Found an old box of Fiocchi 9mm

Only 48 of the 50 rounds were in the box, and one of the 48 had some corrosion near the bottom of the casing. The rest were clean.

The box is obviously a little worse for wear, but it’s still in one piece.

According to the headstamp, these were made in 1949. If anyone can give me any information on the “flaming bomb” design on the side of the box, or any info at all on the rest of the markings, I’d appreciate it.


The flaming bomb is almost a universal symbol for military ordnance. It probably only denotes that these are military cartridges, not civilian or commercial production. Regarding the top label, it reads, in English,

50 Cartridges Cal. 9mm
For Beretta Model 1938 submachine gun
LOOSE (that is as opposed to being on stripper clips which would, in that case read "sul piastrini."
Anonymous Society Giulio Fiocchi, Lecco (Lecco is the city in which Fiocchi has their factory, and the S.A - Anonymous Society - is somewhat the equivalent of our “Incorporated.”)

The word Strappare on the protruding end flap simply means “rip” or “tear” and would properly be interpretated as “tear this off to open box” all in just that one verb.

While marked for submachine guns, this ammunition has been proven not to be too hot for most 9mm Parabellum-caliber pistols pistols. The marking probably was primarily to differentiate it from the 9mm Glisenti ammunition, the exact same case type but with a truncated bullet. It would be too hot for Glisenti pistols despite their locking breech, and the Beretta pistols chambered for the 9mm Glisenti, which were straight blow-back in operation.

Thanks for the information. While I could use them in my Walther P38, I think they’re more interesting to keep unspent in the box.

I seldom keep more than one round in a box, but in this case, I agree with you. They are likely corrosive primed, and these days, even with the price increases, shooting ammo for 9mm is so cheap that I don’t know why anyone would bothr to shoot stuff like this in a good pistol. Nothing wrong with Fiocchi ammo, but that ammo is now almost 60 years old and, again, probably corrosive. What’s the point of shooting it except in some sort of experiment.

The Ammo is “strictly speaking”, NOT 9mm Parabellum, but a slightly higher charged cartridge called the 9mm Modello 38, made specifically for use in the M38 series of SMGs. The external design specifications are the same as a M1908 parabellum cartridge ( as was the predecessor, the 9mm M1910 Glisenti) Just a matter of Powder charge.

(Some will disagree with this…but WW II practice shows up the difference in performance. MAB38s using GFL M38 ammo did better than those using German P’08 ammo)

The Flaming Bomb device is a logo used by Artillery services throughout Europe (Latin Europe, at least), but in Italy, the length of the Flame denotes the Service…in this case, the Long Flame is the emblem of the Carabinieri.

This would fit in with the Widespread use of the MAB 38 and 38/44 series of Guns by the Carabinieri ( as a National Police Force) in the tempestuous years leading up to the declaration of the Republic in 1948…there were still bands of Communist Partisans around Italy , still armed from WW II, as well as a Rise of Armed Brigantage in Sicily (“Salvatore Giuliano”).

regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Doc–That is interesting about the length of the bombs flame denoting the service. Could you elaborate on this. It would be nice if you could post examples of the different lengths and what service they designate.

The Flaming Bomb device comes from the original distinctive mark of “grenadiers” (those who threw(at great risk) the “Flaming Bombs”…and as well, contemporaneously, Artillery men with their “Self fused” Round shells and Mortar “Bombes”

From my records of italian Service badges, there are htree or four typs of “Bomb” with flame…an upright short flame, a windswept short flame, a medium length windswept flame flame and the Long Flame.

The Long flame is the Carabinieri; The Medium length flame embraced by two bugles is the Bersaglieri, the Short flame is the Artillery, and the Vertical flame is used in several other “ordnance” related units (incl. grenadiers)

I will have to dig up my books on Italian Military Heraldry to confirm this info.

The French services use the Bomb with upright flame quite a lot, as do the Spanish. The British used the Flaming Bomb only in one or two Corps badges, or as part of a badge, whilst not its major part.
(Artillery in British use is usally a 12 pdr. Field Gun, whilst ordnance is three cannon tubes on a shield.)

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics

Doc - Sorry, but I have to disagree with you about whether or not the Italian 9M38 loading is “strickly speaking” 9mm Parabellum or not. Firstly, the cartridge designation of 9mm Parabellum has referred to the 9 x 19 case type, known in America as 9mm Luger, for decades. It muddies the waters to say certain loadings are not 9mm Parabellum or 9mm Luger. The range of velocities and bullet weights in this caliber is such that if we took only the original velocity and bullet weight as developed by Deutsche Waffen- und Munitsfabriken A.-G (DWM but at the time, 1902, still using the * D.M. * K. headstamp of Deutsche Metallwerken Karlsruhe, the firm that, basically, became D.W.M.) for the “Pistole Parabellum” we would have to have twenty names for the 9mm Luger cartridge by loading. Lord knows it has enough names now. - probably more than twenty if one takes each country’s military designation for the round.

Further, tests of the Italian 9M38 cartridge by H. P. White Laboratory found the rounds to be, compared to published figures for 9mm Glisenti (another light-loading only of the 9mm Para cartridge, and not really a separate “caliber” since it will feed, fire and, in some pistols, function in weapons intended for the “9mm Parabellum”) to be hotter. However, it was only a little bit higher instrumental velocity at 50 ft. and pressure than was American commercial ammunition (I can give the velocities and pressures if desired; however, the testing was done from a 12.5" barrel, so are only comparative to each other, and not to published catalog-data for these rounds, usually given from a pistol-length barrel), and not nearly as high as Canadian military ammunition, nor German military ammunition, of 115 grain bullet weight. In fact, the pressure was lower than even that of the German type m.E. bullet of approximately 100 grains and German sintered-iron bullet (S.E.) with 92 grain bullet. Of the rounds tested, all were far above exceptable pressure levels for commercial ammunition under industry standards, EXCEPT for the Italian “submachine gun” rounds.

This brings up also the labels found on some German steel-cased 9mm ammunition, “Nur im maschinenpistolen verschiessen.” This was, for years, taken to mean this ammunition was too hot for pistols, when in actuality, the problem is that it was too inferior quality for use in pistols, not too hot. Some lots of ammunition with steel cases gave occasional case-sticking in the chamber, especially with the Pistol 08 (Luger), and these lots were generally used only for practice firing in pistols, or for tactical use in SMGs due to that type of weapon’s tolerance to the ammunition, for many reasons we need not get into here. Probably those lots labeled “nur im maschinenpistolen verschiessen” were only to be used in SMGs, since many 832-round 9mm cartons have a different warning "F

I’m italian and in Italy your cartridges are used only in machineguns like M12.They were ideated for MAB machinegun.According to me it is dangerous to fire these rounds in a P38.Their pressure level is almost 15 % more than standard 9 mm Para

According to me the flaming bomb doesn?t indicate a military round because it is impressed also on shotshell primers.

The published results of Lab tests in the U.S. do not bear out your assertion that the rounds are loaded to 15% higher pressures than 9mm Parabellum. Firstly, you would have to define which 9mm Parabellum you are talking about, since pressures vary widely in cartridges of that caliber, depending on who made them and when they were loaded, for what purpose they were loaded, for military or civilian use, etc. They vary tremendously. Bullet weights alone run from approximately 90 grains to 158 grains, and velocities from subsonic to almost 1600 feet per second, all under the designation of "9mm Parabellum (9mm Luger). You cannot make definite statements about one cartridge in this caliber compared to others without defining what other loadings to which the comparison is being made.

It is possible, however, that the pressures exceed those of the Italian 9mm Glisenti Pistol cartridge by 15%, however, and that would be reason enough for the Italians to designate the cartridge as “9M38” on the headstamp. The 9mm Glisenti cartridge is nothing more or less than a lightly loaded 9mm Parabellum. the case dimensions are within the same specifications, and the truncated bullet of the glisenti load is certainly not unique to Glisenti loadings, not even in Fiocchi-made ammunition of 9mm Para caliber.

Again, Fiocchi’s own advertising has no admonition about the use of these rounds in pistols of good design and condition, and shows the “9mm Parabellum” as a synonym for “9M38” and also shows “9M38” as a synonym for “9mm Parabellum.”

Regarding the use of the flaming bomb, while it was not said that it definitely related to miltary cartridges everytime it was used anywhere, it is a symbol more often found in relation to military things than it is in relation to civilian things. The ammunition in question is absolutely military and it is not surprising to find the symbol of the flaming bomb on the box, something I have not seen on Fiocchi ammunition boxes made for civilian consumption.

John Moss

I talked with a person who used MAB with 9 M38 and 9 Para NATO loads.Well,with the NATO round the gun opened slowly (when it opened) and cases fell on the shooter’s feet.When he used 9 M38 loads the gun functioned perfectly.9 M38 will surely destroy a glisenti pistol.9 Glisenti is far less potent the any 9 Para military load


P.S. I have a 9 M38 case made by pirotecnico di Capua ( Headstamped PECA 9 M38 64).Italy adopted 9 mm Para NATO before 1964,so military makers headstamped 9 M38 ammo with M38 headstamp and 9 Para with the NATO symbol.This is the evidence that these 2 cartridges aren’t the same

Pivi - unfortunately, headstamps don’t always tell the whole story. I have 9mm Glisenti loads from 1941 and 1944, both with the “9M38” headstamp, a loading they most certainly were not. I also have a 9 x 25mm Mauser cartridge with 9M38 headstamp, a caliber never chambered in that “Mitra”.
Along with that, I have three different Fiocchi 9mm Blanks (Cartucce di salve) that have the 9M38 headstamp, and certainly don’t have that load, since there is no bullet. I have four variations of 9mm with truncated bullet, like the glisenti, from the 1960s, all bearing a 9M38 headstamp, even though the truncated bullet is not standard for that weapon, and these rounds were sold commercially, despite their military-dated headstamps. One has a nickeled truncated bullet and may even be a 9mm Glisenti loading, although as we all know, Fiocchi offered the 9mm Para cartridge with truncated bullet, and still does.

The first use of a NATO-marked 9mm by Italy seems to have been by
Societa Mertallurgica Italiana (SMI) in 1975, the only year they used the NATO mark, and the last headstamp on 9mm that I have seen from this company. Fiocchi didn’t start with the NATO-marked headstamps until 1976, and once they started using the NATO marking, never went back to the 9M38 marking it would seem. They have made plenty of 9mm with military-style headstamps since then, but by the box labels that we have, they mostly, if not all, seem to be contracts for non-NATO countries, or for police agencies in other countries. Why Italy took so long after their entry to meet all NATO STANG requirements for this cartridge is beyond me. I simply have no way to know that.

Capua never used the NATO mark as far as I can tell, on 9mm Para anyway, and their production of that cartridge does not seem to have survived past the 1960s.

In my collection, I have a subsonic cartridge, with NATO-mark and an “88” headstamp from Fiocchi, and I am not sure if that cartridge, with a bullet weight estimated at about 140 to 145 grains based on its full cartridge weight of around 220 grains, meets any NATO standard at all. If not, the NATO mark represents a misuse of the NATO headstamp.

The point is, not all loadings are properly headstamped.

Now, regarding the 9M38 and the 9MM Parabellum being a different cartridge, again, they absolutely are not. They may be different loadings of the same cartridge. I will not argue that point, as different velocities are shown in the Fiocchi catalogs (sometimes different from catalog to catalog, by the way), although as we all know, published velocities, often taken at factories with various pressure & velocity measuring devices that do not resemble the firearms the ammunition will be made in, often don’t meet catalog specifications when tested in standard firearms. HP White Laboratory’s testing of the 9M38 ammo made during or shortly after WWII gave instrumental pressures and velocities only slightly above American commercial ammunition, and well below ammunition made in Germany during the war, and well below Canadian military 9mm Ammunition.

We must separate, in terminology, the difference between cartridges and loadings. I don’t know why the 9mm Glisenti was given a special name. I suppose it was because Italy did not use any weapon capable of safely handling standard 9mm Parabellum ballistics, at the time the cartridge was adopted in 1910. Further, even 9mm Glisenti loads vary in pressure. Loads designed for submachine guns had a felt wad added to increase orperating pressures slightly by reducing the powder space (capacity) and adding the weight of the wad to that of the bullet. There are 9mm Parabellum (Luger) loadings made right now that are not any higher in pressure and velocity than were Italian 9mm Glisenti cartridges, due to use of lighter weight bullets (pressures) and very heavy bullets (velocities). These are all, never-the-less, 9mm Parabellum cartridges.

Regarding the ejection cycle of a specific, individual firearm of any given model with any particular type of ammunition, there are so many variables possible there, right down to the condition of the ammunition used, that the usefulness of anecdotal evidence like that is very, very limited.

In summary, I do not argue that the 9M38 is not a different loading than SOME other 9mm Parabellum rounds; I do argue that is not a different cartridge and evidence bearing that out, besides the case and cartridge dimensions, is that even the factory that made both, Giulio Ficcchi, of Lecco, (in fact sometimes as many as five different 9x19 loadings) gives the names “9mm Parabellum, 9mm Luger, and 9mm M38” as synonyms in their own factory literature.

We are probably simply arguing semantics here, but unfortunately, semantics are sometimes important in clear discussions of ammunition, as with any other field.

However, We both agree that the use of modern 9mm Parabellum loadings, higher in pressure and velocity than the “9mm Glisenti” round, will damage Glisenti (and even the somewhat strengthened Brixia - I have seen evidence of that myself) and Beretta pistols made specifically for the Glisenti loading.

John Moss