9x19mm "M38 9"

It may also be “M38 6”. I have no idea. Whenever there is a puzzling 9mm, somehow there is a submachine gun involved. So, what is it? Who made it?

“M38” Italian designation for 9mm Parabellum, for use in the MAB38A series of Beretta SMGs.
Prewar and early war headstamps had the maker’s initials included, usually GFL (Giulio Fiocchi of Lecco) or the Gov’t arsenal letter ( C=Capua, B=Bologna) or other commercial markers (LBC Leon Beaux Milan or BPD ( Bombrini Parodi Delfino, of Colleferro, Roma.) and the year of manufacture…
The Most common is GFL, but in 1944 and early 45, under German control, the GFL and date was dropped in some lots.

Could also be a lot for Romania, which also bought MAB38/42 in 1942-3.

Doc AV

Remember that every italian collector and shooter consider the M38 as a different cartridge than the 9 mm Parabellum ( we are the only thinking that in the world)

Several Beretta M51 were ruined using these cartridges especially loaded for MP’s.

You can say the same thing talking about modern +P and +P+ 9 mm loadings, but you have to list the M38 considering the period when it was created. It was more potent than any 9 mm Para loading used by the other countries involved in WWII

If not we should consider even the 9 mm Glisent cartridge as a simple different loading of the 9 mm Parabellum since they both use the same case

Here is another one.

The first pictured cartridge is anonymous, and I’m not surprised. It is trash; once I got one of these stuck in the chamber of an Astra M600 pistol. I couldn’t eject it, and it wouldn’t go far enough into the chamber to release the disconnector so I could shoot it out. Resulted in one of my very few trips to a gunsmith to have a cartridge removed from a firearm. I’m not surprised no-one chose to identify himself as its maker. Jack

The headstamp illustrated in the first post. It is very probably Italian. I have two boxes that it came in. One was a typical Italian box with typical markings, but no manufacturer identified. The other was a plain gray (rough) cardboard with “1” stamped on the bottom. Both were full when received and the one with the Italian markings still had the staple in place.

My guess is Italian but perhaps for export.



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John, I have no idea who in Italy made the “M38 9” headstamped ammunition. I also don’t know when it was made, except that it was 1938 or later. I think it is WWII vintage but have no solid proof of that. I see no evidence that this ammo was made in 1944 or 1945 in preference to any other year.

Could have been a contract for Romania as DocAV pointed out. Romania was buying contract ammo from Geco in 1944 (the CMC box I have posted before). I wonder if anyone else used the M38 machine pistol? The Brits bought a couple before WWII.

This doesn’t look like either Fiocchi, Capua or Bologna ammunition to me. If it was made in Romania, how did it get into an Italian looking box, and why is it in a very non-Italian looking box (one or the other could be a repack).

I guess I have to add to my “to-do” list to take down some of these and compare them to other Italian rounds of WWII. I think I did this once but can’t find any notes I may have made.

Perhaps Pivi knows the story of this ammunition.




You are absolutely right. I was confusing this with the headstamp 9M38.F. 1945 in my head.
The use of just the “F” for Fiocchi on that one is what was akin to a German code.

I have to stop answering these things. I don’t have time to run to the files every ten minutes, and I can’t seem to remember anything anymore without screwing it up.

I can’t even find my own M38 9 cartridge in my collection. It is there, probably under unknwons.
It wasn’t under Italy! So, I had my head on right at one time I guess, about this anyway.

Sorry to all for the confusion. I am going to delete my entire answer as it will only muddy the waters for future viewers.

The first 9M38 prototypes were made in 1935 ( Fiocchi drawing #2075 May 11 1935) —I can post a picture of this drawing if needed-- Velocity at 10 meters = 430 +/- 10 m/s

Until 1937 the cartridge was produced in limited quantities especially made for Beretta that was developing the M38 MP

The makers of M 38 9 sample is unknown , the second one was made by Fiocchi . if you look at the picture there is a “F” after the 9 M 38 mark . This is undoubtely a Fiocchi headstamp

Pivi - please post a picture of the drawing you mention. I know Lew would like it if he hasn’t already got it, and I would like it. Probably a few others would on this Forum, also.

Marco, This is great info, and totally new to me. It is important to me because the Italian 9M38 load was one of the very early users of the 115gr bullet instead of the German standard of 124gr. It looks like the Finns were the first user of the 115gr bullet in their M31 machine pistol, but I have not been able to track the 115gr bullet for this gun back further than the mid-1930s. Western made 9mm Ammo for someone, probably in South America in 1934 which is the earliest documented 115gr loading, but it was probably for the Soumi M31 since at least one country in South America bought some of these weapons. The 9M38 was the second major use of the 115gr bullet in the 9x19mm case, but I have been unable to figure out why they adopted the design. I also do not know where or why the Finns adopted the 115gr bullet, except it was the bullet for the 9mm Steyr cartridge from WWI. It will be very interesting to see if this 9M38 drawing from 1935 shows a 115gr bullet.

The British adopted the 115gr bullet pretty much by chance. Winchester had produced some 115gr ammo for the Finns during the Winter War, that was not delivered. The British bought this ammo and contracted with Winchester to continue to produce this ammo for them. They were buying 115gr ammo build on the Finn design for the Soumi for over a year before they came up with their first design for a 9mm cartridge, of course with a 115gr bullet.

Looking forward to the drawing.



Here it is. Sorry for the low quality picture but I took it from “armi e tiro” magazine , October 2009

Will try to take a better picture but I don’t have a scanner so I must use my digital camera

As you can see the drawing is dated 5 / 11 / 1935 . Later in 1938 some details of the cartridge were modified ( case cannelure)

Apparently in 1935 - 1938 several powder weights were tried . Minimum load ( 0,39 grams of Balistite) developed 428 m/s while the maximum load (0,43 grams of balistite) exceeded 470 m/s .
In 1942 Fiocchi decided to compare their M38 ammo with a lot of 500 German 9 mm Para cartridges made by DWM . These developed a velocity of about 380 m/s

The first official M38 adopted by italian army was loaded with 0,410 grams of disk-shaped balistite .This was later changed with 0,375 grams of flak-shaped balistite. Velocity and pressure remained the same

Great info Pivi. This is the first documentation I have seen on the early development of the 9M38 cartridge. One thing the drawing appears to confirm is that GFL developed the cartridge.

Are there any additional drawings or informaiton available?

Has anyone ever found one of these early cartridges?

Thanks for posting this.


Martignoni also produced 9M38 ammo.

They packed their ammo into relabelled 38 S&W 25-piece boxes. These are the rarest 9M38 cartridges.
Years of production are unknown.

Known headstamp is “M.C.M. c° 9.M.38”

Does anybody know the chamber pressure of the M38 cartridge?