9 para italian


9 para:
brass case, tombac bullet
Hstp : 9M38 9
Scarce or not ,


This is a fairly common Italian round, but I have never discovered the manufacturer. The box label is


No hint of the manufacturer.

Perhaps Giovanni or Pivi know more about this round!




In my opinion this cartridge is from Fiocchi, and part of the German attempt, without assigning a code to the factory like they did to Bologna’s subsidiary. The one before it had simply an “f.” to signify “Fiocchi,” instead of the usual G.F.L.

Just my opinion. I have no documentation. However, in my view it was the last of the wartime headstampes for them, and done when the Germans officially became occupiers, instead of allies, in Northern Italy.


thanks to you both


Now that this one has come up, I found the other day whilst “de-cluttering” part of my workshop, a rather tarnished, but clean,
“M38 9” cartridge. ( in a tin of odds and ends from a defunct Gunshop).

Being in Australia, it was probably a WW II bringback from North Africa; because Aussies were there at least till 1942-43…(Mostly 1941-42, though).

WE have never had much Milsurp Italian 9mm here in Aussie…only souvenirs from the war. ( plenty of 6,5, though…enough to make a complete collection)

Any dates of manufacture known for the Bologna 9mm ammo?

Doc AV


good morning
I wanted to give only an update
The finding of cartridges with this headstamp (M38 9) in Partisan store “uncontaminated” in Italy, from box with headstamps) confirms the hypothesis that they are warlike WWII probably of the Martignoni di Genoa.
In Italy the M38 9 are quite rare, never found the box.

It should be noted that (for the period up to 1945):

Fiocchi did not have this type of ball, of material and of primer
BPD did not produce and was occupied in '43
SMI only one lot (SMI 942) and was occupied in '43 (P.V. C-43)
PIROTECNICO DI CAPUA (hs C) only one lot (P.V. C-43) and was occupied in '43
PIROTECNICO DI Bologna (hs B) three lots produced (CA B-42), (RM B-42), (RM B-43) and with hs qrb in '44 and '45 (the qrb 44 with copper ball are been assembled in Capua after WWII)
LEON BEAUX only one lot produced in '44 no heastamp (confirmed by box with headstamps Leon Beaux …)


Interesting informaton. I have a full, box of these that appears original. I will dig it out. My memory it that it is made from a poor quality cardboard. with a few letters stamped at random on the box. When i dig out of the German trip and some other things, I will post the label, and perhaps the powder, which does not look Italian to me-but again, this is an old memory so likely wrong.



I have the same box that Lew has, which also contained the
“M38 9” headstamped cartridges. It was not full when I got
it, and now, with my normal practice, only has one round in it.

Oddly, on looking at it, the primers of it and the single I have in
my collection have somewhat different cups. Both and brass,
but one has a somewhat flatter primer than the other - that is,
the outer circumference of the primer cup is more round on one,
resulting in a smaller “flat spot” at the center of the cup. Not sure
that small difference has any particular significance. Lord knows
what was going on in factories that late in the war.

I based my opinion on the manufacturer being Fiocchi on the box
itself, which is identical to a couple of other Fiocchi-marked boxes
in the print and box construction. The word “STRAPPARE” on the
end tab is absolutely identical to that on some of the Fiocchi boxes,
looking like it was printed with the same stamp.

That said, I am not at all confident about the opinion I expressed above.
The cartridge has components that are not typical of Fiocchi, although
end of war production often displays irregularities from the norm. Most
interesting is the headstamp font. The “M” and the “9” on the headstamp
do not look like those same characters on any of my Italian 9 mm, including
Martignoni di Genova.

When I went looking for the round in my collection, I found it at the tail end
of the rows of Italian 9 mm Para/9M38 cartridges I have, indicating a manufacturer
unknown to me. I likely moved it after considering such questions as headstamp
font, bullet the primer type, etc., even though the box would indicate Fiocchi
manufacture. It is not impossible that the same box manufacturer supplied those
boxes. I do not know if Fiocchi, or any Italian producers, made there own paper
boxes, or not, at any period of manufacture.

Just some additional thoughts.

John Moss


I agree with John that these rounds were almost certainly made by Fiocchi. The boxes below show the comaprison John mentions above.

Top box: GFL9M38 1948

Second box: GFL 9M38 1938

Third box: 9M38 box described by John above

Note that the “STRAPPARE” is almost identical on the three boxes, No other Italian boxes in my collection have a similar marking in this location. Also the quantity (50) is shown both ahead and behind the caliber. Fiocchi boxes are unique in this marking.

The only differences in this label and the Fiocchi labels from the period is the lack of a manufacturers name, and the fact that the “STRAPPARE” on the third box is in serif letters and none of my other Fiocchi boxes of the period, either 20rd or 50 rd have this, including a 1944 box.This letter style does occur on a Fiocchi blank box from 1967!

The bottom box is the one I describe in my post above. Crude gray cardb oard and the only marking is the I or 1 stamped on the bottom. The cartridges appear identical to those in the third box.



Years ago I had a hundred rounds or so of the M38 9 loading and found it of poor quality, especially dimensionally. On my last outing with this stuff I well and truly stuck a loaded round in the chamber of my Astra 600 and had to pay good money to a gunsmith to get it unstuck. With all due respect I find it hard to believe Fiocchi could make anything that bad. Jack


While we are discussing strange Italian boxes, I thought I would post this one. I got it from a well known Italian collector back in the 1970s along the the attached note.The handwritten note is mine.

He also had a 9M38 round like the one described in this thread, but loaded with an SE bullet. There are a number of Capua cases known loaded with both SE and mE bullets (both black and GM) which were either late WWII or postwar loads. There are also steel case dou WWII loads known with the bullet tip painted white that came out of Italy in the early 1970s which were reported to be Italian repacks! I think there is a lot of things from the late WWII period that have not yet been documented.





While I am still unsure of who made the M38 9 headstamped 9 mm rounds,
there was no love lost between the Italians and Germans by the time Italy
changed sides (some say capitulated) and the Germans formally occupied
Northern Italy. Between that, and the pressures of war, it would not be too
surprising if even Fiocchi’s quality standards suffered under the circumstances
of German occupation and the fortunes of war.

The quality of lots of German ammo suffered as well, hence labels like “Not for
overhead fire or firing through breaks in the line” or " shoot only in machine pistols,
occasional case-sticking in P-08" etc.

I don’t know if, despite the boxes as Lew pictured and I alluded too, we will ever be sure
about who made those M38 9 - headstamped cartridges.

Lew - interesting that your ANONYMOUS box has “STRAPPARE” (to tear away) in serif
letters. Mine with the same label is in plain letters. The only boxes I have with the serif
letters for this word are both dated 1/65 and and are for 50 rounds for the Beretta M38
“Moschetto Automatico” packed loose (Sciolte). A buff colored box is lot 16, while the
other identically labeled box and the same date is grey cardboard, also dated 1/65, but
with either no lot number. or it has faded away (that box is pretty beat up). I also have
a post-WWII box for 50 cartucce a salve (blanks) with the serif letters on “STRAPPARE.”
It seems to be a change made right at the end of the war and continued on this type of
box at Fiocchi for some years after the war, until they changed to more modern packaging.

John Moss


I suspect the story on the “M38 9” rounds is quite a bit more complicated then any of the above suggestions. I agree that it is more crudely made than contemporary GFL 9M38 ammo. My memory is that the powder is also different, but I don’t have time to dig through my disassembled rounds to check. Jack’s experience doesn’t surprise me. John’s info above that my “Fiocchi” box is a bit different from his “Fiocchi” box is also interesting, indicating that they were likely made at different times. So far nobody has commented on the possible explanation for my gray cardboard box. The difference between John’s two specimens implies that production occurred over some time period, not as a single production batch. The rounds in my two boxes appear to be identical, but I will pull the bullets on one from each box to check the powder. The SE bullet load that Alessio G had implies some late WWII, or even postwar loading of these cases. If Fiocchi made these cases, there appears to be no logical reason they would delete their name from the boxes and the headstamp. They used the 9M38 F headstamp during 1945.

Perhaps these rounds were made in another factory that could have been set up by Fiocchi, either in northern Italy or in another occupied country like Slovenia or Romania or somewhere in that region. The fact that these rounds are “quite rare” in Italy could imply foreign production. Giovanni also indicated that the bullet and primer differed from anything made by Fiocchi, which also supports this possibility. I do have GFL rounds with brass jacket bullets from 1941 & 1942, but their ogive is distinctly more pointed than the M38 9 rounds. Fiocchi could have provided boxes but later the boxes could have been made locally like the gray box above. I suspect we will never know the story on this “M38 9” ammunition. When I get around to checking powders, we will have a bit more data!

John, I only have a single datapoint on late war German 9x19mm production, but that indicated the quality of the ammunition was exceptional. Aberdeen was, in the early 1980s, looking at the current military 9x19mm ammunition. They were shooting 5 or 10 rounds samples of ammunition and measuring both chamber pressure and muzzle velocity and the standard deviation of both. They were trying to establish a standard for consistency. They tested then current US (FC), FN, Geco/DAG, Fiocchi, Thun, SFM and Canadian rounds. The Canadian rounds were then the NATO Standard rounds.One evening I brought a batch of German WWII ammo for them to test. The headstamps included ak, dou, dnh, faa, asb, kam, am, wa and I think va, basically a cross section of German production. Most were 1944 loads but some like dou, ak and am may have been 1945. The results were really surprising. The standard deviation of these rounds was quite small for each of the manufacturers and very consistent across manufacturers. In fact the standard deviation of both MV and pressure was quite a bit better (smaller) than any of the then current rounds except for FN and Thun. The German performance was roughly the same as the FN production and slightly worse than the Thun production which was the most consistent round tested. The Canadian round had the worse consistency of any of the rounds tested in spite of being the NATO standard. We were particularly surprised at the performance of the 1945 rounds that showed no degraded performance. as I said, this is a single datapoint, and the 9x19 is a relatively simple round to produce. I am sure there were incidences of production problems later in the war in other calibers and perhaps in 9mmP, but I can’t recall any I have encountered in 9mm P08.



I would be interested in hearing about any Italian repacks of German 9mmP08 like the Capua box illustrated.



Lew: I sat down and stared long and hard at my M38 9 spare and agree with Giovanni that neither primer nor bullet look like regular Fiocchi work. The box however is a real puzzler, so I think your suggestion that the real story is “a bit more complicated” has a lot going for it. Jack


Lew - I don’t deny that the quality of selected lots of German
9 mm was high, but this ignores the many, many lots that had to
have labels warning of inconsistencies in the ammunition that made
some unfit for anything but practice, some not fit for overhead fire or
firing through breaks in the lines, and others only fit for a MP which
will feed most any kind of junk, but forbidden for use in a hand-fitted
weapon like the P.08.

In my view, the rifle caliber ammo in steel cases was quite inferior to products
like that of Evansville Chrysler, which can still be fired today in perfect safety
and with a tiny malfunction factor (I have shot hundreds of rounds of it thru pistols,
and Thompson SMG and M3.) I would not pull the trigger on a German WWII steel
case round in my nice K98k, due to the impossibility of knowing whether or not the
case was rusting away from the inside, like so many of them do (that was a factor in
my sale of my fairly good 7.9 collection, as weekly, I was finding cartridges that were
previously mint or at least in excellent condition, that had “bloomed” with rust blossoms
all over the case. One, when I pulled the bullet to try to clean it out, suffered a complete
case separation just below the shoulder, in my inertia bullet puller. Had that fired in my
rifle (likely it would have been a dud, I admit), it could have been a catstrophic failure.
The war took a toll on ammunition quality, just as it did on weapons. Very late K98k carbines
are are rough looking as late Japanese Arisakas, not to mention the Volksturm weapons.

We will have to agree to disagree on this point.

John M.


I agree that most German rifle ammunition from late in WW2 tends to rust from the inside due to acid not being removed thoroughly enough from the nitrocellulose as it should be.
What you describe as “forbidden for use … in a hand fitted weapon” (P08) is a very different story from early in the war. The P08 has a step or shoulder in the chamber (invented by Luger himself), which created problems with steel cased ammunition. So these lots got labelled “for submachine gun only”. After other 9 mm pistols (P38, FN High Power, VIS Wz 35) came into use, the labelling was changed to “Not for P08 (sporadic failures to extract)”. This is simply caused by the peculiar step in the P08 chamber, not by any hotter or even dangerous load. Compared to modern loads, wartime Pistolenpatrone 08 are medium loads (only 327 m/s from 4 inch).


Peelen - I am well aware of the step and of the misinterpretation,
mostly in my own country, of the Nur im Maschinenpistolen verschiessen"
label, interpreted as meaning too high pressure for pistols, when it truth
it meant they were not rounds that would function reliably in the P08 Pistol.
This is a quality control problem, whether by physical quality of the manufacture
itself, or in the quality of the engineering that went into the ammo. Since not all
lots, by a long way, carried this warning, I, personally, am convinced that it was
a combination of both factors.

Just my opinion.

John M.


I finally got around to checking the powder in my “M38 9” cartridges. I checked one from my dupes and one from each of the two boxes I have (the GFL style box and the unlabeled gray box) pictured in my previous post above. All had identical powder, a small, round dark gray/black flake. I then checked a “9M38F 1944” and a “GFL9M38 1941” round, both made by Fiocchi, and both had identical powders.

I then disassembled a 7.65mm B round by Matrigononi (as suggested by Giovanni and and found it was loaded with the same powder. This round also had a brass jacket bullet just like my MCM headstamped 9M38 and the "M38 " rounds. The Fiocchi rounds are almost all steel jacket bullets and the ones that aren’t have a different ogive from the M38 9 loads. Based on the round alone, I would support the idea that they were a product of MCM, but I can’t explain the Fiocchi style box unless Matrigononi sent the ammo in bulk to Fiocchi for packing and also packed some themselvesor sent it to someone else to be packed in the gray boxes.

There is nothing about the cartridge that looks Fiocchi.