Austrian Berdan Primers

I have been reading an article by John Moss about the 8mm Roth-Steyr cartridge. In the article John mentions the way in which Austrian Berdan primers were made; they had the flash hole through the anvil. I found this little bit of info very interesting. Do other Austrian cartridges use this type of Berdan primer? Did other countries use this as well? Thank you.
Ian B.

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Polish 7,92x57 made by Zaklady Amunicyjne “Pocisk” S.A. from 1924


The Czechs also used that style of anvil in Berdan primers.

When Royal Laboratory in Britain were developing the .256 and .276 inch rounds for what became the Pattern 13 rifle several of the case designs had this style of anvil. It was known as the “Continental” anvil in the UK.


Ian: This style of Berdan primer was generally employed for Austrian-made small arms ammunition from (perhaps) 1890 until after the first war. In addition to the countries already named it was also used in Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal. These used it in large part because of their previous purchase of Austrian-made arms and ammunition. I imagine there’s a very good chance these latter countries also acquired cartridge-making machinery from that source. Jack

Thank you Jack, Tony E and PJB for the information. Interesting.

The Georg Roth Patent Berdan primer was used in ( nearly) all Austrian-made Ammo up to the late 1930s, as well as in Portugal ( to 1937) Nederlands (WW II) Romania (?WWII) Poland ( 1919-1939) and Czechoslovakia(1919-1939).

AS shown in above Photos, the Gashed Anvil with central flash hole was used in
6,5 Dutch and Romanian ( .199") 8x50R Austrian (.199") .303 ( .250") 7,9mm ( .217") 6,5 Swede ( Norway .199") 8x56R Kropatschek (.250") and several Pistol calibres made in Austria-Hungary.
I don’t know if the Bulgarian 8x50R was also Roth ( .199) primed, I suspect so, as early deliveries were from both Roth and other Austrian Factories. Deliveries from SFM were twin-flash holes ( 1904-05).

Most makers abandoned the .199" primer as they improved their manufacturing facilities, usually with German Machinery, in the middle to late 1930s.( Voluntarily or under German Occupation.) Austria began in 1930, with the introduction of the M30 (8x56R) cartridge, which from 1931 had a .217" “German” style primer ( twin flash holes). Portugal changed in 1937, when their ammo plant was re-set to make 7,9mm ammo, by RWS/DWM…they also changed the .303 Primer Pocket from Roth to Standard twin flash hole (still .250"). Portugal switched to .217" Standard Pocket in post-war .303 (by FNM)

Poland and Czechoslovakia changed under German occupation ( both in 1939) to normal German Berdan practice. On Romania I don’t have any info when they changed to the “German “system…probably when they adopted the 7,9 calibre (late 30s); as they got ammo from both the Czechs ( .217” Roth) and Germany (.217” Standard)
Holland did not change, as WWII effectively obsoleted the 6,5x53R, and Post War the Dutch made only .303 and 7,9 ammo ( and then the US/Nato calibres).
Germany did make Steel 6,5x53R ammo for use within occupied Holland, but I have no info as to the primer used.
Greece which had used Roth-primed 6,5x54MS, after WWII used FN made 6,5x54 with .217" primers (Standard). WWII also effectively killed the Mannlicher Schoenauer cartridge in Greece, as they were re-equipped with .303 and .30 cal equipment.

The ammo made by Hirtenberg for Italy in the mid 1930s ( 6,5 Carcano and 8x50R) was primed with .199" ( assumed Roth) primers.

The main advantage of the Roth primer is that it allowed a simple, American system of decapping a fired case ( which many countries did in the Pre-WW I era, for Depot Reloading, for Practice, Gallery and Blank manufacture)

I have a set of custom-made dies for 8x50R ( my Lee Express Rifle, BSA) which has a very fine decapping Pin ( rounded end) to gently push out the .199" primer from Czech (1935) Bulgarian contract ammo. I suspect the Dutch would have used the same system ( they reloaded a lot of ammo, especially the KNIL ( East Indies Army). After WW I, the need for “Reloadable” Berdan primed ammo sort of disappeared, ( but the Dutch persisted). Economic necessities of war ended the Roth primer’s utility by the late 1930s. ( if it was ever a factor)

Also the standardisation to a .217" cup with more priming compound for large cartridge powder charges also nailed the Roth Coffin down.

An interesting dead end in primer development over the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Doc AV

Little correction for Polish ammunition with primer type Roth:

  1. Only one firm used this type primer: Zakłady Amunicyjne “Pocisk” S.A.
  2. This primer was used only in two types ammunition: 7,92x57 and 8x50R Mannlicher (made by “Pocisk”)
  3. And was used in only to year c. 1925/26


Doc AV, the German steel cased variation of the Dutch 6.5 mm used ordinary primers 88 or 30/40.
(cartridge drawing in Bundesarchiv, dated 5th Jan 1943)

Czechoslovakian 7,92x57 Mauser. Photo by PashaM (from:

Greek 8x50R Lebel (no.5 on picture). Photo by treshkin (from:

6,5x53,5R Mannlicher. Photo by chejen (from:

Austrian 8x50R Mannlicher. Photo by Мося (from:

Bulgarian 8x50R Mannlicher. Photo by valo (from:

German 8x50R Mannlicher. Photo by valo (from:

French (?) 8x50R Mannlicher. Photo by valo (from:

Dear PJB,
Thanks for showing your extensive Roth primed Case collection.

The German-made 8x50R cases (during WW I) and the Romanian Contract DWM 6,5x53R M93 cases must have been made “to buyer’s Specs” ( ie with Roth primer), rather than using the “off the shelf” (standard twin hole) priming method used by Germany at that time.

Also, the Info that Poland only used the Roth system up to 1925 for 8x50R M93; BTW, did Poland also make their own 8x51R lebel ammo??? (given the large qty. of French rifles in the 1920s?)

And, the examples of 1940 S&B 7,9mm ( “Export” and “non-Wehrmacht” use ammo), still with the Roth primer…even though by 1940, S&B was wholly controlled by the nazi munitions organisation, and had implemented German standards for ammo production for Wehrmacht use.

Very nice collection…
Doc AV

Nice pictures of the Austrian single flash hole primer pockets PJB. Anybody know if the “flash channel” was punched or machined? Some pictures look like they were machined or maybe just a rough die.

Herschel Logan’s cartridge book depicts an 8 m/m Lebel cartridge with a Polish headstamp; book not presently at hand. Jack

I have 4 Polish Lebel in my collection:
Pk 27 D 67
Pk 28 DZ 67
Pk 28 E 67
Pk 27 NW 67
The first 2 are blanks, the 3rd is ball, and the last is balle D/heavy ball.


Thanks for the photos PJB and for everyone for the info. The pictures show it very nicely.

The first cartridge adopted by Austria using a case with the axial hole primer anvil was the “8 mm scharfe Patrone M. 1888” (8 x 50 R M. 1888) and the Berdan primer for it was designated “M. 1888 Patronenkapsel”. I’m not aware of a Roth patent covering this design.

In 1917, when DWM made 7.9 x 57 cases using this design, it was designated “Spezial-Zündung Mannlicher-Art”.

  1. Picture is from internet (not from my collection)

  2. I search in bibliography exactly information about this name primed system, but in fact I did not find connections with Roth, only what I find is “Einloch-Berdanzündung”. But since a long time I used this names “Roth primer”, because other her used :) Maybe untruth many times repeated become as truth? ;)

  3. Returning to Polish 8x50R Lebel: case was made with normal Berdan primer (with two holes)


Forming Berdan Flash Holes: from various views of both Videos of Case production, and details of Technical reports, the majority of Berdan Flash holes were drilled, either one at a time ( French system, off-set drill, indexing case holder rotating 180 degrees; German system, Double head drill with chucks at slight angle, to cut both holes at once, angled slightly inwards towards central axis… Post-War Czech (S&B) Parallel double drill heads, occasionally doing 4 holes ( bad alignments, double drilled. Noted on S&B .308 ( 1980s cases).)

NATO berdan primed cases are also Parallel drilled.

Italian Carcano cases…probably drilled before forming anvil, which is “folded” from inside case ( flash holes actually “oval”).

TO save on drills, during WWII, the Czech (German) factories introduced the off-set, single Berdan flashhole, using a slightly bigger drill bit…this improved Drill life, and cut down wastage of the smaller Drills…the efficiency of Ignition was not affected.

Drill design was the ancient “Spade drill” bit ( as used by jewellers for small holes).

BTW “Roth” cases were drilled.

Nice thread…should be “stickied”.

Doc AV

This subject of the G.Roth Anvil’s with the central flash hole interested me also so I looked at all the images I had on the early dated raised base Roth cases. The earliest I could find with the central flash hole was dated 1886, having the GR monogram at the bottom of the headstamp. This hs style is noted as early as 1881.

All the earlier Roth cases with the GR monogram at the top (<=1879) had the standard two flash holes at the sides (just like the Keller examples). I suspect that the hs was changed when the anvil was changed c1880 which may have been its introduction date ?? However I don’t have enough early examples showing the primer missing to confirm this.

Your observation is in line with Josef Mötz’s account that the “single hole Berdan” priming, as he calls it, was first used during the trials that led to the Austrian cartridge of 1888. The Georg Roth factory was heavyly involved in this, but Mötz, the Austrian authority on these matters, does not call it Roth priming.

I don’t know who first produced Berdan cases with a single large offset flash-hole, but it is found in Mexican 7 m/m Mauser cases made at least two decades before its German use in the second war. Jack