P.405 - RWS 9x19 question

Hi, i know that Р.405 - Rheinisch-Westfälische Sprengstoff A.G., Werk Durlach near Karlsruhe and RWS - Rheinisch Westfälische Sprengstoff A.G., Nürnberg
but headstamp RWS 1 40 have similar front than P.405 1 40, and I thing all RWS headstamps marked on green and blue was made in Durlach.
Am I right ?
What about RWS marked on red ? It made in Durlach or Nürnberg ?

Regards. Ave

Ave - I was hoping someone more knowledgable than I would answer you excellent question, which is a bit more complicated that it appears on the surface.

Between the factories of RWS Nürnberg and the GECO factory at Durlach, there was for years the incorrect belief that each made all their “own” ammo; by “own” I mean that RWS made “RWS” headstamped cartridges and GECO made “GECO” headstamps cartridges. Since, information has been readily available concerning a working agreement between the two companies, dating from c.1927, whereby RWS was to make all the rifle ammunition and Geco all the pistol ammunition, for both companies brand names. We know that to be basically true afer that time concerning commercial ammunition.

Military contracts often contain much more stringent requirements than commercial production requires. As you point out, we know that the code dnh was assigned to the Durlach Factory, and cartridges using that manufacturer’s code were made there, by Geco. It is a fair assumption that the commercial or police-style contract headstamps using the factory initials RWS in a quasi-military style headstamp (usually dated, and sometimes with an additional number that could possibly be a month rather than a lot number - I simply have never been sure of that) were actually made at Durlach also.

However, there is no question that RWS Nürnberg also made pistol ammo, at least the 9 mm 08 cartridge, as we have cartridges from the 3rd Reich era with both P151 and dnf headstamps, both codes assigned to RWS Nürnberg. That leaves open a slight possibility that the so-called police-style headstamped 9 mm contracts were made at Nürnberg as well, although like you, from the font, and features, I suspect most if not all were made at Durlach.

Even as regards the Nürnberg factories, there is is confusion, because RWS operated two factories there, one being the old Utendõrfer factory in downtown Nürnberg, and the other was at Staldeln. Both used the “dnf” headstamp code. In the case of 7.9 x 57 mm ammunition, case-lots 1 thru 49 were assigned to the downtown factory, and lots 50 and up to Stadeln. I have no clue as to whether or not this pertained to 9 mm 08 cartridges or not. I do not collect lot numbers to even know if there were any 9 mm case-lots over 49 on that caliber or not, and I do not have Lew Curtis’ book handy at the moment to check it out.

I think this was the only instance of one company using the same manufacturer’s code on products from two different factories, during the life of the German letter-code system. Certainly it was in regard to production of cartridge cases for small-arms ammunition.

In the long shot, though, I believe that the “RWS” headstamped 9 mm and that with P405 code using the same font and with the same general characteristics, were likely made at the GECO factory at Durlach.

Again, I could be wrong on that final conclusion, and would welcome someone like Lew, Morten, or Dutch chiming in here. I am a total amateur compared to those guys.

John, The dnf headstamps on P08 are pretty limited with regard to lot numbers. The highest lot # I know of is 17 in 1944, but in the other years I don’t think they reached 10.

The P151 code is known with only lot 1 in 39 and lots 1-5 in 1940.

I agree with your analysis above and agree that this is a very interesting question.

The green primer seal is interesting. I have never seen it on this headstamp. In fact, I only know of one specimen from RWS in this period with a green pa (and a green cms) and I saw it decades ago in a collection in Holland and it was headstamped “RWS 9m/m”.


As John points out, the old Utendoerffer factory was in downtown Nürnberg (Kirchenweg 56). Safety considerations by authorities plus space problems were probably the main reasons to erect the new factory at Stadeln in 1897. So the Nürnberg factory was reduced to doing metalwork and did not load cartridges any longer.

John, while your assumption “one code = one factory” is basically true, DWM comes to mind. Primer production and cartridge loading was done at the Grötzingen factory outside Karlsruhe which used the faa code of the main factory in Karlsruhe, Gartenstrasse.

Well, two answers with good information. I had no knowledge of the primer situation from DWM. I will readily admit that I have not studied components hardly at all, as have the more technically-minded collectors. The thrust of my interest is cartridge headstamps, although I enjoy cartridge variations as much as the next guy. So, Peelen, your information was new to me and very interesting. I should have included you, and of course, Fede in my list of guys I hoped would chime in. I simply named three who I knew collected in this area, and since I am privileged (I hope) to call all three friends, I was well aware that they have forgotten more about 9 mm than I will ever know. Of course, on the subject of anything in German ammo, Peelen comes under that same category, along with a lot of other guys (and probably gals too) on this Forum.

Thanks also, Peelen, for the info on the downtown Nürnberg factory. It did seem a little bit “outside the loop” to put basically an explosive products factory in a downtown area of a major city. The Japanese, during or just before the war moved some major factories out of Tokyo for that reason, not just for the danger involved with the manufacture of certain items, but for better protection of the factories themselves, I think, from sabotage or aerial bombing. As I recall, the arms factory “Tokyo Arsenal” in popular language, was moved to Nagoya. So, it was probably just 7.9 x 57 empty cases from lots 1 thru 49 that were made their, not the entire loaded cartridges. Wish I had a couple of box labels to check, but all my 7.9 boxes and even my “label binder” full of photocopies, torn off labels, photographs of labels, etc. is gone.
I assume the “dnf” 9 mm rounds were all made or at least loaded at Stadeln, as well.

Lew, regarding the RWS 9 m/m round with green mouth and primer seals, I have this round and personally believe it is a post-war cartridge probably loaded by GECO on RWS-marked brass. The green seals might be for the Bundesgrenzschutz, who I believe were allowed to rearm a bit early than the Bundeswehr. The cartridge characteristics match the postwar Geco rounds from the 1950s and of special interest in determining that it is post-War is, in my opinion, the absence of the impressed “O” on the primer denoting Sinoxid.I would peg the year at 1954/1955. Just my opinion.

John, I don’t have the green cms & pa round, but it has-according to my records-a magnetic CN bullet which would imply pre-WWII production. Still, it could have been refurbished and the green added post-WWII. I have a box of WESTERN 1917 Glisenti loads with nice bright cases and bullets and green cms & pa, still in the original box. These came out of a Swiss meeting many years ago and are likely an Italian refurbishment of this ammo.



I think we are talking about two different rounds. I already put mine back in my collection so I don’t have it handy to check the bullet with a magnet, but it is a GM bullet, NOT CN. The primer has no “O” on it, The green seals are identical to those on my 5 G 5 I headstamped Geco round, and even to a couple of slightly later Gecos with military/police style headstamps. I do not believe it is a refurbishround, like the Glisenti and perhaps the RWS rounds you are talking about. I would be willing to bet it was loaded post-war. I am kind of inclined to believe that it is the first of the post-war 9 mm when the German police were allowed to rearm and Germany started making military calibers again. That seems to have happened in 1954, judging from some 7.9 x 57 DAG rounds I had in my collection. It certainly was no later than 1955, as there are Geco 1955-dated rounds. I was told that Green was specifically for the BGS, but never was able to document that, even though it came from an excellent German source.

I am not disputing the CNCS round you mentioned, although it is not at hand to double check the information. I would view that as a likely post-war manufacture (loading) using left over bullets, as well as cases. Do you recall if the bullet was identifiable by color-tone, such as FN or Czech CNCS bullets?
FN bullets have a very nickel tone, while Czech look like they are chrome-plated, even if they are not. CNCS would not be the norm for a German bullet unless from before actual hostilities beginning in 1939 and even then, it would likely be a commercial bullet, in my view.

I think if I have time today, I will list all my RWS-headstamped rounds, and perhaps my pre-1946 Gecos as well, on this thread. It might be a good thread on which to revisit the subject of the dots on headstamps, and the reason for some saying “9mm” and others “9m/m” (I don’t know the reason - maybe someone has discovered the meaning since the last “go around” with these headstamps.

John, The round I’ve referred to was in a Dutch collection I took notes on in the 1970s. I later transcribed these notes into my database so there is room for error or omission. My rather dim recollection is that the bullet was a normal pre-WWII CNCS German bullet. I made no comment on the primer so can’t tell you if it had an “O” or not.

I have in my collection a round like yours with a GMCS bullet. I took this round out of a military post was German box dated 1955.

It is unlikely thse post-War rounds have anything to do with the 1940 dated RWS headstamp that AveDanzig pictured on his original post. A green pa on this round is completely new to me, but not inconsistent with the RWS 9m/m headstamped round I saw in Holland.


O.K. So I was pretty much right on regarding the year of manufacture of my round. I thought it might be 54 or 55. I don’t recall drawing any comparison at all to the 1940 dated rounds, and agree that other than having an RWS headstamp, the two are unrelated. And, I retain my belief that this cartridge I have was at least loaded in the 1950s for the first time, not remanufactured. I am not even so sure that the cases weren’t made then, perhaps using an old bunter or even possibly a new one, with the choice of RWS as the headstamp unaccounted for. I believe they were loaded, at least, at Durlach, by the Gustav Genschow concern.

John, regarding your last comment on the absence of the impressed “O” Sinoxid primer in post-war cartridges, a retouched picture of a 7.65 mm Browning box showing these primers is illustrated in the Gustav Genschow & Co. AG, Karlsruhe-Durlach price list of 1958. Although the box shows a correct post-war address, this may be artistic license, but also may indicate a post-war use of these primers, at least in this caliber. In any case, the only pictures I have of a 7.65 mm Browning box like the one illustrated in the price list has cartridges with the unmarked all red primer. Regards, Fede.

Fede - I don’t think I made myself very clear regarding the primer. I actually felt that the unmarked primer was probably evidence that the cartridge in question WAS made after WWII. I would have thought that a commercially marked RWS 9 mm cartridge, even if made right up to the closing days of WWII, would have the “O”-marked Sinoxid primer, but that with a gap of five years or so from the end of the war, this marking was probably dropped. I don’t know of any post-war production from the Dynamit A.-G. group that has it. Since the early post-war Geco and RWS boxes are basically the pattern of the later pre-war labels. they may have actually changed the address in the picture rather than redraw the entire box and contents for that ad. That would explain the pre-1945 (I think it is only pre-1945) primer marking.

Then, of course, there is the possibility that even if the “O” primer still was used soon after the war (but I have seen no evidence of that myself), that this contract, with the green seals, was for the German Government. WWII ammo for the military, and likely in some cases for the police as well, did not have the “O” marking on the primer, although occasionally one finds a military-headstamped round with it. That is probably due to a temporary shortage of components and wanting to get a contract filled, or perhaps even a clean-up of components. I forget the headstamp, but I have a pre-war or early WWII 9 mm Para round, brass case, military headstamp, loaded with a sintered-iron bullet and primed with a commercial, O-marked Sinoxid primer. Everyone who has seen it thinks it is original. I do too.