The first spitzer bullet?

I have always understood that the French 8mm Balle D of 1898 was the first spitzer bullet to see military service. However, a correspondent from Brazil has written to tell me of some pictures he took of old bullets found in the Canudos region in Brazil (the place in northeast Brazil where a rebellion was fought by the Brazilian Army from November 1896 through October 1897). These pictures of war relics show both the 8mm Mauser round nose bullets (fired from what is known in Brazil as a Mannlicher rifle, in fact the German Commission rifle of 1888) and the 7mm Mauser spitzer bullet fired from the Mauser 1894 rifle (similar to the Spanish 1893 Mauser rifle).

Can anyone comment?

What an interesting question, it had never occoured to me before. I can see problems defining the term ‘military service’ in parts of the world where there were militias and irregulars but a very interesting subject for a holiday weekend.

Hi Tony, those relics are anachronic because the 7 mm Mauser spitzer bullet was not adopted by Brazil until 1904. Also, the first countries to adopt a spitzer bullet in this caliber were Spain and Mexico in 1902.

Pointed (spitzer) bullets were used in military muzzle-loading muskets as far back as the 1850s, and maybe even farther back than that.


Thanks Fede!

My correspondent has promised to come back with more info…

If the pointed bullet had been invented in Germany (and sold to South America!) in the 1890s, Loewe/DWM would not have waited until 20th February 1905 with their application for a patent in the U.S. and 1908 in Germany.

Ray - What military muskets used a true Spitzer Bullet, as opposed to simply pointed bullets like the Minie Ball? I am not expert on muzzle-loading muskets, but have handled a goodly number of them when I was working in the retail gun industry, and I can think of any muzzle-loading bullets that I would classify as a true Spitzer bullet.

The Whitworth rifle would come close but its more like the profile of a classic 9mm Para. How pointed does it have to be? Another tricky question to be defined. There were definitely ‘pointy’ pistol bullets in the cap and ball era.


I was using the simple definition of “spitzer” which literally means “pointy bullet”. As Vince said, it’s a tricky question.


My correspondent has sent me some photos which he took of items found on the site of the battlefield. The 7mm spitzer bullets were found together with the round-nosed 8mm and the even earlier .45 Comblain bullets (most of the finds are 8mm). These older rifles were being replaced from 1894 by the 7mm Mauser. No round-nosed 7mm bullets have been found, only spitzers.

He also adds that there were no other battles at that region after 1897.
Even the “Cangaceiros” (a kind of bandits - armed with Mausers, Lugers and other guns) who operated in northeast Brazil up to 1930s, did not arrive at that specific place.

He suggests that Mauser might have been experimenting with spitzer bullets at that time and sent some batches to Brazil for testing.

In the photos, the different types of bullets all seem to be in the same rather rough condition.

The photo files are large (my mailbox got indigestion), but I will send a selection of them to anyone who might be able to identify the bullets.

Tony, there must be a more logical explanation than the idea of an experimental bullet made for Brazil in 1896-97 that is not documented and nobody has ever reported to exist.

When DWM claimed that the .30 Model of 1906 bullet design was a violation to one its patents, the U.S. Government claimed that the spitzer bullet was designed on March 30, 1894 by Lt. Col. J. P. Farley of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department (it was similar to French “Balle D”).

These are the German “Spitzgeschoß” designs as patented on February 21, 1904:

In the 1970s on the site of Fort Richardson, a former U.S. Army post near Jacksboro, Texas I found a couple of bar-primed .50-70 cartridge cases and what appeared to be a magazine for an the Colt M1911A1 pistol. It seemed reasonable that the cartridge cases had likely been on the site since the fort was in active use (in the years 1868-1878); the magazine, in spite of its crushed and rusty condition, surely arrived much later. Jack

I have a few “S” rounds with a case made before 1904.

It could be they were loaded in older cases.


Dutch, the “S” bullet can be found in cases dated as early as 1895 but these are later loadings using old cases. According to Windisch these are improvised cartridges for practice shooting.

Well guys, I am the Tony’s correspondent which took the pictures in Canudos, Bahia state in Brazil.
It is a mistery also to me, but I did find those spitzer bullets amidst the others at the battlefield (I mean the locals did find the bullets near old trenches).
So far, I can only think in an experiment of Mauser before the official time of acceptance by the German Army of the new bullet.
Maybe it took years before the final decision.
I will make another trip to that region early next year, at that time I will make a more thorough field research, but in meantime, I think that some answers can be find in old documents on DWM files.
Maybe someone in Germany could add something to this discussion.

Olá Alvaro, bem vindo ao fórum.

The Spanish and Mexican M/93S spitzer bullet loadings of 1902 were already quasi-experimental and not standarized until many years after, and the same happened with the Brazilian M/04 loading, as new rifles and/or old rifles with new sights were needed for the new spitzer bullet ballistics. The answer can be found in DWM documentation but it doesn’t indicate any manufacture of this bullet before 1902, including experimental designs.

As I said above, I believe that it is better to consider another explanation that do not contradicts DWM documentation on the 7 mm Mauser or the spitzer bullet development itself.


In the middle of 1903 the testing of the „S“ round in Germany was successfully ended.
Before this date it was already secretly adopted, officially in March 1905.

The cases became an “S” (Spitz) in staid of an “E” (Einheidshülse) in the head stamp.
The first known cases with an “S” in the head stamp and loaded with “S” bullet are from 1902. ( S 2 02 S ) This is the cartridge/case designed for the German army. The production of this case is February 1902. The development of the bullet must be started before this date, 1901???

I am almost sure, the French Balle D as Tony mentioned before were one of the main reason to start this development. These country’s were not the dearest friends these day’s.


Hi guys,
I would like to post some of the pictures of the spitzer bullets that I am talking about.
If someone help me with that ( I am new at this forum and did not find the proper way to post pictures).
Anyway, my last trip to Canudos was mainly for other purposes regarding the Canudos War, the finding of the spitzers was a kind of by-product of that trip.
Next year I will look better at this specific issue (because I am still convinced that those bullets are there since the time of that war).

Rephrasing it: maybe there is some other explanation for those spitzer bullets at that place and I am curious about that.

[quote=“alvarogeorg”]Hi guys,
I would like to post some of the pictures of the spitzer bullets that I am talking about.
If someone help me with that ( I am new at this forum and did not find the proper way to post pictures).[/quote]

read this topic, it will help: