German WW. 2 made .50 Browning ammo

A lot of ammo was made for captured guns or guns that where used in the Wehrmacht for what ever reason. Several calibers where made for the navy and coastal defense. Breda, Hotchkiss, Besa ect. often converted to projos with driving bands. There are always rumors about german made .50 ammo .
Anybody here has surviving examples ? Made with laquered steel cases and
may be delivered to the Kriegsmarine.
Maybe someone could throw in some more knowledge?

I have heard tales of US small arms cartridges being made by Germany during WWII so that captured US weapons could be used against their former owners. I know the .30 M1 carbine was very popular among German troops, and I suppose .30 M1 Carbine ammo could have been manufactured in Germany. I just have never seen any and don’t know that the Germans ever made US-caliber ammunition such as .30 M2, .30 Carbine, .50 BMG, or .45 ACP for such purposes. I’d imagine they had enough problems during the post D-Day period supplying the Wehrmacht with enough ammunition in typically German calibers without taking on manufacture of additional US ammo types.

Movie footage and still pictures reveal very little use of captured American small arms by the Wermacht or Waffen SS in WWII. I have seen one picture, reported from the Battle of the Bulge, of a German Soldier carrying an M1 Carbine, and that is about it. Even in some footage showing what appeared to be a full platoon of Volksturm troops assembled in formation in Berlin during the battle for that city, although showing a myriad of captured and German weapons, showed no American ones unless a few Lewis Guns were American issue, and that is doubtful, since I know of know land-use of the Lewis gun, in Europe, by the US during WWII. Many of the over-run countries had Lewis guns, however.

It strikes me that aside from picking up anything in sight during fierce fighting, with both sides running short of ammunition and much damaged equipment, as in Operation Market Garden, that there was very little use of American small arms by German Forces. Simply my opinion based on the hundreds of photos in books on WWII that I have, and the hours of film footage about the War in Europe I have seen, a matter of interest to me since I was a small boy.

I have no firsthand information whatsoever about German use of the .30 M1 carbine during WWII. However, Google searching reveals postings alleging that a number of .30 M1 carbines fell into German hands after the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and apparently enough were in use by the Germans that the Wehrmacht designated the carbine as the SKb 455(a). Some references go even further by saying that a small number of carbines were made in Germany, along with ammunition for them. Any carbine experts out there that can shed more light on whether such allegations are factual or fictitious?

I guess there are several orders that strikly forbade the taking of souveniers or use of enemy weapons. But you are absolutely right - I wonder about that little use of US weapon too. Nearly no news reels or combat pictures.

This ammo for 50 BMG was not intended for frontline fights, but to use captured guns on U Boot conning towers for aditional AA fire.

My intention was to find out if some rounds made it in US collections. The second problem was surely to ID them - they are very close to the german made 13,2 Hotchkiss, These where made for the navy too.

May be something will show up soon.

There is no question that the Germans captured American weapons by the thousands. The question is, did they make much use of them. In 50 years of cartridge collecting, I have never even heard of a German military loading in .30 M1 Carbine (I am talking about WWII use, not commercial or post-war), .30-06 (yes, I still call it that - with two .30 M1 cartridges in American use, it is the most descriptive designation), .50 BMG, or .45 Auto. There were commercial .45 cartridges by RWS and Geco, and DWM made a small lot of them as well, but the latter all appear to have come from just one or two boxes found in Switzerland. Further to the .45, while there evidently was some use of the .45 pistol, primarily those made in Norway, there was plenty of Norwegian ammunition available, as it was made all during the German Occupation. It was designated 632 (n), with the blank loading designated 639 (n). Germany probably would not have had any need to produce it.

Regarding German designations, it is my understanding that the Germans gave such designations to all manner of captured military equipment for purposes of identification and perhaps accounting, whether they used it or not.

The nice book by Wilhelm Micke, "Beutepatronen und Patron für Beutewaffen in der Deutschen Wermacht 1939 bix 1945, shows the .45, .30 Carbine and .30-06, but in the case of the two rifle cartirdges, only shows US-made ammunition. For .45, US-made ammunition is shown and Norwegian as well. Unfortunately the book does not give the German designations for the American rounds.

The German manual, Kennblätter frmden Geräts, heft 8a, Munition bix 3.6 cm, edition of January 8, 1941, shows no American ammunition, although it shows the Norwegian .45 blank. It is probably too early a publication to show American ammunition. However, the .50 BMG, judging from the desgination and picture, is shown, but only British-made armour percing. It shows the English designation as .5 inch W. Mark I, and the German designation as 12.7 mm Patrone S.m.K. 775 (e).

I have no primary source references in my library to any German-made, WWII-era, military ammunition in the American calibers.

Given the nature of the warfare between Germany and the U.S. during the second war it is pretty likely that the most common small arm taken from American personnel that could have been put to military use in Germany was the Colt .45 pistol, and I’ve never heard a single mention made of German use of that arm. My best guess is that these pistols, like the planes that carried most of them into German territory, were reduced to scrap and recycled. Jack

Jack - In Africa, the Italian campaign, and after D-Day, there was enough ground combat, and enough incidents of American units overran that the Germans captured thousands of G.I.s. They also would have captured all their weapons. I am sure they would not have left them laying around in arms facilities, on the field, in the hands of captured troops as they were taken, etc. The pistol was a small-potatoes issue compared to the number of rifles, carbines and automatic rifles (BAR) they would have taken, not to mention BMGs in both .30 and .50 calibers. Air Force prisners, admittedly, would likely have only handguns, if they didn’t throw those away in an effort not to get shot upon contact with enemy troops. There was probably plenty of that, which frankly, I would consider a sensible move in many cases.

I am sure that more than one ammunition depot was overran, as well. Thankfully, German victories on the Western Front did not begin to equal their defeats.

You would think that the Germans would have had a fair amount of US .50 Cal. BMG MG’s recovered from shot down B17, B24, etc aircraft. Many were destroyed in the crashes but some probably survived. Whether or not the German military made use of the guns I have no idea.

I have a copy of the MACR-893 (Missing Air Crew Report) for B17G S/N 42-3516 which was shot down in the air raid over Munster on 10/10/1943. My cousin, 2nd Lt. Paul Butler was the bombardier on the plane. The entire crew of ten bailed out and were captured over a period of two weeks and survived the war. My cousin was liberated at Stalag Luft 1, Barth-Vogelsang, Prussia in 1945.

Among other facts, the report lists the engine S/N’s and the S/Ns of the 11 Frigidaire .50 Cal MGs.

I don’t know what the ammunition complement was for the 11 MGs on a B17 but it must have been considerable.

Notice on the report that the highest ranking crew members were 2nd Lts.

Without being able to cite documentary evidence, I’m pretty sure general policy was to destroy any captured armament in aircraft forced down in German territory and, I’m guessing here, British. During the Battle of Britain hundreds, at least, of German rifle-caliber MGs in usable condition could have been obtained from downed airplanes, and yet I’m not aware of any use of these on behalf of Britain during the war.

One of the ongoing topics of gun-related web forums is “did country A use the small arms of country B.” In remarkably few cases did such actually take place on any formal basis. Mostly they were chopped up for scrap and to keep them out of the hands of those the powers that be didn’t want armed. Jack

Checking some manuals - Yes there are a lot of US weapons listed.
I wonder about the Reisen MP - wasnt that a USMC gun?

Ammunition was not listed in the known manuals - Even there are Folders these are mostly empty or has only major infos. These manuals are too early.

In the early years hole armies and countries where booty. Mostly Mauser systems often 8mm Kalibers.

The late war was different - ongoing battle and mostly a retreat for the Germans. The pure number of captured weapons was low and then the problem to transpot stuff back. The uppermost new troops or Volkssturm units run short in weapons - The average armament was app. 30%. If they had US weapons in big numbers - they would have given them to these units.

A lot of US planes and spare parts where available in late war Germany - special Kampfgruppen where equiped with US fighters and bombers for special operations. Guns, engines and ammo where delivered from crashsites directly to these units.

BY CHANCE _ Somebody has a german made steel cased HE projo 50 BMG ???


I have never seen or heard of German WWII production of US small arms ammunition (30-06, 30 Carbine, 45 ACP and 50 Browning). In fact, there have never been even rumors as far as I know. I contacted a German collector and he has also never even heard rumors of such production. He said that at the end of the war, some old captured rifles like French weapons were issued to the home guard units, but these all had captured ammo, frequently as little as 5 rounds.

Chris Punnett in his book 30-06 mentions that DWM produced 30-06, including FMJ before WWII but this was entirely for sporting use.

I sent an email to Woodin Lab and Bill has never heard of any of these calibers being produced by the Germans during WWII. The 6.5mm Dutch cartridge was produced in some quantity, and a French factory made 8mm Lebel with steel case and German style headstamps which was probably for German use. There are 9mm P cartridges with altered rims which were reportedly intended for use by police in captured Webley pistols. Beyond these examples, which appear to be the exceptions, no other examples of German production for captured weapons comes to mind

Germany captured quite a few British and Russian rifles machine guns, particularly in the early years of the war but I have never heard of either cartridge being produced by the Germans.

I suspect that captured weapons, if they were put to use at all, were in applications like prison guards and police where the volume of usage was so low that the captured ammunition was sufficient.

I have seen aircraft guns, mostly M61s, that were in crashes and they are almost always a mess. The policy/practice was to cut them up, no matter how good they may have looked. At Udorne RTAFB in 1969 we had an F-4 miss the cable and go off the end of the runway, sheared the gear and hit a ditch where front cockpit forward broke off. The gun looked in pretty good condition but we chopped it up. I still have the front 8 inches of the barrels and the front barrel disk.

I’ve seen ammo from aircraft accidents (from a Stirling through modern aircraft) and it is all pretty beat up. In the USAF we always destroyed it in my experience.

I doubt any guns from crashed aircraft were ever used unless the aircraft landed essentially intact. This happened during WWII and there was a unit in the Luftwaffe that operated a few B-17s and B-24s that they had made serviciable. If the aircraft were fit to fly, then it is very likely the weapons were also and there was sufficient ammo.



The Only Recorded Use by Germany of US Weaponry in WW II was the Brandenburger Operation in the Ardennes Campaign in Late 1944, where groups of the aforesaid Special Forces ( Germans of American origin or upbringing and fluent in American English) were used to infiltrate US Positions and cause havoc during the German Ardennes Offensive. They were fully equipped with US Vehicles, Uniforms, equipment and ammo from Captured stocks.
Most were eventually captured and Executed ( caught in US uniform) by firing squad, but not before they had caused much damage and diversion of US Efforts to counter the Ardennes Offensive. One group even got quite close to Paris, before being captured.

This was the last operation of “The Brandenburgers”, a unit run by Otto Skorzeny, of Fort Eben Emael (Belgium 1940), & Gran Sasso- Mussolini’s rescue (1943) fame. Skorzeny himself survived, and died in Spain long after WW II.

Other documented use of US Guns was the recovery of several B17 Bombers and Fighter aircraft, to flying condition, complete with their armament. Their acutal use is unknown, whether only for technical examination, or for covert operations.

Now to US etc. equipment captured: North Africa–Kasserine Pass; Italy: several battles in the peninsula; Russian Front: over the period 1941-43, large quantities of US Lend Lease Equipment taken ( Thompsons from Tank crews, WWI Russian Contract Lewis Guns (BSA)on 7,62mm, and several othger less frequent weapons.

The BMG (.50cal) question with the Krigsmarine is a no brainer…The KM used 13,2 Brownings (FN made) captured in France, Holland, Belgium, etc for which there was sufficent quantities of Ammo available from captured stocks, as well as Italian new production, as it was a standard Italian cartridge for Ground use. Apart from British (Aircraft) use of .50 BMG, no European country seems to have had any significant quantity of the .50…all preferred the 13,2mm.

The use of Lewis Guns by the Volksturm can be ascribed to Dutch (6,5mm) Lewis Guns used with captured 6,5 rifles and German-made 6,5 ammo, or to the use of captured above mentioned Russian Lewis guns.
The Norwegian made .45 ACP was used a lot, as were the Colt Pistols, especially in the rear areas of the Eastern Front, as were Norwegian and Polish Browning Water-cooled guns ( 7,9x61RB & 7,9x57) , on the Railway network ( photos from a collection of Reichsbahn photos by a DRB officer on the Eastern front.).
All sorts of equipment was used for POW and Concentration Camp Security.

There are many questions about German use of Captured SA &SAA…British equipment is rarely seen, although the Germans did repack and relabel .303 mark VII ammo during 1941-42; Soviet equipment was widely used and re-issued, especially the Auto rifles and MGs; and the “WestWall” or “Atlantic Wall” positions had a plethora of captured equipment, usually with Garrison units of second class, but nonetheless, they were there.

A lot of research still has to be done regarding the Late-war disposition of Captured SA, and probably there are US and British Ordnance reports on the status of Non-German SA in Arms captured during the Post D-Day campaigns… buried in the archives along with a lot of other interesting info…

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

I have just seen a series of photo’s showing German salvage of .50 cal. MG from American bombers on a web site .
They were then mounting them on A.A. mounts for airfield defense.

The problem is I don’t remember where this was …

But I will look now.


According to German arms industry reports 100,000 .50 BMG cases were made. So far nobody knows where they went.

The Dutch also used the .50 BMG before the war already (ammo exists).

The Russian Lewis were in .303. Is there any proof for versions in 7.62x54R? Or were they rebarreled after WWI? Ammo came with the weapons from England and is still being found in Russia today. Also plenty of ammo was still available after the weapons were phased out (or put in reserve stocks) after WWI. These cartridges were necked down (in the St. Petersburg plant) at the shoulder section to fit 7.62x54R chambers and got issiued. Remarkable is that the cartridges were not unloaded prior to the modification.

[quote=“Stonewall”]I have just seen a series of photo’s showing German salvage of .50 cal. MG from American bombers on a web site .
They were then mounting them on A.A. mounts for airfield defense.

The problem is I don’t remember where this was …

But I will look now.


German field air bases were always short of everything and in particular the air defense was always an issue. Sounds like a wise decision of that commander.

When available also all aircraft guns of German origin which were used for air defense. Lots of MG17, MG81Z ad MG-FF after they became obsolete and even weapons which were just spares from active aircrafts like the MG151. Have even seen a MK103 somewhere.

The Russian Contract Lewis Guns ( see various books on the Lewis, including Truby)(" Anglitski Zakat") were in 7,62x54R, and thousands were delivered before the Revolution.
They again show up in late 1941 (November) with Siberian troops marching thru Moscow from the East (after the Soviet-Japanese NON-Aggression Pact) as part of Stalin’s “secret reserves” which turned the Germans from the gates of Moscow. ( Photo in a coffeetable book “The Eastern Front” by Greenwood.

Some .303 Lewis guns did end up in the Baltic Staes in 1920-25, along with loads of .303 Ammo and MLE and P14 rifles…the ( annexed in 1940) ammo was used in 1941 for the Militia Defence of Moscow ( along with MLEs and P14 rifles-- again, newsreel proof) and today, most of what remains of these relics are to be found in the Ukraine and the Baltic States ( as evidenced by Ammo from these parts in the last ten years, and photos by Ukr. collectors going thru stores of “old Rifles”.)

On top of the Milsurp from Britain immediately after WW I, Kynock made lots of Contract .303 for all the Baltic Staes, both Ground and Air Quality.

The Numbers of Russian Lewis GUns was quite big in 1941, as Photos of the “October” March (November New Style) Show whole regiments of Suberians carrying Lewis Guns in the Snow at the Parade.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Here is the US supplement page for the foreign ammo manual D 50 / 8a.
The page is dated January 1942. Very early.
The data isnt from captured ammo, but from older files and sources. These look like US stuff used and captured in WW.1. Even the 6mm Lee is listed but no .45 or 30M1 Carbine.

I research for US captured arms and ammo - the main result - there isnt any.
Beside the hundrets of docs and pics showing all sorts of captured stuff there is nearly nothing about captured arms and guns of US production. Thats curious. That need a closer look to documents of war economy. If it wasnt used as gun itself, it surely became material- Steel, leather, wood, brass, ect…
Need some more researches.


[quote=“Jack”]Without being able to cite documentary evidence, I’m pretty sure general policy was to destroy any captured armament in aircraft forced down in German territory and, I’m guessing here, British. During the Battle of Britain hundreds, at least, of German rifle-caliber MGs in usable condition could have been obtained from downed airplanes, and yet I’m not aware of any use of these on behalf of Britain during the war.
I belive TonyE has a photo of a British Home Guard soldier with a German MG17 from a downed aircraft.

I got some more info from a friend who is permanently researching archives for German ammunition up to 30mm.

The 100,000 cal. .50 BMG cartridges were made by HASAG for navy tests.
Also there was the order that all .50 weapons AND ammunition recovered or captured had to be sent to a destined depot for storage and possible later use.