British 9mm Ball Mk1 and Mk2 Boxes

About two weeks ago, I thoughtlessly hijacked John Kindred’s post on 9mm Mk1 and Mk2 performance. Instead I should have posted separately so here it is.

In with rare exceptions, British boxes do not identify the maker of the ammunition. The only exception I know of is a box of Standard ammunition by C-P from 1943 which is identified as a C-P product by a stamp. After WWII boxes identified the maker with a stamp on the label (see last line on the image below).

I have disassembled quite a few British 9mm WWII cartridges and the powder in the Mk1 and Mk2 are totally different. The Mk1 had a chopped cordite powder while the Mk2 had a more common looking blackish grain powder. The Mk2 hst was introduced by both HN and BE in 1944, but I have found Mk2 powder loaded in cases with Mk1 style HN headstamps from 1943. Like in Germany during the war, these may have been old cases loaded in 1944, but the British labels give no hint of the reason for these loads. This could have been a more common occurrence and I just have not taken apart enough rounds to find more, or could have been a one-off.

The earliest boxes I have are 20 round. One filled with HN 42 rounds had the date, 29 9 42 stamped on the label. All my other 20 round boxes, except the Standard box mentioned above have no markings indicating date or manufacturer, except for a label stamped “^BE 2 ? 42A”. There were 10 round boxes which were a 20 round box with a wood spacer filling half and a label with “10” instead of “20”. I have rarely encountered these boxes, but am told that they exist to make a carton hold 1250 cartridges so a case of four cartons would hold 5000 rds. All the 20 rd boxes I know of are marked Mk1Z. I have never seen or seen photos of the cartons and cases for British WWII 9mm and any images would be greatly appreciated. I do have a Canadian case from 1943 and it has 2560 rds which is 40 of the Canadian 64 rd boxes.

Apparently in late 1943 or early 1944 the 48 round box was introduced. apparently the requirement for 1250 rounds was dropped because 26 of these boxes is only 1248 rds. These boxes occur labelled both MkIZ and MkIIz. I have documented the MkIIz box with both HN 44 and HN 45 ammunition.

The 35 rd box may have been introduced near the end of the war of slightly later. I have a 35 rd box with ctgs headstamped HN 45, and on the side of the box is written “BRITISH 1946 NRARR PRUCHASING THIS” which may indicate it was made in 1946 using 1945 cases. The box is unusual in that it is white instead of the normal gray/tan. These boxes are labelled Mk2z, including the one containing the HN 45 headstamp.

The 50 round boxes I have are all stamped with both the manufacturer and the date. They are also labelled Mk 2z. The earliest date is 1958 for these boxes. The latest date I have for the 35 round boxes is 1957.

Has anyone encountered a 48 round box marked MkIIz but loaded with cases marked MkIz???

Has anyone encountered a box of the RL 41 ammunition, or the initial BE production with cases marked BE 41???

Does anyone have information and/or photos of the carton and case packing for this ammunition???

Images of other box variations would also be appreciated.


A little pedantic but in your third sentence you mention a Mk3, I guess you meant Mk. 2.
Do you only want photos of British packets? The only one I have is a 35 round packet of 9mm Ball Mk2Z Standard, marked RG 12-11-63. I’ll email you a copy if you want. Will also send any Aussie packet photos if you want them.

Re the powder in the Mk1 and Mk2. If Britain was doing the same 9mm development early in the war as we were, there are possibly a couple of different propellants used in the Mk 1 loading, which doesn’t have the Z suffix. The Mk2 appears to be all Mk2Z, which indicates nitrocellulose, here it was Ballistite B 16.



Thanks for pointing out the “Mk3”.

I have never seen a British box marked “MkI” without the Z. If there was such testing it would have been done at RL and I haven’t compared the powder from these rounds, nor have I seen any boxes from 1941. All the Mk1 cases I have taken apart (from HN, CP and BE) have the same powders, except for the HN cases with Mk2z powder and a 43 headstamp. I have not noted anything in the Ordnance Board Proceedings from the period, but the testing of alternate powders probably wouldn’t show up unless there was serious thought to trials or adoption of the powders.

Thanks for info on the 35 rd box stamped RG 63. This is the latest date I have heard of on a 35 round box.


When Australia had to manufacture the 9mm in 1941, there was contact made with Britain regarding the appropriate propellant. According to David Mayne in his book, the advice given was that they were using Cadet Neonite to produce 1100 fps, and were testing Neonite No. 12 to try for 1200 fps. It was also suggested that chopped revolver cordite may be a suitable alternative.

Seems in some instances Britain used some of the latter.
It would be interesting to find some early Australian 9mm and see what powder was used.



According to Ordnance Proceedings No. 34174 of 5 Sep 1947,

9 mm Mk1Z [sic] lot 79 M.F. “representative of current Australian production” was loaded with 5.75 gr of DuPont SR 4898;
velocity is noted as 1319 ft/s.
Velocities from Sten Mk II on average (my computation of 4 measurements listed) 1265 ft/s, and from Browning pistol 1166 ft/s. (Distance not mentioned).

I’d be interested to know what date Lot 79 was manufactured. Up to 1944 they were using Ballistite B16 according to the Army records I’ve sighted. Maybe the change happened over the next year.

No date of production mentioned in the Proceedings (according to my notes).