8mm Lebel WW1 Polte made

there is 4 different headstamps known on 8mm Lebel WW1 Polte made:

P 2 17 M
P 8 17 M
P 9 17 M
P 3 17 L

The “M” is given for “Magdeburg”, but what about the “L”?


Hi Domi, unless someone has actually seen one of those rounds with the “L” in its headstamp I would think that they are just a transcription mistake published in the Minute 109 titled “German Ammunition to fit French Rifle” and dated May 29, 1918. The “M” letter was also poorly reproduced as it differs from known specimens.

Hi Fede,


Hi Domi, thanks! Are you sure this is not an “M” made with a broken bunter? Can you post a better resolution picture of the headstamp?

Under magnification I’m not sure what it is, but it does appear to be angled too much for an “L”.

The two headstamps to see the difference


That now looks more like an “L”.

Domi, thanks for the pictures, it does look like a serif “L”. The possibility of a broken “M” sounded more likely to me but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I would suggest that this “L” could represent “Lebel” because a reproduced label reads “scharfe L. Patronen” but I’m not too much convinced. Why making cartridges headstamped “M”, then change to “L” and then going back to “M”?


Perhaps for the same reason there is a headstamp with “LUGAR” instead of “LUGER”, because the bunter maker made a mistake and it was not significant enough to recall the ammunition.


The 8 mm Lebel with headstamp P L 3 17 is quite common in France.

I always thought it was Polte Lübeck.


All the best


Did Polte have a small-arms ammunition factory at Lübeck? I know that D.W.M. did.

Did Polte have a small-arms ammunition factory at Lübeck? I know that D.W.M. did.

wasn’t that built from 1935 onwards? -By DWM themselves.

Soren, I believe you are about right. I don’t think DWM Lübeck was operating until the 1930s. But was there also a Polte factory at Lübeck?

No Polte factory in Lübeck or any other town starting with L, as far as I know.
The entire system of setting up factories all over the country only came up during the thirties primarily as an attempt to protect against air raids. In WW1 factories more or less expanded at their existing locations.

Not very logic as it may seem, my bet is on L standing for Lebel.

In February 1917 Polte also made 7,62 cartridges with the same head stamp.
In March there was an “L” instead of the “M” in the head stamp to show it was a “Lebel” round.

Polte stopped producing 7,62 cartridges so it was not necessarily anymore to make a difference in the head stamp

In the book: „Patronen für Hilfs- und Beutehandfeuerwaffen des Zeitraums 1914 bis 1938.“

Great information for me.

Thanks a lot.


Peelen - thank you. I didn’t think there was any Polte facility at Lübeck. I agree with you and Dutch that the “L” likely stands for “Lebel,” and the reason for it is as shown by Dutch - to avoid caliber-confusion.

Dutch, that is an interesting and logic explanation but it is not consistent if we consider that there are both 8 x 50 R Lebel and 8 x 50 R Mannlicher cartridges headstamped P 9 17 M, for example. You could be right, anyway.

I made this checklist of confirmed Polte headstamp dated 1916-17 found in 7.62x54R, 8x50R Mannlicher and 8x50R Lebel:

P 11 M 16 - 7.62x54R
P 12 M 16 - 7.62x54R
P 1 M 17 - 7.62x54R - 8x50R Mannlicher
P 2 M 17 - 7.62x54R - 8x50R Mannlicher - 8x50R Lebel
P 3 L 17 - 8x50R Lebel
P 5 M 17 - 8x50R Mannlicher
P 6 M 17 - 8x50R Mannlicher
P 8 M 17 - 8x50R Mannlicher - 8x50R Lebel
P 9 M 17 - 8x50R Mannlicher - 8x50R Lebel
P 10 M 17 - 8x50R Mannlicher
P 12 M 17 - 8x50R Mannlicher

Another explanation could be that Polte used the “L” letter during March because the 8x50R Lebel was the only caliber made that month. Of course, this will make sense until someone finds a 7.62x54R or 8x50R Mannlicher headstamped P 3 M 17.

I also have lot 5 of 1917 in 8x50R Mannlicher, so you can add that to the list.