General 7mm Mauser vs 8mm Mauser question

In late 1800’s a general military trend was away from 10mm-11mm calibres towards smaller 7mm-8mm calibre range. I think 7mm Mauser preceeded 8mm Mauser in terms of time. So why did they not stay with 7mm and moved towards 7,9x57? The present day 5mm range is quite sufficient for wound damage and they must have seen it in 7x57.

Can’t speak for German reasoning, but in Norway (and Sweden), tests found 6,5 mm caliber to be superior to both 7, 7,5, and 8 mm in terms of accuracy at range, energy and velocity retention, muzzle velocity, flatness, and recoil impulse.

Will be interesting to hear something about why 8 mm was chosen.

We’re going full circle when it comes to cartridge development, after going from a long 7,62 cartridge to a short one, then to 5,56, we’re suddenly researching 6,5, 6,8, and 7 mm infantry weapons again.
Some 60 years after the .280 and .280/30…


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German testing showed that the 8mm was the smallest hole that would not seal up . They did it for wounding potential . The same reason they took so long to drop the P-88 round and go with the S round .The S round was developed to match the flat shooting 6.5mm and to use a 400 meter zero , and one faction wanted to go with that . The other group did not want to give up the much superior killing power of the P-88 bullet . During WWI the 6.5mm’s were found to be lacking when used against material , trucks , tanks , planes and so on . Many 6.5mm users had to go with a different larger caliber for their machineguns . Even though several studies have shown the 7mm to be the best combination of weight , dia , and BC, nobody seems to end up with it.


Good point dbdog9,
Norway used 6,5x55 for infantry rifles/carbines and light machine guns, and used 7,92x57 and 7,92x61 in Colt M/29 HMGs. For the same reasons you mention.


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Sorry, the 7 x 57 is not older than the 7.9 x 57, but younger.
France was the first to adopt a smokeless propellant, jacketed bullet cartridge (1886). The jacketed bullet allowed going to a “small caliber” for the time: 8 mm.
Germany followed in 1888 with state arsenal designed cartridge Patrone 88 and rifle Gewehr 88, caliber 7.9 mm, after 7.5 mm and 7 mm had been discussed.
At about the same time Paul Mauser worked on his own first smokeless small caliber cartridge, the 7.65 x 54 adopted by Belgium in 1889.
From the 7.65, Mauser developed the 7 x 57 we know today, both having the same base diameter, which is a little larger than that of the 7.9 mm. The 7 x 57 was adopted by Spain in 1893. (All years are nominal model years. The troops got these weapons usually much later.)
Keep in mind that we are talking of the hi-tech of the day. Teething problems were endless, in particular in Germany with Patrone 88. Its components underwent endless changes, all documented at length in the books by Dieter Storz. These are also pulished in English by

Details on the caliber decision in Germany are not known, at least by me. Test rifles down to 6 mm still exist, but as far as I know, it is not clear what exactly led Germany to choose 7.9 mm. Going from 11 mm to this new caliber already was a giant step. Possibly Germany wanted to make sure not to go to a smaller, probably less potent caliber than France had. It is documented that German military considered 6.5 mm having not enough wounding power to be considered. But it is not clear if this was the official position at the time of Gewehr 88 adoption.

Amidst all the teething problems with the 88 system, it became known that France had adopted a revolutionary, much lighter bullet in 1898, the balle D. Instead of a round nose it had a pointed nose and what we today call a boattail. This resulted in much improved ballistics.
The German Patrone S of 1903 was the response to balle D. Therefore, replacement of Patrone 88 began already 15 years after its adoption. Gewehr 98 started to replace Gewehr 88 already after 10 years. But the bore dimensions (apart from case neck) remained the same.

In all this turmoil, I think there was no room for any consideration to throw away the precious know-how collected with the 7.9 mm and restart a new teething process with going to a 7 mm cartridge.


The German military ammunition tests state why they picked 8mm . The S bullet was designed way before 1903 , but was not picked over the P-88 ammo until 1907 . Read the 1906 German military ammo testing on livestock . The G-98 did not out number the G-88 in German service until 1911 . The 7.9mm Gew-88 was made with 3 different bores sizes , not standardizing the .311 - .323 until 1896 1/2 as the final 7.9mm bore size. All Z bore Gew-88’s [ S is NOT a bore size ] had the same bore as all Gew-98 rifles .

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Do you know the exact title of the 1906 book about ammo testing on livestock, so I can locate a copy?

The application for the S bullet patent (DRP 204 660) was filed on February 20th 1904. According to archival documents, first trials of several designs were undertaken in 1902. We know this, because the Bavarian liaison officer at the Prussian Gewehr-Prüfungskommission reported on each and every activitiy to Munich. Kaiser Wilhelm ordered the adoption on March 24th, 1903. General issue could not start before all rifles in the inventrory had the neck area of the chamber reamed out, which was planned to be completed on October 1st, 1905. The changes to the rifle ammunition technical manual (DVE 453, later renamed DVE 279) describing the S ammunition are dated July 1905. The new firing regulation (DVE 240) containing the changes due to the S ammunition was issued in November 1905.

The 1906 report is in archives in Germany . Yes , you are dating the patent , which was allowed to be filed later as the S was secret for years . The " neck reaming : is another thing that is misunderstood . With over 100 Gew’s to compare , eight with no S stamp . The neck diameters are the same . Original S ammo is only .002 [ on the average ] larger than P-88 ammo , military chambers are made large and had at least .005 clearance on the neck as made . My non-S rifle have at least .003 clearance with S ammo . The S stamp was a clearance check to find the .5 % ?? of rifles without clearance to be reamed . The Z barrel rifles made from [ and any barrel replacement ] 1896 1/2 were the last bore and chamber size and never changed after that .

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It were a big help to locate a copy of the report if you could tell us its title. Even after the losses due to the wars, I see no way to find it based on the year 1906 alone.

The 7.9 m/m cartridge largely displaced the 7 m/m and 7.65 m/m after 1918 because there were so many arms in the larger caliber available one way and another that the 7 and 7.65 became sort of niche calibers. The switch of Yugoslavia from Serbia’s 7 m/m and Turkey’s abandonment of the 7.65 m/m shows this trend clearly. Jack

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Yes Jack, plus the manufacturing equipment of several plants for 7.9 mm weapons and ammunition that Germany was no longer allowed to have after 1918.