Ammunition Evaluation: 1941 Turkish 8mm Mauser

Turkey adopted the 8mm Mauser cartridge as part of its modernization after World War One, and with the assistance of German technicians developed a copy of the German 8mm S cartridge. Most of the surplus Turkish 8mm ammunition available in th eUNited States at this time is 1940s production, with this sample being dated 1941. It was packaged 1400 rounds to the crate, with 20 bandoliers per crate and 70 rounds per bandolier, on 5-round Mauser stripper clips.

This ammunition has a well-deserved reputation for damaging semiautomatic rifle and machine guns due to poor storage causing pressure to increase above original specifications.

Velocity:

I tested velocity using an 8mm Kar98k Mauser rifle (barrel length 23.6 inches). Measurements were taken at 10 feet from the muzzle, with a sample size of 15 rounds fired. I found an average velocity of 2948 fps, extreme spread of 72 fps (max 2905, min 2977), and standard deviation of 22.24 fps. None of the rounds exhibited any indication of hagnfires, but recoil was more intense than normal. Primers showed consistent cratering, and the rifle developed a crack in the wrist of the stock by the end of the test firing. This is definitely overpressure ammunition.

Bullets:

I tested the weight of 10 bullets using a calibrated Lyman electronic scale. I found an average weight of 154.3 grains, extreme spread of 2.4 grains (max 156.0 gr, min 153.6 gr), and standard deviation of 0.66 grains. Bullet construction is flat base with an open base, lead core, and a cupronickel jacket (these bullets do attract a magnet).

The primers are Berdan and corrosive. The cases are brass.

Raw data:

Velocities (fps): 2921, 2931, 2968, 2922, 2954, 2975, 2975, 2951, 2977, 2947, 2976, 2905, 2946, 2933, 2937

Bullet weights (grains): 154.3, 154.3, 154.7, 154.3, 153.7, 154.4, 153.6, 153.6, 156.0, 154.4

26 Comments

  1. Very useful, Ian! Many thanks.
    “(…) recoil was more intense than normal”.
    “Primers showed consistent cratering, and the rifle developed a crack in the wrist of the stock by the end of the test firing. This is definitely overpressure ammunition”. Yikes!

    • Me thinks you need a tougher weapon for those cartridges. Maybe a miniature version of a heavy flak gun, complete with hydro-pneumatic recoil buffer…

      • “complete with hydro-pneumatic recoil buffer…”
        That might be overkill, keep in mind that during WWII Luftwaffe used stronger V-Patrone, suggesting that their machine guns were able to digest it. However V-Patrone was loaded with something called Nitropenta-Gewehr, Röhrenpulver (1.8х1.3/0.2) which might actually give different curve.

  2. Stated vintage being 1941 may or may not have to do with properties as found. As Ian mentioned, we do not know how it was stored and how many times it was moved. There is an anecdotal story of bubba who carried his shotgun ammo in back of his pickup and suddenly arrived to a surprise when he fired his gun. Well, the size of propellant likely had, by constant shaking, changed size and shape and thus burning characteristic.

    My question would be: what is an acceptable age of ammunition which will perform to expectation? I do not think there is a one simple answer to that. I have some ammo (in variety of calibers) which was stored thru 25-30 years and exposed to large temperature fluctuation. Is it still good to use? One day I may find out 🙂

    On the other hand, I purchased recently fair quantity of Chinese made surplus stuff, which is dated to 1970. It performs predictably and consistently and is surprisingly accurate. The fact it is corrosive does not mean much to me – it is a norm with that origin and age.

    • I agree. I have shot 8x56R of very late 1930s vintage (made in Austria, possibly after the Anschluss)with very good results. It came in nifty cardboard 10 round packs, complete with clips.

      I suppose such ammo was properly stored for decades, until it was surplused. On the other hand, ammunition that has been stored for years or decades in an environment with relatively wide temperature and humidity fluctuations may well yield non-standard results, to say the least.

    • “what is an acceptable age of ammunition which will perform to expectation?”
      Soviet-Russian [hermetic] “zinc tins” of ammunition guaranteed time is 50 years.

      • Yeah, that is about what I got – close to 50 years of age. They are in zinc tins and their finish is/ was at time of opening impeccable.
        I have also purchased, for comparison, limited quantity of Sellier-Bellot FMJ ammo which is supposed to be slightly hotter. Interestingly, I checked some dimension one against the other and they were extremely close, which tells me that Chinese ammo is very good. I cannot wait to find out on the range 🙂

        • “they were extremely close,”
          Well this is not surprising, before Sino-Soviet split (starting late 1950s, peak 1969) Soviet Union provided both ready weapons and production licenses. For example in 1958 Soviet Union delivered documentation (know-how) of Mi-4 helicopter to PRC which started production of Harbin Z-5 using it.

  3. Ouch!

    Breaking the stock to bring us a test result; goes beyond the reasonable call of blogging!

    Velocity sounds about right; the calorific content of the propellant isn’t going to increase…
    So any increase in velocity over the original specs is due to more of that calorific content being transferred to the bullet by the pressure peak occurring sooner and being higher

    Thereby giving a greater area under the pressure:displacement graph

    The question is, how soon that pressure peak is occurring? and how high is it?

    I think that the answer is probably; too soon and too high.

    • Case capacity for 8mm Mauser is about 4ccm. Practically, you can fill it to about 3-3.5ccm, which is possible with flaked powder. Granted there is some 5kJ of energy at minimum in 1cm cube of smokeless powder, you get a tremendous amount of energy to contend with. As the ratio of mechanical vs thermal energy received during combustion is cca 1/2 (33% mechanical), you get at the end roughly 4 kJ in bullet leaving muzzle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.92%C3%9757mm_Mauser

      At the end however, it is not so much a result of amount of energy in a unit of powder, as much as its contents(volume) and how it, as you correctly say, burns. Does it burn too fast or too slow – that’s the question. It is known that slower, rather that faster burning powders produce higher pressure. If the powder, due the way it was manufactured, in addition to factors of aging (incl. temperature changes and handling) causes it to burn slower, it might add up.

  4. This load is considerably hotter than the German specifications for the S-Patrone (154 gr bullet). Compare your 898 m/s at 10 feet from K98k, which is faster than the “official” 895 m/s at the muzzle of Gewehr 98 which has a 5.5 inch longer barrel.
    This “official” velocity is a little on the bashful side. 870 m/s from Gewehr 98 are more realistic. Alas, here are no reliable contemporary figures for S-Patrone from K98k.

    • “Alas, here are no reliable contemporary figures for S-Patrone from K98k.”
      Strelkovove orugie from 1947 (this is Russian overview of foreign weapons) has that information, although I do not know if it was copied-pasted from German documents or gather from actual muzzle velocity measurement, nonetheless:
      BASIC DATA FOR GERMAN RIFLES AND CARABINES
      [value] – Rifle 98 – Carbine 98 k – Carbine 33/40
      caliber (mm) – 7,9 – 7,9 – 7,9
      muzzle velocity with light bullet (m/s) – 895 – 860 – circa 820
      Mass without bayonet (kg) – 4,1 – 3,9 – 3,45
      Mass with bayonet (kg) – 4,56 – 4,33 – 3,88
      Length without bayonet (mm) – 1250 – 1100 – 1000
      Length with bayonet (mm) – 1500 – 1340 – 1230
      Capacity – 5 – 5 – 5
      Practical RateOfFire (rpm) – 10…12 – 10…12 – 10…12
      Sights scaled up to… (m) – 2000 – 2000 – 1000
      Effective range (m) – 800 – 800 – 800

    • Seems the have money to burn, lots of money to burn 🙂
      Is it backed by their pistol order hat-trick? Perhaps.

      This .338 Norma LMMG seems to gather some watershed lately and who knows, they may even adopt it. However the data in this source are a bit stretched (specifically weight and useable range). The competition gun produced and trialed by General Dynamics weighs about 11.5kg (25 lbs). They achieved such low weight by allowing the core of the gun to float inside of lightweight envelope. SIG is doing something else, afaik. So, we shall see how they compare in practise.

  5. Hmm…anyone interested in some surplus Turkish 8mm ammo in lovely blue bandoliers? Pay little or no attention to above comments…

  6. If the ammo is cheap enough and the user half-way creative, buy it, strip it, refill with afresh load of modern powder to duplicate S Ball performance. If you have a desperate need to feed an MG42 or such DEFINITELY do this; otherwise things will get messy and expensive.

    ALWAYS REMEMBER: SURPLUS ammo is “surplus” for one (or more) of several good reasons; just being “old’ is not enough. Think:

    No longer “standard”

    Has exceeded ordnance spec for “shelf-life”

    Has been captured and is just lying around.

    Has FAILED regular Ammo Tech inspection and withdrawn from service.

    NOBODY on any PROPER service will knowingly issue “suspect” ammo to their trigger-pullers. Ammo “mishaps” are really bad for health and morale, for starters.

    Over the years I have used a LOT of “surplus” ammo. Some, like the late 1940’s FN .303 ball, was GOLD. Ditto the 1918 Kynoch .303. Then there was the early i950’s French .30-06; ranged from very good to abysmal. However, I have long suspected that Australia gets the surplus goodies that “John West” rejects and at twice the price, or more. On the Flip side of .303, at one stage there was a lot virtually “new” POF .303 around. This stuff LOOKED correctly packaged, but was unreliable AND inaccurate. The bullets varied in weight and “form” when pulled for inspection and some of the unfired ammo exhibited neck-cracks straight out of the packets.

    Then there was the “Norinco” NEW-MADE “.223” ball that was around in the early 1990’s. Loaded to the top end of the velocity spec, the propellant generated spectacular flash, accuracy was variable, but the brass and bullets were quite good.

    As they say at Miss Nancy’s boarding house for single girls:

    “Ya pays ya money and ya takes ya chances”.

    • No longer “standard’
      ————–
      Perfectly said. No longer standard, no longer guaranteed.
      Learning: pay extra and buy new(er) if you can afford it.

    • The only use I have for POF .303 is to convert the cartridges to inert dummy rounds by pulling the bullets, dumping the powder, and popping or removing the primers. And that only because I already sunk the cost into buying a few hundred rounds at about a nickle a round – the only part that is remotely valuable are the projos.

      That crap gave me more hangfires and misfires than a dirty flintlock, so the primers are crap. The brass showed signs of brittleness worse than other .303 (surplus and commercial) fired in the very same chamber, so the brass is crap. It’s Berdan primed, so a PITA to replace the primers and use the cases as disposable brass. I’m not sure the bullets are even actual MkVIIz ball (I haven’t sectioned one to check, though – I could be wrong, but AFAIK, they are just jacketed lead that weighs the same as MkVIIz, not real MkVIIz bullets) And, judging by the recoil (didn’t have a chrono then), wildly inconsistent velocities.

  7. Really is too punchy for regular use. The components are worth saving, so I’ve pulled the projectiles on my Turk rounds, discarded the powder and replaced with a modest load of Hodgdon H4350.

  8. What happens to the cartridges during storage that would
    cause the pressure to rise when the cartridge is fired? What is the proper method of storing large quantities of small arms ammunition to prevent this from happening?

    • Since this is primarily a hobbyist page, no one is likely to answer this question responsibly. What I can tell you, since I worked in industry for 1.5 decade, is following. The vault where ammo was kept is maintained at a steady temperature and humidity, lower than ambient. And in dark of course. Also, once it is laid to storage, it is desired not to move it too much or subject it to vibration, e.g. next to hammer forge.

      What is happening inside of structure of propellant may be too high task for me to speculate on (someone from ammunition industry would be the one to ask), but as we all know – everything in this world is subject to deterioration. As Daweo said, expectation for small arms ammo in Russian military is 50 years. I would stay clear from anything older than that.

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