ID 8 mm Lebel Cartridge Type

I was asked a question about an 8 mm Lebel Rifle cartridge, concerning what type of loading it might be. It actually was a full-feeding clip for the Hotchkiss MG. The bullet is CN and the cartridge has a red primer seal and red case-mouth seal. It is dated from the 2 quarter of 1948.

I was surprised to discover that in a fairly large library, I had nothing at all that I would consider definitive, concerning how various loadings of this caliber ammunition were visually identified, if at all. The fact that all rounds in the clip were the same, leads me to believe it was as originally loaded, and that the red is not likely to indicate tracers, although that is simply a guess. The cartridges, by the way, are in brass cases.

Any help will be appreciated. I would actually appreciate it if anyone could post a list of the points of identification for French loadings of this caliber.

I will pass any information on to my friend.

John Moss

Cartridges are almost certainly the 1932N CNCS jacket heavy ball. French case mouth and primer seals are often quite pretty but are generally only seals, not identifiers. Jack

The 32N has a 15 g bullet (versus 12.8 g balle D) of conventional jacketed lead core design and was adopted for long range machine gun use.
The trick of the balle D, having its maximum diameter (8.3 mm) outside the case, while the part inside the case hasd only the 8.1 mm diameter of the previous balle M, did not work here.
The 32N case necks are about 0.2 mm larger in diameter, to accomodate the 8.3 mm of the balle N. In preparation for a possible emergency, also the rifle chambers were reamed out to take the new larger case neck. These rifles are marked N.
If your friend also has balle D cartridges and a micrometer, he should be able to see the difference in neck diameter between both case types.

The use of a magnet can also be used to help identify bullettype.
The the once left and right in the picture below, stick to the magnet as the presence of steel in the jacket of the 32N (left) and the AP-core (right).

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So, it appears my friends rounds are not anything but the 32N Ball round. that would make sense then, that they are on a feed strip for the Hotchkiss MG, since Peelen mentioned it was a bullet adopted for long-range machine gun use.

Thanks guys. I will pass it on to my friend. I was getting the impression that the colors of primer seals didn’t denote the loading. No big surprise. They don’t on U.S. military ammunition either.

Would still love to see a list of the methods of ID for tracer, AP, and the like, in this caliber.

John Moss

john, as shown in the pic its usually very easy to see AP or Tracer distingushed. The AP has a blackened fullcopper bullet with the steelcore inserted and is only partly magnetic. The Tracer has also a fullcopper bullet (not magnetic at all) and is for ident purposes tinplated (verzinnt). The old type normal Ball is only fullcopper and therefore also not magnetic. The 32N is as said above magnetic as it has a plated steeljacket, and the neckdiameter is thicker as on the older models, as J Peelen has explained.
The rare incendiary rounds have an other bullet form and have usually a brass colored jacket (with exceptions) and are only found in the old case configuration ( not for the 32N bullet)…
There was a very good site on this in a french forum…i think Munavia…but I cannot find it anymore…
But for the main types as pictured above, this ident will work…

I can recommend this excellent book. It was published in 2016 by Crépin-Leblond. ISBN is 978-2-70-300414-1.

Jochen and John:
Here some pics of old Model cases (with diameter of the neck) from DWM, and the newer 8mm 32N, from DEFA.

now the DEFA pic:

The bigger neckdiameter is easy to spot…


Thanks a lot for the drawings, in particular those from DEFA.

Thanks to all of you for this post I finally been able to definetly identify one of those I shall call it
miscreants called 32N after 40 years.I have quite a few of those French ones and the color identification
on all of them is often enough to pull ones hair out,that stretches over a period from roughly 1914 to the
mid 1950 I have and I posted this once quite a few 7.5+54mm French rounds most of them all colored
according to the books they are all supposed to have colored tips non has only annulus and case mouth
I am in possession of the book by (BRANDT HAMANN) Indentifizierung von Handfeuerwaffen Munition
I cannot do much with it.To me on a personel level I believe there must also be sometimes a problem
with abit older books drawings ind info before the digital revolution I have found that often given
measurements do not jibe with modern gages and proven pieces what I found was really the case in
this 32N Peelen and Forensic your description was TOPS but what I had not known was the magnetic
angel on this cartridge and that clinched it for me.The round here in question is from 1939.There is about 2 or 3 special dummy and training rounds in those Lebels they are almost impossible to get.


these are Mle1886N cartridges with a Mle 1932N bullet. There was no other type of loading in 8mm Lebel after the Second World War. For use in all 8mm weapons which in theory should all have been modified N.
No color tip on 8mm Lebel (except a very confidential experimental tracer after WW2) and no meaning for the primer and the case-mouth seal

Thank you everyone. I know about 20 times as much about the Lebel cartridge than I did over the last 57 years of cartridge collecting. I never collected that caliber, but regardless, all SAA interests me. The only Lebels I had for awhile were some odd ones from WWII in steel case, with German-style military headstamps, and they were tracers, which I didn’t know when I acquired them, as there was no identification on the cartridges to tell you they weren’t ordinary ball rounds, or I should say, no ID with which I was familiar.