German Small Arms Ammunigion Box Labels in WWII


What German government office approved the labels on Army ammo boxes during WWII. I have seen two official books, one from the late 1920 and one from the late about 1936 or so that illustrated the labels to be used on German Army Small Arms ammunition Ammunition. From these books it appears that the labels used, the size, content and colors) were approved by some German office (Waffen Pruf???). It also appears that these labels were only approved for production ammunition, including ammunition for field trials. I believe these labels were not approved and used for purely experimental ammunition until it was ready for field trials.

Does anyone know the office that approved these labels and issued the instructions on their use?

How were the instructions for their use issued?

Are there any documents on when these standardized labels approved and issued.

Has anyone seen a box of purely experimental German SAA from the post WWI period through WWII?

Any help or thoughts would be appreciated.



I think you refer to HDv 481/1 “Merkblatt für die Munition für Handfeuerwaffen und MG” of 26 Aug 1938, which lists “Inhaltszettel” for small arms ammunition.
In addition, the “Vorläufige technische Lieferbedingungen” (like TL 13/1004; comparable to the U.S. specifications MIL-C-…) for components like bullets or bullet cores prescribed how these were to be packed, what the “Inhaltszettel” (label) should look like and where it was to be placed.
For ammunition, TL documents were issued by the ammunition directorate of Heereswaffenamt, originally WaPrüf 1. An undated and unnumbered TL for 08 SE bullets was issued by “WaPrüf (BuM) T” (BuM = ballistics and ammunition), a later name for WaPrüf 1 due to its expansion.

I personally doubt that there were any fixed rules for experimental/trial ammunition


Great! This was exactly what I was looking for. I think I have seen a copy of the 1938 document you mention. The one I saw had an example of a German P08 16rd box of normal ball ammo dated 1935, but if you read the label carefully it indicates that the cartridges were steel case!!! I have often wondered if this label was just made up for the publication, or if there were really some steel case P08 rounds made in 1935 for field trials. I suspect the last explaination.

Do you have any idea where I could get a copy of “WaPrüf (BuM) T”???

I have seen a few pages from a similar document dated from the late 1920s.

Would the tan and green labels of the P08 Helmet Test cartridges pictured by Gyrojet in a recent thread be a label approved by WaPrĂĽf (BuM) for production ammunition, or could it have been approved for a one off batch used in helmet development testing.

Again, thanks for the help!



Regarding the copy, I will send you a private message.

I assume that helmet testing ammunition was in constant demand and that the production contracts specified the label to be used. If a TL existed, I have never seen it mentioned in the files.


Peelen - why would helmet testing ammunition be in constant
demand? These loadings are usually used in the trials leading to
the adoption of a new helmet, something not often done in any
given country. Just curious. I would think that once a specification is
met for any specific model of helmet, and it is adopted, there would
be little reason for further testing (unless it was found to be a defective
specification) until a new model was contemplated.

John Moss


John, today most of all material delivered to construct for example bullet proof vests, or metal plates for use in cars protection is tested for every charge delivered to the customer, who uses this material, as the various charges are not alway the same. Also a founderie making metal Sheets of various thickness tests their material before sending them out…so the procucer of the final product can be sure, to get the same plates/sheets, metals, or textil fibres which he used in the past and they are all to the same strenght or stiffness, or hardness as before.
Most of the helmet fabricants are not making their material by them self, they got/get them from abroad.
I think, that was the same in the “old” wartime, as today.
I deliver quit a lot of bullets and loaded ammo to the industry producing or developing such things…
Just my toughts…

Have a prosperous new year (and health…much more important :-)


To my understanding helmet test rounds are used permanently in quality assurance during ongoing production where a certain amount of helmets from every lot is tested. And given the supposedly many manufacturers in wartime they had to do a lot of testing.


I suppose that is true - both EOD’s and Forensic’s comments. But, much of that
testing is done with normal loads. If special “Helmet Test Loads” are used so much,
why are they so rare. I found the first WWII-Era German Helmet Test rounds some 20
or more years ago, and it is only in the last month or so that one more box was found.
American helmet test loads are not common either - unknown, so far, in 9 mm and scarce
in .45.

Just my thoughts on it. Perhaps I am dead wrong, which is often the case.

John Moss


John, I would guess the rarity comes from the fact that these cartridges were never issued to regular military units.

And as for the QA I do not know if this was maybe done only by the military when they were accpeting new deliveries. Means the locations this was done at were most likely few.


Given the way they were used, the production of Helmet Test loads was probably tiny compared to other types of P08 ammunition. In addition, the distribution would be limited to those locations where the testing would be done, which was relatively few places compared to those where normal service ammunition would be located. Proof loads were traditionally used on every weapon produced, but Helmet Testing was probably done on only one helmet in a hundred or more likely, one in a thousand.

Similar testing is done on aircraft canopies and on highly pressurized aircraft items and many other things. Fighter canopies are interesting. The outside surface must be very hard and tough to withstand penetration or fracture from things like bird strikes. The inside must fracture relatively easily from pointed object impact to allow the pilot to break up the canopy and escape if the canopy ejection system fails in an emergency. In each cockpit on an F-4 was a knife that looked like a black hunting knife, but with a blade only about 2" long and very pointed. Four or five hard stabs to the inside of the canopy will shatter it and allow the pilot to climb out.

To make sure the canopies satisfy these requirements, there were machines at the canopy production facilities that used a machine to do a series of carefully caliberated attempted penetrations to the outside of the canopy, and the canopy must stay intact from all, including a full penetration without the canopy shattering. The inside of the canopy was also tested, in this case to ensure it would shatter.
Tests were done periodically during production and whenever anything about production was changed that might effect these characteristics of the canopy. This could be changes in the plastic supplier or changes in the production batch of the plastic or in the plastic processing (like melting) or molding or polishing or any thing else that might effect the critical characteristics of the canopy. A number of canopies are used up by this testing so the production line maintenance and plastic acquisition are carefully managed to minimize the number of canopies used. These were pretty standard quality control and assurance procedures.

My experience goes back some decades so computer tracking and control of production may make it simpler now. Still, I expect helmet testing was similar in Germany during WWII. A helmet would pass if the helmet test bullet did not penetrate the helmet. I wonder which troops got the helmets that were tested and passed? I could see them going to training units or ???

It is interesting that earlier German Helmet Test rounds (from before 1944) have not been found. Perhaps they were in another caliber than 9mm P08, or perhaps it was not considered necessary.

Still, the very low production requirements for this ammunition may mean that none have shown up. Given the controlled conditions of it’s use, the vast majority of it must have been fired and very few rounds leftover unless production was terminated, like at the end of the war. I know of one round by RWS from 1944 with a yellow cms and primer seal which also may be a Helmet Test round.

Proof rounds fall in a similar situation, but some in 9mm P08 show up dated back to 1939. However, I have seen a Polte box label for P08 proof rounds dated in the 1920s, bot no proof cartridge from the 1920s or early 1930s.



Here is an interesting DWM box from 1943.
It utilizes a variation of the military box label, but the contents of the label are completely uncoded. Headstamps are military faa St+ with mixed 43 and 44 lots.


quote=“Lew, post:10, topic:26643”]
Proof rounds fall in a similar situation, but some in 9mm P08 show up dated back to 1939. However, I have seen a Polte box label for P08 proof rounds dated in the 1920s, bot no proof cartridge from the 1920s or early 1930s.

Lew, don’t ask me were these labels come from.
But you must know that proof rounds were also available in WW1.




I have the identical label but it came to me mounted on a card and a note that it was full of faa 43 rounds.have not translated the actual label, but assume it is just mixed cartridges. No question it is as close to a commercial label you could get from DWM at this point in the war. Could you post a translation of lines two and three. Yours is only the second that I have documented. Thanks!

I have a box, and it may be a MW box that has the “DRUK K”. At least I have a photo of a box with that stamp. I have no idea what it means, and would not have guessed it was a proof marking. What does it mean???

I have the Spandau Proof box pictured at the bottom, and also one from Cassel. The loads in both are unmarked. I pulled one of the Cassel rounds down and it has a heavier powder charge than normal.

I understand pistol production was down in the 1920s and early 1930s, but there was still production, and a lot of rework so I would think proof rounds from the period should be floating around, but perhaps they were also unmarked and we wouldn’t recognize them without the box.

Thanks for the postings!



Lines 2 and 3 of the label shown by Vlim contain the well known steel case warning, due to the step in the P 08 chamber:
"Limited suitability for Pistole 08
(occasional failures to extract)"
which replaced the original, very misleading for submachine-guns only warning.

P.S. Keep in mind that in the 1920s and early 1930s it was illegal to own a 9 mm pistol outside military and police, which had the exact numbers of legal pistols (police also some submachine-guns) prescribed. The only legal manufacturers for replacements and spare parts were Simson (pistols) and Polte (cartridges). There was no need for any substantial amount of proof rounds.


If you have a look on this homepage which is dedicated to the K98 rifle you will get some more information on sizes of labels.