9mm Br. C?


I just picked up an empty case made by S&B, headstamped with the caliber “9mm Br.C”. I know this is the European designation for the .380 ACP, but why is it on cartridges sold in the US? I doubt this caliber designation is common knowledge to most US shooters…
I suspect that due to the increased U.S. demand for .380 ACP the last few years, S&B used cases or loaded ammunition intended for European or other markets to fill orders in the US.

Any ideas?



AKMS, this sounds much like a hs for Spanish or French speaking countries where the “C” goes for “corto” or “court”. The Russians also have this on some of their 9mm Browning / ACP what is puzzling me too.
I bet John Moss will have a comprehensive answer for us.


In Italy “short” is “corto” too …


So what does the Br stand for?

My guess on this is that it is a grey import. The recent panic buying of ammunition has meant that a lot of pistol ammunition has been bought up in Europe and exported to US to fill the extra demand. Much of it by US speculators simply looking to make a fast buck by reselling it. So a lot of ammo originally intented for sale in Europe will have ended up in US in the past year or so.

Another possibility is that it arrived in the US as part of a consignment of fired cases destined for one of the ammo remanufacturers. These remanufacturers buy up fired cases from police ranges in Europe and elsewhere as well as from source within the US because they need so many.


Br = Browning.


This case appears to be original S&B, once fired, as the typical red primer seal is still intact…



I do ALLOT of, ahem, reloading, and for the last 2 years, when you could get brass in .380, the S&B that shows up is marked 9mm Br.C as described. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember S&B having .380 on it during that time frame. It’s a pain when you’re sorting 5 gallon buckets of the of up to 15 different calibers and trying to focus between the S&B 9mm Luger and the 9mm BR.C.


Vince - The S&B 9 mm Br. C. headstamp most certainly is not a “grey” product. It is the standard headstamp of Sellier & Bellot .380 Auto (9 mm Browning Short) ammunition as exported all around the world, and has been for years. Not countring military headstamps and headstamps made for other companies, but rather only the Standard Sellier & Bellot-Brand commercial headstamp, the sequence of use is:

SBP 9 mm K (K = Kurz, German for “Short”)
SBP 380 AUTO (I have only seen this on rounds in nickeled-brass case, made for sale to Mexico, and probably to some government agency there rather than commercially, since pistol sales are largely illegal in Mexico and have been for years.)
S&B 9 mm. K.
S&B 9 mm. C. (I have only seen this with the headstamp also having either one or two of the S&B Trademarks of an arrow pointing to a clean rifle bore, representing their Neroxin non-corrosive primers, and I have never seen the “K” designation WITH those other marks. That does not say that either or both does not exist, of course. I simply have never encountered them).

The final headstamp has been their standard head marking for years now.

Instead of asking the question of why they would use a “C” representing “short,” I will ask simply “why not?” Aside from the fact that Sellier and Bellot has a French heritage, it also exports ammunition to France, Italy, Spain, and South America, all of which have a word for the English “short” beginning with a “C.” Whole the USA is the major export market, I think, for commercial S&B pistol ammunition, it is not the only one and all the others combined may exceed that market. I just don’t know. Also, French has been a court language and the language of the International Postal Service community for many, many years, so it is very much an “international” language.

I know, EOD, that is not much of a comprehensive answer, but then, perhaps there is no real comprehensive answer, but rather just a decision by a company of how to abbreviate the caliber, and in the overall scheme of producing and exporting ammunition, probably a decision considered to be of little importance.

John Moss


John, thanks! What ever comprehensive might be, you gave us a snapshot of the situation as it is together with a comment based on your excessive experience and I doubt it could have been said any better.


The .380 ACP (9x17mm) was called the 9mm Browning Short because it was predated by the 9mm Browning Long (9x20mmSR) chambered by the FN Model 1903. Admittedly, one doubts that the ‘Long’ portion of the designation existed until the 9x17mm was created. The 9mm Browning Long case is roughly a shortened .38 ACP case (9x23mmSR).


Dan - While I think the reason for the use of the term 9 mm Browning Short is very well known, you brought up a good point about the name of what we today call the 9 mm Browning Long cartridge. I did not even address the issue of name much in a very long and heavily researched article I did on this caliber for IAA. It simply never came up as a distinct point. Guess it came under the heading of “you can’t see the trees for the forest.” The fact is, many companies seem never to have used the term “Browning Long.” All forms of British headstamp only use abbreviations (9.B; 9m/m B) for “9 mm Browning.” Much of the ammunition made in this caliber, including All Belgian and French that I have encountered, did not include any caliber desgination on the headstamps. Many box labels and factory drawings of the cartridges, even well after the introduction of the .380 Auto Cartridge in 1908 (9 mm Browning Short), refer to the Long cartridge as “9 mm Browning,” or “9 mm System Browning.” Some German loads had a “9 m/m Lg” headstamp, but Italian loads said only “9” (Fiocchi) or 9m/m (in one case, “m/m9” - Leon Beaux). Sweden, perhaps the main user of this cartridge, always referred to it as the 9 mm Skarpa Pistolpatroner m/07, although fairly recent (Post-WWII commercial export ammunition is headstamped “9mm BrLo” or “9mm BRW.LONG” and so on.

It is reasonably clear, when one looks at all the headstamps, factory drawings, box labels, etc., that it was easily 1910 or later befor anyone called the 9 mm Long anything other than 9 mm Browning or even just 9 mm Auto (remember folks, even the 9 mm Parabellum was not a popular auto pistol cartridge until WWI really introduced it in combat to the world. From 1902 until then, it was made, but not setting the world on fire especially).

Thanks, Dan, for bringing that to our attention. Something few of us have really thought of, I would bet, in my case despite of two years of intensive research into that cartridge. I knew it in the back of mind, but simply had never actually given it any thought, and a name change, which is what it amounted to, is always an important mark in the history of a cartridge.

John Moss


That makes a lot of sense when you consider that FN didn’t introduce a 9x17mm pistol until 1910.