Odd 9mm, common?

I found this with some old mixed rounds, thought the bullet shape was a little odd. The headstamp is B^E 42 9 M/M (WWII British, right?).

I’m sure it’s something common, but I just hadn’t noticed a shape like that before. The roll crimp makes me wonder if someone hasn’t replaced the bullet or something.

This is a common British WWII 9mm Mark II cartridge. The bullet ogive is standard for British rounds of the period and, your are correct, it is distinctive.

This cartridge is a product of Royal Ordnance Factory Blackpool.

Just a very minor nitpick

GREAT NitPick—Thanks, I had it wrong also.

Thanks for the info. I figured it was something like that, guess I just haven’t handled many British 9mm rounds.

JJE - Thanks for the correction. That is NO nitpick. “Blackpool” and “Blackpole” are NOT the same name. I will correct my old Cartridge Headstamp Guide, by White and Munhall, and check into my other records as well. It is super important to keep these factory names straight.

Thanks again for your sharp eye!

Good point about Blackpool/ Blackpole, I didn’t know that.

The round would have been made for the Sten SMG (or the Lanchester) not as a pistol round.

Tut tut to all of you!

My article on the Government Cartridge Factories in Journal 466 tells the story of G.C.F.3 at Blackpole and clearly says on page 37 that it was re-activated in WW2 as R.O.F. Blackpole and produced the 9mm rounds (among others).

I even included photographs!


When did they start producing 9mm? 1942 must have been quite early wasn’t it?

Also, I noted the lack of a Z or 2Z but didn’t know whether it should have applied or not.

The STEN gun was developed during 1941 and first used in action by Canadian troops during the Dieppe raid in August 1942. So there would have presumably been some early 9mm production during 1941, building up to full scale manufacture from 1942 onwards. As well as being widely used by most branches of the British and Commonwealth forces, and even the Home Guard, many thousands of guns, together with their ammunition, were dropped by air to arm Resistance forces Europe-wide.

Cartridge SA Ball 9mm Mark 1.z was approved in December 1941.

No mark numeral or propellant code letter “Z” was included in the Headstamps of Mark 1.z ball ammunition.

Britain had trialled the Suomi 9mm in the 1930s, but the serious interest began in 1939 when two Bergmann MP28II guns were tested at Enfield.

Sterling Armaments produced pilot models of the Lanchester in November 1940 which were modified copies of the Bergmann and were still known in the UK as the “Schmeisser” gun. Meanwhile, Britain had ordered a number of Smith & Wesson 9mm carbines as a stop gap measure.

The earliest contracts for 9mm that I know of were placed with Winchester in the U.S. in July 1940 for 210 million ball rounds and 40,000 proof rounds. These were stated to be for the S & W carbine and for the Admiralty. A further contract to Winchester in March 1941 for 20 million rounds still referred to being “For Schmeisser gun”.

Ball, proof and drill rounds were purchased from Winchester during the war as well as ball rounds from Western Cartridge Co.

The first British production was by Royal Laboratory Woolwich in 1941. These exist as normal ball rounds and as copper washed drill rounds. Production at R.O.F. Blackpole also started with small quantities in 1941 and I have both RL and BE rounds with 41 dates.

Britain also issued quite large quantities of captured German 9mm ammunition and purchased 30 million 9mm rounds from Bolivia originally made by Hitenberger Dordrecht and headstamped “* P * 1934”. Ex Spanish civil war 9mm headstamped “G B” was also issued.

By 1942 full scale production of 9mm was underway at Blackpole and Hirwaun, with Crompton Parkinson starting in 1943.

These were all Ball Mark Iz, with Mark IIz being approved at the end of 1943 but not starting production until well into 1944.

The round in the original query is Mark Iz, not Mark II


Tony, In a previous thread (iaaforum.org/forum2/viewtopic.ph … ht=bolivia), Fede said

This makes a lot of sense to me and explains both the box and how it got to the UK. A British purchase from Franco’s Spain in 1940 or so has never made any sense to me politically, but perhaps you have a record of it. The rumor was that the G B came from Spain, but I suspect that was only because of the Spanish language on the box and fact most people had not heard of the purchase from Bolivia at the time. Since then the Spanish origin has bothered me since lots of Spanish Civil War 9mm showed up in Spain when some old bunkers were cleared out, most of it the SPC headstamped rounds which DWM was involved in, but no GB boxes showed up that I know of—perhaps some Spanish Forum members can amplify this information for us.

Is there any evidence to support the G B being Ex Spanish Civil War???

As an aside, I have disassembled quite a bit of BE and HN 1944 ball marked that looks like Mk 1 and much of it is Mk 2 loaded in the Mk 1 style cases.

Thanks for the great info Tony. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

Cheers, Lew

Lew - Explain “Mark I style cases to me.” Are you referring to the headstamp, or was there a physical change to the case for the Mark II? Something I am unaware of and need some educating. Gee - that’s unusual, isn’t it? : ) : ) In fact, I wish I knew something about my own collection. I learn something new in my own field, that I should have discovered, about once a week on this Forum.

John, I used that term because the original style headstamp on 9mmP did not say Mk 1. the Mark number was introduced on the headstamp in 1944. There are however cases with no Mark number (Mk 1 style cases) loaded as Mk 2 cartridges. It is easy to tell from the Powder. I do not remember if the case construction was different but I’m sure Tony will know.

You are of course absolutely right Lew, and I had forgotten that thread about the probable meaning of the GB headstamp.

Saying that it was ex-Spanish Civil War was just sloppiness on my part, because for years that was what the perceived wisdom was here. I don’t think anyone thought we had bought it dirsct from Franco’s Spain, but rather that it had come via one of the South American countries. In that respect part of the story now seems to be correct and that it came with the Hirtenberger stuff from Bolivia because it had been made for Bolivia.

With regard to your other point, the British Mark IIz seems to have been loaded for several months in Mark I cases that were at hand. The British Pamphlet 11 (Feb 1945 edition) simply states “A considerable quantity of 9mm Mk.2z cartridges has been made up woth cases originally intended for Mk.1z, which are not stamped with the mark.

The velocity of the Mk.1z was 1200 fps and that of the Mk.2z 1250 fps, later raised to 1300 fps in 1944. The April 1949 edition of Pamphlet 11 states:

With British 9mm. Ball Mk.1z cartridges which are not in their original packages, difficulty arises in determining whether or not they are “M.V. 1250” (Muzzle Velocity 1250 f.p.s.) since this marking does not appear on the ammunition, nor does it appear on the cartons. The following is a guide to correct sorting:-
(a) Only ammunition packed in cartons bearing work dates 1-3-43 and later is “M.V.1250”.
(b) Loose ammunition should be sorted by dates of manufacture, and only that which is stamped “44” will be treated as “M.V.1250”.

This suggests that the MV of Mark Iz was changed at some point from 1200 to 1250 fps. I shall have to look through the SAC minutes to see what I can find.

It is interesting that Peter says in his book that the MV of Mark 2z was finally agreed at 1300 fps in 1944.


Tony, I think that Pamplet 11 is what started me pulling the '44 ammo apart. You fired a couple of the old rusted gray cells.

As I read your post, the original MK2z was 1250fps and this was introduced in March 43. Does this mean nirocellous poweder replaced replaced the chopped cordite. If true this means that most of the '43 production was the 1250fps Mk 2 load. I found (or think I remember finding) the chopped cordite powder or at least an earlier powder in some of the Mk1 style cases. I wonder what type powder was used in the 1250fps loads?

Great info Tony!!! Many thanks.

John Pope-Crump just sent me the following information by email.

hi lew cannot access forum - so plse pass on. - be ammo - cases and bullets made at blackpole and components loaded at rof swynnerton, some 20 miles north of blackpole. no dfference in mark 2 components - only loadedto higher velocity. h n and c - p components loaded on-site. best wishesjohn p-c.

Great new info-will have to change my 9mmP Headstamp Guide!!!

Lew - I was very interested to see the remark Tony made in one of his answers on this thread about Western 9mm in ball loading being ordered by England. This probably explains the headstamp WESTERN 9M-M that is so scarce in the US. To this day, I have never seen or been offered a round with that headstamp other than what I had. Every round I know of came from the box I had - that’s that odd commercial/contract mixed style label that you scammed me out of (oops, I mean that I gave to you) : ) : ) : ( !!!

I knew it was a wartime contract of some sort, but never have seen any reference before to ANY contact specifically with Western although I figure that the WCC 43 headstamped rounds from Western were probably a contract for England or China.

Any idea what year the Western contract for England was?

Fatelk: See what your very easy and basic question on the B^E round has turned into? That is why most every question asked on the Forum is so potentially valuable. This has turned into an excellent min-treatise on British 9mm ammo from WWII with some points I had never even considered, much less known. Thanks for starting it off!

John /Lew

I don’t know the date of the Western contract for the UK. One of the problems is that the contract records are not detailed enough. The actual record in our National Archives is a very large hand written ledger with the contracts listed chronologically. Unfortunately it often does not detail who the contract was with.

For example, dated 4th July 1940 “For Smith & Wesson M/C carbines. 210 million ball from USA incl. 10 million for Admiralty. 40,000 proof”.

Another: Dated 26th March 1941 Contract DDS/21739 20 million 9mm from USA for Schmeisser gun." I am not saying this was the Western contract, just that there is no way of telling.

The Western ammo was certainly in the hands of troops by mid 1943 because it was causing problems in Sten and Lanchester guns. Apparently there were many cases where the round did not re-cock the gun. The Ordnance Board ordered a trial of 10,000 rounds and reported in Proc. No. 25,884. I do not have the exact date of that to hand as I do not have a copy here. However, in a subsequent minute, Proc. 26,318 of 26th January 1944 a further trial was held after Western had changed the cap thay were using.

The original Western cap was their No.452 and they changed over to their No.768 at Lot No.6068.

The later trial was fired with Lanchester guns and WCC lots 6068 and 6069 with WRA Lot 2 as the control ammunition. It was found that the WCC gave a velocity at 90 ft of 1178fps which was lower than normally obtained with WRA.

A large number of “failure to eject” stoppages occurred under conditions in which the WRA functioned normally. The conclusion was that WCC with 768 caps gave a lower general level of recoil and MV than the WRA ammunition. “The WCC ammunition with 768 caps cannot be relied upon to function the Lanchester machine carbine under service conditions and under conditions of high protrusion of striker heavy set back of the cap occurs”

The recommendation was that a further trial with 1000 rounds of lot 6069 be held to see if it was better, but in the meantime the WCC ammo with No.768 caps was not cleared for service use in Lanchesters.

There was a note to the minute that manufacture of 9mm ammunition by the Western Cartridge Company has ceased.

That is about all I can tell you about the WCC ammo in British service at the monment.