9mm Para-Powder/pressure/recoil differences-08, 08mE, 08SE


I just had a question that stumped me and provided some info that I didn’t know. I received the document below that shows that the 08mE loads have a larger powder charge than the lead core 08 loads (0.38g compared to 0.36 g, and indication that some mE loads used 0.40g). This makes sense to me. It also makes sense to me that the 08SE loads would have a larger powder charge than the o8mE since the SE bullets are lighter than the mE bullets.

Does anyone know (have documentation on) the powder charge in the 08SE loads?

The context of this question is that some MG shooters who have MP-40s contend that the o8mE load is not as accurate as other ammunition, and the theory is that it has higher recoil.

This begs the question about the 08mE boxes and cases marked “Only For MP”. These seem pretty scarce and I have assumed that they were lots of ammunition that tested out with a higher pressure and were reserved for machine pistols—but that was only an assumption with no evidence.

Does anyone know why the 08mE loads were loaded slightly hotter than the 08. I assume it was to componsate for the lighter bullet, but would it increase the recoil?

I’m interested in knowing what production lots of 08mE (or 08SE-though I have never seen one) were marked “only for MP”. Would those who have some boxes in the collection add the LOAD lot number (not the case head lot number) to this thread, or email them directly to me.

Does anyone know or have documentation on why the marking “only for MP” was used

Many thanks!



The Luger pistol doesn’t respond at all well to bullets of less than about 115 gr. weight, and of course the German standard ball bullet weighed 124 gr., so I think it is resonable to assume any German 08mE or 08SE was intended for use in blowback SMGs, whether or not the containers were labelled for “SMG use only”. Unless I misremember the numbers given in White and Munhall the standard 08 ball loading produced as much chamber pressure as the faster, but lighter, 08mE and 08SE loadings. Maybe someone will be able to cite some hard and fast evidence on this interesting question. JG


I’m glad someone still has functioning gray matter. White & Munhall do give pressures and velocities for the three loads on page 52.

------V @ 50ft------------------------Pressures #/Sq in
-------ft/sec ----------Low -----------High------------Avg

08-----1296 -----------33500----------39400---------35138




Does anyone know why the 08mE loads were loaded slightly hotter than the 08. I assume it was to componsate for the lighter bullet, but would it increase the recoil?


Hi Lew,
the recoil is given by the momentum = velocity x weight of the bullet
08 M= 8 (g) x 330 (m/s) =2640
08mE M= 6.42 (g) x 400 (m/s) = 2568




The overall weight of the round is not much of an issue in the Luger/P08. The luger has a stepped chamber design and the combination of tight tolerances, the stepped chamber and the mess the lacquered steel cases make are a good recipe for frequent jams.

So the warning on the German ammo boxes (I have a wooden 9mm para packaging crate with such a warning label) is pointing towards possible jammings as a result of the laquered steel case design, not because of load and/or bullet weight.

Text reads:


This is the contents label of the crate:
(sorry for the condition, the mice found it before I did)


I am not at all sure that the label “Nur in Maschinenpistolen verschiessen” has as much to do with the bullet type or type of powder as it does simply with the tested quality of some lots of ammunition. I have never heard of these labels used in conjunction with brass cases. There is a second label, one usually standing alone although I have seen one box with both labels on it (when I say box here, I am speaking of the carrier for 832 rounds), which says "F


Thanks for the info. I have two wooden 08 cases

08mE 1944 dnh 58 24 Jul 1944 (cases: 1944 faa 8)
08mE 1944 dnh 57 24 Jul 1944 (cases: 1944 dnh mit versch. Fertigungsdaten)
Both have the label "F


Lew - my boxes referenced are not wooden cases rather the Cardboard sleeves that are marked “Tragschlaufe”. I would love to get a definition of the words “Tragslaufe,” by the way, from someone fluent in German. Trying to look it up in a large, high quality German/English dictionary was an exercise in futility. No combination I could come up with of the words of the root “trag” or “schlaufe” made any sense put together for an ammunition carrier. I ask because people often refer to these carriers by that word, as if it were a name for them, and yet it is on the tab of the carriers, with an arrow point to a dotted line acrose the tab, leading me to believe it only means something to do with how to open the carrier.

Help! My German has severe limitations. A two year old native German understands the language better than I!

I didn’t bother to scan those labels, since the are simply written like I did - not colored markings or anything else of significance unless the shape of the label is. The first two are rectangular, but the "Nuf f



The best translation I can come up with is ‘carrying loop’. So I expect these cardboard boxes had a carrying handle hidden inside them somewhere. You can seen the carrying loop on top of the cardboard boxes that the DWM guys are processing.

Just for the heck of it:

Here’s the nice ladies of DWM in 1939 packaging rifle rounds in their individual boxes:

The guys sealing the crates by soldering and closing the lids.

And stacking the finished crates for shipping.



Thanks for posting those nice pictures. I have an original copy of the DWM history that they came out of. Interesting. Wish I could read more of it. Would love to have the Mauser History written about the same time, but hard to find over here, and when one does, the price is too high for most of us.

Thanks for the translation. The carrying loop, a piece of thin cloth, is exposed on the top of the ammo carton, not hidden. I don’t underatand the arrow pointing to the dotted lines across the tag, which is why I thought it might actually be idiomatic, and mean something like “tear here” or “cut here” for opening. Oh well, a very unimportant point that only an idiot like me would worry about.


Now, how was all that

brass / steel case
08 / 08mE / 08SE



If only it was so simple. I once had a P08 that was recovered from a burn pit. After the war, guns were collected, shoved on a pile and put on fire. A simple and effective way to render them useless.

So this particular P08, of WW1 vintage, with Reichswehr ‘1920’ marking, found the end of its sevice life in 1945. There was still a case in the chamber, the round had cooked off while the safety was applied, so the whole mess was rather stuck and deformed. I managed to free up the action with a lot of patience, WD40 and some well-aimed violence as I was curious what round it was. The gun is long gone, but I still have the remains of that cartridge. It was steel cased.

John: The photos are from my copy of ‘50 Jahre Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken AG’, I created a digital research-copy several years ago, with OCR techniques, creating a text-searchable document. A friend tried to market the digital CD version a few years ago but it wasn’t a huge succes.

But if anyone is interested, the following books are available as digital versions:

50 Jahre Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken, 1939.
Geschichte der Mauser-Werke, 1938.
Moderne Gewehrfabrikation, 1913, also in printed reproduction version.

I’d have to check with him for current availability and prices, though.



What if there was no brass-cased 9mm ammunition available? Despite any basic “soldier’s rule” I suspect that plenty of steel-cased ammunition was used in pistols, especially late in the war, and even in the P-08. Of course, it was also used in 7.65m/m Pistols - plenty of steel case ammunition made in that caliber, both by Geco and DWM, but also by FN using the DWM headstamp. There was also one lot of 9mm Kurz made in Czechoslovakia (dou. headstamp) and that was for pistols only.

All soldier’s develop “field rules” over one thing or another, but when push comes to shoe, you use what is available.

Still, it is interesting to know, if that’s what you mean’t, that the regular everyday soldiers knew enough about their ordnance to try to follow such a rule. Lots of frontline soldiers, especially in times of real national emergency when training time gets cut and the soldiers are no longer highly-motivated professionals, know very little about such fine points of their equipment, although I would assume if they are having big problems with one sort of ammunition or another, they would learn quickly.


Vlim and John,

I did not mean to exclude that in a military force of millions with possibly a hundred thousand of P08 issued nobody encountered dear need of brass cased ammo for his side arm.

My quote comes from a late artillery officer, sacrifycing his best years from 1939 on. As such his P08 and those of his comrades never were the first arm of choice. In his last years of war, when not firing his mounted schwere 15 cm Feldhaubitze 18 (SdKfz 165) rather the crew’s MG34 saw action, the MP38 was held ready, while the P08 was only carried around. And cleaned every once and awhile.

Edited for typo error.


Hans - I will note that in books I have of troops in combat, I have seen various pictures of German troops in the field with their pistols in hand. I have seen one in moving film as well, of about six or eight troops riding on the back of a tank. From their rag-tag uniforms, I would say it was in an immediate combat zone and perhaps after D-Day. One of the soldiers clearly had a P-08 in his hand at the ready.

Admittedly though, in an army armed with a plentiful supply of submachine guns, especially cheap to make guns like the MP-40 that were issued in the thousands, I suppose for the average soldier the pistol was little more than an encumbrance at worst and a badge of office at best. Most soldiers of that era, in any Army, couldn’t hit a point target consistantly at more than a few meters anyway. Some not even that. I have seen soldiers in qualification firings of the pistol miss full-size silhouette targets at five meters.

I would honestly think that your friend was more advanced in his gun knowledge than the average soldier and passed his caution of brass-only in pistols to his men. I suspect that most soldiers carried whatever was handed them for their pistols, if they were armed with one, regardless of case material or bullet type.

Edited for typo errors only




John, the label


Dutch - the box was origianlly a WWI box, with a blue label and black print. Over that was placed a much smaller green label, of of which that can be seen is the bottom border line. Over that label is the standard light blue label with dark bolue stripe, 16 Pistolenpartronen 08 m. E., loading lot 1944 ak 23, case lot 1944 ak 8. The "Nur f


As a former serviceman myself, I can attest to the fact that many “soldier’s rules” are often based on myth and legend and have little to do with the truth. Most servicemen I trained with viewed their arms and ammunition as little more than tools, not knowing or caring about the finer points. I have no doubt that brass cased 9x19mm might have been preferred for pistols, but but steel cased ammo would work just fine as well. I cannot see a military like the German army fielding two distinct grades of pistol/SMG ammunition on a large scale basis…