Leuchtspur .303


Two boxes of cartridges came into our local shop yesterday. The box marked “Munitions-Fabriken vorm. Sellier-Bellot Riga-Prag / 20 St. ‘303’ engl. Gewehr-Patronen” ammo caused a stir as it seems to be commercial ammo with a tracer bullet? The notation " m. roten ****tspur-Kugeln" seems to read Cartridges with red tracer bullets. The * in the word appear to be Lich. To what commercial use was .303 tracer put? And where did they go? Erzeugnungsjarh was 1930.

The other box was 50 rounds of 9mm Browning Lang ammo produced by the Hirtenberg plant after the takeover of Simson by the Nazis. It was made by Gustloff-Hirtenberg. For export to Sweden no doubt.

SB .303 significance of the R in headstamp

The .303 tracers were probably for some East European air force that used .303 machineguns. There was no Simson connection to cartridge making in Austria, though, of course, Gustloff had acquired the physical assets of the Simson firm in Germany by extralegal means. Jack


Erzeugnungsjarh is year of production, I assume. Is it possible to see the box?


My error. The Hirtenberg factory was included in the Gustloff Stiftung and I assumed it was acquired through Simson. It was renamed the Otto-Eberhardt-Patronenfabrik Hirtenberg as the war progressed.


It would be good to see the 9 mm Browning Long box as well. Likely, it is a box that is commonly encountered in the United States, with a great deal of the ammunition having been imported into this country many years ago. One interesting aspect of those boxes is that the labels were originally Spanish-language, saying “50 cartruchos para pistola Browning, cal. 9 mm alargar, (9 mm Automático)” on four lines of print. This label was subsequently covered by a German-language over-label. Note that the original Spanish label is anonymous. The ammunition for the box I mention had a headstamp of four equidistant five-pointed stars, with no other entries.

This ammunition was probably an interrupted contract for for Colombia, as the timing would be right, as is the language. In 1937, Sweden sold some of the pistols to that country, for the district of Antioquia and those pistols are so marked. This was an usual exportation by Sweden because they were simply a license holder from Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre Herstal, Belgium, for the Husquvarna 1907 pistol, an exact, licensed copy of the Model 1903 FN-Browning handgun. It is, of course, possible that for some reason, FN was not prepared or did not want the Colombian order and passed it on to Sweden. Colombia never made the cartridge in question, so had to purchase it from somewhere else.

El Salvador and Paraguay are other possibilities for this ammo, as neither produced ammunition in c. 1927, when both purchased small quantities of the FN Browning Model 1903 9 mm Long-caliber pistol. It is remotely possible that Spain may have been the original country intended for the Spanish-label, but the if made in the Gustloff-Werke era at Hirtenberg, but it would have been late in that war, probably, and we have not heard of any use of this caliber in the Spanish Civil War, although it is certainly possible. The different calibers in use and different firearms used are staggering in their numbers.

Reference: “The 9mn/m Browning Long Cartridge, Part I,” Woodin Laboratory compiled by John L. Moss, IAA Journal 443, pages 4 - 18.

I hope this is of some help and interest. In the long run, I don’t think we have any postively confirmed information about this contract. The information above is basic solely on conjecture and the timelines and conditions of the era the ammunition was made in.

John Moss

If for Colombia, as I suspect, the contract was evidently interrupted, as there is no evidence it was ever delivered to Colombia, of which we are aware. The over-label is in the German language, so the contract was probably not for Sweden. While never officially adopting the Model 1903 FN-Browning, Belgium did use some, as did the Netherlands. Pistols of both Belgian and Swedish manufacture marked with the intials “S.A.” Suomen Armeija - Finnish Army) indicate Finland used some, and it is know that Imperial Russia and Estonia had bought some, as did Serbia. All of these were very small purchases by any military standards. All of the European countries associated with use of this pistol, other than Sweden, were either invaded more or less successfuly by Germany during WWII, or were allied with them, in the case of Finland. It is not unlikely that the Colombian contract was blocked and the ammo relabeled and retianed for the use of Gross Deutschland, who must have captured some of these weapons, and perhaps some Le Française pistols of the same caliber, although France only produced 4,900 of those.


Here is .303 Brit box for those who like visuals


Sksvlad - Fabulous label. The Riga-made .303s in both ball and tracer are well-known to collectors of this caliber, but I don’t recall ever seeing a box label from the Riga factory for either loading before. I used to collect .303, but gave it up years ago. I still enjoy seeing any good .303 stuff though, and I am sure everyone else will like seeing this very scarce label.

John Moss


These are tracer rounds made for the Latvian Air Force which was equipped with aircraft armed with Vickers and Lewis guns.

As John says, these and the ball rounds are well known in .303 circles. I have never seen an AP though by S & B, Riga.

The rounds I would like to identify and which are certainly from the Baltic states, probably Lithuania, are the .303 ball and AP rounds headstamped “H25 V”.



Allow me an uneducated question; why is the box labeled in German?


The Diction “Vormals Sellier und Bellot” was used by the Germans from 1939 to 1945 for the S&B plant at Prague/Vlasim ( Headquarters & Old Factory Prague, new factory Vlasim). As the Riga plant was owned by S&B ( as was the Plant at Schoenebeck am Elbe, in Germany), they both were “German Takeovers” after the Occupation of the Remaining Czhechoslovak state, and formation of “Bohmen-Mahren” and “Slovakia” in March 1939.

The Riga Plant was occupied by the Soviets in 1940, when they annexed the Baltic States, but because of the various treaty obligations under the “Non-Agression pact” with Germany, the Plant itself was not " confiscated" since it was now German property.
In 1941, the Germans re-occupied the Baltic States in their Operation Barbarossa, and retained them till 1943-4; so the Plant was again under direct German Control.

I would assume that the Label , in German, was for “Repacked” pre-war ammo
for either use by the Germans with Baltic Aircraft, or for export to Finland ( which also had .303 Aircraft MGs, or for “other” local use.

Note that the packet says " fur Gewehr " ( for Rifle!!!), mentions “.303 ( engl)” and NOT “7,7mm” ( used by Riga before 1940) or Finland.

Given that it obviously was not for supply to Wehrmacht units ( commercial type label) but the Baltic States (a) had a large number of .303 Rifles, and (b) had Locally-raised “SS-Polizei” Batallions, especially for the “Special Solution” and anti-Partisan usage in Neighboring Byelo-Russia and Ukraine, this may have been a “Re-issue” to the SS and similar units, which it is known, had a separate supply system, and until late in the war, did not get their ammo thru Wehrmacht ( coded) supply chains.

The fact that the ammo is “pre-War” fits in with the various “Commercial” type 7,9mm ammo also found in this general area, in Battle use, from 1941 to 1944, by “non-Wehrmacht” units, as evidenced by diggings in the Ukraine and Belarus in the last ten years. ( photos on Gunboards, etc.)

Where did this packet come from ? ( if from the Ukraine/Balkan states Milsurp of the last ten years (both .303 and 7,9mm),then most probably my assumptions are correct.)

BTW, I have two packets, (.303 in 5 round chargers), SB R 39, and the packet dated 1940, “Marka VII” 7,7mm. I acquired these some thirty-forty years ago ( Australia).
It took several years to find out who made them and why.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics


The shop owner told me the rounds are nickle bullets with a red primer. Rim is marked SB at 12; 30 at 3; R at 6; 19 at 9. He is trying to get a photo of the round and head stamp for me. The box came in a purchase off the street.


Posting 2 photos here as per Joe’s request. Cool headstamp, by the way.


Municion.org has the following annotation along with this Riga headstamp - Marcaje entre la caída del imperio Ruso y la conversión en la fábrica estatal Veroks (1937). What is Veroks?


The above translates roughly as “Marcaje between the fall of the Russian empire and the conversion in the state factory Veroks (1937)”.


According to this source http://www.munitionssammler.com/forum/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=2384 VEROKS is/was a company name in Riga.
Didn’t they also make .303 in later years with a styled V in 12’ and two digit year at 6’? (late 30/early 40s?)



The stylized “V” headstamp has been argued over quite a bit, and not sure anyone has any real documentation for it. However, I personally believe it is from Riga as well.

John Moss


From the information gathered in this thread, it appears that “V” headstamp, mostly seen with 1920s dates, is the successor to an Imperial Russian Plant from pre WW I…and that S&B acquired this plant in the early 1930s, and changed the headstamp to “SB R” in the mid to late 30s ( going by the headstamps seen on this board and gunboards over the years.).

The Reference in “muniton.org” probably refers to this change from Verok to S&B. There is no sign of “V” headstamps after the early 1930s, and none of “SB R” before the late 1930s. The “1937” in the municion.org " reference" probably indicates the change-over.

Be that as it may, the German indication in the Packet Label to “Gewehr” indicates that the ammo was for rifle use…the Germans were very particular about usage markings on ammo (“nur fur Gewehr, nur fur MG,” etc).

SO the label is a sign of either a re-direction of use, or a repack during the period 1939-1943-4 when the Germans were in control of the Riga facility.

Now we have to ascertain about the Use this ammo was put. Whether SS (Local etc) with .303 calibre Rifles, or elsewhere with captured .303 Rifles…a factor little known about of all the (captured) Beutewaffen used by the Germans in WW II…the .303 calibre features only in (rare) ammo repacks after Dunkirk and Greece, but of Rifles in use, nary a skerrick in either documents or Photos.
BTW, the Italians in North Africa did re-use .303 captured in early battles, the Bren Gun being the foremost captured .303 weapon ( superior to the Breda M1930) used mostly by “independant units” like the Bersaglieri (Photos exist).

But that is not a " regular re-issue" but a battlefiled expedient…just like the Australian “Bush Artillery” at Tobruk, which recovered a lot of Italian Artillery and ammo, and used it during the long siege of Tobruk, often with rudimentary sights made locally. ( The Italians before abandoning the guns usually removed or smashed the Gunsights).

WE may have to wait for some Photo indication of German use of .303 calibre weaponry to see where this “repacked” Ammo was destined.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


I have never observed German repacks with the full manufacturer name on it and the wording “Kugeln” is also a term a German would not use in particular not if he is working with ammunition.
Sounds much like a non German speaker created this label.


Dear EOD,
In my previous posts, I mentioned that this was NOT a Wehrmacht type of Label, being that the SS and other NON-Wehrmacht organisations in Nazi Germany (up till 1943 or so) acquired their ammunition thru “Commercial” Channels and from stocks of “Occupied Countries”. That explains the Use of the Name “Vormals Sellier & Bellot” ( “Formerly S&B”), as a commercial designation.

You may be correct that a “non native” German ( or “Non ordnance”) Person prepared the label, being in a “German” Factory in a NON-German Country, and the label was probably prepared After June 1941 ( Barbarossa).

Has anyone seen a Letter-code Wehrmacht Packet label for S&B, Riga,???
( in 7,9, of course)

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


The box was made in 1930. There was no Wehrmacht, there was no SS gathering ammo and no occupied eastern countries. The term Kugel was may be used in the hunters language - but hunters and tracers ?
Annother possible scenario - may be made for Austria or Swiss. Talking annother german dialect with several different designations.Kugel, Lichtspur, ect.
The caliber wasnt used in Germany - only captured weapons in 8mm - but in 1930 where no captured arms. Very uncommon label