the normal “5 years” of Combat ready ammo age.
The fact that the “1000 year Reich” only lasted twelve years, meant that billions of rounds were left, and the age induced deterioration of both Powder and case material ended with the “case rot” being evident from the 1960s Biafra War onwards.
French Lacquered Steel.30/06 and later 7,5MAS also tend to deteriorate, but at a much slower rate… I have 1950s "M49 Typ “0” (.30) which is only starting to rust now…probably better Powder.

As to JM’s misplaced national pride regarding US steel case developments, it was just good luck that the US-made lots of “straight cases” rather than persist with the “bottle necked” case steel designs…as with Hindsight, the German situation showed…

(tongue in Cheek)

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Sorry - my National pride for what went on in WWII is not misplaced. the Evansville Chrysler story is an absolute miracle of determination, engineering and quality control. Little .30-06 steel case ammo was made compared to .45 and .30 Carbine, but I have never heard of problems with any of it either, and would still drop the hammer on one today. Regardless of what the American factorys did to make the ammo good and the German’s did not do as to plating, as far as I am concerned is a product of better American technology at the time.

The shoulder-body junction is a point of complete case failure on the German ammo, true enough, but when one dissects a rotting round, the corrosion is found over anywhere from 90% to 100% of the inside of the case, to the point where the base of the bullet is often partially gone as well. Cases often split down part-way through the head, and I have seen a complete case head separation on a round fired in a good K98k, which as a credit to the German rifle, survived the experience with only wood damage.