Greek 7.9mm PCH headstamp

In a recent thread there was a discussion of the origins of the PCH heastamped 7.9mm ammunition that was used in Spain during the civil war. The consensus was that the P C H headstamp is not Greek.

I have 3 major types of PCH headstamps in my collection. It is my opinion that one of the types (the 1st ones shown in the scans) IS of Greek manufacture. Here are my reasons:

  1. The fonts of the numerals in the dates are identical (or very close) to the numerals in the normal Greek headstamped ammo of the same dates.

  2. TonyE writes “The British purchase of Greek PCH ammunition was for operational use of the BESA, not for trials. The initial contract dated 29.3.1940 (294/C/6271) was for 169,195,000 rounds of Ball mark Iz. There was at least one further contract for AP rounds.

The first deliveries of ball were headstamped PCH 39 and PCH 40, but then rounds were specifically headstamped for the British contract with PC 40 IZ. The ball rounds had a purple annulus and the AP rounds a green one. Some AP rounds had a “W” overstamped in front of the “IZ”.”

Some P C H 39 and P C H 40 rounds can be found with a purple annulus which would be consistent with them being part of the 1940 contract for the U.K. I would think it to be very strange if Germany was supplying Greece with ammunition to be shipped to Great Britain in 1940.

The second group is those with different fonts, arraignments, added symbols etc.

The third group is just examples of some of the boxes the ammo came in.



I hate to be a pest, so I’m not going to repeat my arguments on this subject. Anyway I still have to say that it doesn’t make much sense to me that the Germans used a clandestine code (PCH) that is exactly the initials of a well known Greek factory, whose tools, machinery and know-how was provided by the Germans, and that the same code would be used a year later by the Greek factory itself.

Nice photos of headstamps and boxes, by the way.

I think the real clincher Phil is that some of the 1940 Greek contract were marked with the specifically British designation of “Iz” for Ball Mark Iz. As you say, can’t see the German’s doing that!

See you at SLICS.

I agree with schneider that it is unlikely the Germans would use the PCH headstamp as a covert code. It is interesting that the German looking cartridge dates from the year before the Greek made cartridges. It would not be the first time that a company bought the components, and sometimes loaded cartridges the year before they set up their own production. I can easily believe the early PCH cartridge is German production for the Greek company.



I am confused. Didn’t the Greeks have a capacity for producing 7.9x57mm ammunition prior to 1939? If not, who produced the ammo with the Greek headstamps all during the 1930’s? I am aware that the 1927 dated rounds are contract loadings from FN of Belgium and Solothorn of Switzerland.

The clandestine I38A 7,9 headstamp is generally considered to be of Greek manufacture and both the heastamp of the ammo and the boxes are dated 38/1938 but since it is a clandestine item that may or may not mean anything.

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Would like to show a datasheet showing some 7,9 Mauser head stamps the German found in Greece after occupying there country. These rounds were giving to German units for practice.

It is called “Heerestechnischen Verordnungsblatt” from 1943

The most interesting part from this form is the head stamp on the right.
C/S67/7/17 “S” round black annulus.

Discription; S-Munition griechischer Herkunft.
(„S“ round origine Greek)

Now we have an official statement from the Germans in WW2 that Greece supplying the Germans in WW1 with ammo with a clandestine head stamp code in 1917. Think they fired millions with this factory code on the French battlefields in WW1.

I only would like to say; don’t believe everything is written on paper.


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Dutch, I always expected this to be German ammo which went out to the world after 1919. As deliveries from Germany or being reparations from captured/confiscated stocks and then just being “recaptured” by Germany and hence declared as Greek or what ever other country in regard.

I have seen such German documents for Swedish and French large bore Ammunition which was declared as Russian since it got captured there - and stating the same round as french later on for captured French stocks for example.
Same goes for grenades and mines which got captured in the Baltics by Russia and then being declared Russian by the Germans since they captured it again in Russia. There is certainly no doubt that these items were not made by Russia as part of their export business.

So my assumption for that WW1 7.9 is that it is German. Besides that I have seldom seen any German document stating the actual foreign manufacturer as your document here is also saying “of Greek origin” and not “of Greek production”.

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EOD, you are right.

They sold the ammo after WW1.
The funny part is, the ammo experts in WW2 did not recognize there own 7,9 German made WW1 ammo.

Dutch, hard to tell now for what reason this was done. Just strictly following the system and declaring things “by the book” or even policy which did not allow to indicate German production?
Those people working on ammunitions those days were almost all WW1 veterans and it is kinda unlikely that they would not have recognized their own ordnance.

I wish these people were still alife so we could ask them…

We must not forget we most likely are deeper into the matter than most “professionals” are. This is true for the past and today.

I agree. For instance, Colonel Lanza, the director at the Fábrica Nacional de Toledo, wrote a 1000+ pages treatise on ammunition in 1978, where he confessed it took him years to identify the caliber of some “strange” 7’7 mm cartridges dating from the civil war and later. They were .303 British.

I have this PCH 1938 headstamp and have a really difficult time understanding the discussion above without posted images. And with Phil Butler, Schneider and TonyE missing too. Could we please have the images back? Thanks.


Thank, Fede, that helps. I have a question. The boxes Phil Butler shows are marked “7,92”. I was lead to believe that Germans called this ammo “7,9” and only Czechs called it “7,92”. Was it done on purpose to label clandestine ammo going to SCW as “7,92” to make people think it was not made by Germany?

I am not sure.

I can show an example from a box label (7,92) from a dear friend with a mix of cartridges,


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Vlad, the Germans indeed called this calliber 7.9 mm.
The Czechoslovaks, when starting after 1918 their own production, more or less invented designation 7.92 mm. But they were not the only users.
Due to their (well deserved) export successes, in particular the British adoption of the Besa tank machine gun, the 7.92 mm designation found wider use. Because English language small arms literature has a dominating position, its use of 7.92 had a big influence. (Like AK-47 for weapons that are really designated AK and AKM. And the author of “The Grim Reaper” declares his intellectual surrender by deciding to knowingly do his best to perpetuate the use of a plain wrong designation by using it in his book.)
It is often overlooked that Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Turkey, China and Iran continued using “7.9 mm”.
Poland originally showed no caliber on box labels (German fashion), later 7.92, but from 1935 onwards 7.9. (Analysis of labels published by Piotr J Bochynski).
As usual in our field, the closer one looks, the more complicated it becomes.

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It is going to be interested.

We always assume that the code “CH” and “PCH” made for Spain was probably made by P25; Metallwarenfabrik Treuenbritzen G.m.b.H., Plant Sebaldushof.

Now a deer friend acquired a couple of PCH printed boxes with a mix of head stamps inside.
To my surprise there is also a P131 ( DWM, Plant Berlin-Borsigwalde) marked head stamp in one of the boxes.
This cartridge is not made for the German armed forced because the primer crimps are missing. The cartridges are all in mint condition.
Looking to the characters of the top cartridges is my opinion that the characters are very similar.

The code from DWM Berlin for Spain was the character “A” in 1937.
Could it be they replaced this code to PCH in 1938?

Any information is appreciated.


Very interesting. You never know what you will find. -Ger

As I understand now:

    • PCH * 38 with primer crimps - P25
    • PCH * 38 (inverted 38) no primer crimps - P131
      Is this the correct thought?


On July 25th 1936 Hitler decided to help Franco in Spain.

We think the factory DWM was the first who was ordered sending ammunition to Spain.

They were not prepared, and in the beginning they send ammunition with normal German lot numbers to Spain.

You must know that all ammunition made for the German forces were made to; in German “Abnahmebedingungen”. Criteria, how a part must be to get accepted by the German forces.

Cartridges that get exported did not have this level. It cost money.

For example, to make a primer crimp they need a machine and personnel. Also by P413 the annulus colour was missing.

I made you a picture that this way of manufacturing is visible.


In 1937 they set up a code system were factories became a secret code.

A : DWM ; A = P131, AI = P413

B : Polte ; I = P, II = P186, III = P207 IV = P154, V = P345

C : RWS ; I = P120, II = ? , III = P151

D : Hugo Schneider D2 = P490, D3 = P370?

CH/PCH ; möglich Kopp, Treuenbritzen

As you see, the list is not complete.

The marking “CH/PCH” is written probably (möglich). We cannot proof it was Kopp

The pictures with the four head stamps my friend send me are for me very important.

First, they came out a PCH boxes from 1938.

The characters of the top cartridges look from the type the same.

In 1938 cartridges that were clearly identified as German cases were not used for export to Spain. Sometimes we are lucky like this box. For me this P131 case came in the wrong box during the production. Perhaps it lay somewhere on the floor and was throwing by somebody in the wrong case box.

The other two head stamps from “CH” and “PCH” with additional stars in the head stamp looks different to me. The character type is different. The year is facing inside. Could be an other manufacturing street, case plant, lot number. I don’t know.

Perhaps somebody in our forum knows more.