Unknown German P08 box ca 1938-need ID

You guys did such a great job on the last partial box label I posted, I decided to try again! It came to me empty, and with most of the label info missing, but what remains is extremely interesting.

First there appear to have been three lines of text, but clearly not in the approved Army format for normal ammunition. The very small dot on the right of the missing center is all that is left of the first line, but was probably “16” followed by a word that may have been the same as the ones on the contemporary boxes illustrated below. The second line undoubtedly read “PistolenPartonen 08” so it likely had a lead core bullet. The last line described at least the case and the powder.

The blue band on the label indicates steel case. and the case data on the bottom left identifies the case manufacturer as “S”, a code I only know from Spandau made cases, but only from WWII and on DWA headstamped cases from 1920 and 1921.

What could be the load date or more probably the powder ID, lot 1 of 1938, because it is in both bold and block type (see reference boxes below). Based on my experience, the Germans in this time-frame very seldom loaded powder more than two years old, so this box very likely loaded sometime from 1938 to 1940. If it is the load date, 1938 would be an extremely early date for a steel case.

The three questions I have should be easy for you guys!!!

  1. What was written on the missing part of the label?

  2. What was the description of the cartridges it originally held (headstamp, bullet, case material & finish, etc.)?

  3. What does the “S” code for the case manufacturer signify?

Below are some contemporary boxes for your consideration.

Many thanks!


Lew - just so you know I am paying attention, I will let you know that I have no clue on the remainder of this label. I checked my German 16-round box collection, which is rather poor admittedly, and found nothing like this at all.

The “S” may not be a military-type code. The only labels even close to this that I have show an “N” where this “S” is, and were for RWS ammunition of non-military standard headstamps, generally held to be police loads. Since that “N” probably stands for “Nurnberg” my only absolutely wild, unsubstantiated and doubtful guess would be “S” = Soemmerda. Do I really believe that? No, but I can’t think of anything else.

“S”…Stadeln, another known ammo plant of RWS.



I think the S is not the makers plant but the S from Stahl ( Steel )
You see this also on the 7,9 boxes.


John & Doc, Thanks, I had not considered this alternative. RWS did do a good deal of experimental work as I recall. I have never understood the “N” coded boxes. I have assumed that they were police or perhaps SS since they had Army style labels without the use of Army codes (except in 1941 they use P405 for the case code instead of N).

KR, I suspected the 7.9 guys would come through! I had thought about the “S” indicating steel, but could not recall any of my few early P08 steel case boxes using “S” rather than “St”. When I look close, the character after the “S” could be a “(”. Since the “St” code was in use in 1939, and your box shows that the "S (Stahl) was in use well into 1938 (at least into 7.9 lot 38) for P370, my P08 box could have held 1938 production of steel case cartridges. The fired cases probably all went into the brass barrel at a shooting range!

The manufacturer may have been Polte since they appear to have been the first to make production quantities of P08 steel case in 1939 and a P08 steel case Exerzier Patronen in 1938. It is also possible that it is Geco since they produced copper washed steel cases with commercial headstamps that appear to be pre-WWII or early WWII, and a P405 headstamped case dated 1939 is known with a CW steel case. I guess this box could have contained the CW steel case loads with commercial Geco headstamps!

There must be more evidence out there. Perhaps someone has the box for the “Geco 9mm” or “Geco 9m/m” headstamped CW steel case cartridges.

Does anyone else know of steel case

Thanks for the great info.


I don’t think that the first “S” on the 7.9 Label refers to a steel case. I think it refers to the designation of the 7.9 x 57 mm case, which was called the “S” case. If it referred to a steel case, why would there be a need to put in the entry “(Stahl)” at all? Further, you don’t see the “S” used standing alone without parens on 9 mm boxes (except for Lew’s and hence the mystery of it). because the “Pistolepatrone 08” case was not designated “S Case.”

I could be wrong, of course. Even the 7.9 x 57 labels are mysteries to me now since I have not studied them for several years now.

Because of the blue stripe on the label, the cases must have been steel, but we only know the manufacturing date of the propellant. That of the cases and cartridges may be considerably later.
In my view Spandau is definitely out of the question as case manufacturer. There was nothing left of the military technology center at this late date.
Also I think we can rule out Stadeln, because N für Nürnberg (much of the metalwork was still done in downton Nürnberg) was the established code. The “N. S. 39” in the primer line represents “Nürnberg Sinoxid 1939” as far as I can tell.
Last not least, Sömmerda (meaning Rheinmetall) manufactured cases should carry an H, because Hörder Hütten- und Bergwerksverein decades earlier had handed is Patrone 88 bullet contract to Rheinmetall (actually this was the origin of Rheinmetall).


The S refers definitely to a Steel case an not to the type of case.


it seems there is a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of S for cases.

Rifle cartridge cases had the model designation “Patronenhülse S” since the dimensioning was for the S bullet (Spitzgeschoss). Mostly “S*” will be encountered, which was the new standard brass case for rearmament after WW1. The steel variation you show on your label has (Stahl) added after the type: “S (Stahl)”. So S is the case model, not the metal.

Pistol cases (Patronenhülse 08) had its type normally not mentioned on the label. When steel cases came into use, “(St)”, maybe “(Stahl)”, was inserted after “Patrh:” and preceding the maker information.

The “S” on the pistol ammunition label in question can therefore not stand for steel, not for the case type (which was 08) and in all probability not for the manufacturer. I personally see it as a misprint, because someone was aware that (rifle) steel cases were marked “S (Stahl)” and so he used the same for pistol steel cases; at least until someone noted. But this is speculation due to a lack of plausible explanation for the S.

451 - what is your documentation for your definitive answer that the “S” must stand for Steel on the 7.9 x 57 box? The “S” standing alone is followed by the word “Stahl” in parenthesis. Why, on a cartridge label where abbreviations are used because of the space available, or lack of space would be better wording, for a whole lot of required information, would they follow that abbreviation with what in essence would be an explanation of the abbreviation.
To me, it makes no sense what-so-ever.

It would be nice to know if the ammunition in Lew’s box was steel case or brass case. Since I know he asks questions with as much information as he can give, I am assuming that he received the box empty. The “38” date seen on the label is probably part of powder or primer information, and it is possible primers from 1938 could have been used later with steel cases, although I am of the opinion that this label, if ever matched with a complete one, will indicate late 1930s or very early 1940s manufacture.


I have a copy of a original German ammunition book.This book is from 1925 and all the labels in this
book are original labels that glued in.
In the following label you can see that the abbreviation S means Steel.


451kr, the equal symbol (=) was sometimes used in German labels and documentation in place of the dash symbol (-) and in this case doesn’t indicates that “S.” means “Stahl” but that this is an “S.” case made of “Stahl” (for example: Kz.=Patrh.:(St) would be “Kurz-Patronenhülsen: Stahl”). I don’t know if this was a grammatical mistake or an accepted use in that era.

what you interpret as equal sign (=) in this case is a hyphen (-). In some Fraktur fonts the hyphen looks like “=”. An example is the book Waffenlehre by Fr. W. Deutsch (Berlin: E.S. Mittler 1939).

Taken from D 460/3 Ringbuch der Infanteriemunition as of 1941:
“Patronenhülse S*” had drawing number 13D9101 and was made of brass.
“Patronenhülse S (Stahl)” had drawing number 13D9102 and was made of steel.

I have to admit my wrongness about the abbreviation S.


Great conversation-I learned a lot, but still no conclusion on the meaning of the “S”!!!

To me, the blue stripe on the center of the label (or what remains of it) clearly indicates that the box contained steel case cartridges. All the boxes I have use the same font for case, bullet and primer. The powder is shown in bold block letters, and the font on the load varies between manufacturer and over time. I think this rules out the “38” being the date the primer was made.

A strange thing about this box is that there doesn’t appear to be any space available to describe the bullet and primer!

I thought just occured to me!

The first line on the box may be “16 Exerzier” and the bottom line may end with “September 1938” or some other month. That could explain the lack of bullet and primer (and powder) information. This could be the box for the “P Va2 Ex 38” rounds!

Another idea for you guys to kick around and tell me why this isn’t possible! I an not being critical. Your arguments are really excellent and educational and a great contribution to our/my body of knowledge.

KR, You have convinced me twice that S means steel. I also understand the other argument and it makes sense too, but I can find no other good explanation for the “S” if it isn’t Stahl. I’m left with a big question mark.

Many thanks everyone!


Unfortunately I don’t have a 9mm box of these day’s, but could there be written
S (plattiert) ? CWS steel case?

Dutch, Here is a 1939 Polte CWS case box. Note that this label is water damaged and faded. I have another with the center missing that is identical but with a distinct blue stripe.

I also checked two P131 CWS case boxes I have from 1940 and a P405 CWS box from 1940-unfortunately I only have a photo of this one-and all three have “Patrh: (Stahl)”. I also have a photo of a Polte P08 steel case label dated 1935 from one of these German books of actual labels and it also has “Patrh: (Stahl)”!

This doesn’t mean you can’t be correct, but “S (plattiert)” would be a pretty non-standard marking for CWS!

Note that the letter style of this 1939 box is different from that of the unknown box, particularly for the load date/lot and powder… I have gone back on my Polte boxes and the letter style is pretty consistent across Polte production and I thought this would rules out Polte as the source of the unknown box. Then I found a Polte 1937 box with the identical letter style and the powder letter style was also close to the lower right letters on the unknown. Just shows how unreliable some of these comparisons can be.

I have also checked a 1938 P120 and P405 boxes and they uses the same style P in both Pistolen and Patrh as does the Polte box above which probably rules out Geco and Dynamdt Nobel as manufacturers, although the letter style for the powder from both generally matches the bottom right letters on the unknown box.

Interestingly, the Letter style on a 1937 & 1938 DWM K (P28) boxes is a close match the style on the unknown!

It was interesting comparing the letter styles, but I’m not sure I really accomplished much!

maybe someone can come up with another approach!

The box manufacturers code inside the unknown box is ESV in an oval and the date “1938” so it is now more likely (to me) that this box ammunition was loaded in 1938.

Any more ideas!


I went back to KRs early post and realized that P370 is “HASAG” Hugo Schneider AG, Berlin. If the “S” on the label of the unknown P08 box doesn’t indicate Stahl then perhaps it is like KRs 7.9 box and it stands for “Schneider”. The original box label seems to read “Patch.: S (” which could be "Patch.: S (Stahl) and then something else.

I have never seen or heard of a P08 case from HASAG Berlin, but there are a lot of things show up that I have never heard of before. The “S” was on the label for some reason.

Thoughts appreciated.


I took some time this weekend doing a little research on this box and more comparison with other boxes in the collection and I believe I have perhaps found the answer on this box. First, I had not really realized the variation in the type and size of print used on German boxes in the late 1930s. Polte, like others seem to vary their type style on their boxes from year to year and sometimes within a year. When I compared a Polte 1938 Ex box with the unknown box, I was struck by how close it was.

One of the first things I noticed about the unknown box is the very tiny double dash/= sign that was all that was left of the first line of text. When I compared it with the end of the first line on the Polte Ex box I got the following result. I could not find this “=” mark on other than Ex boxes.

Part of the “=” on the top dash of the Ex box has been scuffed off, but the lower dash appears identical including the little uptick at the right end of the bottom dash. I made other comparisons and was struck with how close the two labels were so I pasted the Ex box label, set at about 50% transparency over the label of the unknown box. The result is below. The dark areas of the characters are where the two images overlap perfectly. The tan of the Ex box tends to gray out the letters on the “unknown” box and the background color shows through the transparency of the Ex box bit I pasted in so the only black part of the first two lines of the box are those where the black of both images overlaps. I which I could have more perfectly aligned the two.

My software will not rotate images for less than one degree so I could not precisely align the two labels but it is close enough to show that the first two lines of the two labels are essentially identical. To me this is very stustantial proof that the unknown box is actually the box for the Polte steel case Ex cartridge headstamped “P Va2 Ex 38”. This makes sense since if there is an empty box floating around then there is some likelihood that the cartridge will show up in a number of our collections.

This still doesn’t answer the answer on the meaning of “Patch.: S (Stahl)” but perhaps someone out there will have a flash of insight. I notice that in Wincish, Micke & Kellner figure 9.3 illustrates a Polte 7.9 steel case Exerzierpatronen from 1938, and not only does it show the Red “Ex” in the blue band indicating steel case, but the term “S. (Stahl)” also appears!

Thanks for all the help and the thought provoking comments. They were a real help in my research and made me think more deeply on this subject. It was also a lot of fun!