8mm Lebel steel cased, tracer or not?

I have two steel cased 8mm lebel rounds that have non magnetic projectiles. Other than an x-ray, how does one tell if they are tracer or not?


In the absence of any other means of determination weight alone should help suggest whether or not the bullets are ordinary lead core ball or tracer. A tracer bullet for the Lebel cartridge would probably weigh 50 grains less than an ordinary ball round. If you have access to other Lebel rounds a ball park figure for what a balle N round in brass case weighs should get you a working point of departure. Even better if you’ve got one with a steel case. Jack

These steel cased rounds manufactured under German occupation are supposedly solid bronze projectiles with some bored out at the bottom for a tracer mixture. I do not think they compare to an ordinary French ball round. I have dozens of 8mm lebel rounds, but there weights are all over the place as I have no knowledge of what is a ball round and what is otherwise. I do not know how to tell the difference.


Joe: The balle D (homogeneous brass) bullet weighs about 198 gr., and the balle N (cupro-nickel clad steel jacket over lead) about 231 gr. I’d think (but do not know for a fact) an 8 m/m Lebel tracer bullet would weigh on the order of 150 to 170 gr. Jack

FWIW, from the old website 8lebel.org the weight for a 8mm Lebel tracer bullet is listed as being 11.15 to 11.2 grams or 172 to 173 gr.


Ok, so now what does a German occupation steel empty primed casing weight? Powder is supposedly 46 grains. My two rounds pictured weigh in at 403 and 410 grains.


Firstly, they are Balle 1932 (N) with CuproNickel Jacket…Balle 86D is red-brass/copper colour, as it is swaged and turned from rod, of 90/10 alloy.

Doc AV

Maker of CNC Balle D, 194,5 grains (60/40 alloy)

Both are tracer, tinned brass bullet.


[quote=“chassepot”]Both are tracer, tinned brass bullet.


Correct. 4th quarter of 1944 is a tracer.

Joe… if you want to pull one and see, you can add it to my lot…! paul.

Hi Paul,

Sorry, the other has been spoken for if I can determine it is the same as the other and I do not need it.


Ok, that is what my understanding was, it that most of this steel cased German occupation 8mm lebel was tracer. Now on the projectile metal composition, most written information is calling the projectile BRONZE. As we all know, bronze is copper and tin, as where brass is copper and zinc. So which is this?


Balle D alloy was definitely 90 percent copper and 10 percent zinc, so its brass not bronze.

BUT I would like to mention that there is a U.S. military specification MIL-C-21768 describing copper alloys. And it calls the alloy mentioned above “Alloy 220 (Commercial Bronze)”, while alloy 210, containing 95 percent copper, is named Gilding.

Question to the experts:

The German Bundesarchiv has drawings of an “8 mm Gew.Patr. Modell 1932N” which show a jacketed bullet with an iron core (5.9 mm diameter, 30 mm long). The jacket is of cupronickel-clad steel, made from already available cups “aus Beutebeständen” (seized in an occupied country).
Bullet mass is 12.6 g; length 39.75 mm. Drawings were made during first quarter 1944 at Hanseatisches Kettenwerk.

Have these ever been produced in France?

(Alas, no mass for the steel case is given in the drawings.)

Here is a posting done by Gross. I am sure Kevin won’t mind. The pictures are now gone so I will supply what I saved from his post. Projectile definitely looks Bronze to me. Primer is brass and copper and projectile has brass washer at base to retain tracer mixture, but projectile is bronze in color. I reiterate from dictionary published definitions, Bronze is copper and tin and Brass is copper and zinc, regardless of misnomers used in publications military or otherwise.


Now for what Kevin posted some time back.

First one is a tracer but all the rest are incendiaries, from left to right:
8mm Lebel tracer ST/ 44/ PAS, steel case, solid bronze projectile that was drilled out on bottom for tracer mixture. Not shown is how bad the base of the bullet had been split four ways, probably from contamination. Still worked out.
7.92 German PMK, 59/38/?/S*, one is tropical with black neck sealant, the other is not but has a cannelure (From crimping?) A white phosphorous API, that has been replaced with hot glue.
7.92 German B-Patronen, aux/41/11/S*, Hot glue replacing white phosphorous, brass shavings for the explosive.
8mm Austrian, X/X/X/7.9, Purple tip, was told armor piercing but that was wrong. Has white phosphorous filled tip (now hot glue) and a free floating lead square two part core, which I left whole. Please see Paul Smiths “The Better Half” in IAA journal 483, page 36 +37. #4 down is a German SPr from WW1 with a two piece lead core. However that one is GMCS and the purple tip Austrian is just nickel steel. How easy is it to strip off the gliding metal?

Dave or Kevin, can you provide a closeup picture of just the 8mm lebel round in the picture?


[quote=“JPeelen”]Balle D alloy was definitely 90 percent copper and 10 percent zinc, so its brass not bronze.

BUT I would like to mention that there is a U.S. military specification MIL-C-21768 describing copper alloys. And it calls the alloy mentioned above “Alloy 220 (Commercial Bronze)”, while alloy 210, containing 95 percent copper, is named Gilding.[/quote]

Looked up the definition of “commercial bronze”. It states copper and zinc. Also went to a manufacturer’s website and the same information is published. Now I am really confused.


Found my answer: [Cartouche de 8 mm Lebel Mle 1886 D(a.m.))

Doc says:

The Balle D is a “Brass” (actually a “Red brass” of 90/10 or 95/5 alloy of copper to zinc, also commonly called “Gilding metal” same as used in Bullet jackets, and in Europe called “Tombac” or “Tombak”.

Cartridge brass is a “Yellow brass” ( 67/33 to 72/28 alloy, commonly in trade called "cartridge brass or "70/30 " brass.)

Bronze, of course is an alloy of Copper and TIN, and appears similar to “red brass” (hence the French Term “bronzee” meaning “Bronze -like or coloured”…The differance between the colour of the “Balle D” and the earlier “Balle M” which was coated with “Maillechort” ( a Nickel & Copper alloy, also known as “Alpaca” or “German Silver” or simply “Cupro-Nickel.”)

In the late 1890-s early 1900s, the “Balle D” would be distinguished in French as being “Bronzee” ( bronze coloured…it is an easy step from the French to Mistranslate into English the Bullet as being actually “of bronze”.

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics

The cracks in the converted balle D bullet around the trace element chamber is the result of the expansion of the compound over the years. It’s a not uncommon feature of old tracer bullets. Jack

Thanks to all for the help and information. So we have determined it is a tracer of the “Balle D” or D ball type. What would be the official designation for this tracer round? Forgive me if I have missed it.


Designation (?) = 8 m/m T