Bulgarian post axis steyr ammo


This is Bulgarian 8x56R Steyr ammunition put up in rifle clips and loaded after Bulgaria left the Axis and declared war on Germany. It was made on German machinery and note the German designation “SS” on the label . Loading date is 1945.

The Bulgars had many Steyr rifles which were left over from WW1 contracts and some later contracts.
Photos of the Bulgarian soldiers with these rifles are very rare.

Does anyone know of any WW2 era photos of Bulgar soldiers with the Stery rifles and/or ammo?


How do you know it was German machinery?



I had written this reply earlier in the day, but some glitch cancelled it before it was finished…anyway, here goes again, slightly reworded from memory.

Bulgaria entered WW II as a “Co-belligerant” of the Axis, but did not take part in any of the German foreign “invasions” such as the Russian Front. They were marginally involved in protecting rail connections with Germany proper (Bulgaria and Romania afforded Germany a Black Sea access, so that the German Navy could use E-boats and Italian MAS boats to attack the Russians at Sevastopol and other ports of the Black Sea Fleet. Entrance from the Mediterranean was closed by Turkey’s Neutrality.).
In 1938, Bulgaria received almost the totality of Austria’s inventory of M95/30 rifles in 8x56R, and large quantities of Ammo both from stock ( dating back to 1931) and new manufacture ( VIII-38 is the most common) from Hirtenberg ( now Factory P635 after the Anschluss of March 1938). At the same time, to increase production in Bulgaria (at Khazanlak, seen on the Label), the Germans passed on the technology to make Laquered steel cases ( Stahl/Stalina) for the “S” patronnyi (Bulgarian Nomenclature for the 8x56R with an “S” type projectile. Brass ammo is labelled 8mm Patronnyi “S” ( denoting 8x56R, whilst the older “8x50R” is denoted “Patronnyi 8mm mannlichera”…so an obvious advance to the Steel cased 8x56R is denoted “SS” Stalina patronnyi Kal 8mm S ( or simple “SS” on the packet…

…Nick, can you confirm this interpretation?

Furthermore, after 1941, Germany ceased large lot making 8x56R ( with either "letter codes or “P” codes, in German style) for use within Austria ( or “Ostmark” as the incorporated state was renamed); the Police usage was quite small, and capacity was required for 7,9 ammo.

In 1944, after Romania collapsed to the Russians, the Bulgarians expelled their King, and allowed the Russians to enter the country peacefully, and immediately undertook “assistance” of the Russians into Hungary and then Czechoslovakia.
The Local factories continued to make 8x56R as they had before, and by 1946, had begun making 7,62x54R, using “work in progress” brass of 8x56R origin, reformed to 7,62x54R ( headstamps seen on another board.) by the complete communization of the Bulgarian State( late 47-48, the factory became “10 *” ( 10 -five point star), and ammo was all brass manufacture for quite some time ( copper washed steel came in in the mid to late 50s).

With the Calibre changeover, the majority of 8x56R ammo in stock, some from 1936, was placed in sealed “strategic reserve” along with the M95/30 rifles (Variously called " Pushka &Karabina M95, Karabina M95/34, and Pushka M938 and M939, along with the LPM 39 ( a ZB30 in 8x56R) and other converted maxims and Schwarzloses, and Solothurn M30s; These were only surplussed off in the late 1980s; hence the flood of “Austrian” 8x56R in clips, and
packets or MG Tins of 8x56R in both brass and Steel, made in Bulgaria.

THis is the first time I have seen a 45 packed (but 44 dated) Steel 8x56R (left over work in progress?)

Other details on the label include the Charge weight (3.14 grams ==48.45 grains) the label says “Pushka & Karabina” (Rifle and Carbine) and the Powder (Barut) Lot 7…earlier Powder Lots indicated sources of Powder in Germany, Poland the Czechoslovakia, esp. before 1940.

Although the Charge weight indicates an “efficient” rifle Powder, earlier labelled lots show variation of Charge up to 58 grains, (MG Loose Pack) and 52 grains (Rifle/ MG Loose Pack)…By “Loose Pack” I mean a 250 round Zinc tin, with 10 round wrapped packets, NO clips. BTW, the MG type packs were labelled " Za Kartechnitza" ( Bulg. for machinegun) and occasionally "& Pushka/karabina ( and also rifle and carbine.)

So besides a variation of Powders used, there was a resultant differences in Powder weights, to maintain a standard ballistic specification…Ie, NO “different ammo” or “different (hotter)” Loadings, just the correct balance of Powder load to match the Powder type. ( almost all “Blattchen Pulver” --German Flake Powder).

I have not yet seen a 1945 Dated shell case,or a 1946 one ( unless one includes “converted” to brass 7,62x54R, probably a “preproduction” run.).

Some of the other Bulgarian Cartridge contributors (from Gunboards) may see this and contribute more info.

Doc AV

A sample of every Bulgarian 8x56R made from 36 to 44 (brass and steel as applicable) made by Dom Voenni Fabrika, Khazanlak ( “B phi Lion”).
PPS, as to Photos of Bulgarians in Action, see “The Eastern Front” a “coffee table” illustrated book by an English Author
who also did a lot of “Train” books, which has photos of Romanians & Italians and Germans as well as Bulgarians ( characteristic Helmet) with M95/30s and M939 LMG ( ZB 30B); Front unknown, but the short sleeves suggest summer, probably in the Balkans ( Partizan Policing duties)


Good history. Thank you.

One question; why use SS when the balance of the label is in Cyrillic ? If they are not refering to German SS type bullet why not use CC which would be their own lettering?


Probably the letters “SS” are written in the Latin alphabet rather than the Cyrillic for the same reason the Russians write the abbreviation for number as “No.” There is, of course, no letter looking like the Latin N in the Cyrillic alphabet. In both cases “SS” and “No.” are perceived as symbols rather than letters. Jack


Certainly possible but Cyrillic has no “N” but does have an “S” which looks like this “C”. As stated their pointed 8x56R is type “S” . In as much as this label is obviously for domestic use and is almost entirely in Cyrillic why is it not type “C”. OK add the steel case and another “S” for that. Again Cyrillic has a perfectly understandable letter “C” but opts to forego their own language and use the identification “SS”.

Maybe a Bulgarian can jump in here.

I don’t have any of their brass case ammo labels at hand and do not remember if they say type “S”. I packed some of these away years ago and just don’t recall. Does anyone have one handly ?


Thank you very much Doc AV for this extremely interesting comments Re. Bulgarian material.

Do you have any information concerning the Maxims and Schwarzlose used in Bulgaria during WW2. Were they ever converted from 8x50R to 8x56R ?
I have WW2 Bulgarian Maxim belts but can’t say if 8x50R or 8x56R.




Most Bulgarian Maxim and Schwarzelose guns in WW I were in 8x50R, but with the adoption of the M30 cartridge ( in 1934) first items to be converted were the machineguns. Bulgaria also acquired some Solothurn M30 LMGs, which were design ab novo for the 8x56R cartridge. Later Bulgaria had ZB make a modified ZB30J ( the Yugoslav model) for them, but in 8x56R ( Curved magazine).

Ammunition for the Maxims and Schwarzelose guns used the same Cotton stripped belts (as in 8x50R) so the only difference will be possible date of manufacture, if marked on the lead tabs. ( or the Arsenal, such as “CA” for Sofia, or “B-phi” for Khazanlak.
I should check with “Nick” on Gunboards for further info. about the cotton belts.

Ammo for MGs of all types was supplied in 250 round soldered Zinc tins, in 10 round bundles, wrapped in waxed paper with string tie, and a loose internal label with the markings “Za Kartechnitza” or “Za Kartechnitza , Pushka ve Karabina” ( for MG or For MG, Rifle & Carbine), the Cartridge Charge weight, the Powder Lot, and the delivery year ( or Month & Year); some Powder Lot indicators showed Czech, German or Polish origin ( pre 1939).
A Modified M07/12 Schwarzelose belt loader would be used to fill belts; or a DWM Maxim belt loader for the original Maxims (DWM MG 09) (Modified); The Bulgarians also modified some MG 08s to 8x50R originally, then again to 8x56R.

Check in Dolf Goldsmith’s Book on Bulgarian Maxims.

It is not known what eventually happened to all the Bulgarian Water-cooled MGs after WW II…the M39s were cut up for “parts Kits” for the US Market in the late 1990s; The Solothurn M30s have just disappeared as well.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


Another example of the use of the “SS” designation on a Cyrillic label. This is a Yugoslav label from the 1930s. By 1940 they had changed the designation to M24g ( using a Cyrillic letter - meaning German ? )

These images are from Wilhelm Micke’s book about captured weapons ammunition. Excellent book but totally in German. The pictures are worth the price.


The “G” on the label stands for “year” not for “German”.

After 1945 the Yugoslavs abbreviated designations for ammunition from other countries the same way as Germany did before 1945, of course following their own language.

“German” was abbreviated in Yugoslavia then as “n” (in latin - do not remember to have it seen in cyrillic).


[quote=“EOD”]The “G” on the label stands for “year” not for “German”.

After 1945 the Yugoslavs abbreviated designations for ammunition from other countries the same way as Germany did before 1945, of course following their own language.

“German” was abbreviated in Yugoslavia then as “n” (in latin - do not remember to have it seen in cyrillic).[/quote]

Close; It actually means “Gregorian caldendar date”. That should have been obvious but Micke confused me with his lower case “R” in his designation. That was as close as he could come to a Cyrillic “G” with the text which he was usuing I suppose.

The Julian and Gregorian calendar dates were ( and are ?) a source of note to the Soviet world.


When a Russian phrase places a Cyrillic g [it looks like a Greek gamma] after a date it indicates “year” not necessarily a Gregorian year. If the phrase includes two or more years, as in “1914-1918” the letter is repeated “gg” to indicate the plural. This practice was in use in Russia before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1917. Jack



you were quicker than I was, those details are perfectly right.



Is it possible that the photos of the headstamps of the Yugoslav 7.9mm have been reversed? The M24/SS box was made by BT3 (Voini Techniki Zavod, Kragujevac) but is shown with an AT3 30 (Artijerisko Technicki Zavoda, Kragujevac) headstamp. The M24 r. box was made by AT3 but is shown with a BT3 40 headstamp. The last year that AT3 was used was 1932 (that I’m aware of) while BT3 was used through 1941.


Phil I am not sure if I got your question right but the “M24r” means here the “Model of the year 1924” so the “24r” does not represent the year of manufacture, it is only the model designation.



I guess what I’m trying to say is that that the headstamps as shown do not match the manufactures printed on the boxes. I have never seen a Yugo box that had headstamps that didn’t belong to the maker printed on the label and was wondering if the photos could be reversed.


Ah, ok, I agree with your thought.



This is why I asked the question. In 1938 a loading was added that had a bullet with GM jacket and SS profile. The earlier bullets (pre-1938) in my collection have CNCS jackets and “S” profiles. In 1938 and 1939 both types were used.

The BT3 40 rounds I have all have the SS profile.

They are interesting boxes. I will have to see if I can find the book at St. Louis.




Doc: Google up on the web the book title “Russko-iaponskaia voina 1904-1905 gg,” published in Oranienbaum, Russia in 1910. Russia was still pre-Gregorian in 1910 but the letters “gg” occur in the dates in the title. The original title page is depicted in the pre-Soviet Cryillic alphabet. Jack