Nambu 8mm by "B&E Cartridge Co. Inc."

I mostly only buy full boxes of ammo but I made an exception for this one, an uncommon find around here:


Very nice condition. Thanks for posting. I think that B & E were the first in the USA to make this cartridge. Some reloaders had formed various other cases to 8 Nambu, including .38 Spl which was brass cheap and easy to obtain. A man named, as I recall, Spence, sold reloads like that, with the caveat that every case would split on firing. They did, but did no harm and functioned very well with decent accuracy in at least my own Type 14 (wish I had it back!).

John Mossx

Here’s a sectioned one showing the machined nature of the case.


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The cartridge cases were machined out of solid bronze stock, the bullets of solid copper, according “Military Pistols of Japan” by Honeycutt.

Is this laborious method of construction unique to this manufacturer?

Ditto: the use of bronze for cases?

The bullets are lead, with lubaloy or a similar copper-based plating. The cutaway surprised me that the case is a lathe-turned item; surely not a cheap way to make cartridge cases. Jack

I wonder what the overall cost per case is when considering all the different machinery and steps taken in case drawing and annealing etc compared to using a turret lathe, which can produce a case from bar stock?

  1. So, then Honeycutt was incorrect in his book, saying that the bullets were solid copper?

  2. And, has bronze ever been used to make cartridge cases before or since?

Yes, Honeycutt was incorrect in saying the bullets were solid bronze, They are copper-coated lead. I am not at all sure that the description of the cases being made of Bronze is correct either. I am no metallurgist - as a scientist I would make a good street-sweeper. However, they look like brass to me. Whether they are 67%, 72% or some other mixture in making brass, I simply don’t know.

John Moss

Do not take “bronze” too literal. “Commercial Bronze” was used as a name for brass with 90 percent copper, also called “copper alloy 220”. Copper alloy 210 was “Gilding” with 95 percent of copper. See MIL-C-21768A.

Pellen - thanks for the information. Way above my pay grade. I still think it is an error, because I doubt at the time those rounds were made anyone was using copper alloy 220 to make cartridge cases. Only my thoughts - no documentation. I base some of it on the look of the cases. I think 90% copper alloy or “Comme5rcial Bronze” would show the darker bronze color more than these cases do, the cases for the B&E looking like what we call “brass.” Not very scientific, I will admit.

John Moss

Back in 2002 I wrote a short article in our club magazine (SARA) about this particular cartridge. The reason being that there is a possible Norwegian connection. During my research I found it mentioned in the July 1954 issue of The American Rifleman. Here it’s stated that the B & E in the company name stand for Bard and Engabrit, which probably are “Americanized” versions of the Norwegian first names Bård and Engebret. The distrubtor is Osborne Klavestad, which is also very Norwegian.In 1963 the headstamp is shown in Cartridge Headstamp Guide by White & Munhall, but no mention of the letters B&E. Then in 1892 Ian V.Hogg in The Cartridge Guide says B&E stands for Benson & Engstrom, which is repeated by Jorion & Regenstreif in their book Culots de Munitions Atlas of 1994. So now the big question is:what does B&E stand for?
The description in AR also mentions that the bullets are made of swaged copper, and cases are turned from solid bronze.

Hi vidar,
The name sounded familiar.

Found color…1975 picture.


The Stagecoach Gun Museum, Shakopee, Minnesota.

The book.

A postcard, front and back.

About 45 years ago, it was my favorite place to visit!

Minnesota is well known for its early population of Scandinavian immigrants.

Once again, regarding the construction of the bullets for the B & E Cartridge Co. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, distributed by Osborne Klavestad of Shakopee, Minnesota, it is not impossible that some swaged, solid-copper bullets were made. However, in 50+ years of collecting this caliber, along with all other auto-pistoll cartridges, I have never seen a major variation of the B & E bullet from the one virtually always encountered in their cartridges.

A revisit to my colletion of 8 mm Nambu and my library file on this caliber, reminded me that this subject was discussed before, at some length. As a result of a question from my friend and former colleague Michael Carrick, acting then as “Answer man” for the now defunct Gun Report Magazine, the question of the bullet material came up, my reply to him on September 7, 2004 was as follows:

“I found a duplicate of the B&E 8 mm Nambu cartridge. Had only one, but decided to tear it apart. The case are definitely turned, not drawn. However, the bullet tn this one, which is of the same “look” and the same ogive, including the small shoulder just above the case mouth, of every other B&E round I have seen, is copper-washed lead. (JLM note: this might not have been technically correct as I am not schooled enough to tell if the copper coatining was a wash, or plating). Inside the case, at the base of the bullet, the copper is smoother and give the look of being thicker than on the portion of the bullet exposed in an asembled cartridge. However, one swipe of a file took away all of the copper and exposed a pure lead bullet. I sectioned the bullet down to just short of one- half of its diameter. It is, without question, a lead bullet.”

The earliest mention I have of this cartridge is from the July 1954 issue of the “American Rifleman” magazine, page 53. It is a short, one column article on the B&E Nambu rounds, authored by one of the NRA’s answer-men, initials J.S.H. I don’t recall who that is. However, it was clearly, by written content, the result of an interview with Osborne Klavestad. He did not comment, or at least he is not quoted, on anything to do with the bullet. The article does describe the round as having “cartridge cases turned from solid bronze stock instead of being drawn, as cases usually are. The 95-gr. bullet is swaged from solid copper. The cartridges are loaded with DuPont Pistol Powder No. 5066 to a velocity of 1000 f.p.s. Western pistol primers nNo. 1-1/2 are used and these are both noncorrosive and non-mercuric.” These seem to be conclusions drawn by the author of the article upon examination. Since the bullets are totally coated with copper, it is possible that he assumed they were solid copper. It is also possible that they were an early attenpt at a solid copper bullet, although after years of observation, I am skeptical of that.

The American Rifleman article identifies the initials “B & E” as "Bard & Engabrit. Considering when the article was written, and the connection with Mr. Klavestad, I tend to think that is and accurate identification. I do not know where the names “Benson & Engstrom” came into the picture. It was some time ago, because I made a note on a xerox of another mention and picture of the box, from the New Zealand Cartridge Club Bulletin, Issue 133, June 1974, Page 2, that says simply “Benson & Engstrom?” as a wuation.

My notes to Michael Carrick were repeated by me with a request for confirmation of the existence of a solid-copper bullet connected with this ammunition in the IAA Journal Issue 440, Nov/Dec 2004, page 48.

The American rifleman, this time a blurb authored by “R.W.H.” in the issue of March 1987, page 62, which repeats the assertion that the bullets were solid copper. It also mentions that the “B&E Cartridge Co. of Minneapolis made Nambu ammunition in the late 1940s and early 1950s.”

I still have the case and the crudely sectioned bullet I did so many years ago (not like the fine work of Paul Smith), along with three minor variations of the ball cartridges, and a dummy round that has a solid head (no primer pocket at all) with a little steel loop inbedded in the base, likely for a key chain, and all have the lead bullet as have had every specimen of this cartridge I have ever seen.

If anyone has a specimen with a provable solid-copper bullet, I hope they will inform this thread. Again, it is not impossible, and I realize that.

John Moss

The American Rifleman items by “J.S.H.” were by Maj. Gen. Julian S. Hatcher, U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, retired. With his long experience in the intricate details of all aspect of ordnance work, especially small arms, it is unlikely that he would have mentioned bullets swaged from solid copper if they were merely copper plated lead.

“Hatcher’s Notebook” is a fascinating read.
I believe R.W.H. was R.W. Hunnicutt, but I don’t know much about his background.

Thanks Dan. I once had the book showing items from the Stagecoach Museum, but never made the connection to B&E Cart.Co. My interest is what the letters B&E stand for. Bard and Engabrit seems to have been supplied to Hatcher by Klavestad. The names Benson and Engstrom must have come from somewhere. Engstrom (Engström) is a Swedish last name. Benson isn’t that easy. It could be a version of Bengtsson, which is a Swedish last name that’s also found in Norway. I’m just wondering if all these first and last names are correct for two persons. The box says “Pat.Pend.”, so there must be a registered patent. The B&E Cartridge Co. Inc. must have been registered, and the records might supply the names of B&E.

I have read Hatcher’s notebook several times, aside from using it for reference to small parts of it over the years. I have a great respect for his knowledge. I have left the question of the bullet material open, but regardless of what is written, the proof is in the specimens of B&E ammunition that exist today. It is not a rare cartridge by any means. Again, every specimen I have ever seen (at one time I had a partial box of them, but as is my usual practice, I retained only those for my collection and one for the box, which I still have) has a copper-coated lead bullet. I await someone bringing to light one with a solid- copper bullet. It has not happened yet, but again, I do not deny the possibility of their existence. It is hard, though, to prove a negative, which to this point, in my opinion, it remains.

As to the names, it would seem to me that the distributor of the ammunition, Mr. Klavestad, would have known the names of the principles involved in the manufacture of the the product that he was selling for them. I wish I could recall what made me write the other two names on a copy of one of the articles, and why I wrote it with a question mark.

John Moss


I have the same box, gotten in the 70thies from the US. (Same hs and Minneapolis-Box)
All of the loaded rounds in the Box (around 45 pieces) had a copperwashed lead bullet…no signs of a solid copper bullet.

I do not know exactly, but by comparing copper and lead density, this size of bullet, made from swaged copper must be significant lighter, as the ones in my box made from copperplated/washed lead…(which are about 95 to 105 grs)
A swaged copper bt of the same size as the cw-Lead bt, will than have only about 75-78grs
Just an ide, but I am not a metalurgist…

Wow! I have a vague memory of my family stopping there when I was a kid, (mid 1960s’), on some long forgotten camping trip, (camping, for my parents, was a trailer with all the comforts of home except a TV. For my sister it is a motel room…).
Thanks for that trip down nostalgia road.