German 9mmP-Early Short Range Loads

The thread “455 Webley Mk 1`unusual bullet” reminded me of some early German short range loads.

My first hint of a German short range load came from Pistol & Revolver Cartridges (Vol 1) bu White and Munhall where they described a Trolit (Ferrous Sulfide) round ball in a German Zeilpartonen cartridge in 9mmP. Datig’s Vol 2 illustrates such a cartridge on page 59 but the accompaning description of for the common Swedish shortrange with a black plastic bullet containing a steel ball in the tip.

The first hard evidence I encountered for this type load was in the Manual of Pistol and Revolver cartridges by Erlmeier and Brandt which includes a photo of a cartridge (137-20) deacribed as “Before World War I the 9 mm Parabellum Pistol was already a very popular target weapon, and a special target cartridge (catalog number 137-20) was developed, using a solid lead round ball.”

Hans Erlmeier eventually gave me the cartridge from the photo, but to my great disappointment the headstamp was WRA 9M-M (center cartridge below).

Hans explained to me that the round in the photo was actually a reload by/for the New West German Army when it was intially formed. With all the misinformation, I was just about convinced that the Trolit bullet and pre WWI lead bullets were a myth.

In the late 70s or early 80s I saw a load in German collection with a round lead ball headstamped DWM K 2 12, and dismissed it as another post-WWII reload. Then a couple of years later I found an identical load myself (left below) and have since seen two more identical rounds, all dated Feb 1912.

During the same time frame, I visited the Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground and there in their large display case was a “Polte” board (brown back and clear plastic cover with a loaded cartridge and a cutaway) of a steel case German round (the case color was light gray and gave me the impression that it was from dnh) with a round red plastic bullet. The board was numbered “25” inside the plastic cover. I was later told that the back of the board said
Ziel-Pist.-Patr. 08

So, round ball training loads were made in Germany from as early as 1912 and as late (as reloads) as the early 1950s, including during WW2.

I have never seen or heard of another WW2 training load except for the board at Abderdeen and I have not seen one made from Ferrous Sulfide (looking at the sectioned bullet at Aberdeen, I’m convinced it was plastic).

Does anyonee have anyone else have anymore information on these loads, or perhaps a decent photo of the board that was at Aberdeen???

Has anyone ever seen a Trolit bullet 9mmP???

Any other German 9mmP rounds with training bullets???

Finally, I also have the load illustrated at right in the photo with the RWS 1932 headstamp. It is probably a reload. the case is a bit beat-up but no ejector marks that I could find. If anyone can shed some light on this round I’d be interested.



I am not fortunate enough to have any 9mm Para with the lead round-ball loading, but I think those seen with the DWM headstamp are undoubtedly correct. I have two such loads in 7.65m/m Parabellum. Neither of them shows any sign of tampering or reloading, or having been a fired case. Both have DWM headstamps (K DWM K 471). One has the early Serif letters and a brass primer; the other has the later, unserifed letters, and a copper primer quite correct for DWM of the later era. The later round has the bullet seated out further, probably to enhance feeding. I suspect the Pistole Parabellum had to be hand-cycled to fire these rounds, however, or perhaps even single-loaded directly into the chamber. The DWM catalog shows a "Ziel

Hi both of you!

I ask you to forgive me if I start again in a new discussion, but I actually would like to know WHO is behind this stupidity about these “famous” so-called ferrous sulfide TROLIT” projectiles…

This funnie has been repeated times and times since it was quoted emphatically in Fred Datig’s Cartridge for Collectors, more than 40 years ago.

Trolit, also called Trolitul is a mixture of diverse brands of polystyrens, developped (and patented) by the notorious I.G. FARBEN Konzern, in the end of thirties. It was especially destined to build insulating material for chemical and electrical components.
You can find Trolit parts in most of the WWII German radio sets (emitting-receiving), radars a.s.o., but also in many kinds of artillery fuses and military devices…

TROLIT is still manufactured to-day, on a practically unchanged form by BASF, (formerly Badische Anilin) in Germany, and the rights were sold abroad to many companies around the world, before the patent did expire.

Usually uncolored, it may be procuced in diverse colours, thanks to the inclusion of colored pigments. So, the famous black and red Exercierpatrone of any kinds made in the Reich during WWII , under the Polte patent, were made of Trolit!!!
These colouring methods are also used to-day by the plastic manufacturing Industry for other kinds of materals, like polyethylene.

It is also possible to include other kind of particles in the plastic mass, like metallic powders. A common exemple is the copper or bronze powders added to Rilsan plastic to obtain the RB or frangible projectiles already described here.

In no case a bullet could be made of ferrous sulfide or more exactly ferrous disulfide (chemical formula FeS2), which is a very common ore, also known as iron Pyrite, and by old desert diggers as “fool’s gold” because of its bright yellow colour.

If you try to make pellets from native pyrite, you will almost always crush it into powder, as the critalline symetry of crystals will not allow you to obtain a orrect spherical shape and the only way to obtain some “artistic” results with this material is to polish big pieces, for some kind of art (?) jobs, or to mix the powder with a bonding media. This, of course makes the possibility of ferrous sulfide projectiles in 9 mm highly questionable!

About the colour, if you try to insert powdered ferrous disulfide in Trolit, the result will never be red , as stated by Datig, but a rather grayish shade, the “trace” of the mineral being dark grey (trace is an usual test for mineralogic ID, when you “write” with the specimen on a rough white ceramic tile).

The raw mineral is opaque, with metallic aspect and naturally gold coloured, not red, easily oxydised with traces of ferrous oxyde (rust) and not very hard. Some times, it was used to make cheap jewellery, but its main use is for the manufacure of sulphuric acid, obtained through “roasting” the ore in ovens.

So (in my opinion) it can be stated that they were maybe Trolit bullets made, for short range trials, but never “ferrous sulifde” ones. And most of the short range German 9 mm Para (this goes also for 7,92x33 kurz) that we have seen to-day have lead bullets, nothing else.

By the way, Lew, a pretty good stuff indeed!!!

I would very happy if this stupid Trolit/ferrous sulfide legend could be, this time, eradicated for good…

All the best to all of you!


(beside ammo, I have been a mineralogical collector since I was 16!!!)

Phil - I remember years ago when you were leaving from a visit, at San Francisco Airport you had some rock samples from California and when you told the airlines what it was, they asked “What kind of rock samples” or some other equally stupid question. That was a good visit. We drank a lot of wine! OOps, this is a cartridge Forum. We looked at a lot of cartridges too. There - does that satisfy the requirement? Just joking around guys. Allow a senile old man a little humor.


Great reply!!! That makes much more sense than what has been copied from book to book. The German WW 2 Steel case shortrange I saw in Aberdeen was in fact Trolit (red plastic). Thanks for clearing that up! A big help.

Cheers, Lew

Yes John!
I remember very well this events! I was going back from Bill Woodin’s, (we had been together to the Rocky Mountains Cartrige Collectors Show in Denver) and I had a ten kilos (at least) of varied ammo with me, plus documents or xeroxes, many nice minerals got in Tucson…and even …a Jap Helmet found in a local Gun show in Arizona!!!

We had spent plenty of time in your collection, and … some interesting wine tasting tests (!). Even your cat had established his summer quarters in my lugage and would not dare to remove his ass from it!!!

The people at the control gates in SF airport were absolutely puzzled with all this paraphernalia, so they even forgot to ask my BATF papers for ammunition!
To-day, I would not dare to bring a ctg key chain with me in or from the US! (and especially from lovely California!) without a declaration in 14 exemplaries…

Happy to have reminded you some good old times!