Wooden Bullets

What is the advantage and purposes of Wooden Bullets?, I know of Wooden naval gun rounds and heard they somewhat leave the barrel better and fly faster.

I believe Wooden Bullets were used in the SA vz25 SMG’s used by the Czech Police Forces during the Cold War, any info of this?.

I think someone has been telling you stories about wooden naval shells. The only ones I have ever seen have been drill rounds for crews to practice their gun drill.

Wood bullets for small arms are used either for drill rounds or for blanks. The reason they are used in blanks is normally to operate automatic weapons, although some countries, like Germany, used wood bullet blanks for general rifle use. (as per the Platzpatronen 33 you illustrate).

The reason they are used in automatic weapons is that the wood bullet generates enough pressure to operate the action, but is normally shredded by a muzzle attachment. The British L. Mark 10z blank for Bren guns is a good example of this.

The Czechs certainly used their own version of wood bulleted blank in 7.92mm but I do not think they had a wood bulleted 7.62 x 25mm blank. However, that is not my area of knowledge and I am ready to be corrected.


The Czechs did not use a 7.62 x 25mm Tokarev blank with wood bullet. The “7.62 mm Pi.Cv. (Cvicny)” cartridge is found in brass and steel cases and is a shoulderless case with what would have been the shoulder of the case forming the rosebud crimp and completely closing the mouth of the cartridge. This cartridge, possibly with a different powder charge but I am not sure of that, was renamed the “9-82 CV” for use in a blank pistol version of the CZ vx. 82 pistol. It was not intended for use in normal pistols designed for ball ammunition, so they wisely simply chambered the blank guns for an already existing blank type. Some classify this cartridge as “9mm Makarov” because of its Czech Designation, but that is really not correct. Dimensionally, it is a 7.62 Tokarev Blank of the same type used before the 9 x 18mm cartridge was ever used in the former Czechoslovakia.

For a time, the Czechs used a similar 9mm Para blank that, however, has a slight shoulder - I think better termed an artificial case mouth- below the curvature of the rounded, crimped case mouth (“Bullet”). I mention these because I have seen many of the ones without this shoulder, actually, 7.62 Tokarevs, in 9mm collections.

Wood-bullet blanks were made in caliber 9m/m Browning Short before WWII in Czechoslovakia. They have a red wood bullet and normal headstamps. Cartridge was designated the 9mm Cvicny. After the war, during the period before the adoption of Soviet Calibers, the Czechs also made a wood-bullet blank, with purpole wood bullet, called the 9mm vz. 48 Cvicny.

Wood-bullet blanks have been made in a myriad of calibers by various nations. I know of none that were manufactured to be anti-personnel loads except for an experimental 9mm Para-caliber shot-filled anti-skyjack round reportedly made at Aberdden Proving ground. There could be others, but they do not come to mind at the moment. There were rumors during WWII about Japanese wood-bullet blanks being anti-personnel rounds designed to inflict more painful, harder to treat wounds. This was just an opinion started by the first few troops that found these loads, and knew nothing about ammunition, and later turned into a “propaganda myth,” although not one propagated by any official statements of publications of the Allies of which I am aware.

Another reason for wood-bulleted blanks used in non automatic firearms is simply to make them feed from the magazine into the chamber of rifles and pistols easier.

I would qualify the statement that they make semi-automatic and automatic firearms function. I know that with that statement was mention of a muzzle-constrictor to break up the bullet. Part of the purpose of that constrictor with just a small gas-escape hole instead of a full bore-diameter muzzle, was to allow the gas to be retarded enough to build the pressure need to operate self-loading firearms mechanisms. With those muzzle devices, few, if any, wood-bulleted blanks will actually function an automatic weapons mechanism.

The German PP33 wood-bulleted blank was designed so that the muzzle blast would disintegrate the bullet even without such a device when used in the K98k, etc. Probably many other wood blanks were also so designed. They still need to be treated with repect, and never pointed directly at a target that one doesn’t wish damaged or destroyed. Never know when one of those wood bullets will fail to break up as designed.

Ditto to the above; most wooden bullets you see today will be surplus military blanks, but wood has also been used as a bullet filler on occasion; some .303 Mk 7 loadings used wood or paper as the nose filler, and the .45-calibre Schouboe pistol used a wooden-cored bullet to ensure that the lightweight bullet could clear the barrel before the breech opened (the pistol was a straight blowback).


The US used a solid wood bullet in the short lived Cal 30 M1906 Viven-Bessi

  • @ Cutaway: I fired once a few Czech made 7.92X57 rounds with wooden bullets using a VZ-24 bolt-action rifle, aiming at a large piece of cardboard about 5 ft away from the muzzle. There was no hole into the carboard, the wooden bullets did split in small fragments. —> If I’m not wrong, the Germans manufactured 20X138B rounds with wooden bullets. Liviu 12/10/08

Czechoslovak army used rounds with wooden bullets also for short range shooting. Short range cartridge 7,92-Rd-30 (redukovany vzor 30) for rifle vz.24 and machine guns with locked action as vz.26 (light machine gun) and vz.37 (heavy machine gun) used cartridge with wooden bullet followed by steel container with aluminium segments. Short range rounds for heavy machine guns based on Schwarzlose design (vz.7/24 and vz.24) used cartridges with wooden bullets with small iron bullet in it. This was because in this case special smooth conic bore barrells were used for blank and short range shooting to ensure finction of the Schwarzlose action that was toggle-delayed blowback, i.e. not fully locked. Short range cartridges are commonly found with nickeled or blackened cases.

On attached picture there are four czechoslovak pre-WWII short range rounds. Two on the left are for rifle vz.24, light MG vz.26 and heavy MG vz.37. Two rounds on the right are for heavy MG vz 7/24 and vz 24.

  • @ jasve: The barrel of that VZ-24 bolt-action rifle I used had normal rifling. => You mentioned above “short range” distance. What distance was that??? 50-100 meters??? Liviu 12/11/08

Thanks to all for filling in on my comments, especially Jasve. I should have noted that some grenade blanks utilize wooden bullets or a wood “plug” in the mouth. There are various German types that I think I have shown on a previous thread.

Also, I forgot about the Czech rounds in 7.9 x 57 that have a wood bullet and, as most often found, nickeled cases. (The black case ones seem to be very rare - I never was able to get a sample for my collection). That was a serious omission, so I thank Jasme for mentioning it. Serious, since the rounds look all the world like a blank but are not, but rather a potentially lethal short-range round. Aside from the nickeled case, they can be identified by running a magnet down the side of the case from the mouth down. They attract a magnet, as there are steel elements to the projectile.

I also didn’t think of the wood-core bullets, even though I have several samples of Schoube round myself from DRS and DWM. However, that is a slightly different case than that of bare, wood bullets.

Of course, I also didn’t mention, and should have, the many wood-bullet shot loads - the “bullet” actually being a wood sabot. Some are obviously shot loads from the appearce of the sabot, but others are not, although their weight, even felt in the hand, usually tips one off that they are not a blank.

I suspect that a decent book could be written about nothing but cartridges using wood in some aspect of their contstruction. I don’t know what other calibers or countries made dummy rounds using wood in the construction, but I used to have an 8mm Lebel cartridge from France so-constructed. Of course, there are the wood dummy Navy rounds for big guns.

To quote our friend and colleague Jason, this is a pretty cool subject!

This is the pic jasve refers to.

Are these technically illegal in California as they have a “steel core bullet”?

As for cartridges with wood in them, the UK experimented with wood bulleted .303 blanks just before WW2. We also made plenty of war expedient dummies on reject .303 and fired .30-06 cases with red wooden “bullets” that went to the bottom of the case. There was also the post war .303 “L10Z” blank for Bren guns which used a blue wood bullet.

Falcon - there are also blue-wood bulleted blanks from England in 7.9 x 57mm (8mm Mauser). As I said, a very big and potentially great book could be written on the subject of the use of wood in ammunition. We have a much better body of literature than when I started collecting cartridges 45 years ago, for sure, but I could probably think of 100 books on ammunition that we really could use from those with the knowledge to write them.

No, the bullets in question from the former Czechoslovakia would not be illegal in California, as they are not designated armor piercing, really do not have a steel “core” as normally defined, are not in anyway “armor piercing” and are of rifle caliber. The “AP” laws in california pertain to pistol ammunition, since they were aimed at “cop killer bullets” of types that no police officer has ever been shot with according to all available statistics, that will defeat a police-type bullet-proof vest. Since almost any true rifle round, even with soft-nose bullets, will defeat these vests, had they passed a law against them, they would have impacted the sport of hunting which brings revenue to the State Government. That pretty much put that out of consideration. Must gun laws act upon the “what if” principle - that is, they legislate against things and actions based on the opinion that people are going to do it (“what if someone does this”) rather than act against someone who has done it. Guilty until proven innocent. Deprive several million people of their rights because someone among them “might” do something evil. Well, this is not intended to be political, just a statement of fact in answering your question about California law and armor-piercing ammunition. You can’t have a logical discussion on that issue without discussion of the laws and the people who pass them, unfortunately, so best I say nothing more on this subject.

I was sure I had seen information on a law that banned bullets with certain materials in them if over a certain percentage of weight of the bullet was made from them, which obviously would be quite alot for a wood bullet with steel in it. Therefore this law covers ammunition with even mild steel cores, but not steel jacketed rounds.

In the UK, if a round has a mild steel core but is designated as ball it is fine, but if it has a mild steel core and is designated AP it is classed as a “section 5” prohibited round. Another example of laws making no sense thought up by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

With the handgun ban in 1997, they planned to ban all “expanding” projectiles, but they did not realise that these are essential for hunting, so it was quickly changed. As far as I know, the shooter in the school shooting that caused the legislation to come in didn’t use a single round with an expanding projectile. Quite how a crime can warrant banning something that wasn’t used in it I have no idea.

One can also posess live blank rounds under 1" calibre, but legally not primed cases with live primers. Wood bulleted blanks are also illegal as they consist of “case, projectile, primer, powder”.

Thanks John, I should have mentioned the need for blank rounds to feed from a magazine.

However, I must take some issue with your comments about blanks and automatic weapons. The use of a constrictor with a small gas hole will work exactly as you say with ordinary extended neck crimped blanks, but if one was used with wood bulleted blanks one would soon end up with a barrel full of wood with all sorts of consequences. The muzzle attachment must allow the wood bullet to pass through,being shredded on the way.

I mentioned the British L.10z blank in my previous post, but we introduced an earler wood bulleted blank in 1939 that worked the actions of both the Vickers and Bren guns. This was the L.VII, and had a hollow wood bullet filled with oxidised copper dust that weighed 80 grains. It also needed either a special barrel on the Vickers or a muzzle attachment on the Bren as the bullet needed to be broken up as it had a velocity of about 4,000 fps. However, it provided enough gas pressure to work the action and did not depend on a muzzle constrictor with a small gas hole. Falcon, I think these may be the “experimental” rounds you were referring to? They were an issue round, not just experimental, but fell into disuse because in the event of a jam the bullets splintered and filled the gun with copper oxide dust.

In fact the British had been experimenting with wood bulleted blanks that would function in machine guns since around WWI, mainly at the behest of the air force who wanted a blank round for training air gunners.

One final point about AP in British law. A bullet with a mild steel core would not be considered as Section 5, since the act expressly states that the bullet must have a jacket and a hard core and be designed to penetrate armour plate.


Tony - thanks for the information about wood bullet blanks operating automatic mechnisms. I was not aware of the metal-material additions to the bullets you had mention, and the resulting weight of them. Yes, they should certainly work at the velocities you mentioned.

Your point on wood jamming up the bores is well taken also. I have no field experience with such devices (our blank attachments on our 1919A4s and A6s were used with paper discs - standard G.I. .30-06 blanks - and residue seemed to have no effect on them. I have fired thousands of rounds of blanks out of those guns with few malfunctions). However, The plasic bullets used in Swdish K-Guns with a bullet-destroying muzzle device, despite their bores tapering to a very small diameter, do not seem to foul from plastic rresidure. Not an argument, but simply an observation. That is even though the tapered bore begins the destruction of the bullet, or so I am told. Those blanks, even though the bullet is almost solid plastic, will not function a K-gun full-auto with the normal barrel, as far as I know.

Well, again, an interesting subject and one for which we need a heckuva lot more literature.

Wood bullet blanks owe their design to the need of certain MGs to have a “bullet profile” to guide the case into the chamber (ie, the MG34/42, and bren/lewis type guns. In all these, either the magazine(Lewis) of the Feed path (Bren, MG34/42 etc) require the full profile to prevent jams and stove pipes.

At the other end, the “shredder” served two purposes, the first being to reduce the “bullet” to a mass of small, long wood splinters, and secondly, to compress the (normally) Hollow bullet down sufficiently to cause a back pressure to operate the recoil mechanism (of say, the MG 08 or MG34/42;

In the Bren Gun specifically Canadian Bren Blank-fire barrel ( see the Book on the Bren, by Collector Grade Publications) a twin set of Pins at the breech(Chamber) end of the barrel comp\ressed the L10z wood projectile, and this then once it passed the gas Port, allowed sufficient gas to operate the mechanism. The twin pins also prevented the inadvertent use of Ball ammo in a "BFBren"
The funny thing is that in a Vickers, (or a maxim) one can use Normal case Blanks (type L9z) without any Bullet profile (wood or brass), and the gun will function just as well, with a standard Blank fire attachement ( Non shredder type (ie, a smaller vent size)).

For Bren Guns, we have to use a “Long Blank” ( full profile brass), and a restrictor scewed into the Muzzle. (FN Star type)

Wood bullet blanks went out of favour by the 1950s in most countries, and were replaced by different BFA mechanisms and full profile brass or steel cases.
WE still use normal Ball cases for those guns which use the Maxim/Browning type belt feed (we can use it on the SGM as well) But must use full profile with all the “Forward Feed” Guns in semi-auto and full auto mode. There are exceptions in the semi-auto rifle side, though (Garands will work with normal case blanks, but M1 carbines , being a Headspace-on-Mouth, will not; and BARs require a full profile case to feed correctly.

The design of Military Blanks for use in various Arms is an interesting field, especially when doing Movie Work, since Wood bullets with all the attendant wood splinters area definite NO-NO. (even if the “safety distance” is about 6-10 metres (20 to 30 feet)

Doc AV
AV Ballistics

To Liviu: at beginning of twentieth czechoslovak army used austrian heavy MG 7/12 that was made for 8 x 50 R M93 cartridge. After adopting of Mauser rifle and cartridge for infantry, austrian made MGs were reconstructed to shot with Mauser cartridge. Those MG possess designation 7/24. New MGs for Mauser cartridge were also produced at Zbrojovka Janecek in Prag-Nusle, however designation for them was chaged to vzor(model) 24 also the same as for infantry rifle.

I have always been fascinated by “color tips”…I think this is a stretch to consider in that family (but they

Low-right …the cartridge with the long,violet round nose bullet

Is it a 6,5 mm Carcano blank?