Platzpatrone 33 combat use


Over the years I have heard various stories that the 7,9x57mm “wood bullet” Platzpatrone 33 cartridge was used in combat during WWII. One veteran claimed they were “poisoned” and something about the splinters made them impossible to be found or removed during surgery. I have also been told that the Germans issued “wooden bullets” during the closing days of the war with the “last ditch” rifles and that they were lethal out to about 100 yards. I have to think that these stories are mostly fantasy, but maybe there is a grain of truth to some of them? Many myths and legends have their roots in some true event. I read somewhere that the Platzpatrone was sometimed used in MG belts to regulate the length of bursts, especially in the MG-42, but I even wonder about that. How about it 7,9 experts?



I don’t know what to say other than I think this is completely, 100% a myth. The same exact thing was a story when I was a teenager, except about the Japanese. Evidently, wood-bullet Japanese blanks had been found during the war and since American GIs knew only blanks with paper wads, which are probably potentially more dangerous than hollow-wood bulleted blanks, they assumed these were “combat” loads for some nefarious purpose. At the close of the war, with the Germans fighting a hopeless battle for every square inch of their homeland, they probably even threw rocks once in awhile. However, I feel they hardly had time to fool around shooting PP33 at the Russians swarming over Berlin, or at anyone else anywhere. Just my opinion, but I would say pure hokum based on rumors from the first time allied troops found some PP33 rounds.


I am sorry John, my research tells me something else.
Japanese, American and German blanks are very dangerous.
There is more than one example to prove that.
After shooting with blanks in D day, A bridge too far, Anzio, Battle of the Bulge, all enemy


I am told that rifle calibre rose-crimp blanks can kill at ranges of up to 25 feet if one the metal petals of the crimp tears off, as it will fly out of the barrel at high speed. I have also been told that any blank with a wood or plastic bullet should be seen as dangerous to 50 feet. There are also the short-range ball rounds which look like blanks, but the plastic bullet is designed behave like a normal bullet for target practise. I have been told that these should be seen as dangerous to 100 feet. Hope this is useful.

I’m sure at close range, a Platzpatrone 33 to the head could possibly kill, but this is more likely to have happened during training. I think that during training, the British military are forbidden to fire blanks at each other at ranges of below 50 feet. Do not take that statement as gospel truth, but I’m sure I have heard that through the ATC somewhere.


Sorry if people think I implied that blanks are not dangerous - I don’t think I did, but it seems to have been taken that way. We were taught in the Army to never aim directly at the “enemy” (US Soldiers of the “Aggressor Force”) in training when firing blanks, and that they were dangerous to a certain range (I forget what range we were told - 50 yards rings a bell). Blanks at point blank range - muzzle against the body - can kill just from muzzle blast if gun is held to the head, etc. We had a suicide in our basic training company where a despondent kid put the muzzle of his M1 in his mouth and fired a blank he had pocketed on one of the training sites. The reults were not pretty. I am glad I didn’t witness the event - it was in another platoon, but I saw the aftermath once his body was removed. However, the PP33 and most wood bullet blanks are designed to be broken up by the same blast, and probably are 99% of the time. Still, no blank is anything to fool with.

Swedish 9mm blanks with red plastic bullets are pulverized in a tapered bore with a muzzle restrictor on it - without the restrictor and tapered bore, while wildly inaccurate at even the shortest ranges, will pennetrate a pretty thick piece of plywood.

Regardless of all of this, I still consider combat use of these blanks as a myth, until I see some indisputable documentation.


Sorry John, I wasn’t trying to say that blanks weren’t dangerous, I was just saying that they could potentially kill in some situations. I know that even at point blank range the hot gases produced by a .22 Flobert starting pistol blank can cause nasty burns. I fully appreciate that some blanks are potentially lethal and not to be fooled with.