German Ammo Factories were initiall;y limited to Polte (magdeburg) during the 1920s, under the Versailles Treaty restrictions; then the Germans, in 1933-34, began including other factories under a “P–Number” code, which was supposed to show that it was simply a subsidiary factory of Polte, to fool the Treaty Inspectors. Actually the “P” stood for “patronenfabrik” ( Cartridge factory).
The “P–Number” codes system grew quite large, by 1939, when “P 635” was assigned to the Hirtenberg/ Gustloff facility. Then Germany in 1940, as war became widespread, decided to change over to a “letter code” system (there were Hundreds of Factories in all areas of Munitions production, not just ammo and weapons) and the Two letter and three letter codes were introduced…
BTW, The “arrangement” of the letter codes also gave an indication Where the factory was… Codes begining a,b, &c were in Germany ( Gross Deutschland);
Letter "d’ was in the former Czechoslovakia, “j” was Hungary, and so on.
Actually there was a lot of crossover, as “dnf” was actually Dynamit Nobel in Germany, and one of the few letter codes which reflected the actual Factory name. Aside from the location specifics, the codes were supposedly random…
As to the 8x56R ammo,
Most of our current ( 1980 to present) supply of this ammo has come from Bulgarian Strategic reserve stocks Surplussed off in 1980-90; In 1938-39, Germany sold/gave all the Former Austrian Inventory of M95/30 Rifles, Karabiner and Stutzens refurbished to 8x56R to Bulgarian, anbd the Hirtenberg
factory was guven a large order to produce millions of rounds of 8x56R for Bulgaria, but with normal “Nazi” markings. Since the ammo was NOT meant for the German ordnance system, it did not use the “P635 code” but maintained the old style, only replacing the Austrian “Corporate Eagle” with theNazi Eagle and Swastika; The major month of production was VIII (August) 1938…
Later on, the factory changed over for a short time to the P635 marking, and Mixed coding of P635 and “am” have been seen in late 1940. It is presumed that this “Germanic ordnance” coded ammo was for internal use by “austrian” Police and training units. By this time, the former Austrian Army was fully integrated into the Wehrmacht, and armed with Kar98k and other 7,9mm firearms. Rifles and ammo still in country ( of M95 type) were issued to secondary and training units ( Luftwaffe, Border Patrols, camp guards, etc.).
Sufficient photos exist to confirm this series of events.
of course, Bulgaria was NOT an active German Combattant, restricting its activity to Balkan areas in “police actions” againsts partizans etc. In 1944, the Soviets “convinced” Bulgaria to abandon its support for germany, and become part of the Allied “Co belligerants”, and Bulgarian Units fought WITH the Soviets in the Drive thru Hungary to Austria and Czechoslovakia, still armed with their M95/30 rifles and 8x56R Ammo…in the years between 1936 and 1944-45, Bulgaria ( Kazanlak VF) also made its own 8x56R, first in brass ( 1936-42) and then also in Steel cases (German Style) 1942-44. ( B-phi Lion date).
After the war, Bulgaria became Communist, and by 1947-48 had switched over to using Soviet calibres and Ammo. Most of the ex-Austrian and Original Bulgarian Mannlicher equipment was placed in Good strategic Stores, as was all the 8x56R ammo, and it only re-surfaced in the 1980s, as a small amount of Military aid to the Frelimo and MPLA rebels in Portuguese Africa, and then flooding onto the US etc. Surplus market.
The ammo comes in crated “repacks” of Austrian and Hungarian-made 8x56R, and also original sealed Tins of Bulgarian made ammo.( crated repacks are “Clipped” ten round packets, but the Bulgarian AmmoTins( 250 Rounds) are either clipped cartridges( in 2-clip wrappers or Boxes) or paper-wrapped Bundles of 10 ctgs( MG loading cans) without clips…Bulgaria had MGs of both belt Fed (Maxims, Schwarzlose) and Box mag designs ( Solothurn M30 and ZB M39)
The Variety of Clip makers is huge…some clips have been recycled from pre- WW I makers, even M88/90 clips show up occasionally with 1930s 8x56R ammo in them.
The Study of Bulgarian Ammo and Rifles has already occupied several years of Posts on “Gunboards” to which we could refer all interested Cartridge collectors
( Posts by “Nick” the resident Bulgarian connection, and Doc AV amongst others)