German 7.9 x 57 mm odd cartridge

Left over from my 7.9 x 57 mm collection, sold some years ago, I have an odd cartridge that I never could identify to my own satisfaction. In appearance, it appears to be a normal pre-WWI ball round. The headstamp is “S S 3 06” which I take to mean it is of Spandau manufacture (at least the case) with “S” type case made as the 3rd lot (or possibly the thrid month) of 1906. There is nothing at all unusual about the brass case itself, in appearance anyway.

Some details:

Brass case
Brass, non-magnetic (highly unusual in German 7.9 of this period) spitzer bullet
Brass primer
No primer crimps of any type
No special neck (bullet) crimping
Total overall cartridge weight is 365 grains. This would be “ball park” for a round with “S” type bullet. A long study I did in the identification of German 7.9 x 57 cartridge types, some years ago, left me with an average OACW of 361+/- Grains.

Points of Departure:

The bullet is non-magnetic. At the mouth, it almost appears that the bullet and case are one piece. However, the bullet looks like it might have been turned on a lathe, although the marks are faint so hard to interpret. Regardless, in a collection of several hundred rounds of pre WWI and early WWI German ball rounds, this was the only brass bullet.

There are no primers crimps.

There is no primer seal (usually black) and almost certainly never had one. The primer is unsnapped - no firing pin impression.

I did not attempt a photo of this round, as at my skill level, it would not show anything unusual in profile at all. The bullet, like some of the case, is “black tarnished” and hard to tell in a picture that it is brass. Regardless of that, being non-magnetic is highly unusual.
A picture of the head would only reveal the absence of primer crimps or a primer seal, and no picture is needed to show something that is NOT there. The headstamping is a quality job, and of the same size and general letter and number style as other contemporary 7.9s from Spandau.

Shaking the cartridge vigorously you can neither hear nor feel any powder charge shifting around inside. This is a minor, non-conclusive point.

I have never had an X-Ray of this cartridge done.

Does anyone have any clues as to what this round may be? Dutch, I am especially interested in your opinion on this cartridge!!!

John Moss

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I want to hear Dutch’s response too. Meanwhile, maybe somebody like your son can take a photo and attach it to this thread?

Vlad - all that a photo would show is a 7.9 x 57 Mauser cartridge with no primer crimps.


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John, for many years I have visiting you, I must have overlooked this head stamp.
Unfortunately, I don’t have this month in my collection.

I took the weight of the month August (cu bullet). The weight is 369 grain.

It is known the Germans had a lot of problems making Ex rounds during WW1. The demand was so high that they took normal cases to make “Aushilfsexerzierpatronen” They looked like a normal cartridge but with 4 drilled holes in the case or crimps so they could be identified as Ex. Rounds.

A theory is that this case could be made as an Ex round later. But this is no explanation for the “brass” bullet used.

Unfortunately, I have no explanation for this round. I am looking forward to SLICS 2022. :slight_smile:

One question, is the maker “S” ore “S.” (dot)

I found another head stamp by you, I took the cartridge with me.

At home I found out it was not a regular round.


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Dutch - thank you. The knife is interesting. Had I known, it would still be here. I collect those “souvenir” rounds and have a number of them. No worry, it is not a serious collection

My mystery round is with plain “S”, no dots. What brought it to my attention was the lack of any primer crimps. It seems to have an “S” type bullet. It most certainly is a pointed Spitzer type, not round nose.

I think the first thing I must do is polish the bullet - something I seldom do except to extreme cases of dirtiness or corrosion, and make sure it is brass. Regardless, it is non-magnetic, and while my collection of 7.9 is going, I do not recall having any Type S 7.9 German round with a non-magnetic bullet. The cartridge shows no signs of tampering (ie: reload, etc.).

There are no holes in the case. I thought first about it maybe being a dummy, but that still would not explain the non-magnetic bullet, nor the cartridge weight being fairly well in the normal Type S ball round.

In all the 7.9s I had - about 12,600 in the collection - and those I looked through for stuff I needed, I have no recollection of ever seeing one like this.


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