Knurled cannelure on german 9 mm Parabellum


A friend sent me this picture. Why this knurled cannelure ?


Chassepot, this is not a cannelure, just a knurling.
What is the weight compared to regular German 9x19 variants?

This knurled case is not a one of a kind. I have the same case, including lot number and date (6 of 43), although unfortunately, mine is an obviously-fired case, lacking even the primer cup. It has powder residue in both the primer pocket and inside the case. It also has a split at the case mouth.

It is nice to see a picture of a beautiful specimen of the same round, as one thought I had was that it was a reloaded case from some sort of test, but clearly, the round in the picture was NOT assembled in a case already fired once.

I know of at least one other of these knurled “dnh” cartridges, and perhaps two. They are very, very scarce, but known from more than one specimen.

EOD: The use of the word “cannelure” here was not incorrect, at least from an American English standpoint. The Glossary of AFTE (Association of Firearms and Tool Examiners) defines it as follows:

“Cannelure – A circumferential groove generally of a knurled or plain appearance in a bullet or cartridge case. Three uses include crimping, lubrication and identification.”

I realize they use the term “groove” but the key is in the last of the uses they listed, “identification.” A knurled ring around the case that is used for identification of some feature of the cartridge would not require the groove, whereas crimping and lubrication would. Knurled rings around cases are often described as “knurled cannelures,” again, at least in our language.

I don’t, by the way, say that AFTE is always right, but they are a professional association of educated people, and their publications are generally pretty scholarly, and, of course, give the words in context of the study of firearms, ammunition and various words relating to the description of tool Marks

Reference: “Glossary of the Association of Firearms and Tool Examiners,” Third Edition 1994, by AFTE Standardization Committee, page 28.


John, as you have pointed out a knurling does not require a groove or cannelure.
AFTE of course can name it as they want.
And sure I saw in many professional environemnts people who were far from accurate in Terminology.

I hope someone has the answer!

I have the identical round. Bob Strauss brought it back from a trip to Europe in the late 1960s and gave it to me at a Chicago Show. I have also seen one of these rounds in the UK. I do not think Bill Woodin had one, but I could be wrong… Both rounds I have seen were like the one above, in like new condition with the identical headstamp. They have a clear primer sealer. The overall weight is 182gr.

Dutch. I could be wrong but doesn’t this knurl show up on 7.9mm blanks with reused cases? These do not look like they have been reused.

Great find!


EOD - I agree that many “professionals” are not always accurate in many things, including terminology. However, AFTE developed their Glossary for the need of their personnel, most Criminalists from various State, County and City Crime Labs, among other reasons, to insure uniform terminology during testimony in courts of law. I will have to accept their definition as being correct in regard to ammunition usage. I have found no errors that I can recall in the terminology used in the AFTE Glossary, although of course, I have not read every single one of them. We are, naturally, all free to agree or disagree on points like this.

Lew - I think Bill Woodin must have had the knurled “dnh” round in his collection, because I got my empty case from him. I don’t know if his was a loaded round or a fired case, however. I am sure if he only had the one he gave me, he would have kept it. That was “the other round” I alluded too, and I felt sure you had it, hence “perhaps two” in my reference to the ones I knew about beyond my own. So now, we have four documented specimens.


The weight of this cartridge is the same as the Lew cartridge.


John, AFTE can not re-define technical terms. No matter if they are speaking of ammo or broom handles.
A groove is a groove and a knurlinig is a knurling and a knurled groove is a combination of both. The 9x19 above has a knurling.

I think somebody generalized the knurled groove to everything knurled as all he saw were knurled grooves on projectiles. I saw many such things happening when people who are not trained in metal engineering are talking about manufacturing details, no matter how much they were experts in other fields.
So yes, I’ll take the risk to earn a shit storm, but AFTE should review the meaning of this term in their glossary.

Yes a similar knurled ring is found on 7.9 cases but in that case type it is to signify a reloaded case, & the reload was a blank loading. I believe the 7.9 reloading, took place in the late 1930’s & so was relatively much earler than these 9mm. I’m basing that on 7.9’s in my collection.
Dutch will square us away on this.

Alex - much ado about nothing. Technical organizations, and progress, cause re-definition of technical terms all the time, as well as the “invention” of new terms.

To tell the truth, Although I use it, I find the term “cannelure” to be rather silly to begin with. A groove, is a groove, is a groove. The word “groove” is far better understood by English speakers around the globe than is the word “cannelure,” which you don’t even find in many English dictionary’s. I, for example, never refer to an extractor groove as an “extractor cannelure,” but thats what it is. I am also well aware of what knurling is, although I found your insert of “Knurling” to be quite interesting. “Old English,” and archaic word-usage in other languages, has always fascinated me. I once knew the entire “Lord’s Prayer” in Old English. Had to learn it as “punishment” for causing a disturbance in a classroom once. :-) Guess that started my fascination with them.

Well, no longer a “cartridge discussion,” so better shut up. I do appreciate your comments my friend, even though I may disagree with some. English is a crazy language anyway!


For what It’s worth, Hatcher’s textbook of 1935 discusses knurled cannelures and the difference between a “knurled cannelure” and a “knurled line”.

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Fede, I should have known Hatcher’s notebook would have had something on this. A great book. I would accept that line “This knurling is not, STRICTLY SPEAKING (emphasis mine), a cannelure…” Likely true, but in the real world, these identifying knurled rings for ID of specific features that have nothing to do with crimping, etc., have been referred to as “knurled cannelures” in English for my entire gun owning life. As I mentioned to Alex, I actually prefer to call a “cannelure” a groove. Even then, I don’t think I ever heard the word “cannelure” until I was in the Army. While a shooter since about ten years old, I was not into ammunition as a study or collector until after I was separated from Active Duty in the Army.

I grant public usage is no measure of correctness in language, far beyond just tech terms, but there is something to be said for common usage of some terms when it comes to communicating with people with different levels of expertise in any subject under discussion.

At any rate, an interesting subject, but one that will not be totally resolved here.


I think the “knurled groove” originally was used correctly when people were looking at projectiles with such “true” features and at some point ignorant people long ago started using it as well for anything that was knurled - simply because they did not know better and likely for mental lazyness. And this then found it’s way into publications and common knowledge.
I am speaking from experience with such things in several languages as when speaking to “ammo people” in German and when they try to say something like “crimp” and come up with words like “squeezed”, “bent inwards”, “hammered tight”, “choked together” and combinations of it all.

I know we have people here who have knowledge in turning an milling. They sure can confirm on the terminology.

This here also reminds me of the old discussion on caliber designations where the 20x138B is often referred to as “Solothurn” while it in fact is “Rheinmetall”, just to name one.

Shall we keep using incorrect terms/names only because people got used to it?
I for myself have found the answer long ago.

And last but not least sorry for derailing the thread here, will cease it now.

A bit of history in names when the US was experimenting with rimless cases for the military & just before the Cal. .30 M-1901 was developed. Winchester developed at least three rimless cases, they were called “cannelured” because of the rim undercut or extractor groove.

The examples are very modern looking.

Interesting conversations, but does anyone have an ideas or theories on Chassepot’s original question??? What is the meaning of the knurl/cannelure on this 9mm P08 round pictured above???

Chassepot, John and I would like to know!

All insights appreciated.

Pete, thanks for your input.

Chassepot, the three complete rounds I know of look fresh from the box. That could imply that there is a box of these somewhere out there. Could your friend who sent you the photo possibly ask the source of the photo who has the actual cartridge and if he has a box or knows of one. Lacking a box I think identification is unlikely.


The 7.9 blanks in my collection with the knurled ring are also steel cased & look to be factory original. So I suppose we should / could also consider this 9mm to be factory refurbished?
I don’t know about extraction or expansion marks generated from previous firings of 9mm steel cased ammunition so my point may well be moot.

Is it possible that it was simply for ease of identification, wither viewed in daylight, or tactile in darkness, like the flare gun rounds that had partial or full knurling on the rims?

Jack, this is almost impossible to feel.

The absent PA makes me think it was something factory internal/experimental.

Badger, it is indeed possible that the knurled ring on the case of the cartridges reported was for ease of identification, but I, personally, would rule out the scenario you mention. You mention ID in daylight or darkness, which I think would pre-suppose a tactical (and I am not confusing that with “tactile”) situation. These are, to my knowledge, the only known lot number that appears on the knurled cartridge cases, and they are known, again to my knowledge, in a quantity of certainly less than ten specimens. I did have a report of one with another factory code on it, but since no picture was supplied, I do not consider that as more than an anecdotal representation. That is not saying it was false; rather, simply, that no evidence, location of the cartridge, etc. was offered at the time I was told about it. Considering the commonality of most of the Steel-case German WWII 9 x 19 cartridges, I doubt that the cartridge in question was more than some experiment. Mine is an empty case, and I can discern no differences in its construction from other “dnh” coded rounds, so it would have to have been something in the other components.

Just my thoughts on this. I am generally as in the dark on this round as the rest of us.


That would indicate to me a non-issue cartridge of some sort, perhaps for some factory test. What the are, I have not a clue.

Jack, That is an interesting thought, but on my round the knurling is light enough that I cannot feel it. I tried to tell the difference between a few German steel case rounds in my hand and they were indistinguishable from the knurled round.

Thanks for the suggestion.


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