9mm Nickl Ctgs-are they really made for the 9mm Nickl pistol


#1

I have been looking at the pistol cartridge production during WWI by Rheinische Metallwaaren u. Maschinenfabrik AG and particularly the relationship between their activity in Düsseldorf and the AEP plant in occupied Belgium. I have recently confirmed that a RMM box clearly labelled “Browning 9m/m kurz” was filled with the 1918, H headstamped cartridges commonly identified as 9 mm Nickl with the smaller diameter rim.

John Moss, my autopistol expert and once the owner of one of the best autopistol collections around, pointed me to the fact that there were very few, a handfull at most, pistols made for the 9 mm Nickl cartridge. The gun was developed by Josef Nickl at Mauser in 1916, production began in 1921 in Czechoslovakia as the CZ Mod. 22. The CZ-22 was chambered for the 9mm Kurz cartridge, not the 9mm Nickl, so how many 9mm Nickl guns were there and why was so much ammunition made in 1918 by (or for) RMM???

The Manual of Pistol and Revolver Cartridges by Jakob Brandt documents the cartridge on page 234 (cartridge 136A) indicating it was made for the Nickl pistol and that the difference between it and the 9mm kurz being the smaller rim diameter. The two headstamps listed are DWA and 4 H 18.

If the box label is to be believed at least the 4 H 18 cartridges are for the Browning 9mm kurz pistol and not the 9mm Nickl pistol. It seems to me doubtful if any of the true 9mm Nickl cartridges exist, and if they do they must be very rare.

Has anyone documented a box identifying the cartridges as 9mm Nickl???

Does anyone know of the existence of a pistol chambered for the 9mm Nickl cartridge? How about a cartridge that is definitely linked to such a pistol?

Does anyone know why RMM/AEP would have produced 9mm Kurz cartridges with a reduced diameter rim?

Is there any original documentation that the reduced rim diameter cartridge was actually associated with the 9mm Nickl pistol?

Is there any evidence that the 9mm Nickl pistol was chambered for anything other than the standard 9mm Kurz cartridge??

I could be wrong—again—but it seems to me there is significant reason to doubt that the reduced rim 9mm Kurz has anything to do with the 9mm Nickl pistol.

There are a lot of questions here. Would appreciate your thoughts/answers…

Cheers,
Lew


9 browning short
#2

My involvement with this thread will be more to expand on what Lew has written than to provide a definitive answer to most of the questions put forth.

First, my sincere apologies to Lew. He and I, thru email, discussed this at length, and due to time constraints, perhaps on both of us, I did not provide all the information I had, as I did not have time to renew my formal research of the so-called “9 mm Nickl” cartridge. The last day or so, I have found time late at night and early in the morning to do more research in my own files. Most of my research for this cartridge was done from seven to eight years ago, and in my conversations with Lew, I had forgotten some details, including sources for confirmation of some of the information.

That said and out of the way, I would like to point out a couple of things that do, despite initial appearance, have a bearing on the information below on the Nickl pistols and cartridge.

Firstly, the rim diameter on a cartridge made primarily for blow-back operated pistols is generally not critical. Due to the necessity of conpatability with extractors, however, rim thickness and, to some extent, the width and diameter of the extractor groove, and the angle of the extractor-groove bevel can be important. Blowback pistols have been designed that don’t even have an extractor, although it is paramount that they have some substitute feature that allows easy removal of a live cartridge during the unloading process. In firing, the same gas pushing the projectile forward pushes the cartridge case rearward, like a piston, to open the slide. Extraction becomes part of the cycling process of the pistol’s design. The Beretta Minx and Jetfire series of .25 auto pistols are examples of extractorless self-loading pistol designs.

Secondly, becuase of the rim diameters, the 7.65 mm Browning and 9 mm Kurz will often work in pistol magazines of either caliber. I, personally, have fired the 1922 Browning in .380 Auto caliber/9 mm Kurz using a magazine clearly stamped “7.65 mm” at the bottom of one side. I have done the same using .32 ammunition in a CZ 24 .380 pistol using a magazine clearly marked CZ 27, and therefore intended for the .32 (7.65 mm) caliber. In fact, I owned a FN Browning magazine marked “9 m/m” on one side (perhaps with a modifier like "C: for “Court - Short”, a point I simply don’t recall) and 7.65 mm on the opposite side. These were clearly factory markings, both surmounted by “FN” enclosed in an oval.

The reason for this explanation is that there is credible information that the first Nickl Patent pistols of the caliber in question were made purposefully and by design to be easily converted from 9 mm Nickl to 7.65 mm Browning caliber simply by changing the barrel and magazine, and no other component of the pistol. Considering my above comments, it is possible that designing a rebated-rim version of the .380 auto (9 mm Short) cartridge was, in that case, an unnecessary exercise, or “gilding the lily.” It could only be told for sure if one had a Nickl pistol in each caliber, both with the factory-correct magazines, to see how it worked, but the FN and CZ experience with the magazines being basically interchangeable between the two calibers indicates it might have worked satisfactorily. (I am, in no way, implying that every company that ever made both .32 and .380 pistols used a magazine of the same dimensions for both calibers). While I have not seen real documentation for the assertion that the inventor, Josef Nickl, wanted this quick-caliber change feature for his pistol, there are sources that so indicate that it was the reason for the rebated rim. One source is the distinguished ammunition authority and collector Josef Mötz, of Austria. That the cartridge was specifically designed with the rebated rim, and not just an error in specifications (not likely with four different factories having manufactured this cartridge, with at least one of them, the Gustab Genschow company, having made the true .380 Auto cartridge as well) is also mentioned in the book “MAUSER PISTOLEN,” by Weaver, Speed and Schmid, Collector Grade Publications, 2008, pages 120-135 and 155-157.

The above gives reason to believe that perhaps the term “9 mm Nickl” has some legitimacy, in that the rebated rim seems to have been a design change to the 9 mm Browning Short cartridge made for the reason cited above. However, that, and the following information, makes it extremely difficult to explain the reason that the Nickl cartridge is relatively common, while the variations of the true Mauser Nickl Pistols, and the Czechoslovakian prototypes of the Nickl design (for which we have not yet, to our satisfaction, confirmed for which cartridge type they were manufactured, the normal 9 mm short or the rebated rim 9 mm Nickel), are so rare that few of us are ever likely to actually see more than pictures of them, much less ever handle one.

One thing is sure. The older “common knowledge” that the first serial production of this particular Nickl-designed pistol, the Czechoslovakian CZ vz. 1922, which was tested in 1921, contracted for in april 1922 and officially adopted by the Czechoslovakian Armed Forces in June of 1922, was manufactured for the rebated rim originally, and then later had breech-face alterations to take the standard 9 mm Browning Short cartridge, is not correct.
The pistols were adopted and originally manufactured in 9 mm Brownig Short caliber, the cartridge being also designated vz. 22, remaining so-named until past the end of WWII. The earliest-known Czechoslovakian cartridge is dated 1924 and has the vz. 22 cartridge-model designation right on the headstamp. (It is a very scarce cartridge, by the way).

Lew has already pointed out that the “H” headstamped cartridges, made for Rheinisch Metallwaaren’s Düsseldorf facility, with various componets by Ancien Établissements Pieper, of Belgium (AEP) come packed in boxes marked simply “9 mm Kurz,” with no mention of Nickl. It does not appear that AEP ever made the rebated rim version of the 9 mm Short using their own headstamp. Cartridges from Deutsche Werke A.-G of Berlin, came in boxes marked for the Ortgies Pistol and with the caliber marking “.380-9m/m” on the box label. I have no information for packaging of the rebated rim cartridges by Geco or by RMS (the Sömmerda branch of RM).It might be helpful to note that cartridges with the * R.M. * S. headstamp exist, loaded with a CNCS bullet, in the normal 9 mm Kurz rim configuration, and also with the rebated rim, but loaded with a GMCS bullet.

I don’t know of any known box marked specifically for a cartridge designated as “9 mm Nickl.”

Nickl pistol prototypes of Mauser manufacture, by the way, exist in .45 and 9 mm Parabellum calibers, as well as whichever version of the 9 mm Short was actually used.

I have also seen no documentation as to why the CZ vz 22 was marked on the left side “9 mm N.” The problem with taking it for granted that the “N” in this case stands for “Nickl” is that the Czech word for cartridge is “Naboj.” There is also the possibility that in this case, despite following the caliber marking “9 mm” that the “N” does stand for “Nickl” but refers to the pistol being “Nickl Patent.” All conjecture, unfortunately.

Well, these are the important points of all of the various information items I have in my own files for the “9 mm Nickl” cartridge. I have not reviewed the known headstamps and cartridge features, as this information is readily available elsewhere, and this answer to Lew’s opening of this thread is already way too long, I fear.


#3

John, Thanks for your detail and thoughtful information. it seems to confirm that Nickl envisioned a reduced rim design for his autopistol even though it does not explain, as you point out, the rather wide production of the cartridge for which there were only some prototype pistols manufactured.

I just spent some time talking to an old & mutual friend who has a wonderful collection of early autopistols, including one of the early CZ-22s. and a great knowledge of ammunition. He said he always reckoned that since the rim on the 9mm Nickl is the same as the rim on the 7.65mm Browning, that late in WWI the Germans probably put a 9mm Kurz barrel in a 7.65mmB pistol and these cartridges were for that conversion, and had nothing to do with the Nickl pistol.

That may make sense since Piper is the loader of the most commonly found “9mm Nickl” cartridges and they were also supplying the little Pieper-Bayard pocket pistols in 7.65mm to the Germans. These pistols were also made in 9mmK but I have no record that they were produced for the Germans in that caliber during WWI. I just dug out my little Bayard (with German markings) and it is indeed a 7.65mm barrel but the appearance would be altered very little by changing to a 9mmK barrel. A slightly larger slid opening for the 9mmK barrel and a new magazine. The 9mm Kurz cartridge almost fits in the 7.65mm magazine in my gun. Perhaps some Piper Bayards were modified toward the end of WWI which would match the dates on the RMM headstamped cartridges. If I say it fast, it sounds pretty good, but I’m sure it isn’t that easy, but it is interesting that the company that apparently made most of the “9mm Nickl” cartridges may also have had a gun that could perhaps benefit from a 9mmK cartridge with a 7.65mm Browning head.

Again, just an interesting theory.

Has anyone seen a 7.65mm Bayard pistol with a 9mmK barrel???

Cheers,
Lew


#4

The only problem I have with the theory that the Germans put a 9 mm Kurz caliber barrel on a 7.65 mm Pistol is that once again, the fact that neither of us has seen such a pistol, which doesn’t rule out that it was done, would indicated miniscule production of such a conversion, and once again, would not explain the fact that three manufacturers from four different factories were responsible for production of a cartridge that is way too common to be explained away by the presence of a tiny quantity of pistols.

Just as guns “disappear” over the years, so does the ammunition for them. Many of the rare cartridges such as the 7.25 mm Adler, 9 mm Borchardt, the various British Mars Cartridges, are rare because of very low production of the guns. Most of the production of those guns were either prototypes, like which ever pistol was actually chambered for the Borchardt cartridge (I agree with the current thought that it was a Luger), or very small production items like the Adler and each of the variations of the British Mars Pistols taken individually by caliber.

Then we have a case like the 8.15 x 25 Mauser round, with no documented specimen of cartridge, and yet enough guns that I have personally held two of them in my hands, as a small time collector, even though I owned neither of them. Kind of the reverse of the 9 mm Nickl “experience.”

I hope that some of the Europeans will chime in here if they know anything more. They are in a position to have more knowledge on this subject than those of us so far from where it all happened.


#5

John, I totally agree with you. The production of the 9mm Nickl seems strangely out of proportion for the number of guns that would require use it. That is what led me to this thread in the first place.

My previous post was an interesting thought that I had not considered, but has some holes. I still think that 9mm Nickl production was primarily intended for and used in 9mm Kurz caliber pistols as it says on the box label, But the existence in late 1917 or early 1918 of a plan to introduce a 9mm Kurz conversion of a 7.65mm Browning pistol could have been the reason behind the small rim version of the 9mmK we encounter, even if few weapons were actually made. If the round functioned well in 9mmK pistols and the production was set up and running already, the design would probably probably remain in production in 1918 or so even if the conversion project was cancelled.

I have a hard time conceiving another reason why there was a significant production of a cartridge for which there were very few if any pistols in active use.

The logical bottom line for me is that it was introduced as a dual use cartridge for a gun that was never made in any significant quantity, but continued in production because it worked just fine in weapons chambered for the standard 9mm Kurz cartridge so it continued in production in quantities far greater than the actual need.

Again this is only a theory. I welcome other theories.

The fact that the cartridge was made by a number of different factories indicates some type of official support for the cartridge design which implies that a document once existed approving this modified design and advocated/directed it’s use by other companies.

I have to admit that it is fun to find a subject where John and I can agree in loud voices and look forward to his continued comments! Still, I would like to hear others thoughts.

Once we roll this subject around, I intend to ask the members of the NAPCA if they have seen pistols which would match any of the theories.

I still feel confident that the vast majority, probably all the 9mm Nickl cartridges we encounter were never intended for use in a Nickl pistol.

Cheers,
Lew


#6

I think Lew and I are about 85% in agreement. I do not totally rule out the possibllity that the INTENDED purpose of this ammunition was for a Nickl Patent firearm. If so, it was likely the Model H dating from 1917. I think the failure of that pistol to find a home, military or commercial, and therefore any serial production of it, could cause those who made ammunition to sell off what they had made to recoup some of their investment in tooling, etc. I don’t feel strongly at all that it was made for some other change-barrel pistol.

A box of DWA ammunition with a Swiss Thun Depot stamp on it suggests that the cartridges were sold commercially (but no indication that it was exclusively) in Switzerland, where sample of all ammunition were retained by the Government since the owned the rights to all distribution of ammunition in that country, at that time. I have the same box, which does contain a rebated rim cartridge (I have never seen a specimen of true 9 mm Browning Short ammunition made by DWA), but without the Swiss stamp.

The puzzle for me in all this is why three companies were commissioned to make the rebated rim cartridge, any one of which should have had the production capacity to produce all the ammunition needed for the development of the Model H Nickl pistol, as well as any field trials of the prototype pistols. (There is no evidence that there was any production run, even a small one, of pistols for such trials, which is why I stressed “prototype”).

Any other pistol made specifically for the capability of converting from one caliber, 9 mm Rebared Rim Short, (I didn’t intend to be arrogant enough to propose a new name for the “9 mm Nickl.” That just came out as being descriptive of the cartridge itself), to justify the production of so much ammunition by so many companies would require having been made in some quantity, and the lack of knowledge of any such pistol in the firearms collectors’ community is indication that no such production of a candidate pistol took place. That makes it every bit as likely it was made for Nickl, as “common knowledge would indicate” as that the ammunition was made for some other failed design. When I say “failed design” I am referring to a failure to produce a pistol with only barrel, and perhaps magazine, differing between the 9 mm and 7.65 mm calibers.

Dutch, EOD, Peelen, etc. - any ideas dear fellows??? I think Lew would agree with the statement that nothing either of us has said is held by us as being “etched in stone.”

We have determined that both RM H and DWA rebated-rim ammunition are found in boxes marked specifically as simply 9 mm Kurz, or .380/9 mm. Any thoughts on why, if the correct designation of the cartridge in question was “9 mm Nickl,” are no boxes carrying that designation known? Has anyone a Geco box, with “D” headstamped rebated rim 9 mm Short cartridges in it?


#7

Sorry, I cannot add any facts to this.


#8

John, you are overestimating me again. Sorry to be useless here.


#9

Sorry John, no info about this cartridge.