Native soil microbial populations and unadapted municipal anaerobic sludges were compared for nitramine explosive degradation in microcosm assays under various conditions. Microbial populations from an explosive-contaminated soil were only able to mineralize 12% hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) (at a concentration of 800 mg/kg slurry) or 4% octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine (HMX) (at a concentration of 267 mg/kg slurry). In contrast, municipal anaerobic sludges were able to mineralize them to carbon dioxide, with efficiencies of up to 65%. Reduction of RDX and HMX into their corresponding nitroso-derivatives was notably faster than their mineralization. The biodegradation of HMX was typically delayed by the presence of RDX in the microcosm, confirming RDX is used as an electron acceptor preferentially to HMX. The laboratory-scale bioslurry reactor reproduced the results of the microcosm assays, yet with much higher RDX and HMX degradation rates. A radiolabel-based mass balance in the soil slurry indicated that, besides a significant mineralization to carbon dioxide, 25% and 31% of RDX and HMX, respectively, appeared as acetonitrile-extractable metabolites, while the remaining part was incorporated into biomass and irreversibly bound to the soil matrix. About 10% of the HMX derivatives were estimated to be chemically bound to the soil matrix, while for RDX the estimation was nil.