More Polte?

On this thread

Laurent posted a P 2 17 M dated Label and that got me to wondering about this Polte 3 17 L stamped 8x50R Label and wondering what the “L” meant?
8x50 Lebel P 3 17 L

Lebel case? As a sort of equivalent to the German S case type letter?

Link to a previous topic on Polte lebel’s case with M or L: 8mm Lebel WW1 Polte made

Peelen I’m going to also repost your questuion from the other post to Laurent here.

do you have a specimen of the Lebel cartridge loaded with an sS bullet? Is it possibe to measure the bullet diameter directly in front of the case mouth? An ordinary sS bullet has only 8.2 mm diameter compared to 8.3 mm of a balle D (outside the case), which is a lot of difference for small arms. JPeelen”

I have both rounds {P M 2 17 & the P L 3 17} in question and both have a 8.19 / 8.2 mm bullet.

So an I to understand both of mine were for an sS, size bored barrell?

If so, why? And why not with the same “M” if a mark noting the sS bullet?

Thank you for the diameters. I personally do not think that barrels with German bore dimensions for these cartridges were made. My impression is that, as an emergency measure, “wrong” German bullets were loaded into Lebel-type cases to be fired from captured French weapons.
It will work more or less, because on firing, the 8.2 mm sS bullet will set up and expand into the 8.3 mm grooves. But due to the inevitable gas loss at the beginning, I very much doubt that the result can be ballistically up to an original balle D from the same weapon.
It shows how desperate the German situation already must have been in early 1917.

Pete, I know.

He told me the Germans found a bunch of unloaded Lebel cases they used.


Very interesting thought.

Thanks also Wm & that also make sence assuming Peelen is correct in his assumption.

edited again to add

So then, I think it must follow that what JPeelen correctly noted above is that the the “L” does note it was for the Lebel, BUT with an undersize bullet.

Yes? No?

hello Pete,

as far I have found out now, Germany has not produced Lebel with the “correct” bullets size in ww1 and before. Even DWM (and Polte) used undersized bullets compared to the french ones.
Tommorow I will show some drawings and measurements…too late now for old people :-)
In ww2 is a different story, as Germany occupied most of the factories, and they produced for the germans in the original configurations from mod.32N.

Very interesting Peter, can’t wait to see the drawings.

Think these are my only two German 8x50’s & that they both have ‘under size’ bullets, makes it a bit hard to understand the WHY?

Did the German military chamber weapons in 8x50?

There seems to be from my little knowledge of the timing & firearms used by the German military as apparently initial testing was relatively long before these, why these would come in being. Unless as Jochem puts forth for possible sabotage or perhaps saveing gilding metal / brass.

Here you find the DWM cases (Nr. 472) AND the bullets (Nr.353A for the spitzer one) belonging to this cases:

The Bulletbook of DWM gives the dims for the bullets to case 472 as follows:

It means, the bullet diameter is given as 8,00 mm, not 8,2, or 8,30 like the french Lebel one…
I also show excerpt from Hülsenbuch DWM, which gives diameter for Balle D (german version) only as 8,00mm. Weight is with 12,8 (GMCS with lead core) the same as the longer french solid copper bullet…
Here the page from factory book:

IT IS UNDER the green arrow, which indicates an OTHER cartridge.
The 2 lines beneath describing the 2 types of Lebel bullets, showing clearly only 8,00mm

The Polte 1917 ones (i took one apart), has a bullet of 35,16mm lenght and 12,78 to 12,8 Grams (197/198grs), and a diameter of 8,18/8,19mm. The powder charge was 30,9grains of flake grey powder (not exact, as powder detoriated, and had eaten up the base of the bullet already…see photos)

I do not have an original DWM one, to measure it. If someone has a DWM 472 cartridge, I would be happy to get the measurements of the bullet…

I show further Drawings of FritzWerner Maschinenfabrik Case of 8 Lebel (also with small bullet room in casemouth)

Also for WW2, the drawing (not givings dims) from HAK (Hanseatisches Kettenwerk Hamburg, which operates in the war several french factories)
There was no need to use emergency german bullets, as the french factories producing all things under german control like before for France itself…)
Only the headstamp changed sometimes to german code stamps (but not always)
8 Lebel by HAK Hanseatsches Kettenwerk

Some more french docs:
110003-lebel Bodenformeen bis 1915 und nach 1915, Geschosse 8,32mm
The french bullet drawing of Mod 32N:

The next one, the german paper for use of foreign material, indicating for the balle32N a larger neck/body diameter

As mentioned before, it is unclear, why the germans made bullets with significant smaller diameters, as the french where using…
The DWM one, with 8,00 mm (resp. Nr 353 with 8,08mm) must be “riding” over the fields, whereas the Polte one with 8,20 could come right, if bullet was pressed into the grooves…but still was too small.

The french ones where always given as 8,3mm, shown here no diameter variations in the PH-Bullet measured:
8mm Incendiare Touluse 1937 Durchmesser bullets Lebel

Have fun


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Thanks a lot, Peter, for the material shared.
I think I found a possible(!) explanation for the WW1 German use of 8.2 mm bullets in Lebel cases. Let us go back to the origin. Sorry if I repeat a lot you already know. Much of it is also shown in the drawings you share.

The French 1886 balle M (jacketed round nose with a large meplat) had 8.15 mm diameter. Due to its long bearing surface, it seems to have had no difficulty to expand into the 8.3 mm groove diameter of the Lebel barrel.
In 1898 the massive gilding balle D was adopted. Probably due to the much larger stiffness of gilding, the French decided to increase its diameter to 8.3 mm, the same as the barrel groove diameter. This would have meant to increase the case neck accordingly (0.2 mm is a lot). And it would have required to ream out the case neck area of the chamber.
Instead, the French decided to keep the 8.15 mm diameter for the rear(!) part of balle D (the part inside the case neck). Only the ogive had the new 8.3 mm at its base, which remained outside the case, sitting on the case mouth.

In other words: the balle D had a sharp step on its outside shape, This was no problem to the French, because the balle D was manufactured by pressing and cutting anyway.

The Germans, on the other hand, made their jacketed bullet shapes by drawing. This technology at the time could not create a bullet with a 8.15 mm rear part, a sharp step, and an ogive of 8.3 mm base diameter.

But the Germans could also NOT use an 8.3 mm diameter bullet, because this would have required a wider case neck and reamed out chambers. (Which is exactly what the French did to all rilfes in the inventory two decades later after adoption of the 32N machine gun cartridge with a jacketed 8.3 mm bullet.)

So my theory regarding the WW1 8.2 mm bullets is that this could be used in cases with unchanged outside shape (due to thinner case neck walls) and, most importantly at the time, not requiring any change to the weapons. Captured French weapons were mostly used by non-combat troops, so that the less than optimal situation of using an 8.2 mm bullet in an 8.3 mm groove barrel could be tolerated.

This explanation of the 8.2 mm bullets in Lebel case is of course only a theory. But the impossibility of using a conventional 8.3 mm diameter bullet in unmodified French chambers is in my view proven by the N marked French rifles re-reamed in the 1930s.

Edit: typos

Maybe of help?

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It shows the bullet belonging to the WW2 steel case drawing by Hanseatisches Kettenwerk in Forensic’s message. It is an SmE equivalent of the French 32N machine gun cartridge.
This is the WW2 situation indicated by Forensic. At that time all French rifles in the invetory had the case neck part of the chamber reamed out. Chambering cases holding a “real” 8.3 mm bullet was no longer a problem.
In WW1 this was not possible due to the tighter old chambers.

Jochem, Peter & Alex
Thanks for your input.
Jochem’s reasoning makes sense that it was a manufacturing work-around because of the Balle D design incorporating the crimping groove into the turning process.
I suppose to correctly create this it would have to have been made to the correct bore size and then undergo two further steps to make it fully workable. So basically a get-er-done effort.
Perfect sense to put captured weapons into quick use.

great stuff gents Thanks

Also thanks Laurent for the link to the very interesting “L” explanation.

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The “L” Stamp on the 8mm Lebel, follows the rule, already used on the 11mm GRAS Cartridge, made by Polte and SB (Schönebeck, not SB Prag/Praha)…
I show you the Grenade blanks made by them. Germany used a lot of Gras rifles, converted to “Grenade Throwers”, just putting a mortar like barrel attachment on Gras Rifles with shortened barrels…
All of them, bear the GR mark, in the headstamp…
First Impression was, that it means “Grenade”, but this was not the case. They had to mark the GRAS ones with that sign, as also still 11mm Mauser was produced and issued to Auxiliarytroops, rear troops and Eisenbahnschutz and guards from Prisoner camps a.s.o. to avoid mixup with the very similar looking 11mm Mauser Cartridge…
Here headstamps and sideview…:

If i find them, I will show (later) the “guns” belonging to that ammo…

Peter P


Thanks Peter and also very interesting but as to why the need for the “L”, it’s not like the 8x50R fit into much else? But I suppose the typical military need to dot the i’s & cross the T’s.