Wooden Bullets 1920s


How common were wooden bullets in practice cartridges during the 1920s? Off-hand, I can only think of the M1921 in .30-06, for practice launching of the VB rifle grenade. Were there any others commonly used, anywhere? Many thanks!




In Italy were used wooden bullets for blank 6.5 carcano cartridges.During the 50’s also for 30/06 and 303 british ammo made in Italy



There are also 6.5 X 55 and 7.5 X 55 blank loads with wooden bullets,but I don’t know when they have been adopted.

  • @ HCV: I have two 7.92X57 rimless rounds with wooden bullets. Both have brass cartridge cases. Their impressed headstamps read: 1) Segmented headstamp “SB”, “1938” and “V” [Czech cartridge case manufactured by “SB” in May 1938]; 2) “P131”, “S*”, “8” and “34” [German cartridge case manufactured in 1934]. On both headstamps there is also a very small circle, it may show a reloaded cartridge case. —> NOTE: Years ago I fired a 7.92X57 round with wooden bullet. About 6 ft away in front of the rifle muzzle I had put a large cardboard. After firing the round there was no hole or a bullet mark on the cardboard from the wooden bullet. I’m sure the 7.92mm wooden bullet did split right after leaving the barrel. Liviu 01/16/08

  • @ HCV: I forgot to mention above that I had seen 20mm Long Solothurn [20X138B] rounds of German manufacture having wooden bullets. Those belted rounds were made in late 1930s for the 20mm FlaK 30 & 38 light guns. Liviu 01/16/08


Hans–Are you limiting your list of wooden bullets to Short Range and Special purpose loadings or do you want to include blanks and shot loads. If you include these, then there were many calibers with wood bullets or wood sabots.


I own an old WRACO 45-70 with original large wooden bullet. If there is interest, I can take a pic and post.


I’m not sure how relevant this is (or if there is any truth in it), but apparently during the last few days of WW2 the German Volkssturm (a disorganised force of civilians armed with any weapons that could be found) were issued 7.92x57 ammunition with solid wooden bullets that were supposedly lethal out to 25m or so. I can’t remember where I heard/read that. Has anyone else heard this? If any of these rounds were found (if they existed) I presume it would be easily mistaken for a PP33.


Why is this? Can’t wooden bullets stand the stress of firing? Is that always so?

There are those WWII rumours floating around, claiming that the Germans and Japanese would use wooden bullets that would be more dangerous than normal ones . . . I always dismissed these as legend, ie sheer ignorance about the use of the wooden bullets for propulsion of the German and Japanese rifle grenades (and hey, how could a wooden bullet do more injury than a FMJ???).




Oh, that’s interesting. Any info on the projectile weight and even the muzzle velocity? Did these also instantly break up on firing?




I am only interested in wooden bullets used in the 1920s (and 1930s), pistol, rifle, or cannon calibres . . . Especially if they didn’t break up instantly.





There are those WWII rumours floating around, claiming that the Germans and Japanese would use wooden bullets that would be more dangerous than normal ones . . . I always dismissed these as legend, ie sheer ignorance about the use of the wooden bullets for propulsion of the German and Japanese rifle grenades (and hey, how could a wooden bullet do more injury than a FMJ???).


I have also heard rumours of the Japanese wooden bullets, apparently when fired at close range they would split up into wood splinters which would cause multiple wounds when they hit. They were also supposedly very difficult to remove surcigally from casualties shot with them.


I chalk that up as urban myth – or rather, legend believed at the time, but simply not correct. The only Japanese cartridges with wooden bullets I know are for grenade launching. Wooden bullets have very light weight and much reduced range – what use would they by as combat loading? Even if you hit someone with one (in an emergency, everything else run out), would some wood splinters really be more dangerous than a fragmenting copper-plated lead slug? I really, really doubt it ;)




Both the Japanese and German “more severe injuries” and Volkssturm “wooden bullets” stories also seem like urban myth to me. Although anything could be possible with the last few days of the war in Germany where the Germans were fighting a hopeless battle all over the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if rocks, lengths of wood and piping etc. were carried as combat weapons then, although obviously of very little effectiveness against the full might of the Allied and Soviet armies. I am sure I remember seeing a member of the Volkssturm armed with a spade in some original footage on a TV documentary.


I would expect a solid hardwood bullet would be pretty effective out some distance, but weren’t the wood bullet blanks made with hollow bullets that were designed to break up immediately upon leaving the barrel? I believe that the military .30-40 paper bullet blanks had a small amount of powder in the bullet to aid in breaking it up.


I also thought that a solid bullet made out of a wood such as oak would be effective at short ranges if it survived firing. What I meant about the PP33 is that, to the casual eye, if these wood bullet cartridges designed for actual shooting actually existed and have since turned up they would be easily mistaken for wood bulleted blanks.


Hello, Hans…I know you said you were primarily interested in wooden bullets used in the 1920’s, but here is some more history to go along with this post. First…Tony…gently shake your .45-70 next to your ear…if you hear a slight rattling, it is a shot load, with the shot contained within a hollow wooden sabot. Wooden bullets used for blank cartridges go back as far as the 1890’s and probably earlier. Frankford Arsenal experimented with wooden bullet blanks for the .30-40 Krag cartridge in the mid 1890’s. They tried various kinds of wood and even imported some of the reddish/purple bullets from Germany that the Germans were using in the 7.92 x 57. It was determined that wooden bullets were not safe if fired within close proximity of personnel, as they did splinter upon muzzle exit and cause injury. The same thing happened with the Model 1893 Whole Case Blank, fragments being brass rather than wood. So FA came up with the paper bullet, and yes, Guy, the paper bullet has about 5 grains of EC Blank powder in the nose, glued in with parrafin, to ensure that the bullet breaks up before travelling very far. Later, commercial Krag blanks have a few partial slits in the paper, and no powder, so that the bullet breaks up as it is traversing the barrel. Just from a curiousity standpoint, I also have a conically shaped wooden bullet Krag cartridge, made right around WW2, that was used to punch holes in the backs of refrigerators, I suppose to run the refrigerant lines through. This info comes from Dan Shuey, from whence the cartridge came.

  • I described above my experience firing one 7.92X57 rimless round with wooden bullet. The wooden projectile was very light and since it didn’t hit the cardboard I’m sure it did break up in the barrel. A wooden bullet is much lighter than an ordinary metal bullet and it just cannot exit the muzzle with the same velocity. I did shake my both 7.92X57 rounds having wooden bullets and I could feel that inside of the cartridge case there is only a small amount of propellant. The wooden bullet has all the chances to shatter into splinters when exiting the muzzle if it doesn’t do it inside of the barrel. — On the other hand, the riot control police from some countries used to fire wooden bullets [also named “knee-knockers”] or rubber bullets [or both]. There is a story about German and Japanese troops using wooden bullets during WW2, see here at —> lonesentry.com/articles/ttt/ … nades.html Liviu 01/17/08


See, this is what I wonder – do wooden bullets break up ALWAYS – or do they only break up when fired with a blank-firing attachment, which usually involves some obtrusion of the muzzle? Or does it depend on whether they are hollow wood or massive wood?



  • @ HCV: Since I have left only two 7.92X57 rimless rounds with wooden bullets, I don’t want to open up one to inspect the wooden projectile. The wooden bullets seem to be very light and I’m pretty sure both are empty inside. Perhaps some wooden bullets were made of solid wood not to break right away after leaving the barrel. The amount of propellant used for a cartridge with wooden bullet had to be less than the amount used for an ordinary round of the same caliber but having a metal projectile. A wooden bullet would not resist to all that friction with the barrel and live the barrel with the same muzzle velocity like a metal projectile. I don’t think that parts of the wooden bullet would remain inside of the barrel after firing with no muzzle device. There is no need for a blank firing device at the muzzle if you don’t use “automatic fire” and I cannot imagine a German MG-42 machine-gun firing 20 rounds per second using 7.92X57 cartridges with wooden bullets. I hope somebody else can tell more about this interesting subject. Liviu 01/17/08