How many cases were in a case lot of German 7.92 cases?

I have three damaged 7.92 Cases that came from a crashed Me110. The headstamps are:

“P120 S* 11 39” and “P181 S* 8 39”

I managed to acquire inert rounds headstamped:

“P120 S* 9 39” and “P181 S* 9 39”

The seller told me I would be lucky to find the rounds with matching lot numbers. How many cases were in a lot? Also, is there any hope of me finding the “actual” headstamps? I would need two of the P120.


Thanks for that. The guy I got the rounds from told me there were 200,000 rounds in a lot.

What do you think the chance is of two of the P120 lot 11 of 1939, and one of the P181 lot 8 of 1939 surviving? I am not worried about the projectile type as the rounds cooked off in the heat of the burning aircraft, so the cases have separated at the shoulder, as that was the weakest point due to the rounds being in belt links.

The inert P181 round could have been made in the last few years, it has no signs of any deterioration whatsoever, which is not bad considering it is nearly 70 years old. Did WW2 German ammunition factories remove the annealing colours and clean the cases to the standard of sporting ammunition? WW2 British .303 looks quite good compared to some stuff from other countries but still has marks from the manufacturing process clearly visible. The cases can often be patchy as well.

Falcon - ammo can be made to look quite good, but that is beside the point.
annealing marks are often left on cartridges so that the military inspectors can be sure that the cases have been annealed. Good looks is not a criteria for military ammunition, but believe it or not, it is for commercial ammunition. I can tell you that from working behind the counter for 36 years in a very large gun shop that handled a very large amount of ammunition. Often customers with little knowledge would pass on very nice surplus ammunition because of the “corrosion” on the necks (the annealing colors). I had people pass on brand new ammunition (shooters, not collectors, the latter of which would have perfectly good reason to) because along the line somewhere the box got a little tear or rumple in it. After all, that probably “ruined the ammunition in the box.” Marketing ammo is easier if the box is attractive, and the cartridges are all shiney looking! Believe me, it is true.

I can believe that with commercial ammunition. I am wondering why the Germans went to the trouble of removing the annealing colours and other marks left during manufacture.

[quote=“Falcon”]Thanks for that. The guy I got the rounds from told me there were 200,000 rounds in a lot.

What do you think the chance is of two of the P120 lot 11 of 1939, and one of the P181 lot 8 of 1939 surviving? [/quote]

Very good.-:)



When I lived in Denmark in the early 70’s I met folks in the black market who showed me thousands of cases of German ammo which were abandoned there when the troops left . Supply troops don’t stick around when the protection leaves and they seldome sprint off with their goods.

Albert Speer said that German war production was INCREASING in 1945 in spite of the constant bombing.

Much of the early dated 7.9 which still shows up by the case was given to secondary units which saw little or no combat.

My old pal Sam Cummings (INTERARMCO) bought up tons of this stuff along with thousands of guns literally for pennies and kicked off the greatest gun and ammo collecting era in the USA. If the government and criminal misuse of his products had not been a constant thorn there would have been much more.

Some of you fellow oldies might remember that we used to be able to buy 55 BOYES and 20mm LAHTIs and even 37mms through the mail before idiots started using them to try to blow bank vaults and shoot fire engines.

Having met and kept in touch with Sam Cummings when he lived in Monaco-he had accepted to be an honorary member of our French Ammunition Researchers Association (when it was founded in 1978 as a branch of ECCC- now ECRA)- I am happy to agree about the fact he was a very fine man who did a lot for the Arms and Ammo community.

His passing away was a great loss for most of us.


Sam was my pal but I doubt that he tried much to be a “fine man”. He enjoyed stiring the pot more than making money ( after he had plenty ). For the last several years of his life he had to stay in Europe to stay out of jail. He was quite good at coming and going covertly. His property in Virginia was under almost constant watch by our BATF.

He and his VP of international purchasing and sale , Tom Nelson , were the real thing. I made money and had a great experience every time I saw either of them.

Tom is still alive and runs a business, “Collectors Armoury” , in Virginia.

From the works of Kent, Sharpe and others, all agree that the average German case “Lot” was 180,00 cases, based on the life of the tooling (draw dies,bunters, etc.) This applied to 7,9mm cases, whether brass, plated or Lacquered steel. 9mm Pistol case Lots usually ran to about 230,000.
The 7,9x33 Lots were the same as for Rifle (ie, 180,000).

New dies gave a different “case” and anyway, a 180K lot was a manageable number.

Loading Lots , again,(for ball) usually matched Case Lots in size, but the special loads could have have been as low as 60 K of cartridges.

Loading Lot sizes depended on Powder Lot size; with Primers, these were made in “Millions” because die design was much simpler, and wore down less.

Can you imagine withdrawing a lot of 1 million cartridges because of a fault in a few??

Components were continuosly monitored, before assembly. The the finished cartridges were given the once over, before being released for “use”

Doc AV
AV ballistics.

So the search continues.

Dutch, do you have the P181 round? You must have misread it as P131.

pbutler, do you have a picture of a box label for the P181?

If anyone sees either of these rounds anywhere, please could you let me know.




I have an early one from 1936.


[quote=“Falcon”]So the search continues.

Dutch, do you have the P181 round? You must have misread it as P131.

If anyone sees either of these rounds anywhere, please could you let me know.[/quote]

Sorry, need glasses.

With the box label, I can only help you with the 4 th lot of 1939.


Thanks for the pictures everyone.

Dutch, the bottom of the “3” on my P181 lot 8 round from the crashed Me110 is also missing.

My P181 round from the crash was an SmK, as it still has the annulus there. One of the P120 round does have the bullet still in it, but a big enough hole in the case so the powder is gone. The bullet can be pulled out, but I can’t see a weep hole on there. Were all the P120 Lot 11 of 1939 loaded as PmK?

The Germans seem very comprehensive in the information they put on their labels, please could someone give me an explanation of what it all means.

Here are some photos of the rounds in question:

The tag attached to them reads (hand written in ink pen):
"Clip of three bullets - part of ammunition belt recovered from Me 110 shot down by a Spitfire during battle of Britain 18 Sept. 1940 near TANGMERE SUSSEX. It was buried six feet in the ground.

Apparently the belt is a “Gurt 17 n.A”, it would be nice to find three links of that as well, then I would put the “relic” rounds next to them rounds in as-hew condition in a frame with the tag so that they could be displayed on the wall.

Line 3 should read Propellant, dimensions, manufacture, year & lot

Thanks for that picture, it explains it perfectly.

@ DocAv

You wrote

Another good example