High-velocity (Mondragon) cartridge

A drawing taken from the Small Arms Committee minutes in the UK together with an illustration copied from a volume titled Exposition Universelle de 1900 - Armes a Feu Portatives de Guerre by V. Lelou, Paris 1902.

Happy collecting, Peter Mackinven

Thank you Peter.



does anybody have any info about how well this concept worked? I believe these rounds were intended for early bolt-action Mondragon rifles, right?


I believe the whole idea behind the Mondragon cartridge was to make up for shortcomings in early smokeless powders. The idea basically works, but it was rapidly made obsolete by new propellant developments, plus the fact that the complicated cartridge construction did not appeal to armies that required millions of rounds of mass produced ammo. I am operating from memory here, but I think the Mondragon rifle was a semi auto that looked like a bolt action, and could be fired as a bolt action if the semi auto system became fouled.

Mondragon was a Mexican Army Engineer, who went to France and Switzerland
in the 1890-1910 period, his developments included the 6,5mm Mondragon M1894 (Rifle and Cartridge) and the later 5,2mm “Piston” Cartridge design.
These were for a Rifle of Straight Pull design, which could be mechanical semi-automatic (by a trip sear connected to the Bolt carrier) or simply straight pull bolt. He was also involved at Puteaux ( Paris) in the design of the M97 “75mm” French Field artillery piece. He also developed the M1908 Semi Auto (gas op) design, and offered it in both 5,2x68, and 7x57 Mauser. Mexico did order some from SIG (Neuhausen), but the intervening Revolution interrupted delivery.
The remaining numbers of M1908s in Switzerland were bought by Germany in 1914, for trials in the trenches…when they were found unsuitable ( “too well made for mud”) they were allocated to the Airforce and Balloon units, with the name "FliegerSelbsladeKarabiner M15 ( “FSLK 15”) and ammo (7x57) supplied for them ( Polte, I think); Gebruder Bing of Nuremberg was commissioned to make “trommel magazinen” (Drum mags) for them…that increased the capacity of the guns ( originally had a 10 round straight box mag).

Very few German issue M15s survived the war, and are sought after and expensive collector’s items today…the Mexican ones (both the early straight Pull M94 and the Semi-auto M1908, virtually disappeared during the Mexican Revolution ( 1910-1920)…the early ones because of lack of ammo, the later ones because of Hard use.
I have seen one M94 ( Guns Magazine, early 1960s)… a " relic" …described as “un poco descompuesto” ( “a bit decayed”)…it was missing all the fore wood, and very rusty…it was in 5,2x68 calibre, but complete and mechanically functioning. ( found in Northern Mexico, late 1950s).

The complicated mechanical assembly of the Internal disc (“Piston”) with the bullet set in it, and the then necking of the magnum sized case down to the 5,2 calibre bullet, was difficult and slow…also the cartridge could not be reloaded…and occasionally the piston ring broke up and blocked the barrel.

AS previously mentioned, a very neat manner to utilize the fast burning ( and erratic) smokeless Powders of the 1890s…but doomed to failure, as better Powders and case designs improved by the early 1900s.

Of course, Mondragon’s contribution of Patents to the M1897 “75” gun saw its heyday and success during WW I.

Doc AV

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More info
Here is a technical view of the magazine

The twist of the barrel (5 mm rifle) is from right to left

Initial velocity of the bullet 810 m/s
Pressure 3000 atmospheres
Powder 3.08 g of smokeless powder
total weight of the ctge 23 g
bullet weight 6.10 g
the gun was manufactured in St Etienne (with Clair brothers cooperation)

The old Cartridge of the Month section had a Mondragon round posted, but it appears that is no longer working.
Cartridge of the Month (Sectioned or Cutaway) (Old Archive)

Maybe Aaron can get it back up.

[quote=“JohnS”]The old Cartridge of the Month section had a Mondragon round posted, but it appears that is no longer working.
Cartridge of the Month (Sectioned or Cutaway) (Old Archive)

Maybe Aaron can get it back up.[/quote]

John, I found my way into the Cartridge of The month page a few moments ago, this one is still there, as large as life.


Mondragon 5.2x68mm cartridge

Here is the cartridge which was illustrated in the drawing above, it even has the same headstamp. The bullet and neck are coated with a soft wax and the bullet is attracted to a magnet.

Edit: I just noticed that the drawing which opened this thread shows a bevel to the extractor groove, my specimen has a radius at the front of the bevel, typical of early Rubin designs.


I had one of these, purchased at Weston Gun Shop in Mexico City (best noted for the production of miniature guns - at our store we had a cased percussion colt about the size of one of those little souvenir 1 mm pinfire pistols. Very high quality) for me about 45 years ago for the equivalent of about a dollar. The headstamp was only “POLTE MAGDEBURG.”

I have a sectioned round and a whole one too, here is what it looks like

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I seem to remember seeing a patent drawing for this “piston bullet” type case which indicated that the cartridge design was in fact by the Swiss Col. Rubin.

Also there has been some discussion that whilst Mondragon designed the Mondragon rifles he didn’t have that much to do with their cartridge design.

Obviously Mondragon worked with the Swiss quite a bit so maybe the Patent was just taken out by Rubin for Mondragon ??

As this is not my speciality, I cannot find that reference again. Can anyone else remember that reference ?

Brad, these are the patent drawings filled by Col. Eduard Rubin on applications dated 11th September, 1894 and 29th May, 1896 (whithout a piston):

The en bloc clip as illustrated in Manuel Mondragón’s patent:

Fede, doesn’t that image on the left, shows what appears to be the piston (c’) ??

Or do you mean that the 1894 patent drawing (on left) shows the piston and the other (1896) doesn’t ?

Brad, yes, the 1894 patent drawing showing the piston is the one on the left.

Thanks for clarifying that Fede, thanks also for showing those images - I knew I had seen them somewhere. They do bring into question who actually designed the “Mondragon” cartridge ?

Brad, Mondragón’s name is not mentioned in any of the cartridge patents and these don’t even mention that Rubin is acting as an agent for someone else. I haven’t seen any evidence supporting Mondragón’s involvement in this design.

Slics 2019 find…

THE clip!


Do you can give dimensions?
It seems by viewing a little bit too short for 8 Mondragon rounds…and it has a rounded part with the holes in it. In my rifle it would not fit, due to the rounded part in the back…it must by flat, to fit my rifle…but there where a lot of experimental things going on that time…


IF I read right:
The crimp in the casing is what the brass shoe [or did I see magnet mentioned?] rests on, which holds the bullet in place, and therefor is the “piston”, which is pushed forward until it launches the bullet when it reaches the shoulder?

This thread if fascinating!