Strange Swiss Subcaliber 9x19mm cartridge-or?

At the Swiss meeting I came across an interesting item. There were a small number of them on a table. The guy at the table spoke no English so I came away with no explaination, nor did I ask for his name. I initially thought they were a variation on the standard Swiss brass drill round (on right below). After looking at it more closely, I think these are subcalibers of some sort or perhaps a reloadable blank.

The “subcaliber” looks like it is a normal Swiss solid-brass drill that has been modified by drilling a 1.78mm hole from the base through the tip and opening up the primer pocket to 4.6mm accept a small pistol primer. The four punch marks appear to be to retain the primer a bit.

In addition bullet shape has been painted or coated gray material which may be like Teflon. Finally the body of the case has been turned down. The standard drill is 9,89mm just forward of the groove while the “subcaliber” is 9.57mm. A close look shows that the case is now slightly semi-rimmed and the case area shows a turned finish that is not on the standard drills. There is a pocket forward of the primer pocket that could be intended for a small lead ball. A 2mm lead BB would probably work well with a primer to push it down the 1.77mm bore.

These may well be the residue of someones casual idea for a training cartridge or something more serious.

I would appreciate info from anyone who has an idea what these are, or who made them.

Thoughts welcome!


Lew - I am sure you noted that the auxilliary cartridge has quite a different extractor groove and extractor-groove bevel than does the standard dummy. Of course, I realize that this pattern dummy has been made for a lot of years, and possibly by more than one company, so it may just be that they changed specs somewhere along the line. I don’t think any feature of a Swiss cartridge is ever just a case of different companies using different specs, at least not if made for the military or police. I could be wrong, but somehow I can’t picture that ever being the case in that country.

One path of research might be subcaliber devices made in Switzerland by small firms. They might choose to modify some dummy rounds, especially if they just happened to acquire a big supply of them, rather than design and make subcaliber adaptors from scratch. Just a thought.
For that matter, they could be for subcaliber devices made by a large company under those conditions. I cannot say, other point to a path for further exploration, as I have never seen one of these before.


Your eyes are better than mine, in spite of the fact that they are a little bit older. Great observation. Below are all my Swiss solid dummies for you to apply your carefully calibrated eyes to.

I think you have a good point. There is some variation, but not a great deal. The solid steel on the top left has a groove close to that of the “subcalibe” and the aluminum (top, second from right-next to subcaliber) has a groove not far off. Others look pretty consistent. It may be that the solid steel is not even a military dummy but a machine caliberation piece or ???.

Excellent point as usual. Thanks!!!



In the picture of the dummy rounds the “subcaliber” round appears to have a shorter case, or is this an artifact of how the dummies are positioned in the photo?


Another good eye. The “subcaliber” case is 18.4mm, but the other dummies have case measurements varying from 18.33mm to 19.9mm. I happened to put it next to one of the longer case dummies. I can see where case length isn’t a critical measurement in solid dummies.

I had not realized how much these dummies varied in case length.


Lew - when you talk about the “solid steel” dummy that “may be a machine calibration test”, if you are talking about the first one on the left in the top row, with the odd (for Swiss) shaped bullet, it is a box maker’s dummy I think. They are found in other calibers as well. I know I have one in 7.63 mm Mauser (why that caliber in Switzerland I don’t know) and I think also 7.63 mm Para. The hall mark is bullet shape and the fact they are totally flat base like a rimfire - no firing pin clearance hole, which of course for a box maker’s dummy, would just be a totally unnecessary extra step in manufacturing. I don’t know about the other ungrooved steel rounds with “x” headstamp, but I suspect it is more likely that they were armourer’s dummies rather than machine calibration rounds. Since the ungrooved dummies with “x” headstamp also come in brass, it also may be that they are just an early form of drill round and perhaps the Swiss did not feel they were sufficiently identified for drill purposes, since from the side, they look somewhat like loaded cartridges.

Isn’t it funny that two neutral countries - Switzerland and Sweden - have among the most prolific and interesting selections of 9 mm rounds?
Nothing to do with anything, just another moronic Moss observation.

Lew, it might be my questionable eyesight or even phantasy running wild - or both! But is the cartridge in question a semi rimmed one as the case body looks smaller in diameter than the head?

EOD - Taker another look at Lew’s opening remarks on this thread. He mentions that the cartridge “case” looks turned down, and is slight smaller than a normal dummy in diameter, thereby making this a semi-rimmed cartridge.

John, I read that but the “case” would also mean the head diameter what left some room for interpretation. Hence my question for clarification as the optical appearance was different.

Pardon my lack of clarity! The case, just ahead of the groove is about 0.30mm smaller in diameter on the “subcaliber” than on the normal drill. The rim diameters are the same. I tried to say that but didn’t do a good job.

EOD, you are correct, this makes the “subcaliber” slightly semi-rimmed! you can see the machine marks on the case where it was slightly reduced in diameter.