Logo of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt

Dynamic Pressure Measurement

Working Group 1.33


The working group is tasked with a broad spectrum of testing and type approval according to German weapons and powder-actuated tools laws. More than 500 cases are treated every year. Most of them involve the testing of so-called airsoft and paintball guns; others concern alarm or signaling weapons or blocking systems for inherited guns. The overall goal is to help assure that the use of these devices is safe for the user.

The working group fulfills the tasks according to the regulatory decisions of the Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small Arms (C.I.P.). It is also a Notified Body within the European Union for conformity assessments of portable powder-actuated tools according to the directive 2006/42/EG (Machine Directive).

Current research includes projects under the umbrella of C.I.P., where Germany has been a founding member more than 100 years ago. Other projects aim at the development of calibration apparatus for piezo-electric pressure sensors for the measurement of pressure spikes up to 600 MPa.

To top


Research and Development only form a small part in the portfolio of the working group 1.33, due to the comprehensive mandate in the field of type approval and testing. They encompass above all the development of an apparatus for the calibration of pressure sensors for strong pressure spikes. These are realized by dropping a steel ball onto a pressure cylinder; the resulting pressure spikes are determined quantitatively by a laser interferometric measurement of the changes in refractive index of a hydraulic medium.

Typical subjects are:

  • Research and development for the improvement of measurement and testing methods in ballistics, in particular internal ballistics
  • High speed photography in external ballistics
  • Development of calibration apparatuses for piezo-electric pressure sensors.

To top


Because of the hazards inherent to the operation of powder-actuated tools and civilian firearms – and also to prevent their misuse – these devices must undergo a type approval before they can be placed on the market. Examples are specific types of civilian firearms, alarm weapons and powder-actuated tools like nail and rope guns or certain bomb defusing devices. PTB has been tasked with this important public service by German law (“Beschussgesetz“). The main point here is to test whether the devices fulfil the technical requirements placed on them by law, so that they do not constitute a hazard for the user when operated according to instructions.

An important metrological task is the provision of metrological traceability of ballistic measurements needed for the proof of compliance with the German law “Beschussgesetz”. For this traceability PTB develops national standards and specialized calibration and testing facilities for the dynamical quantities that are of relevance for safety during firing of ammunition and cartridges. In particular, the pressure within the barrel is tested up to 600 MPa at small rise times (20 µs) and short duration (3 ms), as well as the projectile velocity (up to 1300 m/s).

Typical metrological services are:

  • Type approval of alarm weapons and powder-actuated tools according to German law “Beschussgesetz (BeschG)” (§§ 7 and 8) and according to international regulations, for instance those of C.I.P. and EU
  • Acknowledgment of notifications according to § 9 BeschG and § 24 Weapons Act (WaffG)
  • Determination of projectile velocities, for testing of the energy limits stipulated in weapons legislation
  • Calibration of installations for the measurement of projectile velocity
  • Type approval of blocking systems for inherited weapons according to § 20 WaffG
  • Dissemination of the unit of pressure for the measurement of dynamical pressure, for instance via the calibration of piezo-electric pressure sensors
  • Pressure measurements for cartridge and bullet ammunition
  • Active participation in the C.I.P. and its working groups
  • Support of the German proof houses and cooperation with them in the field of measurement and testing
  • Participation in the German council on proofing (“Beschussrat”) according to § 41 BeschussV, and other support of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community regarding regulatory questions

Testing and type approval of electro impulse devices and self-defense sprays is performed by the PTB’s Opens external link in new windowWorking Group 2.32 "High-voltage Metrology".

To top


To top