Received today this 9mm para.
anyone seen this headstamp before?
I suppose P is Polte.
It is a common head stamp.
In March 1924 the 120° head stamp was introduced. Also with a CN bullet.
Later Polte used tombak plated bullets.
This headstamp was made by more than one country, and there are bunter differences. See the fine article on this cartridge in IAA Jounral 332, Page 5, written by Lewis Curtis. It tells as much of the story as anyone knows today, and more than any of us knew before he began his research of it.
As John indicates, I have been tracking this headstamp, or rather this pair of headstamps since there are actually two slightly different headstamps. I’ll give you the short version of the story as I know it today.
First, the case shown was made by FN in Belgium in 1924. You can tell that by the short vertical on the “4” (below left). The case illustrated below right was made by Thun in Switzerland, also in 1924. The two loads are different, usually, with the FN load having a distinctive oily black flake powder, a non-magnetic bullet and a more domed primer. The Swiss load is reported to be from Solothurn, but the ammunition was almost certainly produced by Thun who was producing at least limited lots of 9x19mm ammunition in this time-frame. Beside the headstamp using a tall vertical on the “4” as shown below, this load used a tubular gray powder very similar to the German 9x19mm powder used through WWII. It typically had a magnetic bullet (like the contempory Thun bullets) and a flat primer.
Now the story becomes more complex. Both of the two headstamp styles also show up occasionally with a mix of components. Flat primers on an otherwise typical FN load, non-magnitic FN bullets in an otherwise Swiss load, and almost any other combination of the components. This implies that at some point the components were intermingled in the loading of these cases.
Full boxes of the pure Swiss loads occasionally turn up, originally in Switerland (some reportedly came directly out of storage in Solothurn). These have no identifying marks. The white label reads:
32 Patronen für [u]Parabellum-Pistole[/u] Kal. 9 mm
The box is gray cardboard covered with thin black tissue paper (in the Swiss style of the period) with a cloth pull tab. These boxes are quite scarce but are around.
Only a single box with the Belgian headstamp is known. The loads are the pure FN loads. The box is the typicall orange/pink FN box used for the FN contract for the Vickers Luger, with the label in Dutch. FN only supplied these cartridges in 1922 headstamped FN 22. The box with the FN made P 24 cartridges is dated 1923 (the only one of this date I have seen or been reported). The box may have originally been made for an acceptance sample for the 1923 Dutch contract, which was awarded to Kynoch. The ammunition for the Vickers Luger is a seperate and very interesting story.
What makes this box particularly interesting is that it came to me directly from Thun. In addition, the label has a sticker marked “328” and in pencil it is marked “328” which is apparently the designation of the cartridge. More interesting is that in pencil it is marked:
v. F.N. Herstal fur J. J. G.
JJG are reportedly the initials of the chief inspector of Thun in 1924. The obvious conclusion is that FN sent a qualification sample of it’s ammunition to Thun.
In addition to these two boxes, there is a full 16 round box, typically German with a partial label (left half is missing).
This box contains cartridges with about an even mix of magnetic and non-magnetic bullets, mostly FN cases and all flat primers. Clearly the line loading this ammunition was using mixed cases and bullets.
There is a Polte military box 1925 that have been discovered to contain P 24 loads, both Swiss and FN styles as well as mixed loads, along with the Polte 3-position headstamp loads from 1925. There has also been reported that a pure commercial RWS box from the 1930s showed up filled with 50 of these cartridges. Neither of these boxes were sealed when the current owner found them.
The obvious conclusion is that loose ammunition and components were supplied to someone in Germany, Probably Polte, and were packed (and loaded if required) on their own or in conjunction with Polte production.
My original conclusion was that Soloturn had a contract with someone in Germany and subcontracted some of the production to FN. Since 1924 was the first year of Polte production of loaded 9x19mm ammunition, I thought that these rounds were an initial batch for the German Military and components to start the Polte production line until they could begin manufacture their own components. It is interesting that the 1924 Polte production bullets have GM coated steel jackets, not CN or CN coated steel jackets like the P 24 loads.
Then a few years ago, I received from a German friend a document indicating that the Prussian Police ordered a number of million rounds of 9x19mm ammunition, some from a German dealer (who apparently had his ammunition loaded by Cassel Arsenal—probably with X 24 and later Pu 24 headstamps) and Solothurn. The Allied Disarmament Control Commission subsequently directed this order be cancelled but later it was delivered.
Looks to me like both FN and the Solothurn intended to deliver boxed ammunition, but early in the process production was stopped (before any FN boxes were loaded, or perhaps even produced). Then the residual assets were shipped to Germany, probably Polte and subsequently packed and the components loaded. The delivery must have been made in 1925 for the rounds to show up in a 1925 Polte box.
Lots of unknowns still. No Swiss or FN documenation on this production. No examples of a “pure” FN box, and only a partial label from the German box full of this ammunition.
I’m particularly interested in a photo of the full German label like my half label.
Eventually, I will write this story in more detail and send it to Chris for the IAA Journal.
If anyone else has a piece of this story please share it. Any other box labels would also be appreciated.