WW1 German 9mm


Can any one help with this German round i’m wondering if the projectile is original. I believe the truncated shape is correct, and the weight looks about right 123grain (7.97grams) however I was expecting to see an embosed ‘S’ for Spandau on the base of the projectile. Is this a modern projectile on a wartime case?



Well, this time my answer disappear only partially written and before ANY button was pushed. This happens on no other site that I look at on my computer.

I will start over.

The bullet appears to be the correct shape - the so-called “German” shape - for a German 9mm truncated bullet. I assume the bullet has a CNCS jacket. It must, or in this case is not the correct bullet for that case. If CNCS, than it is compatible in type with a Spandau 9 mm of that headstamp date. I have found the use of a maker’s initial on the base of the bullet to be somewhat inconsistent with German pistol ammunition. I don’t recall every pulling one of these early Spandaus, so I can’t say, but I have pulled many others from the WWI years and found some with marks and some plain.

John Moss



Thank you, it does indeed have a CNCS jacket.



I agree with John. This is an original German load. I recall that some early bullets (can’t remember which German makers) lacked base marks.



John and Lew thank you very much for the comments, i’ve started a small 9mm collection to added to the 7.92mm, so this is a nice addition, and my earliest 9mm cartridge.



I remember reading that the truncated 9mm were introduced pre-WWI for the Kaiserliche Marine P.04. I have a box of them;believe they are of DWM manufacture. Will pull it out and look.


Actually, while it is not incorrect that the German Navy adopted the round in 1904, and the known boxes marked specifically for the the “Marine-Modell Pistole 04” contain ammunition with truncated bullets and were made by DWM, the fact is, the cartridge was simply originally designed with a truncated form of bullet, and that bullet is the one in cartridges headstamped " * D.M. * K." which is believed to be the first of the finalized 9 mm Para cartridges made. An earlier type, erroneously known as the 9 mm Borchardt and probably representing the first 9 mm caliber cartridge for the Parabellum (Luger) Pistol, bears the same headstamp.

The 9 mm Para cartridge is DWM case number 480C, and the truncated bullet is DWM Index Number 278F. An early drawing by Georg Luger is in an article on the 9 mm Para in IAA Journal Issue 444, Page 13, contained in a very long and interesting article on the development of this cartridge, titled “The Genesis of the 9 mm Parabellum Cartridge,” and written by the well-known and respected authority Dr. G. L. Sturgess. The drawing relates directly to the Trial of the Luger (Parabellum) pistol in 1904 by both the German Army and the German Navy.

John Moss


At what point did the German military stop making truncated bullets?

A long time ago, I bought a Luger with holster, extra magazine, etc, which came from the estate of a WWI vet. The extra magazine in the holster was still loaded with original WWI German ammo. A few of the cartridges had 1916 head stamps and truncated bullets, the rest had 1917 head stamps with regular bullets.



Thanks, i’ve ordered the back issues of IAA Journal so I look forward to having a read through the article once they arrive.

Best Regards


As always, John M is exactly correct (well, almost always-and correct a lot more often than I am)!!!

It is interesting that in the 1904 DWM catalog, which was probably put together in 1903, shows an earlier bullet style than the truncated 278F bullet. This is a somewhat blunt RN bullet designated the 278C. This catalog is the ONLY reference source for this bullet. The ealiest 9mm cartridge for the Luger pistol is generally referred to today as the 9mm Borchardt. It had a very blunt RN bullet with a step at at the rear to allow for the case outside diameter at the casemouth to be 9mm thus allowing for a slight shoulder in the case. This bullet isn’t documented in any of the DWM documentation I have seen, but I suspect it was the 278A or perhaps 278B bullet. The 278C bullet illustrated in the 1903 catalog lacks the step in the bullet of the 9mm Borchardt, so the 278C was clearly intended for the current style 9x19mm case. Most, perhaps all, of the 9mm Borchardt cartridges originated with a gunsmith in Baltimore MD who gave them that name. The first trials of a 9mm Luger pistol were the US trials of 1903 -1904 (a 9mm Luger was offered to the British in 1902 but no testing was done). It seems probable to me that the 9mm Borchardt cartridges found in Baltimore came over with that trial. The first three trial guns 10029B/30B/31B which are all now chambered for the normal 9x19mm case. I suspect at least one of these pistols was chambered for 9mm Borchardt and had that barrel subsequently replaced with a 9x19mm barrel. If this is true, then the 278C bullet and/or the unknown 278D & 278E designs could have been part of the later US testing of the three test pistols. By April 1904, 50 9mm pistols and 25,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition were delivered to Springfield for testing. Regardless, sufficient 9mm Luger cartridges were loaded with the 278C bullet that this bullet was listed in the 1904 catalog, and the 278C bullet was designed, and probably produced, before the 278F truncated bullet.

I think it is pretty clear that the FIRST 9mm Luger cartridges had blunt RN bullets. The headstamp was probably DM * K * which is the headstamp on the earliest 9x19mms as John said. I suspect that some of these actually came to the US, but as far as I know, none have shown up either in the US or in Europe.

The famous truncated bullet which appears identical to the 278F was submitted to the German Army trials in March 1904 and the Navy trials in July 1904. The first pistols were not delivered to the Navy until 1906. It is likely that the 25,000 rounds of ammunition supplied for the US trials of the 50 pistols were also 278F loads.

I would highly recommend Geoff Sturgess’ excellent article in IAA Journal 444. It is an excellent description of the origin of the 9mm Luger cartridge.

Note that John gave you the facts, and I have followed up with the speculation.


45 Auto,
The truncated bullet appears to have remained in use with the German Army into 1916.

The earliest reported RN loads with military headstamps are:
DWM June 1916 dated case although I do have a CN coated steel jacket bullet loaded into a Jan 1915 case
D May 1916
J August 1914
S October 1916

The latest German CN coated steel jacket truncated bullets (by case dates)
DWM June 1916 (DWM manufactured GM coated truncated loads for the Dutch into 1917.
D May 1916
J July 1913
S October 1916

It looks like each arsenal transitioned to the RN bullet at a different date.




Lew, my box has a slightly different wording than you mention. It is the reason I mentioned the German Navy connection. The 16 round box I have is marked “16 9mm Patr. f. Pistole C/04”. But I should have read Sturgess article I received. The box suffers from a missing end piece, but 90% of the label is there:| D.W. & M. K. / R.Bl.P.P./ No. 190I-12 | Gef. 17.7.1? (on the missing end piece) / Zundh. 6. 1? / Grotzingen |. The head stamp is DWM at 12, K at 3, 5 at 6 and 12 at 9. Dark primer ring, can’t make out the color.

I presume Grotzingen was the factory location, a suburb of Karlsruhe indicated on the headstamp?


Joe, Very nice box. These are hard to find. I saw my first Navy box in the 1960s and it was about 25 years before I actually found one for my collection. I now have both a 1910 and a 1914 box, and have a photo of a 1912 box. Would appreciate a photo of your 1912 box label if you would post it. I have never seen a Navy box dated later than 1914 or earlier than 1910. Maybe somebody out on the Forum has seen boxes outside this range.




Correct. It was a subsidary of DWM.


Someone mentioned to me that Germany stopped using the truncated bullet because it tended to jam in the 32 round “snail drum” or tromelmagazine, issued with the long Artillery Luger. Is there any truth to this?


Maybe. It might also have had something to do with the fact that they were developing the SMG that became the MP18.l, or both since the first MP18s used the P-08 Lang’s 32 round “Trommelmagazin.” I haven’t seen anything I would call really definitive by way of documentation on why they changed the shape. If someone has some, they might think about posting it here.

John Moss


Like John, I have never heard a reason for the change in bullet ogive. Since the Truncated bullet is DWM#278F and the RN is #278G, the RN bullet was probably developed pretty early. The 278G bullet is shown in the 1904 catalog I mentioned earlier so it existed in 1903 at the latest. The truncated HP bullet is 278K and we know it is loated in cases dated July 1909. We also know from the DWM bullet log that bullets 278H/I/J are not illustrated so they were designs that were dropped before the log was copied from a previous log in the 1906-1909 time period. The DWM bullet designs 278, 278A/B/C/D/E were also dropped so DWM was looking at a lot of alternative bullets before 1909. It isn’t obvious why they selected the truncated bullet, but it is also obvious that they still had their standard RN bullet ready at the same time.

It is interesting that the original production Luger cartridge (7.65mm Luger) started out as a round nose bullet (DWM # 261) and that is what is shown on the drawing in Datig’s Luger book in a drawing dated 1899. The truncated bullet for the 7.65mm Luger (DWM # 261L) was added apparently added to this drawing in 1903, just about the time the truncated version of the 9mm Luger bullet was developed. I have no idea why DWM introduced the truncated bullet. Their is no record that they tried truncated bullets in either the 7.63mm Mauser cartridge or the 7.65mm Browning cartridge, both of which were introduced before the Luger. DWM did experiment with a bullet that was similar to the 9mm Luger truncated for the 9mm Mauser, but this one had a conical ogive and a round tip (287D). it was only experimetal according to the material I have.

It is pretty clear that the RN bullet (278G) was not designed in response to some problem with the truncated round because it was in existance before the German Army and Navy adopted the truncated bullet. In fact, I suspect that the truncated bullet was introduced to correct the feeding problems apparently encountered in early 9mm Luger pistols. The change from truncated to RN bullets could have been as simple as production costs related to tooling, or reject rates of truncated bullets, or feeding problems, or correction of feeding problems or something else!

Since the first RN bullets show up on ammo with German military headstamps as early as 1913, and replaced the truncated bullet in production by mid- 1916, I doubt the change wes associated with the MP18. According to Nelson (Vol1) the development of the MP18 didn’t start until 1916. Datig claims the snail drums won’t operate properly with anything but the RN version of the 9mm Luger cartridge. I can’t find a date for introductin of the Snail drum, but perhaps John can since his reference material is far better than mine.

A very interesting question. I wish I could answer the question “Why did DWM introduce truncated bullets?” and “Why did they return to RN bullets?” I have seen no solid information on either question.

Any insights appreciated.




After I got my hands on a TM08 and was able to experiment a bit, I no longer believe this theory. Truncated cone rounds seem to feed as well as the conincal ones, although a shooting trial with pre-1916 style rounds is still on my to-do list.

I fired 32 rounds of normal 9x19 without any hick-ups and even tried .30 Luger rounds + TM08 in a Swiss 06/29 pistol. Worked like a dream. No stoppages (and even nice groupings). The TM08 seems to feed just about anything you stick in it.

Perhaps it really was the TM08 / MP18 / Adaptor Sleeve combination that caused the trouble, but the MP18 appeared to late to justify the changes.

The TM08 in combination with the P08 or LP08 certainly didn’t create problems.
(mind you, I didn’t try it in winter conditions knee deep in mud).

There was a rumor that the change to the ogival round was the result of the French accusing the German army of using ammunition which went against the Geneva Convention and that they threatened to execute POWs found with this ammo on them. But I never found a decent, reliable source that confirmed this.


Thanks for the info. The assertation of an Illegal bullet would not be a surprise. After all the Germans had used the HP truncated bullets in Africa against natives. The fact that an HP bullet existed in truncated ogive may have been part of this. There was a thread on this subject relative to rifle bullets including some 8mm Lebal loads. This is the best theory I have heard.

The info on the Snail mags is interesting. Thanks!!! It reportedly misfires and jams were a problem in the original US military trials so the truncated bullet may have been submitted then, but I’ll bet the original 25,000 rounds of ammo submitted were all truncated cone bullets. I wonder what led the Germans to the truncated bullet on the 7.65mm & 9mm Luger cartridges and not on any of their other pistol cartridges of the period. Logic would indicate it was something to do with the pistol, but logic (particularly mine) is often wrong.

I wonder if any of the gun books on the Luger pistol provide a hint.




Vlim - I admit that I, too, have never seen any really good documentation about why the Germans changed the bullet shape. Years ago, when I had my big auto pistol collection, not just Makarovs like now, I tried loading Truncated bullet rounds in a drum and feeding them, and the results were somewhat spotty. They were WESTERN rounds, not German. I never had enough German ones at one time to fill a drum, but did have a full box of Western. Still the OAL and the bullet shape caused no problems from the 8-round magazine. I agree, though, that the TM08 is MORE reliable, generally, than the 8-shot magazines. I fired with mine a lot in my P-08 Lang, and with a four inch barrel “shooter” I had, and never had a jam with any load using a round nose bullet.

I never thought to try the 7.65 Para - that is REALLY interesting that they worked.

I mentioned the MP18 realizing that the gun itself was out very late. However, anything as new as the MP18 was at the time, probably was in development for at least a year and perhaps more before it was finalized, serially manufactured and issued. I based my comments on that.

Again, though, no documentation! You could be completely correct, although I have never heard the “French protest” angle expressed before.

Edited for correction of typs only. No change in content.

John Moss