Cartridges: The Often Overlooked 8mm Mauser


While it’s never really caught on stateside, the 8mm Mauser has a great pedigree and is more than capable on the battlefield or on the hunt.

Why the eight is great:

  • It was the official German military rifle cartridge through both World Wars.
  • The cartridge was official adopted in 1888 with a diameter of .318 inch, which was increased to .323 in 1905.
  • In the same class as the .30-06, the 8mm is adequate for any North American big game.

The 8mm — or 7.92 — Mauser was the German military rifle cartridge through both World Wars. It was officially adopted in 1888 with a bullet diameter of .318 inch. In 1905, the bullet diameter was increased to .323 inch. In Europe, the 8mm Mauser and several other 8mm cartridges are available in both sizes. The larger size is always designated as “S” or “JS” bore. In the United States, ammunition companies load only the .323-inch diameter or “S” bullet.

The 8mm Mauser is widely chambered in European sporting rifles, but American gunmakers have not adopted it to the same extent. The “J” or “I” in the name denotes infantry ammunition. The German capital “I” was mistaken for a capital “J” by U.S. military interpreters after World War I, and the “J” misnomer came into common use here and even in Europe thereafter!

The 8mm Mauser had not been very popular in the U.S. prior to World War II. However, the large number of obsolete, surplus 8mm military rifles sold here since the end of the war has increased its use substantially.

As loaded by Norma and by other European companies, such as RWS, it’s in the same class as our .30-06. It’s adequate for any North American big game if the proper bullets and full loadings are used. A large variety of good .323-inch bullets are now available for the individual handloader, and this has dramatically increased the usefulness of the 8mm Mauser for the American shooter.


Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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