East German 9mm 16rd box 1961

Another 9mm box from SLICS, new to me, as I had not seen or heard of this before. I assume it is somewhat unknown in the U.S. because it was never imported in this format? The bullets are wartime German 08mE with the same grain weight, and iron core. The cases are brass and have a headstamp of 04 * 61. Are these more common to European collectors, or are they not usually seen as surplus? There was one Czech 1949 cartridge in the box which did not match, and I assume somebody put this in to just fill the empty hole.

east german 9mm headstamp_zpsqxub51t1

DK - these boxes are known in the U.S., although they never came in in big quantity. The 61 date is the date most seen on DDR 9 x 19 mm Para ammunition, at least on this side of the big pond.

I am just curious. Why do you think the bullets are WWII German manufacture? The box label you have doesn’t mention that, or at least that I can discern, and Königswartha certainly had the capability to produce them. I think it highly likely that the DDR followed the German WWII Specs, since this ammunition was intended to serve WWII weapons in the hands of the NVA and the VOPO, but to my knowledge they manufactured the components as well.

There are exceptions. While a very small quantity of 7.62 x 54R was made at MWK, it was so small that specimens are an absolute rarity. There are DDR loadings for this caliber, but they use components from other Warsaw Pact Countries. It is know in at least short range and platzpatronen.

These are not wartime cartridges, but East German from 1961 (04 = Mechanische Werkstätten Königswartha). The similarity to wartime cartridges comes from making them on equipment purchased from Czechoslovakia, which continued to use the old design.

Peelen - later on, MWK also had equipment from the Fritz Werner Company, routed through Hirtenberg in Austria. They were identified, after the two Germanys merged, by hidden identification plates (much like hidden VIN numbers on automobiles), as the original visible ID plates had been removed. I remember it caused quite a stink in Germany, covered even in some of the German magazines and newspapers.

Thanks all. I know the cartridges are from 1961, I just meant the bullets are exactly the same as wartime 08mE in terms of grain weight, and the later style iron core design (I melted one out). I didn’t know if these were pulled & reloaded from older ammo, or if they were new production projectiles from 1960 / 61. It sounds like the bullets are newer production from the 60’s using Czech machines which were modeled on wartime German specs.

DK - the cartridge is from the 60s also, albeit early. I would think it is more likely, of MWK didn’t make the bullets, that they were newly made for them in another Warsaw Pact Country (Czechoslovakia). That might have even led to the purchase of transfer of the Czech machinery to MWK, who knows?

I think they would have simply issued German WWII ammo rather than pull bullets, if they had that sort of quantity on hand. After all, the WWII ammo was not old in 1961. Only from roughly the 1942/43 era as mE until 1945 - 16 to 18 years old. That is not old for ammunition, as you know.


there is a german reference book from the German ECRA goup “Patronensammlervereinigung”.
This one:


You can see on the box label a rubberstamp . Its not realy clear on your box. Its “MS” and over the "St"letters. MS stands for “Messing” ,- translated “brass”. St stand for “Stahl” ,- “steel”.

aThat’s an excellent reference if you read German. It is part of a two-volume set, the other volume dealing with factory 05. Unfortunately, I don’t read enough German to glean the fine points from the test, although regardless, it has been a very excellent reference. I, personally, have dwelled much more on the 9 x 18 mm PM section than on that for the 9 mm Para.

DK, My first box is almost identical except:

  • The “MS” is more distinct and stamped directly over the St-Hulse
  • The manufacture date is 10.2.61, so about 40 days earlier than yours
  • “3/7” instead of “11/10”----Does anyone know the meaning of these numbers???
  • The inspector stamp (I think that is what it is) is 27 over 04 instead of 21 over 04.

I obtained this box sometime before 1987 based on it entry into my database.

I have another box which I obtained at about the same time which appears to be later than yours but the stamps are 26.5.61, 18/5 and 21 04. so this would be about two months later than yours.

My cartridges are water stained and not as nice as your. Good find. This round is only known with the 61 date and have not seen any indication of earlier production. All boxes are for the earlier steel case production and overstamped for brass cases. The two ball variations I have documented differ only by one having a three stab bullet crimp while the other has no such crimp. There is also a red base proof round. This round came from a box like the ones we have but overstamped BESCHUESS. It also has a three stab bullet crimp.

There is also a gray lacquered steel case load by MWK, but only known with a 57 date (hst: 04 57 in large ltrs). The box is in a German collection and is simply stamped in purple on the brown box

9.00 ST 12/3

The only other 9mm P08 production I know of by MWK is a brass washed steel case ball round headstamped “04 85” in very small letters. This looks like a brass case and I have only encountered the single example. My initial reaction was that it was probably a cut down 7,62T round but the case mouth is brass washed and it has a very nice red cms and pa. If someone has more insight into this round, please let me know.

The '57 load has an oaw of 157gr while the brass case loads (proof and ball) are 167gr indicating both have mE bullets. The steel case '85 load weighs 177gr which means it is likely a lead core bullet.

DDR production of 9mmP seems to have been very limited both in quantities and years of production. These boxes show up pretty often in Europe but not very often in the US. Many, many years ago I was told that there was 05 production but I don’t believe it and have seen absolutely no evidence of it.


Lew - there is no evidence that 05 ever made pistol ammunition, that I can find. None is known in 7.65 mm Browning, 7.62 x 25 mm Tokarev, 9 x 18 mm Makarov or 9 mm Parabellum, the pistol calibers known to have been made by MWK - 04.

The cartridge 04 * 61 is not the earliest date in 9 mm Parabellum, however.
Just as there is an 04 57 with lacquered-steel case, there is also an 04 * 57 with brass case. I have it in my collection. It has the same larger letters of the steel-case round, but also includes the 6 - pointed star (some people call it an asterisk) at the 3 O’clock position on the headstamp. If you want, I can make a picture of this headstamp for you.

There is also a least one small bunter variation in the 04 * 61 round, having to do with a slightly smaller 6-point star with somewhat thinner lines in that figure. Of course, that is a very unimportant variation. I happened to notice it on a dupe and kept it, but it is of zero significance. If one could go through a thusand rounds of this stuff, there would probably be other slight bunter differences.

Great info! I have never seen this early brass case. Many thanks!

After your email, I decided that I should see what Gerd Mischinger said on 9mm and his work pretty well explains why these boxes were printed for steel case ammo. He had the 9mm drawings dated 1960 for a lacquered steel case round, and shows a case as part of a draw set. I have never seen or heard of an “04 60” headstamped 9x19mm round. He also shows your '57 brass case. If I read my own reference books, I would have known about it. Now I wonder if I have looked at it and not recognized I needed it.

I am still surprised at the limited production which indicates that relatively few 9x19mm weapons were in regular use, particularly MPs so the training requirements for weapons in this caliber must have been small for production to be limited to only '57 and '61, with a final small lot in '85.


Lew - the brass cases in my box are also somewhat stained with brown spots, but nothing serious. That headstamp in the image scan is a result of me polishing the base with a plastic buffer wheel on a dremel-tool since all the bases were partially stained. I didn’t mind polishing the one, since I have 13 others.


I am not sure you can draw conclusions about the amount of 9 mm Para caliber weapons in the DDR Inventory from their own production years of that cartridge. They had a lot of P-08s and P-38s, for sure. Possibly others as well. With the amount of weapons they “inherited” from the WWII Days, I would think they would have had MP 40s and other types also. I would suggest that it is possible that with these weapons, they also had a lot of ammunition left over from the War.

I know they had some Stg. 44s because I saw a picture in a book on the DDR showing men in workers clothes, titled something like “East German Worker’s Militia drill with new Russian rifles on their lunch breaks.” Well, every weapon looked new for sure, but they most certainly were the Sturmgewehr, and not “Russian Weapons.” Wish I had bought the book just for that picture.

It is true though, that not long after the war, they were using a lot of PPSh 41 SMGx, and they did produce the 7.62 Tokarev for a few years. They also produced the SkS M43 Carbine. By the time I was there in 1972, all you saw were Makarov holsters and Kalashnikov variants with police and soldiers on the street, except at the Memorial on Unter den Linden Straße, where the honor guards were sporting the DDR version of the SkS. Better rifle for that type of ceremonial drill.

Even after they started making the Makarov, the polices were buying the FÉG PA-63 from Hungary, and even some Carpati .32 Autos from Romania, although from what I have read, the latter were disposed of quickly as being totally undependable.

Lew - I was looking at my DDR 9 mm “Beschuss” round. I see mine does NOT have the three dot-type neck crimps. Do you think it is a fake? The red on the base is very even and looks contemporary to the cartridge, although you can plainly see that there was a dark ring-type primer seal, probably black, underneath it. It is a dark reddish-orange color, not bright red.

I know what the three-dot crimps look like, as I have a ball round with them. With the amount of faking that apparently was going on with this East German stuff, I am not confident of much of anything that is the slightest bit non-standard issue stuff in these rounds.

John, I don’t think the 3-stab crimp has anything to do with it being a proof round or not. The box I have a photo of and which I got my round from had at least two stab crimp rounds, the one in my collection and the one in the box photo. I suspect it was not the only box that showed up.

I agree that the DDR undoubtedly had lots of 9mm P08 weapons. I was talking about weapons in regular use where they were used regularly in training and there was a steady consumption of ammunition. I also accept that they may have had a lot of WWII vintage P08 ammo, and probably used both the weapons and ammo until the mid-1950s. They were likely running low on the ammo, or had questions about it’s reliability or they would not have initiated production of P08 in 1957. Any remaining stock of P08 could have been expended in training or stored as reserve ammunition. I doubt it was used in training unless it was quickly expended because they initiated a second production of P08 in 1960. By then the 9mm weapons must have begun being phased out of regular use. As far as I know, no significant quantities of WWII P08 ammunition turned up in DDR storage after 1989 so I have to believe that it was all expended in training or destroyed. Perhaps some of our European members can add to this point. After 1989, there was a good deal of 04 marked ammunition around, and I still see it regularly in Europe. I suspect that from the mid-1960s on there was relatively little use of 9mm P08 by the DDR, though they obviously stayed in storage since they began showing up in the 1990s as I recall.

The strange cat in all this is the “04 85” round with a lead core bullet. Perhaps for a shooting team that was still using P08 weapons? For some kind of special ceremonial or historical unit? Because some senior leaders enjoyed shooting 9mm but didn’t want the iron cores bouncing around on their range? I sure would like to know more about this cartridge. I think I may send Gerd Mischinger an email for his thoughts.


Perhaps the 04 85 cartridge was intended for export?
I have seen english language advertising, likely a catalog page, for DDR 7.62x39mm ammunition.
Maybe this 9x19mm was from a prototype or trial lot and quantity production never began for one reason or another…


in my view the most probable reason for making a lead-core FMJ bullet in a socialist country was having export in mind. I tend to believe it is the only plausible explanation.
There is no Olympic shooting competition in which 9 mm Luger could win medals. This precludes in my opinion any production for sporting teams. Resources were only invested where internationally broadly recognized titles could be won.

I agree with AKMS and JPeelen.

By the mid 85s the leadership put focus on making western currency because the economic situation of DDR went worse and worse. A result was creation of the catalog sheets AKMS mentions and the associated M43 sample rounds with brass and brass clad steel cases. I was not aware of the 9mmP case, but it perfectly fits into the scene.
WW2 arms and ammunition originally issued to the armed forces including police were replaced by the newer generation of arms such as the MPi-K and Pi-M. The WW2 material then was issued to the para-military factory militias. Since this was not just done for display they received the ammo too, not only for training, but also for the armed conflict which was trained for. So there you have the reason which justifies a large scale production of WW2 calibres into the begin of the 60s.


Hans, Peelen, AKMS; Many thanks. That is a very logical explaination for the 05 85 9mm. I didn’t know about the brass and brass washed steel production of 7.62x39mm ammo in the years before the wall went down. Your explaination for the production of WWII calibers into the 1960s also makes sense.

Many thanks to the experts!


Lew - I have a copy of an English language Export catalog from East Germany. Unfortunately, my copy is undated. However, it shows and states that their available exports were primarily for the Kalashnikov items, and the only two caliber show, alhtough in many loadings, are 7.62 c 39 and 5.45 x 39.

Regarding the cartridges with different case finishes, I have a BWS-case 9 x 18 mm Makarov with red seals dated “79” and another round with a thin CW to the case. I forget the date on that one right now. I don’t think it is important, as the finish is so poorly applied, giving only a copper hue to the round, that I personally think it is a fake. The brass-washed case looks legitimate.

Regarding primarily exporting the AK rounds, of course, there could be other catalogs of different date-spans than the one I have a copy of.