First rimless cartridge?


Was the first rimless cartridge the 8mm Mauser? I know the .50-110 Bullard was the first semirimmed, but I need rimless. Thanks.


You mean something like the Colt Thuer cartridges, or semi-automatic cartridges?



Rimless, but cases with extractor grooves. So for a semi auto or bolt action.


In ammunition history everything is possible. Having said that, indeed the German “Patrone 88” introduced with “Gewehr 88”, the first German smokeless military cartridge, is usually considered to be the first rimless cartridge. At least I know no counter-example.

Please note: Patrone 88 is not a Mauser design. Cartridge as well as rifle were developed by military arsenals at Spandau. (Look at it as Frankford Arsenal and Springfield Arsenal co-located.) The Prussian rifle proving commission (Gewehr-Prüfungskommission, GPK) was in charge of the development. This is why Gewehr 88 outside Germany is often called commission rifle.

Gewehr 88 turned out to have some mechanical flaws, and was replaced by Gewehr 98, a Mauser design. The latter turned out to be a very good design, became known all over the world, and the association of the cartridge with this rifle led to calling Patrone 88 the 8 mm Mauser.

The German army caliber designation (for the weapons, never used in cartridge designations) from 1888 through 1945 has always been 7.9 mm. When after WW1 former German factory equipment was handed over to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Belgium, these decided to call it 7.92 mm for reasons not really clear to me. Other users like Yugoslavia or Iran stuck to 7.9 mm. From my German view, using “7.92” is somewhat like changing the name of .30-06 to .308-06. (The German Navy called the caliber 8 mm up to 1943.)

The cartridge has a very confusing history, due to a) the introduction of a larger diameter spitzer bullet (S) by the military in 1905, and b) the decision of the German gun trade to introduce a tighter (!!!) bore for hunting rifles. Since around 1930 in the civilian arena a) is called 8x57IS (S caliber) while b) is 8x57I (no S; I stands for infantry) . As a matter of fact, the Germans originally wrote 8x57JS and 8x57J. But today the CIP countries use the I.

Note that the S caliber change in 1905 only involved a reamed out case neck in the chamber. Rifle bore dimensions were not, repeat not changed: Gewehr 88 and Gewehr 98 are identical in this respect. You will read again and again that Gewehr 88 had the tighter bore of the 8x57I cartridge, but this is simply not true. 8x57I is not the predecessor of 8x57IS, but a later purely commercial project.

I gather you are relatively new to cartridge collecting. So my response got a little bit longer. Other readers may forgive me for AGAIN bringing up my pet subject.


i think the first rimless would be the 10.4x44 Rimless Swiss Vetterli XPL even if there are xpl


If Fred Datig’s date estimate of late 1860’s is accurate, then the 10.4x44 would have to be a good candidate.

I know that Rubin (c1885) and Hebler (c1887) both experimented with rimless designs (Roth examples exist) before the M88 Mauser .


About the first rimless pistol cartridge: During research for a new book project, we found an interesting letter from Theodor Bergmann, explaining that he had been educating Paul Mauser and his team about pistol developments, with the hope that Mauser would build the Bergmann pistols. This was quite early, and even seems to coincide or overlap Borchardt’s work.

So I’m starting to get convinced that Theodor Bergmann was the real innovator when it came to creating pistol cartridges. Any further ideas on this matter?



So what was the bore Diameter of the early military rifles?



Dimensions were defined in so called Maßtafeln (dimensional tables). You can find them printed in the book by Dieter Storz on Gewehr 88, which has been translated into English (page 103 of the German edition).

The first Maßtafel for Gewehr 88 gave the bore diameter as “7,9 +0,05” mm. In other words 7.90-7.95 mm (.3110-.3130).
Groove depth was defined as “0,1 -0,025” mm. This creates a groove diameter (two grooves) of 8.10 with a minimum of 8.05 mm (.3189/.3169).
The minus seems to be a misprint. A later edition of the Maßtafel shows the groove tolerance as “+0,025” mm, which would set the maximum groove diameter to 8.15 (.3209)

In January 1896, long before introduction of the S cartridge, the groove depth was increased to “0,15 +0,015” mm for newly manufactured barrels in an attempt to reduce the excessive barrel wear observed. So groove diameter became 8.20 to 8.23 mm (.3228-.3240). Bore diameter tolerance was also changed from +0.05 to +0.04.

From this point (Jan 1896) on, nominal bore diameter 7.9 mm and groove diameter 8.2 mm remained unchanged for German army weapons through 1945. See for example the barrel drawing in the book on Karabiner 98k by Richard Law, although badly reproduced.

For commercial 8x57I minimum bore/groove diameter is defined by CIP today as 7.80/8.07 mm (.3071/.3177), significantly smaller than the Gewehr 88 barrel ever was. One tenth of a millimeter is a lot in barrel manufacture. I have not yet found the original German definition for the I barrel.


One of the earliest rimless cartridges is described in a Whitworth patent of 1867 that says: “The cartridge has a solid metal back without any projecting flange, a ring groove being used as a substitute for it”. Also, there are early rimless cartridges by Samain (1872), Dupee (1872), Burton (1873 and 1874), and Burgess (1879). Some of these cartridges are known in advanced collections.

A semi-rimmed cartridge case was developed in Switzerland before the introduction of the .50-115 Bullard. An example is the 10.4x40SR cartridge designed for the Thury repeating rifle of 1874.

Regarding the 10.4x44, it is true that Switzerland experimented with center fire cartridges in the late 1860’s, but the 10.4 mm cartridge tried in this period was a 10.4x38R with copper case and battery cup primer. It was used in an Amsler system rifle made in 1867. This rimless 10.4x44 would be a later design for repeating rifles, but I don’t think is that early because it is not even mentioned in Schmidt’s book of 1875.



Origins of semi-rimmed cartridges

When the groove diameter of German 7.9 m/m arms was changed in 1896 to .323 in. the receivers were marked with a Z on the top front of the receiver ring. This marking is fairly common on 1888 series rifles and carbines but, as far as I know, never seen on 1898 arms since they by definition were produced after the diameter change. Jack


So the bore & groove diameters did change. It just had nothing to do with the introduction of the spitzer (S) bullet. Correct?



Basically correct. The bore diameter was only changed insofar as maximum tolerance went from +0.05 mm to +0.04 mm.


So after the groove increase they were pushing a .318" diameter bullet down a barrel with .323" diameter grooves? Correct?



Back than “base opturation” (SP) was a fairly common way to seal the bore (hold over from the BP era).
It wasn’t until later that today’s standard of making the projectile the same size as the groove diameter came into use.


The original French bullet for the Lebel rifle (often called balle M) also had a .005" gap for setup: a 8.17 mm bullet (.322") through a 8.3 mm (.327") groove diameter, if my notes are correct.



Thanks you much appreciated.