I have a friend who’s got this strange cartridge. I have not seen anything quite like this.
?? .45 Gabbett-Fairfax Mars Cartridge? ( early 1900 Auto Pistol cartridge(s)? for “Mars” Auto Pistol)
Just looks it?
Any other suggestions?
Very odd base, extractor groove, and bullet. Doesn’t really look like anything.
This is a 11.5 mm Roth-Krnka experimental made by George Roth for the British autopistol trials (c. 1901-1903). It uses a rebated rim case (head diameter is 12.35-12.40 mm). The clip for this cartridge is extremely rare.
Wow! I have only ever seen one of these and it was in the original clip with a tag on it from the British Trials. This is a stunning cartridge. You have a very lucky friend!
Thanks for posting this.
I think the British Auto Pistol trials did include several G-F Mars Pistols ( 1900-01).
Has anybody got any documentation from these trials? ( the “Mechanical Engineer” Journal or (British) Public Records Office docs?).
I suspected the Script “R” was Georg Roth, but didn’t want to put my foot in it.
The trials are exhaustively described in the Minutes of the Small Arms Committee, starting in April 1900 with the Borchardt and ending with the adoption of the .455SL Webley in 1912.
Copies of the Minutes are in a number of places, including the Royal Armouries Library at Leeds and I think the National Archives.
I do not have a copy of the Minutes but have my own notes taken from them some years ago.
The first trial of the 11.35mm Roth is recorded in Minute 635 of June 1902. An 8mm Roth had been tested earlier in October 1900.
In 1902 Roth submitted two 11.35mm and one 8mm pistol of “improved design”.
The committee reported that the ammunition had a bullet of 198 grains with a copper envelope with exposed lead tip with 5 grns powder.This would appear to not be the cartridge in the photograph.
In March 1903 another Roth pistol was tested (Minute 745), this time in “.44 inch calibre” with a bullet of 247 grains which gave a velocity of 975 fps. the conclusion was that the method of loading was unsatisfactory, pull-off too heavy, too many openings to admit dust but Figure of Merit was good.
The last mention of a Roth is Minute 1077 of May 1909 when an 11mm (.403 inch actual) pistol, described as a “Mark II”, was tested. recorded as having an eight round magazine loaded by charger. Velocity was 816.8 fps and penetration 10 half inch boards spaced one inch apart at 25 feet. Bullets weighed 200 grains with steel envelope and 4.7 grains of smokeless powder.
Conclusions were that it was a handy and well balanced pistol with good certainty of action. It performed well in the sand test, strips easily and had less recoil that the Webley pistol. There was no safety catch which was a disadvantage.
The only further comment is “Committee noted”.
It should be noted that the described calibres are often what the Committee decided rather than that of the inventor, but it seems the last type is the best candidate for the specimen round.
There was a very good 3 part article on the trials published in Guns Review magazine here in the UK. I don’t recall the date but it was titled “British Automatic Pistol Trials 1900-1914” and it was written by Peter Labett. It includes a picture of a cartridge described as being an 11,5x19 Roth as well as a detailed description of the charger used.
If anyone is interested I might have scans of parts of the articles lodged somewhere on my hard drive.
Happy collecting, Peter
If you can find a date for these articles I may be able to turn up the original magazine. I have many years of these (and others) magazines but thumbing through them looking would take a lifetime.
That article from Guns Review was in the Aug, Sep, and Oct editions from 1964 according to the footer on page 19 of this paper on British pistols:
Pages 16 & 17 have some info on British pistol ammunition in WWI. I’m also glad to see that a college somewhere is offering a “MA in First World War studies” according to the cover page. Sounds interesting.
There are at least three different bullet weights resulting in cartridges of a different total lenght. The one tested by the British board in Roth pistols No. 119 & 120 was the shortest. The one shown in this post has a more rounded profile and is the longest of all three.
Norway also tested this cartridge in a semiauto pistol designed by Ole Krag in 1908.
Clip and cartridge used in the British trials:
Intermediate and short variations (total length: 32 & 28.4 mm)
Fede - See my post above. The charger you illustrate from the British trials is from the original trial in 1902 and matches the description in the SAC Minutes of a bullet of 198 grains with a copper envelope with exposed lead tip.
The later 1909 trials reported the bullet had a steel envelope.
Are the cartridges on the charger the same cartridges which are referred to in books as having a muzzle velocity of 204 mps? Are they referred to as 11mm or 11.5mm?
A muzzle velocity of 659 fps (200.86 m/s) was obtained with pistol No. 119 (rotating bolt) and 668 fps (203.60 m/s) with No. 120 (straight bolt). Same cartridge was used with both guns (198 grs bullet SP bullet, 5 grs smokeless powder). Caliber is described as 11.5 mm.
As Tony said, the loading tested in 1903 was described as .44 caliber but it was a heavier loading of the same case. Bullet weight 247 grs, charge 6.17 grs, muzzle velocity 975 fps (297.18 m/s). This cartridge is probably the one shown at top of this post.
I forgot to add that there is no such thing as a “11 mm” Roth pistol cartridge. The CISA description of the June 1909 tests fits exactly those of the 10.3 mm Roth-Krnka cartridge loaded with bullet number 950 (13 g / 200.62 grs).