S and SS bullets on german ammunition

I would like to know when the Germans turned from S bullets to SS ones for their military ammunition.
I googled a lot but never found out the exact year

I don’t have any reference to hand but I thought it was S and JS (?). That happened pre WW1 (1905?) when they increased the dia of the bullet to .323".
Is that what you meant?

Hi Vince,
as far as I know there were 3 kinds of military german bullets ( FMJ )

I : 318" diam,round nose.This is the first type
S: 323" diam,spitzer,light bullet
Ss: 323" diam,spitzer,heavy bullet

According to me both S and JS refer to the 323" bullet,although there was a “IS” military bullet ( very light aluminium core) especially made for aircraft weapons
but that has nothing to do with the headstamps usually found on civilian,modern 8 mm ammunition

I agree with you:the germans turned from 318" bullets to 323" ones before WWI,but I don’t know when they turned from S bullets to Ss ones or if they used both types later

Pivi - it is hard to set a date on it for Germany. The basic change occured during WWI, but they crop up here and there after that war. My highest date in a Type S ball of German manufacture is from Polte, Werk Magdeburg and is loading lot 1 of 1940. The case lot is Lot 5 of 1950, therefore the headstamp is “P S* 5 40” and it has the black primer seal standard for Type S. I think an average German soldier who might have known the primer-seal codes but wasn’t really attune to slight differences in bullet ogive could have mistaken one of these rounds for a P.m.K. (Incendiary).

If anyone cases, I can have Joe post the box label for me later.

Of course, countries other than Germany used the type S intermittently with type s.S. for long after WWI. Czechoslovakia is perhaps the best example of this.

“S” (Spitzgeschoss) 154Grain (10 grams) pointed Flat based ball was introduced 1903–5 as an upgrade of then older, Patrone 88 “J” ball (RN)

“sS” (schweres Spitzgeschoss" ) was introduced in 1915-16, as a LongRange Maxim MG ammo, copying the Balle “D” ( 198grain) Ball of the French lebel cartridge ( also introduced as a MG cartridges for Hotchkiss Guns back in 1898.); Notice was also taken of the Swiss GPM 1911, whioch was also boat tailed heavy ball.

The sS ball continued in solely MG use up to the mid 1920s, when a lot of Gew98 (weimar) refurbs) were fitted with convertible raer sights (flat type) which could use either an “S” ramp, or an “sS” ramp. This was especvially so in Kar98b rifles.
BY 1933-34, with the introduction of the new, Kar98k, the rear sight ramp was settled on the sS calibration ( S/42G and S/42K rearsights for Gew.98M rifles refurbed in the First Army reconstruction Bill of 1934-35, had the sS ramp).

Whilst Polte continued to make “S” ( 154gn) ammo, its use gradually diminished as most production was for the sS type, as all the new rifles and MGs were calibrated fro it; also the older Gew98s were also being refurbished to it.

The Fact that Polte still made it in 1940 is probably due to the fact that between 1939 and 40, Germany came into possession of quantities of gew98s still calibrated for “S” ball ( Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc).

BTW, the “S” on a Polte cartridge headstamp, refers to the Cartridge Case design ( brass, 1888 n.a.) and NOT the projectile load…just the contrapostion of this Polte headstamp with a mention of “S” ball seems to infer that the headstamp referred to the bullet .

Czech ammo was the Vz23 round (154gr) and the Postwar Vz47 load ( 175 grain)…They also used 198 grain before WW II, and of course during WWII made all the German loadings.

Many other countries using Gew98s still maintained the differences, 154 for rifle, and sometimes 198 for MG ( Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland, China…this last was still making 154 grain 7,9 as late as 1949.

Israel’s first production of 7,9 ammo was 154grain, quickly followed by an “SS” marked 198 grain. ( 1954-55)

JM, you probably will have more detailed info regarding dates and exact types used in 7,9mm ammo,

And Germany in the 1920s and early 30s is a real info minefield…what with Versailles restrictions etc…since they were restricted in MG use, production of an “MG Load” was also restricted…the Germans got around this by making a Bolt rifle for MG people…hence the need of Commonality of ammo ( the Kar98b) hence more “MG” ammo produced ostensibly for rifle use…

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

There was no inference that the “S*” on the headstamp indicated an S Ball loading. It is common knowledge that on German 7.9 x 57 the normal headstamps deal only with the cartridge case and have nothing to do with the loading in that case, or even who loaded the cartridge. It is well know that “S*” indicates the “S” casing made of brass.

The whole story of the German 7.9 x 57mm cartridge and its loadings would easily make up a book of several volumes, were it complete with even all of the known information. There is no way to detail it on a forum such as this.

John, what is the following book like on the subject ?


Von der Patrone 88 zur Patrone
Windisch / Kellner / Micke / Platzer, S
Die deutsche Infanteriepatrone 7,9 mm - 1888 bis 1930 Erscheint Ende September!

Format DIN A4, Paperback, 196 Seiten, mehrere hundert Farb- und Schwarzwei

Brad - unfortunately, I don’t know. I don’t have it yet. I have had to cut back a bit on my spending. I suspect it will be better than the original German book on 7.9 x 57, which was o.k., but only o.k. I think it was a bit of a hurry up job. This tackles a reasonable field, and probably portends a Volume II in the future. I will say that in my opinion, few people know any more about this cartridge than does Erik Windisch.

As the budget allows, I certainly want to obtain a copy of this one. It is not badly priced.


The time range you mentioned, can be corrected for one year.
The first known head stamp is

Further to my comments on Israeli made “S” and “SS” ammo, there was also in 1953(at least) a 178 grain load, also classed as “S”, which obviously copied the Czech Vz47 and German SME ballistics (but with a lead core).

Another Post on Israeli cases showed the existence of 154, 178 and 198 grain 7,9 loads in the period 1951-55. These would have copied all the types of 7,9 ammo which previously Israel had imported from War-Surplus Europe in 1946-1950; also the Powders used ( Flake in 1951, and “Olin-type” Ball in 1953 gives a history of Israeli powder acquisition practices…Flake is a classical European Powder, whilst Ball is US design. By the 1960s, IMI was marketing “IMI #655 Ball Powder” as a general Powder for 30/06-.308 etc. loading ( just as they used themselves); it was equivalent to Winchester #748.??? By 1955, all Israeli 7,9 was being loaded with “ball” powder.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.