German soft-nose ammunition

A minute from the Small Arms Committee.

Interesting that this is called ‘of the usual pattern for German small arms ammunition’ … with a rimmed case?

Happy collecting, Peter Mackinven

Frankly, I don’t understand this report at all. The top drawing shows a 9 mm rifle bullet, while the bottom drawing shows an 8 mm (yes, 8 mm which I consider correct terminology for a .318" diameter sporting bullet. The second drawing is not an “S” (.323") diameter bullet, but rather the normal sporting bullet diameter. Secondly, the case shown is 74" mm +/- in length - it is not a service rifle case at all, but actually a sporting case that could well be, fron the scant measurements shown, a 9 x 74R or a 9.5 x 74R. Pardon if one or another doesn’t exist - German sporting cartridges are not my field, and I have little or no interest in them beyond my general interest in all ammunition, so I don’t recall what they made and what they didn’t.

Further, I cannot relate a headstamp from the Königlische Munitionsfabrik Spandau from March of 1896 as being something found on a 74 mm rimmed case.

The whole report couple with the drawings is, to me, weird. I don’t know why, in 1919, they would even be worried enough about a sporting cartridge bullet to make a report on it at all.
German sporting cartridges were well-known all over Europe by then, so such a thing would certainly not be some shocking new find.

Strange. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I ust be missing something somewhere in this document.

I am more than a little confused by the contents of this report. The purpose of the report may have been to document violations of the Hague convention ban against exploding/expanding bullets on the battlefield. The report is dated just a few days prior to the armistice, and the finding of soft point bullets or cartridges loaded with soft points may have started a war crimes investigation. I have read that both German and British forces tried using privately owned hunting rifles in the early days of sniper and counter sniper warfare in WW1. If soft point hunting ammunition was brought to the battle field to feed the nonstandard rifles, it would have constituted a serious violation of the Hague Convention. This is just a guess, but it would explain why the report was made and how hunting ammunition ended up on the battlefield.

Yes, it would explain it. But it doesn’t explain the reported headstamp, or the fact that the bullets in the report are two totally different projectiles, not mentioned at all that I can see in the text. It also doesn’t explain the mention that the cartridge case was of the normal style for German Small Arms Ammunition. If they are talking about the fact it is a brass case that takes powder, a primer and a bullet, then it is “the normal style” for ANY small arms ammunition of the CF modern type.

It strikes me that overall, this report displays an incredible ignorance about small arms ammunition and German ammunition, especially for someone who would believe they are qualified to initiate and submit such a document. Again, I could be wrong if I am over-looking the obvious in it.

That top picture is really confusing and I agree does show conflicting inormation. The cartridge drawing in the top picture seems to show the common 9.3x74R Mauser cartridge which could be found in 1918. However the text states that the cartridge concerned had a “S. 96. 3” headstamp which is unknown on that case type and should be found on a 8x57J .

I hope that I am not engaging in my secondary hobby, which of course is making mountains out of molehills…Yes I know, I KNOW! I should go to a website devoted to that.

The drawing of the 9.3x74R Mauser cartridge is copied from the French Report No. 118 on enemy ammunition, just as the caption states. Why it is reproduced, when it is not mentioned at all in the body of the text, is anybody’s guess. It may be there to stand as an example of a typical German big game cartridge.

There is an awful lot of text expended in verbally describing the projectile of the cartridge that is the actual subject of the report. The report is about a typical German case that is carrying a, banned from the battlefield, soft point projectile. The case is probably so familiar to British soldiers that the report just identified it as “the usual German sort” and we are probably lucky that they bothered to even list the headstamp before moving on to the evil, dum-dum, exploding, regular civilian soft point projectile.

Now if the general purpose of this report is to document Hague convention violations, then I would make the point that it appears that the case was standard German military issue, but the projectile appears to be of the standard civilian type. The marriage of the two could point to official wrongdoing on the part of the German Army or perhaps the report is trying to build an official mountain out of single field expedient frankencartridge molehill. The fact that the text and drawing clearly show a J-bore diameter projectile probably means that the projectile was procured from civilian stocks and not an arsenal product unless this was an old J-bore Hague violation cartridge made clandestinely by the German Army back in 1896 (at about the time when almost all of the civilized European nations were condemning Great Britain for issuing Dum-Dum ammunition). Personally, I would bet that it was just a hand loaded item cobbled together from whatever materials that could be scrounged up. It may have been built to use in a civilian owned (J-bore) rifle that was pressed into sniper duty, as the .317 inch diameter projectile would not be very accurate in the nominal .323 inch groove diameter of the Mauser 1898.

The overall arrangement of the text and drawings could not have been worse if they had modern computers back then to produce the report on. There may be some context that can be added from a study of the rest of the document.