Unknown (to me) Rifle Cartridge

I have had this round for over 15 years. I just ignored it since the jar it came in was full of very interesting rounds from an interesting source, and this looked like a corroded bit of junk. Today I was digging around in the box picking out a set of items for ECRA, and decided to take some steel wool to the headstamps and had a real surprise. The headstamp is WWI German!


And the case is copper plated steel.

This made no sense since the dimensions are all wrong for a 7.9x57mm Mauser

overall length: 61.7mm
Case length:: 42.5mm
bullet dia: 8.17mm
head dia: 11.91mm
weight: 273.5gr
One side of the case has some deformation as shown like it may have been resized. I would consider it someone’s dingbat except it came to me directly from an individual who had held important arms and arms positions in the US Army during WWII and after the war worked for other government activities. He is mentioned by name in HWS, Vol III and I am sure Frank Hackley would recognize his name. His government work also resulted on a close relationship with the White Lab He was not a collector nor a tinker. He gave me his “Reference Box” which contained this round. I wonder if it was made by a friend as a joke, but I don’t believe he was the kind of guy who would have kept it in his Reference Box.

I suspect it still belongs in a junk box, but would appreciate opinions!


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The only observation I can make is that the case just below the shoulder shows three distinctive “bumps” which look to me to be case-collapse from a maladjusted case-forming or sizing die or an attempt to seat a bullet of too-large diameter in the neck, which also appears to be slightly collapsed. If it is an illusion concerning the neck, it can be easily discovered by measuring the neck at the mouth and at a point just above the shoulder. On my screen, the neck seems to taper down in diameter from the mouth to the shoulder. I note also that the primer seems to have been fired, showing what appears to be a pretty standard firing-pin indentation.

If it is a resized case with a bullet put in to make it some sort of dummy, and all the aberrations are a result of case collapse, It looks to me like a very amateurish attempt to create God-knows-what. If the damage to the case is all due to time, weather and abuse, then I haven’t a clue as to what it was intended to be.

Probably no help at all. The headstamp is one commonly found on 7.9 x 57 mm WWI cases made by Pulver- und Muntiionsfabrik Dachau.

John Moss

Lew, certainly not a dingbat! Examples of this cartridge with different headstamps were found at the Krieghoff factory in 1945 and it is believed that they could be for the Gewehr 28 (System Heinemann) rifle developed by Rheinmental-Borsig. Known examples seem to be dummies or concept cartridges, because none was found loaded. Other examples surfaced years ago in an European collection, including a 7.9x35 also made from a 7.9x57 case.

Great junk box find, congratulations!



Fede - is their some explanation for the apparent case-collapsing at the neck and below the shoulder. That is not the type of damage one is used to seeing on cartridges just because they are old and obviously in bad condition. If that is what it appears to be on the photo, it is usually caused by poor handloading techniques or attempting to chamber the round in a rifle with chamber dimensions incompatible with the dimensions of the case of with the bullet seated out to far to clear the lead in the throat of the barrel.

If that is what it is, it seems odd for an experimental case type formed from 7.9 x 57, as that kind of work is usually done by people quite expert.

Just wondered. I have never heard of the developments by Rheinmetal-Borsig, which of course is not meaningful, since my only real “go” at German rifle ammunition, and a real study of it, was solely with the 7.9 x 57 case-type. Is the finding of these rounds at Krieghoff, I assume the facility at Suhl which I believe was taken by the Russians in 1945, or occupied shortly thereafter by them, documented?


John, I don’t know why the cartridge looks like this, but there is a note about the origin at the Woodin Lab. I assume that it was found by Col. Jarrett and later passed to Bill, but I don’t have more information.

It is also documented that the Rheinmetall rifle was designed for a 7.9x42.5 cartridge, among other calibers. The US tested this rifle in .276 Pedersen.

As Lew mentioned above, it looks like junk, but in this case the source is everything.



To reform a steel(!) 57 mm case in such a way that it has a neck starting at 42.5 mm --where wall thickness is considerable-- must have been a difficult undertaking. Doubtless it was done in multiple steps, but I am not surprised that the case buckled under the large forces necessary.

Great information!

Good questions. This distortion only appears on one side of the cartridge and I intentionally took the scan to show the distortion. I thought it was from case resizing. The neck below the bullet has a slight depression of less than 0.1mm on average when compared to the case mouth, both the case mouth and the neck below the bullet have more variation than this when measured at different points around the circumference.

The round looks like it has been through a fire or otherwise blackened.

The individual who gave me this item was commissioned in the Ordnance Corp before WWII. He went to England well before D-Day commanding the US Foreign Weapon Evaluation Unit as both a Major and Lt Col. I suspect he and Jarrett would have been well acquainted with each other. He and his guys assembled the first Stg44 the allies got their hands on, from captured parts of destroyed guns, and he fired the weapon and wrote the first allied report on the weapon. He had a copy on his bookshelf and, as I remember, it was dated shortly after D-Day. He was very proud of this. He considered it a good weapon when fired semi-automatic but was pretty dismissive of its effectiveness fired fully automatic sweeping an area.

It sounds like this is likely the 7.9x42.5mm or something in the family! Guess I will put it in my cabinet with my other neat non-9mms.

Any other information appreciated. Dutch probably has something insightful to contribute!


Thanks for the additional information, both Fede and Lew! Athough don’t think much of the reloading skills of the “technicians” involved where ever these were done (finding them at Krieghoff would assume, but not prove, where the work was actually done), it would seem that they were purpose-driven at a recognized facility, and therefore, unlike a lot of fakes made by personnel in a couple of factories in Europe, Post-War, should be considered a developmental cartridge.

Major General Curtis, Sir, I have for some time suspected that you were actually a general collector rather than a specialist in one caliber! Of course, I am a true specialist in auto-pistol ammunition (well… except for my dormant Starline headstamp collection, my equally dorment CCI/Speer Retirement and commemorative collect, my active club and personal headstamp collection and my active East German metallic cartridge collection. Hmmm - did I miss any. Oh yes, i collect Teddy Bears and all Firearms
Industry brassards and other advertising memorabilia. Well, got a few none auto pistol cartridge boards and bullet boards, and did I mention Maple Syrup Jugs? Then, of course, there is a very small .44-40 collection hiding in one of drawers. :-)

Guess the old SSGT has to give the MG a pass, although it pains me to do it.

John Moss, LGP

Still “LGP”

LGP forever, my dear friend.


“Teddy Bears”???

Jon, why do you ask? You consider it more weird than ammo? :-)

Here we call that hoarding :)

Jon - you can insult me, denegrate my cartridge collection, or most anything else, but don’t insult my Teddy Bears! :-) :-) :-)

Mayhem - Here we don’t call it hoarding. That is harsh, man. We call it sheer insanity! :-)

John L. Moss


Well, to be honest…I was hoping that it was all cartridges somehow connected to the exploits of Teddy Roosevelt. Guess not. ;-(