German RWS Non-Military Boxes 1942-1944


John and I have been discussing some strange WWII vintage boxes with totally non-military labels. Both styles are illustrated below.

It reads: Pist. Patr. 08/9m/m
Cartridges were dnf St+ 6 43 with an SE bullet.

RWS date codes from 1942 through 1944. typical headstamp is dnf St+ 5 44. One 1944 box has brass case loads headstamped dnf (star) 5 41, but loaded with an guilding metal color, iron core mE bullet which is consistent with a early case loaded with a 1944 made bullet. Boxes with steel cases are stamped “St”.

Since there was essentially no “commercial” production of 9x19mm during WWII to be best of my knowledge, there were likely for a non-military activity. By 1944 the Waffen SS units were receiving their ammunition through Army channels, or so I understand. My guess is this ammo was made for other parts of the SS. This is only speculation on my part and I would be interested in your opinions, and any additional information including other box codes and loads.

Do similar boxes occur in other calibers like 7.9x57mm???



Perhaps Police, Customs.
I have the same problem identify this label.



Thanks for your post. I agree it could be for Police or Customs, but I thought that by 1944, the police had all been incorporated into the SS in one way or another.

I would call the label you illustrate as “semi-miliary” since it retains the military color code and caliber and load designation. Your label is extremely interesting since I have a very similar label in 9mm P08 which contained a number of lots with an faa 43 headstamp.

It sure looks like both of these labels were intended for the same organization. Since these both have the name of the manufacturer on them, they were apparently for organizations where their use would not embarrassing. This makes me thing of another alternative customer for the 'sterile" boxes in my first post. The SS operated national militias in a number, perhaps all, occupied countries, usually armed with captured or obsolescent weapons. Ammunition with somewhat sterile labels may have been intended for these units. Just a thought.

Again,thanks for the interesting label.




The only SS label I know is a 1938 label from DWM


Here is another example of the DWM box.

Since German police used 9mm pistols, I wonder if this was a police contract?



I wonder about the above label, I certainly can’t say it could
not be for police or Customs, of even for some branch of the
SS or what was left of the SA after the purge of Röhm. Like
most countries, Germany had so many different levels of police -
Ordnung Politzei, Wasser Politzei, etc. etc. I would guess that
with the Manufacturer’s name spelled out, that it was not for the
military or any other unit that would likely be deployed outside
of the then-secure borders of Gross Deutschland - in short, where
it could fall into enemy hands as captured war materiel. To issue
it in such areas would defeat the German code system. As an
example, pistol holsters meant for the police often had the full
makers name and city on them, whereas the same holsters for
military use had a manufacturer’s code. The same was true for
Pistol 08, from Mauser, which bore codes S/42, 42 and byf, depending
on when they where made, but had the commercial Mauser Banner
toggle marking on police pistols used inside Germany.

Another interesting thing, since so many of the police used the Pistol
08, is that this ammunition bears the admonition that the ammunition
in the box was for “limited use in the Pistol 08, occasional case sticking.”
that would seem to limit its usefulness for Police, but then it could, perhaps,
have been reserved for practice and qualification firing, rather than issued
for general duty use.

These labels are incredibly interesting in light of the times in Europe when
they were made. It is a shame that no explanation for them seems to have
ever been found during or after WWII. I guess it was not a subject of earth-
shaking interest at the time, although I think most collectors who save these
boxes, as do I, find them of great interest and curiousity.

John Moss


Not to forget than almost to the end of the war there was some private purchase of side-arms by those with political connections both in Germany and the occupied territories. An order could be placsd with a gun shop, the purchaser having to accept whatever was delivered, usually it would have been in a calibre other than 9mm, most of which went to the military. Along with this there would probably have been a need for a small amount of the appropriate ammunition … do these civilian boxes exist in other pistol calibres ?

Also, German officers had to supply most of their own equipment either through commercial channels or by buying from military stocks, these items were personal property and would be returned to the family on the death or serious injury of the soldier. Later in the war the “Dress side-arm” changed from the dagger to a pistol and once again, this and the holster had to be bought privately … so there was an active “Commercial” trade in pistols, to the military, other government departments and to private citizens who were able to get a Police permit … as well as for export, Croatia and Sweden spring to mind.


PS; This is from memory and I’m more than happy to stand corrected should my memory have failed !


I share Peter’s view that exports also should be considered. Because Germany was extremely dependent on imports, this activity was kept up until very late in the war.


I know very little about German Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) exports during WWII. I know of the Swedish 7.9x57 ammo from both S&B and Brno and I think these had Swedish labels (Dutch Correct me). I know of 9mmP08 from Geco to Romania because these have Romanian labels. Lots of cases of German Army 9mm P08 was shipped to Finland during the war and the crates, and some of the ammo is relabeled with Finnish labels. I know that some captured aircraft and arms were transferred to other allied countries, and I assume that the ammunition captured with the weapons was transferred also. Items were shipped to Japan during the war, but almost all by submarine as I understand so the quantity must have been very small. With the blockade of shipping what countries could Germany export to beside the occupied countries??? The ones that come to mind, beside Sweden, are Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland who were all nominally independent and allied with Germany to one degree are another. Maybe there are others. Germany did major trade with Portugal for Tungsten which was smuggled out to Spain, but this was traded exclusively for gold as far as I have read.

Beside the three export above to Sweden, Finland and Romania, who was receiving SAA??? Perhaps Vichy France should be included above, but I do not believe they had any use for 9mm P08 ammunition before being occupied. I have searched on Google with no success—but I am not particularly competent and probably incompetent.

The fact that these boxes in German implies to me that they were probably for a German speaking customer. I know DWM 9mm Parabellum boxes in the late 30s were in Spanish, English, and I am told French as well as German. However, if anyone has a theory on who may have received this ammunition, I am very interested.

Peter, I agree that German officers, particularly more senior officers, and more senior Nazi officials had their own pistols, but these were usually 9mmK, 7.65mmB and 6.35mmB and boxes for these abound. There are even some Geco and RWS commercial style 9mm Parabellum boxes. The 9mmP ones I have documented all have commercial headstamps and all date from 1939 or earlier. I have added images below in various calibers. The calibers other than 9mmP are known with 1940s wartime dates.

My original question dealt with the two RWS boxes with no manufacturer information. The same style box was also produced by Geco and contain military headstamps (P405 & dnh) dated from 1940-1943.

An almost identical headstamp, but the the Geco name and location along the bottom is known-usually with commercial ammunition, but one with steel case dnh 44 cartridges is known.

The following RWS and Geco boxes are all made by Geco per their 1927 agreement. Note that most of the 9mmP boxes do not have the paper labels shown on the two here. These were jsut readily available images.


image image
image image image


Lew - at least as late as 1941 Germany was also exporting arms and
ammunition to Portugal. This included, as far as I know, rifles, P-08 Pistols,
and 9 mm ammunition (the specific one I am aware of is steel-case B DWM B 41.
I hope I am remembering the date and its form on the headstamp correctly). Also,
a lot of German 7.9 x 57 ammunition ended up there, but I don’t know if it was a
direct export to Portugal or whether it drifted into that country from Spain during and/or
before the Spanish Civil War. Some of that came from DWM Lübeck (headstamp



Of course! I remember the B DWM B 41 round. Thanks for propping up my ailing memory…

Has anyone ever seen a box for this cartridge???



Lew, I forgot to mention that there was a 7.65 mm Parabellum version from
DWM with the same headstamp, but in brass case. In fact, it was those two
calibers, 9 mm and 7.65 mm Para, that got me to researching who they might
have been made for. It boiled down, for me, due to calibers, date, etc., to Portugal
and Finland, and with further research, it turned out to be my first choice - Portugal.

John M.


Well Done! I hope someone can provide a box label.
I agree with your identification, but have a Portuguese Director of the Artillery Weapon Bulletin No 1 of 1946.

Which describes 9mm para ammunition used by the Portugese. It shows the DWM B 480C B headstamp for RN ball which was first entered into Bulletin No 3 of 1943 and DWM K 480C K with a truncated bullet. They also identify P 24 ammunition as unknown maker, but which they must have had in some quantity.

I can only assume that the DWM B headstamp in the Bulletin is a mistake!



Lew - It is not at all impossible, since you seem to be indicating
that the B DWM B 41 headstamp is not in the cited Portuguese
Bulletin, that they use ammunition with the full Berlin-Borsigwalde
commercial (480C) headstamp, and that the lack of mention of the
41-dated headstamp is an omission, rather than a mistake.

Government publications on ammunition are not always noted for their
completeness or accuracy.

John Moss


What is the headstamp inside the Gustloff-Werke box you pictured above?



I will try to group this information and post some things as I put them together over the coming weeks. I will also try to add what I can find on ammunition made for other countries (export). I have a bit of that and I think Dutch posted some info on Swedish 7.9 from the Czech factories.

If anyone has information on German export production of Small Arms Ammunition from 1940-1945, please post it or send it to me. Any information on these generic, non-military box labels would also be appreciated.



I am sorry Lew,

It is a empty box.