9mm Borchardt-First 9mm Luger Cartridge

During my trip to the ECRA meeting I picked up a 9mm Borchardt cartridge. This is a DWM made cartridge (hst DM * K *) first identified in White & Munhall Pistol and Revolver Cartridges published shortly after WWII. They received the cartridge from a gunsmith (or dealer) in Philadelphia in the early 1940s who identified it as a 9mm Borchardt. Geoff Sturgess makes an strong, scholarly and convincing case in his prize winning article in the IAA Journal that this is in fact the first 9mm Luger cartridge.

Pictured below are the earliest recognizable 9mm Luger cartridge (hst DM * K *) the 9mm Borchardt-Luger , and the 7.63mm Borchardt/7.63 Mauser cartridge.

The overall length and head diameter of the 9mm Borchardt and the 9mm Luger are identical.

The first time the 9mm Luger was apparently discussed (or at least documented) was in March 1902 when Vickers (Luger agent) wrote the British Small Arms Committee advising them of the development of a 9mm Luger cartridge. This must have been the DWM 480 cartridge. A recently unearthed 1902 DWM catalog (probably a draft that was never published) and probably done in 1901, makes no mention of the 9mm 480 case and in fact the highest case number listed was the 474 or 475 as I remember, I only saw a prelim copy (It will be printed in the next 6 months or so). In this catalog the DWM 471 was called the “Borchardt-Luger”. We also know that the Luger pistols in 9mm were tested in the US in 1903. Hans Tauscher offered the 9mm pistol for test in April 1903 and the three prototypes were delivered in May 1903. In April 1904 25,000 rounds of ammo were delivered for testing the 50 Powell Cartridge Counter 9mm Luger pistols. We know that the three US test pistols did not have the chamber for the shouldered case. We also know that by late 1903 or so the final DWM 480C case design was settled on for the 1904 catalog since it is the case illustrated in the 1904 DWM catalog. That leaves the specifics of the DWM 480, 480A and 480B cases unknown. It is logical to assume that the 480 was the case type offered to the British Small Arms Committee. I think that is likely the cartridge known as the 9mm Borchardt, but that still leaves us wondering what the 480A and 480B cases looked like.

It is interesting that the 9mm Luger/Parabellum cartridge was actually developed for the British/US market and was tested by the US Army well before the German military showed interest.

If anyone has an example of the 9x19mm Luger with the DM * K * headstamp, please send me the following measurements in millimeters:
Case Length
Bullet Diameter at case mouth (the ones I know of have truncated bullets. if yours has a RN bullet, please let me know
Case Diameter about 1mm back from the case mouth
Rim Diameter
Groove Diameter

Many thanks!



Lew, Do you know or have any idea what was the bullet weight on the 9mm Borchardt-Luger cartridge?

Sturgess shows the heel-type bullet of the 9 mm “Borchardt-Luger” bullet as being 8 grams (123 Grains), and 9.00 mm (.355") in diameter of the main body of the bullet.

The overall weight of my 9 mm “Borchardt-Luger” round is 12.43 grams (191.9 grains) and that of my * D.M. * K. 9 mm Para round is 12.39 Grams (191.1 grains). Both square well with each other of an 8 grams (123.00 grain) bullet, as well as agreeing with the Sturgess figure.

Lew - My * D.M. * K 9 mm Para cartridge has the following measurements, as made on a Lyman 0-150 mm/5" Electronic Digital Caliper:

OAL Ctg Length: 29.11 mm (1.146")
Bullet Diameter at Case Mouth: 8.99 mm (.354")
Case Mouth diameter: 9.64 mm (.379")
Case Base Diameter: 9.95 mm (.3915")
Head (Rim) Diameter: 9.94 mm (.391")

The bullet is a CNCS Tuncated Cone projectile. Brass case. Brass primer cup. No colored seals.

Hope this is of some help.

Lew - It might be an overstatement to say that the US was looking at the Pistole Parabellum well before the German military showed interest.
The German Navy, as you know, adopted the pistol in their own form in 1904. To be adopted in 1904, I would think they would have been looking at it for some time, probably at least back to 1903, the same year the US was putting it through its paces. Even if they got interested in 1904, that is only one year or less. I think you perhaps had the Army adoption date of 1908 in mind when you wrote that.

Not trying to nitpick - just trying to keep the record straight as everyone reading this thread doesn’t necessarily have the excellent knowledge of the “Luger” pistol that you do (no sarcasm, I promise folks. I would class Lew as a genuine expert on the Parabellum Pistol as well as many other types. I used to collect Lugers, and he knows far more about them than do I.)

Lew, a great addition to your already wonderful collection. Congratulations!

Now you need to find a DWM duplex load…



I was not really looking at Lew’s request for dimensions when I wrote my first answer to this, and see that I omitted case length and groove diameter. I am assuming the later meant the diameter of the extractor groove. I measured eight cartridges for the extractor groove diameter, beginning with the early * D.M. * K. headstamp, followed by five cartridges K DWM K 480C. with truncated bullets and having different size or other variations in the headstamp lettering, and ending with one each K DWM K 480 C and B DWM B 480 with normal round nose bullets and late enough that they have no serifs on the letters, as did the first five K DWM K 480C. rounds that I measured. Here are the measurements, presented without comment (I have my own ideas about these, but will remain silent until Lew answers, and perhaps even then, as he has far superior knowledge on this subject than do I):

Groove Diameter:

  • D.M. * K. 8.69 mm (.342")
    K D.W.M. K 480C. 1 8.45 mm (.3325")
    K D.W.M. K 480C. 2 8.58 mm (.3375")
    K D.W.M. K 480C. 3 8.58 mm (.3375")
    K D.W.M. K 480C. 4 8.58 mm (.3375")
    K D.W.M. K 480C. 5 8.65 mm (.341")

Later rounds with no serifs:

K DWM K 480C 8.68 mm (341.5)

B DWM B 480C 8.65 mm (.341")

As to case llength, I measured only 3 rounds:

  • D.M. * K. 18.89 mm (.7435")
    K D.W.M K 480C. 1 18.99 mm (.747")
    K DWM K 480C (no serifs on letters) 18.96 mm (.746")

Again, I will leave any interpretation of these figures to Lew.

(edited only for punctuation)

My 9mm with DMK headstamp.
OAL 29.04 mm
case length 19.03 mm
Bullet dia 8.99 mm
case dia at mouth (back 1mm) 9.62 mm
case just above groove 9.89 mm
Groove dia 8.74 mm
Rim dia 9.94 mm

Just for kicks, here are the measurements for the DWM K one piece case groove exerciser:
OAL 29.07 mm
case length n/a
bullet 8.91 mm
case dia mouth 9.61 mm
case dia above groove 9.91 mm
groove dia 8.69 mm
rim dia 9.92 mm

I am not sure where this exercisor round fits into the time schedule but it is pretty early. Diamentions seem to match the DMK except bullet which I would assume is made with loose fit.
Have fun on your trail.



Many thanks for the great information. I will add it to my spread sheet on this cartridge.

The only known specimens of the 9mm Luger cartridge with the DM * K * headstamp have shown up in the USA. This makes five specimens. I have asked all the collectors I knos in Germany who are interested in 9x19mm cartridges and none has either seen or heard of this cartridge in any German, or European collection.

Clearly 9mm Luger cartridges were delivered for the three US test guns in early 1903. In early 1904, or perhaps earlier, 25,000 rounds were delivered for US tests. These could be the 480A and 480B cases.

The German Army test of the Luger pistol was going on at this time, but in 1903, only the 7.65mm pistol had been submitted in test. The first 9mm Pistol and ammunition was submitted for testing in mid-1904 as I remember. This information comes from a document in the Bavarian Archives which details these tests. The German Navy observed these tests closely and was very impressed. They adopted the C04 pistol in late 1904 but didn’t receive their first pistols until 1905 as I remember. I don’t have the actual dates which are in the great book by Geoff Sturgess. The timing of events indicates to me that the initial 9mm designs were specifically for the US and British military markets. Luger’s success came with his third target, the German military.

Sorry I can’t be more specific, but I’m traveling and don’t have access to Geoff’s books.

One specimen of the Duplex load exists in the US. About 20 years ago, one of the test guns, and one round of ammunition, along with all the test results were in a collection in the Midwest. I did get a copy of the documentation. I have no idea where these are today, but if one round survived there must be more. That is why I weigh all the early DWM rounds (both military and commercial headstamps) that come through my hands. I wouldn’t see one turn up one place or another.

Thanks for all the help guys.

If anyone else knows of one of these DWM * K * rounds, I sure would like to know.


Lew - in your last request in your last posting here, I think you mean if anyone else has a * D.M. * K. headstamp, not “DWM.” The only round I have seen with DWM K as a headstamp is the full length, one piece fluted dummy. Wish I had one!

I have been giving thought to the whole question of the DWM Case Numbers 480, 480A and 480B. I have not one scintilla of doubt in my mind that the 9 mm “Borchardt” cartridge would be more properly named as “9 mm Borchardt-Luger DWM 480.” Then, there is the question of DWM 480A and B.

The period 1903 saw some major changes to the Pistole Parabellum by DWM. Circa 1903/1904, the entire bolt was redesigned and along with it came a much different and much more robust extractor. I think the major clues towards identifying changes that could have brought about the “A” and the “B” suffixes to the basic case number 480 may well be, as I think Lew may have thought already from his requests, found in the head of the cartridge, including the case rim diameter, case rim thickness, which has not been discussed (and perhaps they are all the same and need not be - I have not investigated that myself in my own collection), the width and depth (diameter) of the extractor groove, and the height and degree of angle of the extractor groove bevel which ends, externally, in the base of the cartridge case. Case length might enter into it as well. These changes could have happened so quickly upon experimenting with the new-style bolt and extractor as to make them nothing more than a quick blip on the design “screen,” may even to a point of drawings only, and not actual production. Regardless, I would think that the * D.M. * K. headstamp may have appeared on all, with the K DWM K 480C. headstamp not coming in until 1904 or perhaps even as late as 1906. If for nothing else, it may have been though necessary to put the case number for each change on the headstamps to avoid confusion in what became, essentially, different versions of cartridges (the 9 mm may not be the only case involved) all with the same headstamp.

I will, when I have time, revisit my list and measure rim thickness and extractor groove width if I can. I will take a stab at measuring the width of the bevels, but with nothing to retain the jaws of the caliper in place, bad close-in eyesight and seventy-plus year old shaky hands, I am not sure how well I will fare. As to the degree of slant in the extractor groove bevel, that is beyond my math abilities, so I will leave that to Lew, who is an engineer, or others as qualified.

I am sure on retrospect we might find that some of the “changes” in the various dimeter and length measurements on our cartridges simply fall within manufacturing spec, it seems to me that some were beyond that.
Challenging such a difference on UMC .45 Auto rounds, a check of their factory notes showed a change I happened upon in my own collection in the so-called “narrow groove” early .45 Auto rounds by UMC, I found a factory note concerning the change, making there two major variations of the so-called “First UMC Type.” I noted them in an article I did for IAA Journal on UMC .45 A.C.P. production variations, if anyone wants to investigate that.

Lew will be better equipped to figure out if I am on the right track or not.

Still up skiing so further work on this will have to wait. Still, I think this is an important research project. This is why I have spent a lot of time on it, and asked for help on the Forum.

You make some very interesting points that could be the reason for the 480 A-B-C series. My memory of Geoff’s research is that the 9mmm b suffix (or is it prefix?) Lugers into 1904 show some variations on both the location of the “ears” that initiate the opening of the bolt, and the actual shape of the “ears” where the opening process starts. He concludes this is because, during this time period, Luger was still trying to perfect the timing associated with the 9mm cartridge. I agree that the finalization of the design occured during these years and undoubtedly affected the design of the cartridge.

As you know, I have made a comparison of the “DM * K *” rounds I have the details on with about 50 rounds in my collection with DWM K 480C K" headstamps with serifs (which could date from 1905 until probably the early 19020s) and with DWM military headstamps from 1915 or earlier. There are some average measurements on the “DM * K *” rounds that are outside the range of the reference sample of about 50 rounds by statistically significant amounts. Still, as it stands it is a pretty crude analysis. I am not convinced that all the “DWM * K *” rounds are the same since one of them is an outlier compared to the others, so my sample could include both 480A and 480B cartridges, but that is only speculation.

The key here is to get more information. I will do this in the near future. Based on the limited number of contributors to this thread, I will likely continue this effort with emails to those who are interested and/or may have early 9mm DWM 9mm Luger cartridges to add to the control group.

I am not encouraged. Some months ago, I did an article for the IAA Journal discussing DWM 403 cartridge used in the Borchardt and Mauser C96 style weapons and a DWM box for cases of the 403C cartridge that is not documented anywhere. I laid out the information I could find and a theory of the early development of the Mauser cartridges and asked for other information, or theories or ideas, and have not received a single response to the article. I suspect I probably have most of the information or other inputs I will have for this analysis. It is a pretty narrow and specialized topic that is ancient history in Autopistol development.

I take your point in my previous reply. I didn’t intend “DWM” to be the actual headstamp so have edited my post to make my intent clear.

Thanks for all the great help.


Lew: When you refer to the “ears” that initiate the opening of the bolt are you referring to the ramps at the rear of the frame or to the knurled knobs on the rear toggle llink? Thanks, Jack

Lew, while I understand your “I am not encouraged,” it is my view that you should really feel encouraged to continue.

A lack of responses does not show a lack of interest, but a lack of experts who can really contribute factual data to your research results. So, please, go on with your work. I am sure, many people will be interested in the outcome.

I have learned that no reaction on a forum is a sign of being accepted as being right. Only if people have objections, a lively discussion will ensue.

I see Lew’s points about getting discouraged, but I agree with Peelen. The “9mm Borchardt-Luger” thread has had over 1,000 visits. Lew himself provides the answer to the lack of actual written responses when he informs us that he had accounted for only 5 specimens of the 9 mm Para cartridge with headstamp * D.M. * K., all in the United States.
His original question centered on this round, so technically, there should/could have been only five responses directed to the specific question asked, for measurements of specimens of that particular cartridge.

Lew’s collection being one of the best collections of any specific caliber in the world, means that many questions he has not found a complete answer to, will fall to an audience that perhaps has never even seen a specimen of the particular cartridge in question. One of the problems always with a collection as advanced. If the owner/researcher himself needs answers, it lessens the chance that there is anyone out there that has those answers dramatically.

I got the remark once that the trouble with the Forum is that it is only “good” for advanced collectors. Well, the truth is quite the opposite. The younger or newer collector not only often brings fresh ideas and a fresh approach to our subjects, but also tends to ask questions that many of us want the answer to. I learn something new everytime I look at the Forum, and it is often about things in my own chosen field of study. Expertise comes with dedication, study, the acquisition of more and more specimens for study, and the research of others. Sometimes those of us that are less expert or less adept at finding new information can only learn from postings by the real experts and aren’t necessarily equipped to add to that particular subject. I find myself in the position sometimes with many threads read in a single day. I marvel at the wealth of information some people have at their fingertips, and always regret the countless times that I cannot contribute to one or another question.

A lack of answers to long-standing questions is a cross that real experts like Lew and many others on this Forum have to bear. I have not reached that position yet, and probably never will, but I sure enjoy even the questions that don’t bring forth the answers needed by the member asking them, because often in the asking their is great information given for background that many of us didn’t know until we read it.

Random thoughts. Keep up the great work Lew. The amount I, personally, have learned from you over the years could fill volumes.

Guys, You are correct. Yesterday I was dead tired from spending just a half a day in about a foot of powder trying to keep up with my two granddaughters, 9 & 12, and failing. I went in after a couple of hours and they stayed out with their Dad! Was feeling my age I guess. Anyway, thanks and I will keep this post up to date on my results. John, I had not noted the number of views on this post—Thanks!

Jack, I meant the ramps. Sorry!

Today was a great day skiing!


Lew: Thanks for the additional information. My own Luger books are all more or less dated and I know the Sturgess book only by name. The story about the 9mm Borchardt and the early U.S. tests was interesting. Jack

Hi Guys,

This will probably only help to further mistify the story but I can’t help it :)

Mauro Baudino and myself have been studying, preserving and translating the personal archives of Paul Mauser for the last 5 years. We went to a lot of personal correspondence and personal notes. We didn’t find a shred of evidence that the C96 was developed without Mauser’s consent or knowledge, but we did find enough clues to know that he was well aware of the pistol developments and was closely following and monitoring his competitors. We also found a letter by Theodor Bergmann to Paul Mauser’s nephew, where Bergmann explains that he visited Mauser as early as 1893 with the idea to have Mauser produce Bergmann’s semi-automatic pistol design. Bergmann spent many days in Oberndorf at Mauser, educating Paul Mauser and his staff about semi-auto designs and construction. Mauser dragged his feet, delaying Bergmann’s order for a number of prototypes until he had patented his own design in 1895, thus preventing Bergmann to market his own pistol design…

We also found a friendly exchange of short letters (compliments) between Paul Mauser and Hugo Borchardt, showing there was no discontent of any type between Mauser and Borchardt.

This all leads me to believe that the real forerunner of semi-auto cartridge development was Theodor Bergmann, and that both Paul Mauser and Hugo Borchardt, backed by the engineers at DWM Karlsruhe, were developing their ideas mostly based on existing theories and the expertise of Bergmann.

I was under the impression that Louis Schmeisser (father of Hugo of MP18,I and StG44 fame) was the real designer of the Bergmann pistols. If this is correct, the forerunner would be him, not Theodor Bergmann who was more of an entrepeneur (weapons only among electricity, automobiles, and other activities).
Due to preparing for moving, I currently have no access to Mozarskis biography of Hugo Schmeisser.

I guess the relationship between Bergmann and Schmeisser can be seen as the one between Mauser and Feederle. They worked together, but Mauser was the project manager, leading engineer and designer, where Feederle was responsible for shaping his boss’ ideas and realising them. Schmeisser probably did the same for Bergmann. Compare it to Edison and his staff :)

Bergmann himself recollected how he visited Oberndorf many times, instructing Paul Mauser and his staff about semi-automatic pistol production.

It seems to me that the difference in the Mauser-Feederle relationship and that of Bergmann and Schmeisser pere is that Paul Mauser had a recognized 30 year career as an arms designer before the C96 appeared. Perhaps the relationship of Schmeisser to Bergmann was more like that of B. Tyler Henry and Oliver F. Winchester. Jack