Earliest french military 9 mm parabellum box

I think this box it is one of the earliest french 9 mm Parabellum box made for military use.

loading (SFM) = 1926
powder (Sevran Livry) = 1925

At this date, in french army, there were only few Parabellum pistols used with old german ammunitions.

These cartridges were used for trying experimental machineguns (STA 1924 and MAS 1925)


One thing this Forum does is remind me how little I know about 9x19mm ammunition. We knew that SFM produced 9mmP before WWII because there is a box of soft-point cartridges with by SFM with a German “HASAG” over label dated 1/1940. This appeared in the ECRA Bullatin in the mid-1970s.This was the earliest French 9mmP cartridge I had documented. The box itself is 24 rounds and shaped like a typical Polish box of the period.

I did get one cartridge, but I believe the box was in a collection in France and I have no idea where it is today.

Many thanks for the photos of your great box!

Does anyone have an SFM (or other) drawing indicating French production of 9x19mm cases or cartridges before 1945?


Chassepot - Fabulous box and the information it contains. Thanks for sharing this with us. I had not even seen an SFM 9x19 mm in this particular headstamp with a black primer seal. Red or none is the norm.

My earliest dated military-style French box for 9 mm Para ball ammunition is from 1953. Oddly, I have a couple of boxes from 1950, but one is for dummy rounds and the other for tracers.

The period of your wonderful box seems to have been one of experimentation for small calibers. I know from my collection there are 7.65 mm French Long as early as 1925, and perhaps even 1924 (unheadstamped), on a cartridge for which their was no ISSUE gun until c.1935 (I know about the Browning HP-type pistol, but it never achieved issue).

Below is a photo of the SFM Soft Point cartridge and the Polish/German box they came in. I mentioned this box in my post above.

I know of the MAS 1925 No1 pistol in 7.65 Long illustrated in Zuck, but no nothing of any pistols tested in 9mmP in the 1920.

Your hint on the STA 1924 was very useful. Nelson in Vol II covers this gun which was in 9mmP. Development began in 1921 (so maybe there even earlier boxes) and a second version in 1922. The 1924 model was a pre-production prototype and about 100 guns were made. On 11 Aug 1925, production of 8250 guns was ordered, but only about one thousand were ever produced. Many of these were used in combat in Morocco. From the date of your box, this ammo was probably associated with the production order for the STA 1924.

The MAS 1924 was also covered by Nelson, but he lists it as chambered for the 7.65mm Long, and he makes no mention of a MAS 1925. A reference for the MAS 1925 would be appreciated.

After WWII French machine pistol development appears to go back to 1947 from my references. After WWII, the earliest French 9mmP ammo I know of is Steel case, dated 1945, with the “ATS 1945” headstamp. This company produced blue tip, red tip and unmarked tracer rounds in 1948 and the Woodin Laboratory apparently has a blue tip tracer from 1946 according to my notes. In 1949 they changed their headstamp style to the traditional 4 position layout with both brass and steel cases. SFM produced brass case ammunition headstamped “SFM 1948” and in the 4th quarter of 1948 began producing brass case ball ammo with the 4-position military headstamp. I think this is all the French production I have documented before 1950.



Lew - my notes show that in my stuff in Tucson, I have a French blue-tip tracer in steel case, with ATS headstamp. Unfortunately and stupidly, I did not note the date. They also show that with it I have a red-tip trace, ATS 1948, in steel case. Oddly, I have no memory of ever having this, and of course have not been down to Tucson for many, many years. I need to go down there one of these days and look at some of my group there in the lab, and take better notes on some of it. I noted that for the blue tip round, I have a box photo, but I could not find it in my files. I will make a more thorough search when I have time. Individual photos sometimes get “lost” among the full-size pages in the files.

I forgot to mention a brass case round headstamped ATS 1948.

Here is a steel case ATS 1947 box. I also have a 1948 box, but don’t even have a photo of a 1945 box.



Here is a drawing from Valence dated 1923. I don’t know if this cartridge was really made and it is possible it hadn’t an headstamp.

and and other SFM label dated 1936


Wonderful stuff Chassepot!!! Many thanks. Both of these are important new bits of information and, for me, shed more light on early French 9mmP than I have seen in many years.

What I suspect is the earliest French 9mmP in my collection has the same SFM headstamp you illustrated with your 1926 box, but it is loaded with a brass primer (no pa color) and a truncated brass bullet. Of course I have no way to date it. The only other SFM round I have with a brass primer has a black pa like the cartridges you illustrate here, and has 4 very thin slits in the side of the jacket of the CN coated brass jacket.

Any thoughts on either of these loads would be most welcome.

Thanks a lot for the great info!


Great post, thanks for sharing!

The eldest folder in SFM drawings is # 10 155and it is divided in 24 files from A to Z, A being a hand drawing dated 1912 , corresponding to a manufacture proofed from a little box found in the store room of the factory containing what I remember to be two loaded samples and elements of truncated ball draw set; more likely a manufacture test . Lew, you got one of this samples from me in 1998. The production really began in 1919. The last file of the folder is of course 10 155 Z and it is one more time a truncated bullet made in 1925.
Next to 10 155 is 10169, which is dated September 1925 , it is for an ordinary 9 Para cartridge, titled CARTOUCHE de PISTOLET de 9 mm with the classic SFM GG hstp , but for an official order from STA dated 25 /08/1925, with specifications , but with either a brass or steel ball jacket…nickel plated.
Following is drawing 10174 dated march 1926, titled Cartouche de Pistolet Automatique Parabellum Cal 9 mm. Here, we have a brass nickel plated bullet, always the SFM commercial hstp.
It is added : cartridges delivered to the War Ministry have annulus and joint varnished and packed in 32 round boxes.
The following pre-war manufactures were using either drwgs 10174 or 10169 but modifications were added to the drawings .
I believe Chassepot’s box is of the earliest manufacture obviously 1926 , any way prior to 1930 as the factory headquarter has not moved yet to Rue Ampère.

Phil!, Thanks very much for your note. I got this truncated SFM load in the 1998 time-frame so it was from you. Now I know the background of the round I will make a note that this dates from 1912 and is associated with drawing #10 155A. Many thanks for the information and thanks for remembering what happened to the material!