Helmet Test Cartridges

I am doing some research on Helmet test cartridges and looking for sources and information.

I know the Germans produced P08 helmet test cartridges in 1944 and the US produced them throughout WWII (HWS Vol II pg17). A scan of current ballistic testing of helmets seems to imply that specialized cartridges are no longer used. I also have a post-WWII German helmet test cartridge.

I can find no evidence that either the US or Germany produced and used helmet test cartridges before WWII. Did other countries use helmet test cartridges and if so when and in what calibers?

Any information will be a help.


Hi Lew,

Australia produced a helmet test cartridge in .455 calibre around 1926.

Cartridge, S.A., Ball, Helmet Test, .455 Inch, Mark if any unknown. Possibly produced to an Australian Drawing.
Brass case, with one cannelure, copper primer, and unusual shaped lead projectile.
One of a number of strange looking cartridges, developed for use in the testing of steel helmets. The bullet was fired at a fixed distance, from a hand held revolver.
Specific details of the period of production is not known, however the specimen noted here was manufactured in 1926.
Identification is fairly simple due to the shape of the projectile. This weighs approximately 100 grains less than the Mk. 11 Ball, and tapers from the case mouth to a point.
455  F Helmet Test Profile 455 F Helmet Test HS copy

No. 1 SAAF, Footscray Helmet Test headstamp and profile


Lew, the Swiss did with some sort of Revolver cartridge and also there is “hear say” Poland did 7.62x25.

There are helmet test rounds in 7.62x25 from Poland, the USSR, and possibly the PRC. Dates run from 1945 to 1955.

USSR or someone else who used Soviet cases???

Russian docs do not conclude on this load.

Lew, Switzerland used up tp at least 1931 rimfire ammo (cut down 10,4 Vetterli cases) with a round lead ball from Schrapnell-grenades as helmettest-ammo. I have only a bw xerox xopy from the boxes with different velocities
10,4 Swiss RF mit Rundkugeln aus Schrapnellbleikugeln zum Helmbeschuss RF

The Germans had before DWM 583 (reformed and shortened M71 cases) with lead round ball as helmettest
Helmtest DWM 583
Headstamp here:
DWM583-BS1 Helmtest



I have the following 9 mm Helmet Test Cartridges verified from either
box labels (not in my own collection) or from sources to be trusted for
this type of information:

HP 65 II - Hirtenberger, lead RN bullet, brass primer with no visible PA
dnh St+ 5 43 - Yellow primer and case-mouth seal, Case lots 4 & 5 of 43
loading lot 1 of 44. Box shows “mixed lots” on the case lots. SI bullet. Box
in my collection.
5 GECO 9 9mm - Geco, GMCS FMJ RN bullet, green PA & CMS. Identified
only by box label.
Geco 9mm - Post war, 2 specimens, both the same with lead RN bullet, brass primer
but one with a red PA and one with no PA. Both from boxes.

These are the only 9 mm that over the years I could get with confirmed Helmet Test Identies.

John Moss

Hi Lew

Denmark used a 9x19 AMA with blue print on the head for helm test. Only know specimen from 1966. Picture from SARA no.102

Lars, the image seems not to work.

Your image was posted on photobucket which will no longer connect to the IAA Forum.

Instead you can just drag and drop the image on your computer into your post.

Just go to your post and click the edit “pencil” in the line just below your post that shows a heart, link. 3 dots and the reply arrow. This lets you edit your post.

Delete your Photo bucket link, then drag and drop or cut and paste the image in your computer to the bottom of your post and the image will be stored on the IAA Forum so bad links won’t disconnect it in the future!


Lars - is that a cupro-nickel FNJ bullet, or a lead

John Moss

Thanks RimPin. It’s a cupro nickel bullet


Great! Many thanks. Have never heard of this before.

I suspect this is another treasure that Bingst Bang turned up which all seem to be dated 1966 or 1967.


Peter this is the box…

Helmet test cartridge Zwiss Vetterli

Thanks to Dave now with a picture.

The United Kingdom seems to have used a cartridge of .500 calibre. On page 199 of Ian Skennertons The Lee Enfield book a Lee Enfield rifle is illustrated with a smooth bore 15.5 inch barrel 0.5 calibre. The term .500 Shrapnel Ball is mention in the book.
In the “Annual Accounts of the Ordnance Factories for the year 1920-21”, a listing under Royal Laboratory shows, Cartridges SA Ball .500 inch filled Dupont powder (cases from store). 19,290 at a cost of 1069 pounds 15 shillings and 8 pence.
Weather this is a round for the above rifle is not clear. Unfortunately, the accounts for 1914 to 1919 do not have any detail like this.
In the Ministry of Munitions Priced Vocabulary of Munition Stores for 1917 a .50 bore revolver by Bland is listed at a value of 4 pounds 8 shillings. Perhaps a revolver was used for testing helmets before the rifle was used. It would be interesting to see if the .50 bore Bland revolver is listed in the 1915 issue of the Priced Vocabulary, or any prior issues to 1915 before helmets were issued.
Alan David


I recently found a reference that the ballistic test for the German M16 helmet from WWI was a 13 gram “pellet” with a muzzle velocity of 240 m/sec.

This sounds pretty close to the DWM 583 round you illustrated.This case is in both versions of the DWM case list but in totally different entries indicating it was entered after 1913 but not too long after so it could have been initially produced in 1915 or 1916 for testing of the M16 helmet.

The bullet is DWM#525 and is shown as a 13g lead bullet for helmet test


My question is:
Were these cartridges still being used when the M35 helmet was adopted?

Does anyone have one of these cartridges dating from 1935 or later??


The British helmet test cartridge was “the standard commercial .500” revolver case loaded with a single shrapnel ball".

I sent articles on the dnh Helmet test cartridges to both the ECRA Bulletin and the IAA for the Journal. Since they were published, I have received quite a bit of new data and I appreciate members of both organizations for the help. I have sent an addendum for the article to both organizations.

It turns out that the dnh rounds illustrated by gyrojet above were downloaded SE rounds. A July 1943 report proposes these rounds to save lead since M35 helmets were still being tested by an 11mm lead bullet weighing 13g. This is almost certainly the DWM 583 Forensic posted above or a similar round. If in 1943 they were worrying about saving lead on helmet test rounds, then they must have still been producing these 11mm Helmet test rounds.

Gyrojet shows these rounds still produced by the Swiss in 1955, but has anyone ever heard of German rounds like this produced during or just before WWII??? I have never seen a reference to them that I can recall.