German WW2 9x19 missing headstamp code elements

What happened to the usual metal code? The cartridge and the primer are not magnetic but the bullet is.

They simply forgot the

It is difficult to imagine a mere omission of a relatively important easily detectable marking in punctuality driven South-Western Germany. Things were still going OK in 1942, so nobody could be pre-occupied with the thoughts of their future fate and get so distracted.

sksvlad—The dnh 2 42 headstamp with the missing * is fairly common, but I agree with you that it is not a mistake but something deliberate. I have never documented a box of these ball loads. If someone has the correct box for these, I sure would like a photo. I do have a 50 round blue commercial box with a white strip across the cornor that says “Exerzierpatronen” and all the cartridges in the box have brass cases with 4 holes, no primer and 124gr bullets. The headstamps were mixed (P405 * 1 40, dnh 2 42 and Geco 9mm). I have the dnh 2 42 load with both 124gr bullets and the black 08mE bullets, but have never had a reason for the missing *. Hope someone has an answer.

Do you have lots 1 and 3 with regular markings ?

This headstamp seems to be found on several different loads. In addition to those mentioned, I have one with red neck seal and all red primer - the distinctive RWS wine colored reddish-purple that is found on commercial rounds. My impression is that ones sealed in red were police contracts. I also have the standard ball round with black primer seal. I wonder if the bunter for this lot was made with the steel-case markings, and then it was decided to run brass cases, so the case material marking was removed from the bunter. Only a wild guess, of course, but as good a reason as any for it to be missing. I believe there are other examples of German 9mm headstamps missing information, but I can’t think of an example off hand.

Mistakes do happen though. I have a WWI 7.9 brass cased round with “SE” steel case headstamp. Also a WWII era 7.9 with steel case but with brass-case marking, and a brass case with steel-case marking. Actually, I have several “ak” code brass-cased rounds in 7.9 x 57 with “St+” steel-case markings, but not sure those are errors. I suspect they were a wartime expedient, as “ak” produced very little brass-cased ammo in that caliber.

Hi John,

They made the second lot of 1942 with a

So we have this Lew:

Nobody has an answer yet?

I have not seen any answer yet I would call definitive. I am not inclined to believe it was an accident. Somewhere, I think on this Forum, some information was offered that the Germans used headstamp bunters with removable elements, because of the great number of lot numbers and the cost in treasure and time of making individual bunters for every lot number. If all of the elements of bunters were removable, and depending on how they were held together in the fixture (meaning: Would the bunter pieces stay in proper position if one were completely missing?), there are many possible explanations.

  1. Bunter was made for cases for some experiment and they left off the material code as a means of indicating it was not normal ammunition.

      I don't like this explanation because no rounds other tnan normal loadings of 9mm, albeit varied loadings, have been found in this case that I know of.  That does NOT rule it out completely of course, just reduces the chances of it being the reason.
  2. A simple error, either in the making of the bunter, or if a piece of the overall bunter-set could be missing and the bunter still operated properly, they forgot one piece during assembly.

      I am not fond of this theory either, as they seemed to have made a very large quantity of these cases.  they are not rare, as Lew pointed out, and are found on at least four loadings.  I believe that normal inspection would have caught the error before so many cases were made - almost immediately, in fact, and either the bunter would have been completed, if they used bunters made up of separate elements, or withdrawn in the case of a one-piece bunter.  In 1942, this, it seems to me, would have been considered a very minor loss.  Things were good for the German war machine in 1942, by and large.
  3. There were not enough bunters for brass-case production and so a steel- case bunter had either the case-material marking removed from the bunter, or if segmented bunters, removed from the fixture.

      Even though this, to me, is the most plausible answer to this question, I don't really care for it either.  It goes back to the year and my belief, possibly wrong of course, that the cost in time and treasure of simply discarding a bunter, or stopping the line and inserting a missing piece, or making a proper case-material piece for that line, would have been considered a rather inconsequential matter.  

I suspect all we can do is accept that partial headstamps exist, and continue to hope that some documentation is someday found as to the reason why.
I certainly have no definitive answer, or even a theory that I think is so obvious as to be likely correct.

I do, though, agree with Lew that the least likely version is that it was done by accident. I have two German 7.9 x 57 rounds, one missing the case manufacturer’s code, and the other missing all elements except the two- digit year-date, and I feel there can be no question that those are NOT accidents. These partial headstamps do exist in more than just a single incident.

A simple answer may be that the material codes were an army/military requirement and these loads were made for the police and/or SS. This is a pure guess but I’ll throw it into the mix. Does anyone have a reason this can’t be the reason???

A box of these loads without a material code would increase our knowledge. Anyone have one???



The missing part gives only information about the casematerial and form. As far we can see now, it’s only ( ) at dnh - 2- 42
So, if something should be wrong with that lot, it was easy to recognise because lotnr 2 is present and * is missing…

Maybe is the best explanation, production speed at 1942
(examples Battle of Charkow, Rommel pass the Egyptian border, German and Romanian troops capture Sevastopol, Battle of Stalingrad, El Alamein and so on) is more important than one part of a headstamp, the truth?

I have (thanks sectioning) find out, some Pist.Patr. 08 m.E cartridges with same headstamp and outside looking 100% same projectile has inside another type of iron ‘mushroom’. So, lotnumbers are easy in some cases, pretty for today’s collectors, but not a holy fact.

We must always remember that the headstamp information pertains ONLY to the case. the lot number is that of the case, not the loading lot. Without the box label, one cannot tell even who loaded the cartridge, although in some cases, we can make safe guesses based on the labels we do have. In other cases, there are no safe guesses. It is clear from many examples that cases were not always loaded immediately after production - we can see that on various box labels where the loading lot and date is some time after the case manufacture.

There was plenty going on in 1942, for sure, with the German Army. Most of it, though, was to their success, and the aerial bombing of Germany had not yet had a huge effect on war materiel production. My point was in that year, they might have immediately corrected some minor error like a mistake in a bunter, that in late 1944 or 1945 they would have totally ignored as not being of any importance at all due to the need to get every single item of war supplies out as quickly as possible.

It is an interesting topic for discussion, although discouraging in the lack of documentation about why these things, and many other seeming anomolies, happened with ammunition.

By the way, as Dutch pointed out, the “dnh * 2 42” case lot exists also with the correct case material marking, and in steel cases as well. A factory as big as RWS A.-G. Werk Durlach (vormals Gustav Genschow) probably would have had several lines manufacturing the same caliber cases going at one time, and thus various bunters. That tends to reinforce the belief it was a mistake of some sort, but I just don’t feel it was.

As I said, I am not especially comfortable with any theory, even my own, of why this headstamp with missing material code exists, or why some others do as well, in other calibers. I just can’t help feeling there was some reason for it, though.

Interesting discussion,

John, I tend to follow your reasoning. The Germans were never a bunch that cut too many corners, even during the later war years. It’s just not in their nature to show the levels of practicality known to exist in countries like Russia and the USA. They were trained to obey and stick by the rules and guidelines to the bitter end.

So usually, if they did something totally weird, there usually was a guideline or regulation behind it. This sticking to rules and guidelines was basically what cost them the war anyway.

Think we should not make a deal about it.

The guy who made the bunter made a mistake. There are many examples.

It was the 8th lot of 1944, the 7.9 producer

It seems I must read the books in my library more carefully. Lew Curtis’ great work on the 9mm Parabellum may supply the answer to this whole mystery, and it is one of the scenarios I mentioned could be possible. Under cartridge number "DN03, page DN03-3 of “9mm Parabellum Headstamp and Case Type Guide, Volume I, Headstamps: A - F,” the headstamp “dnh St+ 2 42” is shown, with the following comments:

“The most common of the World War II military headstamps by RWS Durlach, it occurs, with one exception, on gray laquered steel cases. The exception is a single specimen dated lot 2 of 42 on a brass case (illustrated). This may be simply a matter of a brass cup getting mixed into the steel case production line.”

The fact that the date on Lew’s round, evidently the only know specimen, is lot 2 of 42 seems more than coiincidental. Also, its scarcity. I would postulate that the line was actually a brass case line with the wrong case material code on the bunter, and that the error was caught straight away. Then, rather than stop the line either the element of the bunter having the material code (again, if they used bunters with interchangeable elements) was simply removed (the rounds I have seen with no material code never have the somewhat mottled appearance in that position of the head that usually accompanies striking with bunter that has had an element ground off). If they had one piece bunters, than I would suggest they did an excellent job of grinding off the "St+). Then, proeduction probably continued until that line was finished, or if there was only one line, until they got another bunter or bunter element made with the proper material code (since we know that lot 2 of 42 also exists on brass cases with the correct “*” material code).

I know this is all theory, but now we have a form of documentation, the brass cased round with the WRONG material code on it, not simply missing the code, to provide a sort of documentation for that theory.

In summary, we have, probably in the sequence they occured, brass-cased 9mm rounds from RWS Durlach with the following headstamps:

dnh St+ 2 42
dnh 2 42
dnh * 2 42

Regarding my remark on needing the box label to tell the whole story, it is interesting that on the same page, one of the box labels shown to illustrate boxes for dnh ammunition actually shows that loading lot 52 of 1944 of 9mm by “dnf” was actually loaded into cases headstamped “faa 8 44.”

Just thought this might be of interest, and maybe makes us rethink my good friend Dutch’s mention that it is probably nothing more than an error. He is right, of course, if the theory above is true, but it is an error that led to the lack of a case material on these dnh headstamps for a reason. In fact, the error was the original use of St+ on a brass case, while the missing material code in a sense corrects that error.

Again, all opinion, but this time with a little something to back it up.

If anyone is interested in 9mm Para, and they don’t have Lew’s books on that caliber, they are really short-changing themselves. I should have looked at the page in question the minute this question came up! It is source one for any question regarding 9mm headstamps!

John, You may have a good theory. There are two other dnh rounds which may be related. both have their headstamps struck out. One is headstamped dnh St+ 3 43 and the other dnh * 2 43. Both are brass case and both have dark red primers and cms.

These rounds with the struck out headstamp are seldom encountered and the reason for the strike out is not known (to me). Perhaps one of the Forum members knows.

There is another partial headstamp on German 9mmP from the period. I am writing a short article on some unusual German 9mmP for the IAA Journal which includes this item, so decided to put share this headstamp with the Forum.

If anyone has information on this headstamp, I’d be very interested.

Cheers, Lew

Lew - is that “va 5” headstamp on a brass case, as it appears oto be on my screen, or is it steel? Important to know.

Lew - I don’t know why they struck out those headstamps. However, I have the same identical one as one of yours, “dnh * 2 43” struck out in the same way as yours, and with red seals. However, I also have the same headstamp, with red seals as well, that is intact - never struck out. These red seal rounds were usually for the police and other para military organizations. If it was meant to conceal anything, they did a very poor job, as my struck-out headstamp round is just as legible as the one that isn’t.

In 7.9 x 57 Mauser, you find some of these altered-headstamp military headstamps, sometimes with nothing added and sometimes with overstamped commercial headstamps.

How deep are the “strike out” marks? I am thinking that it might be as a result of the manufacturing process. Perhaps “tool chatter” or something else that went awry…

Just a thought…


AKMS, the va 5 headstamp is on a lacquered steel case and is loaded with a black mE bullet.

The strike out marks are quite deep, though not as deep as the headstamp, and very consistent. I don’t believe they are tool chatter.

Cheers, Lew