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7.65 X 54 MAUSER

Completed 2017/11/13

  On the page describing the history and development of the 6.5 X 52 Carcano and other 6.5mm’s, one name surfaces throughout the late 1880’s onwards in practically all facets of military rifle and cartridge research, development and manufacturing and that is the name of Mauser. The history of the 6.5mm developments only describes a small part of weapon and cartridge design in Europe and the world and the story would not be complete without this next chapter. All of this can basically be tracked back to one of those “lightbulb moments” in history when one man has a eureka moment that started off, in this case, with a simple, everyday tool called the push-and-turn-down, common door-securing bolt adapted to lock a cartridge in the firing chamber of a rifle. So secure was this new lock, that an entirely new form of military rifle was evolved from it which literally not only changed the face of war, it changed the world. The man who had this eureka moment was a German designer named Nicholas von Dreyse with his Dreyse needle fire cartridge and bolt design and how two brothers, Peter Paul and Wilhelm Mauser adapted that design into a rifle concept that is still considered virtually perfect even into the 21st Century.

Peter Paul Mauser was born on the 27th of June in the year 1838 in Oberndorf and was the youngest of thirteen children. He, his older brother Wilhelm, as well as five of the older sons, were trained by their father, who was a master gunsmith in the Government Firearms Factory housed in the former Augustine Cloister at Oberndorf. Paul started at the factory at the age of 12 and by 1852 when he graduated from school he already knew what his life’s work would be. He joined his father and brothers in the Government Firearms Factory and soon attracted attention by his unusual ability to develop new methods of work, new short cuts in manufacturing processes, and specialized tools which enabled him to produce faster and better than his older bench mates. At that stage conscription was mandatory and Paul was assigned to duty as an artilleryman at the arsenal at Ludwigsburg. In December 1859 he was assigned to the Royal Firearms Factory at Oberndorf. Both Paul and Wilhelm had extensive experience with the Dreyse rifle and they turned their combined efforts to ways to improve the locking and functioning of this new military arm, which was based on the locking principle of the elementary turning door-bolt. The army of their native Württemberg had but recently been equipped with Minié Rifles; and as the investment had already been made in those arms, that government was no longer interested in a new rifle, even though it was an admittedly superior design. The same went for the Royal Prussian Ambassador at Stüttgart. He was still too impressed by the Prussian successes in battle with the Dreyse Needle Gun at Alsen in 1864 and decided that the idea was not broken and therefore did not need fixing. Not willing to accept defeat that easily, they approached the Austrian Ambassador, who was considerably more receptive. He forwarded their new rifle to Vienna for tests, and that action started a new chain of events in the lives of the Mauser brothers.

It is an interesting fact that the first Mauser patent was not filed in Germany or Austria, but in the United States. It was as a result of their presentation to the Austrian Ambassador that put them in contact with Charles Norris, a representative of Remington. At that period of history, many countries in Europe and the Orient were considering equipping their armies with American rifles. Peabody falling-block breech loading rifles were also introduced in Europe, as well as Winchester repeating rifles in Turkey, as well as Remington rolling block rifles as far away as South America and China. Austria had but recently changed over to the Wänzl rifle and the manufacture was in such an advanced stage that, like Württemburg, Austria could not afford to bypass the Wänzl even in the face of an admittedly superior design. It was at the War Ministry that Norris first saw the Mauser rifle. The Austrian War Minister was quite frank with Norris in pointing out to him that only the financial commitments already involved in the Wänzl changeover prevented Austria from adopting this new German design. At that stage the French were interested in a system to convert their Chassepot rifles to a metallic breech loading cartridge and Norris hired the Mauser brothers to go to Lüttich in Belgium, then the seat of firearms design in Europe, where all facilities necessary for further development would be readily accessible, to perfect the design on his behalf. Norris tried a deal to get them into a deal that stipulated that patents should be taken out in his (Norris’s) name and that the Mauser brothers were to receive a royalty on the proceeds of weapons sold. That was the “Mauser-Norris” patent registered in the US. It was a deal that did not work out, but as fate would have it they insisted that Norris submit their rifle to the Royal Prussian School of Riflemanship in 1869. The results of this test were so impressive that Wilhelm was invited to the Arsenal at Spandau. The Institute at Spandau later produced the Royal Rifle Testing Commission, a body to which Paul Mauser submitted all his rifle designs from that period on.

That act in 1869 culminated on the 2nd of December 1871 when the Mauser M71 rifle was adopted as the first official German service metallic cartridge rifle. While the genesis of the turning-bolt action lock is usually credited to Dreyse, and the overall form of that first Mauser rifle is often thought to resemble closely that of the French Chassepot, the truly revolutionary features in the design are strictly those of Peter Paul Mauser. The next step for them was the adoption of the Mauser rifle in 1881 by the Serbian Government for their 10.15mm cartridge. The Henry-Winchester system of carrying cartridges in a tube below the barrel where they compressed a spring which thrust them successively back into a carrier for individual loading in the chamber was a very successful design and was adopted by most of the important military nations in Europe. In the winter of 1880, Mauser applied this cartridge carrying principle to his original M71 Single Shot Rifle, a very important development as it permitted the use of standardized machinery and enabled the conversion of the single shot design to repeating rifle design at a minimum cost. At the Württemberg Industrial Exposition in 1881 Paul was permitted to demonstrate his new magazine rifle to His Imperial Majesty Wilhelm I (1799-1888). This test was very successful and lead to an order of 2,000 test rifles that were put into the field by the Prussian High Command for complete testing under field conditions. The rifle was shortly thereafter adopted under the official designation of “Infantry Repeating Rifle Model 71-84, caliber 11mm.” the Serbs immediately placed an order for 4,000 rifles and 4,000 carbines of the improved design for their 10.15mm Serbian Mauser cartridge.

This was also the beginning of a period of giant technological strides in arms development in Europe. The game changer came courtesy of a French chemist named Paul Marie Eugène Vieille. He was a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, and the inventor of modern nitrocellulose-based smokeless gunpowder in 1884. The new smokeless powder was three times as powerful as black powder for the same weight and paved the way for lighter, smaller caliber rifles. His invention was applied not only to small arms but also to the full range of artillery ammunition. The French introduced their 8mm Lebel with vastly improved ballistics that seriously upset the apple cart in virtually all European nations.

Paul Mauser wasted no time to experiment with this new smokeless powder invention and found that he could achieve better ballistics from a 7.65mm bullet than an 8mm bullet and he designed a rifle with a jacketed barrel with a 5-shot magazine below the receiver that could be loaded through an open action. He thus basically created the first truly successful modern military bolt action rifle. In 1889 the Belgian Government, after intense testing adopted the 7.65mm Mauser as it’s official military rifle. The Belgian Ministry of War ordered 150,000 of these new Mauser rifles with the stipulation that they be manufactured by the Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre, at Herstal near Lüttich. This plant was established by a Lüttich syndicate with Ludwig Loewe & Co. of Berlin as a partner. These rifles were also made by the Fabrique d’Armes de L’Etat at Lüttich. With the Belgians completely rearming after these intensive tests and with the adoptions of smaller calibers by most of the European countries, the Turkish Government felt impelled to change to the smaller rifles with their improved ballistic performance.


Thus after Mauser had produced 220,000 of the rifles in caliber 9.5mm, Turkey formally adopted the new Model 90 in caliber 7.65mm Turkish. By the Fall of 1893 Oberndorf had provided 200,000 rifles and carbines of this model to Turkey.

The Argentinians were also very interested in what was happening in terms of military developments in Europe and approached Mauser to manufacture a rifle of the same general type as the Turkish design but with a heavier bolt for their army. The order for 180,000 rifles and 30,000 carbines was carried out in Berlin by Ludwig Loewe & Co. to Mauser’s specifications.
Source: Smith W.H.B; Mauser Rifles and Pistols 1958.


No headstamp variation in all probability used during the Chaco War that was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over control of the northern part of the Gran Chaco region of South America, which was thought to be rich in oil. There are overlaps between the cartridges used during the Bolivian-Paraguayan Chaco War (1932-35) and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Some 7.65 x 54 cartridges are attributed to Spain but were already in use during the South American conflict.



Arsenal de Guerra, Buenos Aires. Manufactured in Argentina using machinery provided by Deutsche Metallpatronenfabrik, Karlsruhe.


Arsenal Esteban de Luca, Buenos Aires


F.A.M.M.A.P (Fabrica Militar de Municiones para Armas Portátiles)

The Argentine National Executive Power, under the command of General Agustín Justo approved plans on the 27th of September1933 for an Infantry Ammunition Factory at San Lorenzo Arsenal The necessary machinery and equipment was purchased from the German company Fritz Werner and the works were completed in December 1935 and inaugurated under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Rodolfo Jackeln. On the 24th of December 1936 it ceased to be an annex to the arsenal and incorporated under the Directorate of Military Factories of the Argentine Army. In 1937 the name was changed to the Military Ammunition Factory for Infantry Weapons. In 1950, the name was changed again to that of Fabrica Militar de Cartuchos 'San Lorenzo'



7.65 x 54 Mauser headstamped F.A.M.M.A.P. ⊚ 1939 ⊚ indicates the first production of 1939 (afterwards headstamped F.A.M.M.A.P. // 1939 \\). Symbols denote that this cartridge is "Argentine Military Property"



F.M.M.A.P ‘B’ (Fabrica Militar de Municiones para Armas Portátiles de Puerto Borghi)



   Nickel plated dummy for the Argentinian Cartridge Collector Club (Asociación Argentina Coleccionista de Armas y Municiones). It was manufactured by FMC (Fábrica Militar de Cartuchos), Borghi

F.M F.L.B (Military Factory Fray Luís Beltrán)

On April 21, 1961, F.M 'S.L' (San Lorenzo Military Factory) changed its name to what is known today as Fabrica Fabrica Militar Fray Luis Beltran. Together with military ammunition, it also manufactures ammunition for the civilian market.



F.M.C ‘S.F’ (Fabrica Militar de Cartuchos San Francisco)

The San Francisco Military Factory, was located in the province of Cordoba, Argentina and produced a variety of ammunition, although the initial main production was that of 9 x19mm Parabellum. Upon closure, manufacturing was transferred to the current FLB (Santa Fe) plant.


This is a match cartridge designated "Especial Concurso SS" and was made in 1976 by Fábrica Militar "San Francisco" of San Francisco city, San Justo department, Córdoba province, Argentina. The brown color was a post-1971 code for match ammunition (previously used for proof) and replaced the previous identification code represented by a small dot in the neck. This is the last year it was made and the only one in this caliber using the new code.

F.M.C ‘S.L’ (Fabrica Militar de Cartuchos San Lorenzo)

The F.M.M.A.P 'B' factory (Fabrica Militar de Municiones para Armas Portátiles de Puerto Borghi) was renamed during 1950 to the Military Ammunition Factory 'San Lorenzo'. On the 1st of April 1951 the FMC ‘SL’ and the Military Artillery Ammunition Factory were merged under the command of Lieutenant Colonel José Blanco and the name changed to Military Factory, San Lorenzo.






I.M.P.A. (Industria Metalúrgica y Plástica Argentina)

Company founded in 1910 with German assistance and operated factories in the cities of Quilmes, Ciudadela and Almagro. It was nationalized in 1946 during the government of Juán Perón and was amalgamated into the National Directorate of State Industries in 1948.


Cartuchería Orbea Argentina S.A.I.C., Buenos Aires.


Variations on the HP headstamp

H.P. = N. V. Nederlandse Patronen-Fabriek, Dordrecht, which was a subsidiary of the Austrian company Hirtenberger Patronen, Zundhütchen und Metallwarenfabrik, Hirtenberg.

          AP-T Incendiary

   Nederland Patronen-Fabriek, Dordrecht, Netherlands (Hirtenberg Subsidiary)


The "Manufacture Nationale Belge" at Cureghem/Bruxelles, Rue Prévinaire was established in 1884 and in 1888 the company name was changed to Societé Anonyme Cartoucherie Belge with the same address. In 1898 the company moved to Liège, 619 Rue St. Leonard and on the 27th of May 1899 the name was changed to Cartoucherie Russo-Belge. In 1900 the S. A. Anderlecht (S.A. de la Fabrication des Cartouches et Projectiles), that until 1882 was the Charles Fusnot factory was incorporated into the company. The Russian plant was situated just outside Moscow and records from 1899 show that the company had option to buy the Russian companies of Torbeck or Inarov. The company lasted until 1914 and in Russia until 1917, when the Russian plant was confiscated by the State during the revolution. In August 1915, the Belgian Government in exile decreed a reorganisation of the munitions facilities and the Ecole dc Pyrotechnic, formally in Antwerp, but now relocated to France, became the Ateliers de Fabrication des Munitions , or A.F.M. In March 1920 the ‘new’ Societé Anonyme Cartoucherie Belge was incorporated just down the street from the first factory at 615 Rue St. Leonard in Liège with the assistance of FN and Eley Brothers. This company was amalgamated into FN in 1929. The headstamps provide an almost perfect record of the history of the different companies. (IAA Forum)

C.R.B 14 - last CRB headstamp
C B 21 - earliest CB headstamp
C B 22
C B 23
26 C B
28 C B - last CB headstamp





Manufactured military ammunition from the1880’s up to the First World War



Case has been filled with plaster with the holes painted red. With the Belgian order of 150,000 rifles by FN, the bulk of the ammunition production was given to Ecole de Pyrotechnic (E.P.). When the first rifles were delivered by F.N. in October 1892, it was found that the troops were completely unprepared to handle them and it was necessary to manufacture blanks and dummies (cartouche d'instruction) in large numbers. As standard production was insufficient, the decision was taken to have some made by E.P. from recycled cases. The primer was replaced by a rubber plug.




Variations on FN headstamps

According to Army regulations the primer annulus color should be black for S ball, green for SS ball, and in all special loadings it should match the tip color (black, blue, green, red, white and yellow). The only officially approved exception was the proof loading, where the tip color was either light blue or brown but the primer annulus was always green. Nevertheless, these rules were not always followed and it is very common to find most loadings with a "generic" reddish primer lacquer that has no meaning (the 7.65x54 sectioned above is one of those cases). Also, many non-standard special loadings did not had colors assigned and are found with reddish lacquer. After 1971, when the identification color codes for all ammunition were changed, the primer annulus color used for SS ball ammunition – the only loading still in production - went through three changes: purple (1972-76), red (1975-81) and green (1981, when production ended). when manufacture of this caliber was resumed in 1999, the color used was a somewhat translucent reddish lacquer. During the late 2000's it was again changed to pink. (IAA Forum)

Markings on FN headstamps

Headstamps indicating special purpose projectiles are in French:
P = Perforante (AP)
PT = Perforante Traçante (AP-T)
T = Traçante  - ordinary tracer
I = Incendiarie (Incendiary)
E = Éclairant (Spotter)

S and SS is an indication of light and heavy ball, similar to the German system. These loads can be recognized by the ogive of the SS bullet that is more pointed and heavier.

There is no Spanish translation for S and SS bullets; both designations remained in use in all the South American countries that used the 7.65 mm Mauser. Belgian cartridges headstamped F S N 35 and F SS N 39 were made for export while those headstamped F N 35 and F N 39 were made for local use in Belgium. All of the above types were exported to Argentina, but not exclusively.

The last known 7.65 x 54 Mauser headstamps by FN before the German occupation were F N 40, F N B 40, 1 FN P 40 and F PT N 40.

There is no evidence at this stage that FN manufactured the 7.65x54 during the war but it might be possible. The first known post war production by FN was headstamped F N 47, FN S 47 and FN 47 SS (this last one made by Norma).

Some FN wood blanks were packed in packets of 10 with the label A.F.M., a Belgian company called Ateliers de fabrication des Munitions. During WWI, when large parts of Belgium was occupied by the German army, most of the ammunition manufacturing facilities were evacuated to France, first close to Calais, later to an area surrounding Le Havre, as the first location was considered to be too close to the front lines. In August 1915, the Belgian Government in exile decreed a reorganisation of the munitions facilities and the Ecole de Pyrotechnic, formerly in Antwerp, but now relocated to France, became the Ateliers de Fabrication des Munitions, or A.F.M.


The cupro-nickel jacketed round nose bullet was not the only standard Belgian military issue ball ammunition in this caliber leading into WW2 as the spitser type bullet was already adopted in 1930. The small dot in the middle of the neck of the case was used to identify a match loading.




Československé municní a kovodelné závody a. s, Bratislava



   Zbrojovka, Brno



Manufacture de Machines Du Haut-Rhin

      Société Française des Munitions, Issy-Les-Moulineaux.



The specimen on the left was made by Société Française des Munitions, Place Jules Gévelot, 92310 Issy-Les-Moulineaux,France, but it was likely made for a South American contract, probably Peru. The cartridge probably used by Belgium at this time and for years later was the original round-nosed bullet type.






The cases headstamped 19 FyA 10 DM and 19 FyA 11 DM are Argentine contracts and it is speculated that these were supplied to Paraguayan forces. (F.y.A = Fusiles y Ametralladoras (Rifles and Machineguns))

     Belgian Mauser




Greek Powder & Cartridge Co.,Athens





The K.33 7.65 cases are generic contracts that were probably supplied directly by Kynoch to Bolivia, although it was also used by Argentina.


  Board Dummy 

   Nobel Industries. Contract load for Belgium



"S" - flat base bullet weighing 10g.





Unknown arsenal. The first specimen has a date of 1326 = 1910 and the second is dated 1330 = 1914




The top part of the headstamps on the above three specimens means MAUSER. The right hand side symbols are ‘K’ on the first specimen (Karlsruhe?) DWM. The second specimen has an ‘R’ (Raufoss?) and the third specimen has an ‘H’ (Hirtenberg?). The dates at the bottom are 1325 = 1909-10, 1320 = 1904-05 and 1329 = 1913-14 respectively.


The top markings above the stars are for MAUSER on the left side and ‘LITTLE/SMALL’ on the right side (küçük) – to differentiate from the larger 9.5x60R Turkish Mauser. The date at the bottom is 321 (the first number for the year is omitted). This corresponds to 1905-06. 



Box label. Made under contract for Belgium by Winchester during the First World War