View Full Version : 8x57R and 8x57JRS question

Doug Kellermann
05-21-2012, 02:03 AM
I have two Meffert Driilings one proofed in the late 30's and one proofed in the 40's.

Both are stamped 8x57R. The 1940's was sold to me as a 8x57 JRS however the 8x57 JRS does not fully drop into the chamber when the receiver is removed and the barrel is held vertically. The 8x57 JRS easily drops into the 1930's Meffert when the barrel is held vertically.

I have not done a chamber cast of either. Based on the fill of the 8x57JRS into the 30's Meffert would it to be safe to say that chamber was 8x57 JRS?



mike ford
05-21-2012, 11:10 PM
The way to tell the difference is by slugging the barrel(easier than chamber cast if you just want barrel diameters). If groove dia. is close to.323 it is "S" bore, if .318-.321 then "I"bore. In the tight one, if a .323 bullet enters a fired case easily, there shouldn't be a problem. If they are both stamped 8x57R and are not also stamped 7.8 or 7.9 x57, they are likely to have been proofed under the 1939 proof law. I understand that 8x57IR was not allowed at this time. If neither has the old marks in addition to 8x57R,they are both likely to be intended for 8x57IRS.

Doug Kellermann
05-22-2012, 06:41 PM
Hey Mike

The Meffert that was proofed in 1937 has the older proof marks and does show 7.8mm 57 on the rifle barrel. On the sleeve near the extractor slide the gun is marked 8x57JR. This is the gun that both the 8x57JR and 8x57JR cartridges booth easily drop into the chamber when the barrel is removed from the receiver and held vertically. I used 00 buck shot to slug this bore I want to use a larger diameter ball, I would not rule out this being a .323

The Meffert that was proofed in the 40's does not have any proofs on the the rifle barrel the proofs are on the sleeve near the extractor slide also the gun is marked 8x57JR at this location. the slugging shows this being .318.

I am confused as the 1940 is a 8x57JR I would have thought it wold have been the .323.....


mike ford
05-23-2012, 03:18 PM
I'm confused by the 1940's drilling also. I think the barrel must have been made considerably before it was proofed.During wartime, parts have to come from wherever they can be found. The 1937 drilling is clearly marked as 8x57JR,but may be useable with 8x57JRS ammo( not unusual). I wouldn't try it unless a .323 bullet will easily enter a fired case. I often have to flatten buckshot to use in slugging larger barrels. This usually gives good results because of more contact between the shot and barrel.

Axel E
05-23-2012, 09:11 PM
It is a common misconception that the S bore, .323" bullet became standard with the 1940 proof law. Until long after WW2, to about 1950, the I =.318" one was regarded as the "civilian" one, While the S = .323" one was the "military" one, only used on rifles for the "magnum" loads. Even after 1950 the European arms and ammo companies contemplated to make the I bore standard for all civilian ammo. Only the popular demand caused by umpteen S bore military barrels left over from WW2 changed the opinion when the German hunters were allowed to rearm. The 1940 proof rules only drew the clearcut difference by establishing max/min dimensions and max pressures for all cartridges. The 1940 proof rules also demanded that each gun must be clearly marked by the maker and bear the common designation of the cartridge instead of the former bore diameter and case length only. As both drillings are clearly marked 8x57IR instead of 8x57IRS, they are proofed for .318 bullets. Merely dropping a cartridge into the chamber to establish caliber is an outright dangerous proposition! usually an 8x57IRS cartridge may be slipped into an 8x57IR chamber, but case neck and bullet will be somewhat wedged in. On firing, the case neck cannot expand to release the bullet and the bullet is not free to start moving. This condition can raise pressures above the danger line, not the to tight bore by itself.

mike ford
05-23-2012, 09:58 PM
As always, I defer to Axel. Of course he is correct about the bullet wedging into the case, this is the reason for checking a fired case with a .323 bullet.My understanding that 8x57IR ( or I, for that matter) were not allowed at this time, was due to the rumor that Goering ordered it in defiance of the post WW1 treaty outlawing "S" barrels. Of course ammo for both had to be made all along. I lack documentation for this and cannot prove it.

Doug Kellermann
05-25-2012, 01:54 AM
This is great information... If someone will provide technical guidance I will glad start a Drilling Almanac.

Both barrels are .318. The 1937 has one of the lands that measure .3195.

To be clear i would never just drop a 8x57JRS cartridge into a 8x57JR marked gun and fire it. I found it interesting that the JRS cartridge dropped into the 1937 JR and not the 1940 JR chamber.

Thank you both for the explanation.

I now am looking for a 8x57JRS drilling...



Axel E
05-25-2012, 08:35 PM
Mike, I dismiss that Goering/8mmS story as pure fairy tale! Contrary, the 1940 gun/proof law treated the S = .323" bullets as something special, not standard. The law prescribed that the unusual commercial S ammo must be clearly marked as such in the following manner. Even today every wannabe German hunter at his Jägerprüfung = examination has to know these markings, which were used by the German ammomakers RWS and DWM up to the 1990s.
S bullet diameter cartridges were only to be sold in sealed 10 shot packages.
Each package had to have a red label reading "Warning. Only for barrels with S caliber (caliber 7.89/8.20 mm)"
Each S cartridge had to have a black primer.
Each S diameter .323" bullet has to have a stippled line around.
If the S-bore had been declared standard, such treatment would not have been necessary. Here is a photo of an 8x60S that conforms to the 1940 law. It shows all these markings.

mike ford
05-26-2012, 05:12 PM
Every thing you said is true, but it is all for Ammo not the guns. Ammo had to be loaded for both bore sizes . The 8x60S mag ammo you showed is the rimless version. I have a fair amount of the rimmed version. The rim on it is knurled( like a coin), this is the way higher than normal pressure( such as proof ammo) ammo was identified.I have saved this ammo for many years, in case I can find a rifle. The Goering/8mm S story may still be a fairy tale, I still don't have any proof of it. Anyway, if I had to find proof, you would be the one I would ask for help.

Axel E
05-26-2012, 10:20 PM
To answer the questions I tried to go back to the roots, but at the moment I only reached the stump: I reread the 1940 RWS "Schiesstechnisches Handbuch für Jäger und Schützen" . On pages 178 to 184 there is a chapter on the new proof law of June 7, 1939, in force from April 1, 1940. Here I found answers to several questions, even the original one of this thread. At first, Hermann Goering is mentioned nowhere, other than in the next chapter about the Reichsjagdgesetz = hunting law. Instead, the "Normalisation Commitee" of the German arms industry, established in 1909, is credited with the new rules, the dimensional tables to be drawn by Mauser, Oberndorf.
On the I vs. S debate it merely states "Because of public demand none of the two calibers may be eliminated at this time".
Then there is the answer to the original question of this thread: "Why does an 8x57 IRS cartridge chamber freely in a pre-1940 drilling, but not in a post-1940 one?": The new proof law not only prescribed minimum chamber dimensions, but also maximum dimensions for 8mm I chambers, just to prevent accidental chambering of a S cartridge in an I chamber!
On the knurled rim of Mike's 8x60RS cases: "In case of a S caliber load, if shot by mistake from an I barrel, exceeds the maximum allowable pressure for the I load to a dangerous degree, an additional marking is prescribed. This is the case with only one RWS cartridge: The 8x60RS (Magnum), formerly named 8x60R Magnum. It's marking: knurling of the rim in addition to the markings mentioned above."

mike ford
05-27-2012, 04:06 PM
Good information, thanks

05-28-2012, 03:37 PM
Also I think we need to include Axel's findings on the bullet weight:

"Apparently the changeover was completed 1926. Jon Speed's book "Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles", page 274, shows a table of cartridge dimensions agreed upon July 23, 1926 by the German arms and ammo manufacturers association. It shows new//old designations: 8x57IR // M88/8 mit Rand or M88B, 8x57I // M88N, 8x51 // M88/8 kurz or H, 8x57IS // M88/8S.
The German M1888 cartridge was loaded with a .318" 14.7gramm = 227grs (roughly 15gramm)round nose bullet. This was the standard/only hunting load up to WW1. The military S cartridge used a .323" 10g = 154gr pointed bullet that never became popular as a sporting load. In WW1 the German army changed to the sS = heavy pointed bullet for machine gun use, bullet weight 12,7g =196gr. This became the standard weight for both the I and S bores close to WW2. Up until after WW2 the I = .318" bullet was regarded as the sporting type, while the S-bore was the "military" one, used on Sporting rifles mostly for the "Magnum" loads to relieve pressures. Only the 1940 proof law introduced min-max dimensions and the strict differentiating between I and S bores. So take any rifle proofed for a 15g bullet to be an I bore. Also, any other commercial pre-WW2 8mm barrel, except you prooved otherwise by slugging the bore and making a chamber cast."


Kind Regards,


mike ford
05-28-2012, 06:13 PM
If we get this deep into the discussion, some one needs to address the Treaty of Versailles and the effect it had on production of 8x57I/IR, 8x57IS/IRS, and 8x60S family.One of the strict provisions of the treaty was the limitation of military rifles to a certain number, sufficient to serve the limited size army allowed by the treaty. The treaty generally prohibited production of new barrels of the "S" type, but not "I" type. In my humble opinion, this was the reason post WW1-preWW2 rifles of sporting form are usually found in "I" or "IR" caliber if 57mm and "-" or "R" if 60mm. It couldn't be due to free choice, since one of the choices was not allowed. The development of the 8x60S was a device to make otherwise illegal 8x57IS rifles(military caliber) legal through a pretty simple rechambering job.One of the "Fairy Tales" about this caliber is that 60 mm case length was chosen to allow re-conversion back to 8x57IS by simply setting the barrel back one thread in Mod 98 rifles. I have threaded enough barrels for Mod 98s, that I can state with authority that this tale is not true. What is true is that the 8x60S turned out to be a very good cartridge and inspired 8x60,8x60R, 8x60RS, 8x60S mag., 8x60RS mag.( and Mag.Bombe version of the last two). At some point after the National Socialists took over, they evaded provisions of the treaty and finally just disregarded them altogether. After this, the "S" bore became the main 8mm again, after all it was adopted for good and sufficient reasons in the first place. I'm sure Axel can document either agreement or disagreement with this and I look forward to his comments.

Doug Kellermann
05-29-2012, 02:13 AM
Hey Mike,

Raimey raises an interesting point.

To me these are the types of discussions that differentiate the German Gun Collectors Association from the other sites. The 8x57JR and 8x57JRS are in the category of confused and misunderstood cartridges. Adding to the confusion is the the JRS in the USA has several sources of commercially available ammo where as the JR one has one source of commercially available ammo. Based on facts presented by Axel I would have thought the opposite be true.


Axel E
06-02-2012, 05:03 PM
WOW, here is a lot to clean up!
Please, keep in mind the time span from 1945 to now, 2012, is longer than the span from 1888 to 1945, when a lot of gun, caliber, cartridge and powder development took place. Many of the then popular cartridges are long obsolete, such as many contemporary American ones. Have you tried recently to buy some fresh ammo in .33 Win or .25 Rem at your local gunshop? The history of the 8mm cartridges is hard to understand for an American who has no access to old German language books, catalogs and hunting magazines. I claim to have learned something about it during the last half century, so let's begin at the beginning:
When the original M88 = 8x57 cartridge was developed for military purposes, it used a long, heavy .318" 227gr round nose bullet, fully jacketed in thin, nickel plated steel. The original military M88 barrels had a groove diameter of .319" but this was deepened in 1892 to .321" to .323" to prolong barrel life. The early Gew98 rifles retained the oversize .323 grooves. The long, heavy round nose slugged up in these "oversize" bores and gave acceptable accuracy for the military. The civilian Suhl and Zella-Mehlis barrelmakers soon found out the tighter barrels shot better, so they adjusted groove- to bullet diameter. Unfortunately many followed the peasant's rule: "if tighter shoots better, much tighter will shoot much better" and overdid things. I have slugged some pre-WW1 8mm barrels that were only .315"! Remember, there were no set standards until 1940, so if the gun stood firing the "4000 at Beschusspatrone", everything was ok.
When the German army started to modernize the 8x57 military cartridge after 1900 the new, light 10g = 154gr S = spitz = pointed bullets with their short bearing surface would not slug up on firing any more. Instead of changing the rifling specifications again, the bullet diameter was increased to .323". This allowed the already existing military rifles to be converted by simply enlarging the neck area and throat of the chamber to accept and release the new, slightly thicker bullets. Now the "military" S caliber differed considerably from the "civilian" I one. Apparently this bothered noone, as military and sporting loads were clearly separated and most bolt action I rifles shot the oversize military loads without alarming effects. The other way around, military S barrels still shot the old-fashioned long round-nose I bullets with reasonable accuracy.
When the Versailles "peace treaty" was signed in 1920, the 100 000 men Reichswehr was only conceded a very limited supply of military cartridges, barely sufficient for the necessary training but designed to dry up within a few days in case of a new war and insufficient to build up reserve stocks. As the Austrians had already evaded a similar provision of theit St.Germain treaty by keeping the limited supply of war ammo in stock and issuing "civilian" soft-nose hunting ammo for target training to their troops, the manufacture of any ammunition that might be used in the military rifles was prohibited in Germany. So not the I or S bore was outlawed, but the making of any 8x57 rimless cartridges for civilian use. This ban on the 8x57, I and S, led to the development of the civilian hunting cartridge 8x60 to allow for rechambering the unfed 8x57 commercial bolt action rifles. Of course the I bullet diameter came first, as the .318" caliber was still deemed the more accurate one. But during the turmoils following the great war many military rifles "went under" and were sporterized for hunting use, so there was a small demand for light bullet S loads, so there was a limited offering of 8x60S loads. The 1921 RWS export catalog still shows the 8x57, not yet the 8x60, loaded with both 14.7g and 10g pointed bullets, but does not mention I or S bores.
The mid-1920s Steigleder catalog still features the 8x57IR and the 8x60, but no more the 8x57 and not an 8x60R.
Jon Speed in his book Mauser-OOSR shows a handwritten table from the Mauser factory, dated 1926, giving the commercial 8x57 (for export) and 8x60 rifles a groove diameter of .319 - .320", linked to the footnote " these rifles get the chamber and the throat for Spitz bullets, so that these may be used also."
The 1930 Burgsmüller catalog shows the same offering, 8x57IR, 8x60 "as the replacement for the unavailable military 8x57" and the 8x64 Brenneke, but neither I nor S bores are mentioned.
the 1934 DWM handbook shows 13 different loads for both the 8x57IR, 8x57R (A-base) and 8x57, but only 3 entries are marked "for use in S-barrels only". For the 8x60/8x60R the ratio is 5 out of 12 "S only", including the "Magnum Bombe" load. For the 8x64/65R Brenneke it is 2 out of 6, but still no S suffix to the cartridge designation.
The 1937 RWS catalog shows a total of 40 8x57I and 8x57IR loads, one each marked "for S-barrels only." Some 8x60 and 8x60R loads are cataloged as "Magnum" loads for S barrels, but the S moniker is still not affixed to the cartridge name.
The 1940 Rws Handbook finally shows the clear-cut difference between 8x57I, 8x57IR, 8x60 and 8x60R loads and the corresponding S cartridges. On page 43 these suggestions for a future change to "S caliber only": The rimless 8mm cartridges will be factory loaded with S =.323" bullets only, by the use of modern powders there will be no excessive pressure when shot through bolt-actions with I barrels. The 8x57IR will be available with I =.318" bullets only, there will be no 8x57IRS loads. The 8x60RS gets the knurled rim. As we know, this simplification never became true.
After 1945 the German Hunters were disarmed. Many hid their guns away, but the majority of hunting guns was destroyed, liberated or looted. So today there are possibly more 8mmI guns in the USA than in Germany. When the German hunters were finally allowed to rearm in the early 1950s, few could afford new guns. Many unearthed -literally- their rust-pitted prewar guns and continued to use them. Others found rusty and rotten K98Ks in the woods, had the actions rebarreled with plentiful , leftover Luftwaffe machine gun barrels in 8x57IS, had them restocked and mounted with any old scope they could get. Though the European ammo companies thought otherwise at first, the I bore in new-made guns had become a thing of the past by the end of the 1950s. The ammo makers one after another ceased making I bullets and loads. The current offerings are rare. The 8x57R360, 8x58R, 8x57R(A), 8x51 are completely forgotten, the 8x57I is a pure handloading matter. RWS recently ceased making the 8x57IR, so the only I diameter factory load is the 8x57IR by Sellier&Bellot, the only bullet available to handloaders their 196gr rn sp.

06-02-2012, 11:35 PM

Thank you for the excellent discussion defining in one shot, and in great detail, the story on the 8X57 variants. By reading all of the comments I see for the first time that the groove dimensions did not follow a clear cut transition from .318" to .323" as I'm sure many have thought. Axel's wealth of information is a greatly appreciated gift. Very nice!