RWS 8 x 49 mm M. 88

I was very lucky to won this cartridge in one of the recent auctions prepared by the late Manfred Beutter. It was described as a “8x49 Unknown” but it matches the dimensions shown in the RWS drawing No. 244 titled “M 88/49/8”. The bullet is a “Reifring” type designed by Valentin Greiß. This one is headstamped N 8X57J, but there are also examples with a RWS N. headstamp.



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One of the several “short” versions of the 7,9J Patrone,M88; for use in light Hunting and Target shooting; the “8x51” and “8x51R” M88–Commercial designations, are more common, and made for much longer, into the 20th.Century.
Of course, the “8x49” designation is the German Commercial one.

Rifles used were either “short chambered commercial M88s”, or converted M71s (New Barrel)…several other type of single shot actions may have been used.

Could have been an initial “Light Infantry Cartridge” were it not for the Obtuseness and Wooden-Headed Military thinking of the time.

Doc AV

Fede, my congratulations to this rare cartridge.

Headstamp and drawing nicely illustrate that 8x57J was originally (agreement of 1910) called M 88/8 by the gun trade.

Fede: Can this design be dated? For that matter, can the 8 x 51 be dated? The DWM number of the 8 x 51 isn’t much help, to me at least, because it’s just the 8 x 57 number plus a suffix letter. Jack

Jack, dates are barely visible in most of the early RWS drawings, but as far as I can tell number 242 (6.5x54) has a 1924 date -it could be and amendment- and number 245 (8x51) is dated 1923 or 1925.

Regarding the 8x51, I find its introduction date somewhat confusing. The earliest date would be indicated by the existence of examples headstamped D.M. * K. *, but this headstamp is very difficult to date; it could be as early as c. 1896 but I believe that is likely post-1900. Also, this caliber is not included in the unplublished DWM 1902 catalog, but it is in the 1904 edition. As far as I can see, there is no reference to an earlier date in the DWM case book.

An early reference are also the cartridges made by G. Roth, because the correlativity of number 681 would place its introduction c. 1901-04. There are examples headstamped GR 8 00, but this is a generic 7.9x57 headstamp used for several rimless sporting cartridges made after 1900.

Also, is worth mentioning that according to “Mauser Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles” the first rifle in this caliber was made in 1902.

I’m sure I must be missing something but I hope that Brad read this and come to my rescue.



Fede: Thanks for the photo of the cartridge and your additional comments. I had seen pics of the DM K headstamped 8 x 51 but didn’t feel the cartridge was as old as that headstamp seemed to suggest. I didn’t even check for a Roth number for it, and I’ll look more closely at the Speed book on Oberndorf sporters. Best, Jack

I wish I could add much more but here are my (updated) notes on the 8x49:

[i]"This extremely rare cartridge is not shown in any known RWS catalog but two undated RWS factory drawings exist, both showing identical dimensions and numbered M244 & M245. The “M244” appears to be a mistake as M244 was already allocated to the 8x42R M88 (M4).

Examples of this case do exist with “R.W.S. N” and also “N 8x57J” hs. These are both likely to be factory produced from 8x57 cases but it appears never to have advanced past the experimental phase.

This may well have been an RWS factory experiment to produce a ‘middle length’ rimless M88 cartridge similar to the DWM 8x51 Mauser (M8). Factory drawing M245a (8x51) is dated 1923 so this is most likely to have been before that date. RWS factory drawing 243b (7x54 - W33) is dated 1922. Notice that all the similar M88 cartridges have consecutive numbers (8x42R, 8x49, 8x51) which may well imply a re-drawing sequence, or a later case drawing number allocation sequence.

The “R.W.S. N” hs would imply likely production prior to WW1 c1910 but possibly as late as 1920, so my best guess is introduction in the c1910 to 1922 period.

According to Peter Petrusic (via Peter Skala- RSACCA #195) this is a 8x49 Pre-WW.II German assault rifle experimental which was part of the 7.9x33 Kurz development but considering the factory drawing appears sporting, I consider this is unlikely.

The shoulder position appears the same distance from the base as the 8x51Mauser (M8) (see images) and it may well be that this would fit in weapons chambered for the 8x51.

All specimens known with “R.W.S. N” have an unusual sn jacketed bullet with flat top and a slightly stepped bullet (down to 7.8mm) (see images). [/i]"

Regarding the 8x51, Fede is correct about the "D.M. * K * " hs which could imply manufacture at least as early as 1896 but this hs is confirmed as being used much later c1902 or more. DWM case #366L is likely post 1898. The Roth case 681 is c1902 but DWM should have produced it first.

Incidently Fede, my RWS drawing #242 is the 6.5x57 M88 and has a later added writing with the date 1924 - do you have a drawing #242 with 6.5x54 case ?

Brad, thank you very much for the extra information. The bullet found with the other headstamp looks like a Teschner design. Also, I noted that my copy of the 6.5x54 drawing is numbered 242a, but the letter is hardly visible. Regards, Fede.

One Must remember when trying to date early 1900s cases/Late 1800s, that cases are dated when they were made, but NOT when they were modified or filled. That would explain an 1896 or 7 case on a cartridge not assembled till 1902 or 3. Factories kept large stocks of empty cases, only filling them against orders, and shipping immediately, in order not to have to store large qty. of Loaded ammo ( for deterioration to set in).
After WW I, only Small or Poorer countries tended to stock up on empties, and fill as required (Netherlands and East Indies Colonies)–the FN 1922 case and ammo contract. They were still filling/reloading them as late as 1939 (KNIL).

These days, a Modern Multi-calibre Factory, such as Prvi Partizan, manufactures directly against Orders, and of course they have to be Large Orders ( 100,000-several Millions) for them to set up a calibre and produce. Having Multiple production lines of Automatic machines helps as well.

The Old days of small orders in different calibres , made by Versatile (simple) Machinery, with Human hand transfer between Machines and Processes, have gone. The Last time I saw an “Old époque” manufacture was S&B in 1993 (Just after Independence from Communism, and then Slovakia)…In the Factory, it could have been 1914, the eve of WW I (Machinery, Hand Labour, Hand Packing, etc.);
Only the Military calibre (Russian) cartridges were somewhat “automatic” but still a lot of Human interaction…about 1950s era production…

BY now, with added investment from ownership by CBC-Magtech, I would suppose a lot of the older Machines have been replaced with modern ,Transfer Machinery, eliminating a lot of Hand Labour.

Doc AV

A fellow collector recently sent me pictures of his 8x49 example headstamped R.W.S. N. and I noticed that the shoulder is significantly longer than my example and the drawing specifications. This would mean that these may be different cartridges or that one of them may not be authentic. Any thoughts?


Fede: Not long before this thread began I got interested in the 8x51 cartridge and managed to make what looks like a very good likeness of the cartridge case by using 8x33 and 8x57 sizing dies. The 8x49 you first pictured seems to have the same shoulder angle as the 33, 51, and 57 m/m case lengths, so producing an 8x49 case from an 8x57 or anything longer based on this family wouldn’t be beyond the skill of a deft custom loader. Certainly the second specimen has, as you say, a longer shoulder with a less acute angle. On the other hand, the foregoing doesn’t mean either one shown is a fake, and I’d glady find space in my collection for either. Jack

Fede, that is an interesting observation.

I have taken your image of the “R.W.S. N.” example and placed it with another image of 8x49 with the same hs.

Even these two look different but the shoulder of yours does “appear” to in the exact same position as the 8x51 shown. One of the problems with this type of comparison is that the shape of a shoulder can appear different depending on the angle (aspect) of the photograph. Any change can change the shading of the shoulder and can make them look quite different. Only true measurement can make things clearer and even then if you get three different people measuring the neck and shoulder starting points - you can get three significantly different values because such positions are hard to establish exactly.

Anyway, I am not disputing that your two are different and that is not uncommon with some of these ‘experimentals’. Maybe the factory did try different cases to produce them with deliberately different should angles and these are really different. However, generic hs such as “R.W.S. N.” are known on a variety of cartridges, both common production and experimentals (8x63, 7x63, 9.3x38 etc but not 8x51 as far as I know). It would be tempting to create such cartridges from other M88 cases that are suitable (with generic hs) for a person with the right equipment.

I am aware of about three 8x49 specimens known with “R.W.S. N” and all have an unusual sn jacketed bullet with flat top and a slightly stepped bullet (down to 7.8mm) - see image. So your fellow collector’s is different from those in that respect.

Irrespective, as Jack has stated "I’d gladly find space in my collection for either".

Jack and Brad, thanks for sharing your opinions. I’ll ask him for measurements. Regards, Fede.

Hello, would you so kind and paste once more the case drawing of 8x49 M88? (or send it to my PM). I have problems with displaying.
Thank you T.


Thanks a lot!..immediately downloading to my HDD :-).

Finally got my 8x49 M88 cartridge today and been able to compare with 8x51 M88 - the shoulder angle is really different…bullet same as pictured above.

8x49 M88 HS

8x51 M88 HS