-   Ammo and Reloading (

30Cal 10-30-2007 10:32 AM


Posted By: Dick Culver <>
Date: Tuesday, 20 August 2002, at 11:04 p.m.
OK Gentlemen...
I read with interest your posts below asking about destructive qualities of various .30-caliber U.S. Projectiles in our former service rifles. The problem was (or seemed to be) that everyone was talking at once and nobody was answering the original question (which wasn't too clear). Here we have several projectiles in question:
1) The original cupro-nickel jacketed bullets used almost universally until 1922 (and somewhat beyond to use up available supplies on hand).
2) The use of tin to beat the cupro-niclel fouling problem. Remington called their solution "Lubaloy" which was essentially identical to modern day "gilding metal" still in use today.
3) The M2 AP (armor piercing round) with a tungsten core surrounded by lead and jacketed with gilding metal.
4) The WWII field expedient solution to the copper shortage which was a copper-plated mild steel jacket permitted as a limited standard during the war. Unfortunately, following the war, the mild steel jacket was used again from time to time when the price of copper was up - actual jacket material on M2 Ball from the late 40s on is sometimes one thing, and sometimes another. The only sure way to detect it is to use a magnet on the jacket.
Hatcher's Notebook (as pointed out below) has much of the early information contained therein, as well as many of the writings of small arms pundits of the day.
1) M2 Ball using gilding metal jackets was the most accurate (non-match) ammunition and easiest on the bore.
2) NEVER, EVER shoot AP Ammunition in your good rifle bore.
3) M1 Match Ammo (172/3-grain boat-tailed bullet) was very accurate but wore your bore out much faster than the flatbased variety due to the gas getting forward of the bullet base and causing "gas-cutting" in the bore.
4) Copper plated mild steel jacketed ammo was considered OK according to Phil Sharpe, a noted Army Ordnance Officer and a long time contributor to the American Rifleman's "Dope Bag" (Phil was one of the gents responsible for the development of the .357 Magnum in the 1930s).
Turns out that 1, 2 and 3 are patently false, and in my opinion, the jury is still out on number 4. Phil Sharpe was one of the "I'd never shoot AP in MY good rifle boys" but it turns out that he should have known better, according to a paper published by Frankfort Arsenal in the mid 1940s... I'll publish my personal snyposis below (written for one of our posters asking the same question several years ago).
At the extreme bottom of the post is the URL for an article I wrote for the CMP a year or two ago concerning the use of tin to eliminate cupro-nickel fouling in the M1903 Rifle bores in 1921... My references are from Hatcher's Notebook, old manuscripts and my Dad's stories (he fired in the Nationals for the Marines in 1921 and was there for the issue of the so-called "Tin Can Ammo." Format is in PDF - if somebody can't bring up PDF, e-mail me and I'll send you the article as an attachment.
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Answer to a question asked on the CSP Board several years ago:
The short answer (as you have apparently just found out from personal experience) is that your barrel should be good for another 5000 rds (at least according to a Frankfort Arsenal Report conducted in the 1945/1946 timeframe.
Old wives tails had long held that a maximum barrel life with service ammunition was approximately 5000 rds or less. Some said as few as 3500. And just EVERYONE knew that using AP would trash your barrel in a heartbeat. On the flip side of the coin, most experts considered that M1 (172-gr) Ball, (essentially a precursor of the 172-grain FA Match 30-'06) to be extremely accurate, however according to urban legend, it was BOUND to "eat" barrels at an accelerated rate due to the 9 degree boat-tail that would allow hot gasses forward of the bullet base while the projectile was still in the bore!
As it turns out, virtually every old wives tale was pure unadulterated "Moose Manure", however some very high priced help published them as gospel. Clark Campbell in his excellent book "The '03 Springfield" parroted the widely held belief concerning the 172-grain match ammo being hard on the bore, and Phil Sharpe, one of the developers of the .357 Magnum Cartridge an a WWII Army Ordnance Officer and regular contributor to the "Dope Bag" in the American Rifleman) put out the information in his "Complete Guide to Handloading" that while the mild steel jackets of the WWII .30-'06 Ball wouldn't harm the bore of your favorite target rifle, he would not shoot .30 caliber M2 AP in his rifle under ANY circumstances... Just goes to show you how wrong you can be.
Frankford Arsenal grew weary of the stories and decided to conduct a test to determine if they were correct. Without going into great detail, they found that when using either M1 Ball (almost identical to the later M72 Match Ball) or M2 Armor Piercing, the accuracy actually improved up through the first 1000 rounds or so (don't hold my feet to the fire on the exact numbers as I don't have my references in front of me and am too lazy to dig 'em out right this second). They continued to fire the test (using a test rack) and it seemed that the accuracy "improvement" seemed to taper off after 1000 rounds, but the accuracy itself did NOT decrease. The accuracy continued to be excellent to outstanding through at least 8000 rounds. They finally ceased the test, not because the accuracy was declining, but because they simply got tired of firing, since the accuracy showed no sign of decreasing. FA estimated that the excellent accuracy should continue through at least 10,000 rounds and probably beyond.
This was NOT the case with the 150 grain M2 Ball however, it seems that the accuracy began to drop off after about 3500 - 4000 rounds (again don't hold my feet to the fire, I plan to write an article on this and will include the actual figures when I do). The only common thread to the barrel longevity I can personally see, is that both the M1 Ball (172 gr. Match) and the 165-168 gr. AP have a boat-tailed configuration (9 degree for the 172 and a much less obvious 6 degree for the AP).
Throat erosion is another bugaboo that is usually blown out of proportion. We had a gent by the name of Eric England shooting for the Marine Corps for years. He had a favorite M70 that the Ordnance folks kept trying to get him to turn in since the throat was essentially non-existent... Eric steadfastly refused because he kept setting National Records with a shot-out throat... An old rule of thumb used to be that two things happened if your bore was shaped like a pyramid (i.e., bigger at one end than the other). If it was big at the muzzle and small in the throat, you had a boat anchor. If it was big at the throat and small at the muzzle, you had a (potential) shooter - please understand that I'm talking "relative measurements" here... In other words, if your muzzle was tight you were usually OK, but not the other way around.
At any rate, I've raved on much further than I had planned, but I think you can plan on an extremely long accuracy life out of your M1 or M1A barrel if you continue to use 168 -175 gr. boat-tailed bullets at normal velocities…
Best regards,

30Cal 10-30-2007 10:34 AM

Part II

Further Clarification... (Longer than it needed to be!)
Posted By: Dick Culver <>
Date: Wednesday, 21 August 2002, at 1:05 p.m.
Further clarification...
MHB has touched on the salient points of the jacketing material, but the "tin" added to the Lubaloy and Gilding Metal was (supposedly - I'm not a practicing metallurgist) done to harden the (gilding metal) jacket material, or at least that was the theory. Pure copper jackets had been tried but at the muzzle velocity(s) associated with the .30-'06 the copper jacket was deemed to be too soft and prone to strip in the rifling, hence the addition of the nickel in the .30 caliber bullets, both the Krag and the Springfield/RIA. As he points out the 2000-fps gave little or no cupro-nickel metal fouling, but the "ought-six" at 2700-fps was another kettle of fish. Gilding metal, originally a combination of copper and zinc was still considered too soft to prevent stripping in the rifling (according to both Whelen and Hatcher - I'll have to take their word for it as I've never tested such).
The gilding metal composition (copper and zinc) was still thought to be too soft for the high velocities of the "New Springfield" and it wasn't until the innovation of the Lubaloy (Remington) bullet (1922) that (the "improved" composition of) gilding metal (with tin added) was considered to be satisfactory. The composition of the "new" gilding metal bullet (used in the M1 Ball) was essentially identical to the Remington offering. I'm not conversant enough with the actual machinations of the U.S. Government Arsenal(s) to know if the bullet compositions were arrived at unilaterally or some arrangement was made with Remington - I'm sure there is some documentation out there somewhere. The overall result is that it worked regardless of how they arrived at the final "formula"...
As anyone who has read Hatcher's Notebook can tell you, the "Tin Can Ammunition" was a very interesting solution to the cupro-nickel fouling problem and was apparently arrived at by noting that the French had been using strips of tin (tin-foil?) in their artillery cases. This turned out to be a nightmare in small arms cartridge loading, so tin-plating the bullet was a brainstorm by Major T. Whelen (himself an old time competitive rifle shooter and Distinguished Marksman) who was put in charge of solving the metal fouling problem at Frankford Arsenal. In 1921 Whelen's solution was what has come to be called "Tin-Can Ammunition"…
A tin plated bullet solved the fouling problem alright, but a slight hitch developed - the bullets apparently cold soldered themselves in the brass cases. When testing the ammo, it seems that pulling the bullets of the ammunition (usually taking 50-60 lbs.) suddenly came up with a bullet pull from 300-600 lbs. Uppsss! This was compounded by the contrary nature of the target shooter who had been using a field expedient of greasing his bullets using a grease called "Moblilubricant" or even Cosmoline. My Dad shooting at Perry in 1919, 1920 and 1921, said the standard Marine Corps solution (prior to the Tin-Can Ammo) was to use Cosmoline since it had the advantage of being free (a real advantage when a private was drawing $21 per month). The idea seemed to be that the lubrication of the bullet cut down on the coefficient of friction, and thus cut down on the fouling left by the cupro-nickel jackets. Unfortunately grease is NOT compressible, and when the chamber was coated with the Cosmoline/Mobilubricant (the result of dipping entire 5-shot stripper clips in a typewriter can full of grease for rapid fire), the case (neck - or over the long haul during a match, for that matter the entire case) could not expand and release the "cold soldered" bullet from the case neck, thus raising the chamber pressure to possible disastrous levels. Try as they might, they simply couldn't break the habits of (all) the competitors, and at least one projectile was found downrange still (cold) soldered to the case neck. The case neck too, had rifling marks on it - chamber pressure? Gawd only knows, but following the matches (although the ammo set some new records for accuracy) the so called "Tin Can Ammo" was withdrawn from service.
The 1922 National Match Ammo used the "new" Gilding Metal jacket and had a 6 degree boat-tail setting the stage for the later M1 Ball (that used a 9-degree boat-tailed bullet) that was our standard service load until the beginnings of WWII.
What does the "boat-tail" configuration do for a projectile? Well, in a wind tunnel study you'd find that the "slip stream" passing over a flat-based bullet will create what amounts to a vertical "shock wave" off the tail end of the projectile. The boat-tailed configuration allows the "slip stream" to pass over the base of the bullet in a much more streamlined fashion and cuts down on the perturbation(s) effecting bullet flight. In essence, it is simply a more efficient (streamlined) bullet, giving greater range and long-ranged accuracy. It certainly did that alright, as the maximum range was extended from approximately 3500-yds for the M1906 Ball (and later the M2 Ball, a clone of the original M1906 except for bullet composition), to (again approximately) 5500-yards for the M1 Ball - these figures are off the top of my head, so don't hold me to their exactness, but you get the idea.
As MBH has pointed out this was OK until the mobilization for WWII when many of the ranges for the National Guard folks simply didn't have the safety backdrop necessary for the M1 Ball. Ed Clancy has also pointed out that they had run into some manufacturing problems with the M1 Ball almost simultaneously with the decision to come up with a more "range friendly" round, the need for indirect (reverse slope) machine gun fire being taken over by the .50 caliber and tactical air. In this case it became a which came first, the chicken or the egg…
A case could be made for stopping the manufacture of the M1 Ball because of manufacturing difficulties, OR it could be said that the manufacturing difficulties simply got the ordnance folks off their posteriors to solve the "short-range" (National Guard?) problem with the long range M1 Ball? Who knows for sure? It may have been a simultaneous decision that complimented each cause. My personal cut is that both Hatcher's contention that a shorter ranged round was mandated, and Clancy's research indicating some latent manufacturing difficulties sort of came together at a most convenient time. Obviously the manufacturing difficulties could have been cured as they were by 1957 for the then new FA Match Round (essentially the same as the old M1 Ball Ammunition), but since the lighter bullet answered a need and solved a (different) problem the entire thing became academic. EVERYTHING became academic once the decision was made to issue the M2 AP Round as the standard combat round for WWII and the thing sorta' slipped into the mists of history. As a matter of personal observation, I started shooting the M1 in the Marine Corps in 1953 and never saw a single round of M2 Ball ammo until I got into the match shooting program in the late 1950s. We always qualified with AP and even shot the Division Matches with the stuff. Until we finally hung up the M1 in the mid 1960s, the Corps was still shooting M2 AP as its standard round.

30Cal 10-30-2007 10:34 AM


We ran into the same "range problem" (inadequate backstop) with the boat-tailed M72 Match Rounds and the M118 7.62 NATO at Parris Island in the late 1960s/early 1970s when some pencil head sold off some of the military reservation that unfortunately coincided with the range safety space for the rifle range. It was necessary to stop shooting the match .30 caliber stuff (by the rifle team)… Most vexing, but for most applications, the flat-based ball would suffice. Again, as MBH has pointed out, the ORIGINAL M2 ball (just prior to WWII) was given a silver (color) wash to make it easy to identify the new ball by sight and avoid an occasional oppsss in application(s) inadvertently mistaking the M2 stuff for M1.
MBH is correct in that the core of the AP projectile is simply "hardened steel" (sorry for the oops), but it also has a slight (6-degree) boat-tailed configuration, although you have to study it carefully to note the difference from a flat based bullet. Lest anyone think that we were shooting inaccurate ammunition with the M2 AP, it is in fact quite accurate except for an occasional off center penetrating core (I've watched an occasional bullet through the scope when shooting rapid fire in team matches go winding itself off into never-never land), but this was the exception not the rule. In the Corps we quite commonly used the AP round in our Division Matches (E-i-C/Leg Matches) and got some respectable scores. While some M2 150-grain flat-base Match Rounds did exist prior to about 1957, we very seldom saw them on the Division or lower level. Come the 1957 shooting season, FA came up with the precursor of the FA72 Match Round and at least in competition we were "shet" of the M2 Ball in (Marine Corps) Competition.
Was the 172/73-grain boat-tailed match bullet all that much more accurate than the M2 Ball? Depends, I suppose on what your definition of accuracy is/was. We found that a really good lot of M2 Match Ball would shoot right with the M72 Match Round back to the 300-yard line. After the 300, the M72 came into its own… Its real attraction was at the longer ranges where the additional remaining velocity at 600 and 1000-yards allowed less wind correction, and shot repeatability.
While I'm sure that MBH is correct in his contention that the mild steel jacket was a policy decision to conserve strategic materials, not all M2 Ball manufactured during WWII had a mild steel (copper washed) jacket… It was apparently a sometimes sort of thing depending on the availability of copper (or its shortage), and you'll find some M2 even with late WWII dates with gilding metal jackets. Eventually, following WWII (as in my original post) the mild steel jacket versus the gilding metal jacket was decided by the price of copper as an economy measure following hostilities - some are, and some aren't. I've noticed that at least some of the .30 Carbine ammunition sold by the CMP is copper plated mild steel jacketed…?? If you have some try the magnet test!
Phil Sharpe stated flatly in his "Complete Guide to Handloading" that the steel in the bullet jackets was so mild as to be very close to the (hardness/softness?) of standard gilding metal and that he would not have any qualms about shooting it in his finest rifles. Me? I don't think so, but in my case it's a matter of perception rather than established fact. I wouldn't fall on my sword if it became necessary to put a few rounds through a good rifle, but gut feel tells me that I'm better off with gilding metal! Of course Phil was also the rocket-scientist that said under no circumstances would he fire AP in his fine rifles. I fail to see (beat me with a wet noodle) how a steel core encased/surrounded by lead and then jacketed by gilding metal could possibly damage a bore (assuming that if the ammo is corrosive you clean it properly following firing)?
Ah well, this could go on forever, and I've got to get down to the settlements (out here in the territories we have to mount out an expedition for resupplies)!
Best regards to all,

Seesm 02-01-2009 2:03 PM

Wow lots of cool old info...

Dalton 02-18-2009 9:58 AM

Nice info man.

Fjold 04-19-2009 11:10 AM

I would have more respect for the author if he hadn't made the error in the title.

It's "Boattail" not "Boat-Tailed"

30Cal 04-19-2009 3:17 PM

The author has an Ordnance degree from the Naval Post-Gradual School.

Some interesting reading if you've got some time...

The M16 Saga stories are of particular interest. He had first hand experience with the M16's disastrous early problems and elevated the issue till it finally got fixed. Thus the "Jouster" reference of the website.

FLIGHT762 05-06-2009 7:10 PM

"2) The use of tin to beat the cupro-niclel fouling problem. Remington called their solution "Lubaloy" which was essentially identical to modern day "gilding metal" still in use today."

"LUBALOY" is a Winchester trademark, NOT Remington.

TheCilician 05-14-2009 8:45 AM

Good Info. my friend. Thanks.

glockman19 05-14-2009 8:51 AM


Originally Posted by TheCilician (Post 2477473)
Good Info. my friend. Thanks.

Yes. Good info.

Thank you.

forgiven 06-14-2009 4:32 AM

Whew, I'm tired. Great info though. Thanks.

scr83jp 06-16-2009 8:47 PM


Originally Posted by 30Cal (Post 1845546)

Your barrel life data is a bit off.In the late 1970's 3 of us were at the Yucca Valley HiDesert Gun Club firing a garand qual match when we noticed an elderly participant shooting a 1903 Springfield on the 100 yard range at the 600 yard simulator targets whether kneelin,standing or prone in rapid or slow fire he put all of his shots in a tight group in the 10 ring & a few in the 9 ring.We asked him about his rifle he told us he estimated he had fired in excess of 50,000 rounds thru it in practice & matches.He had his competition shooting coat on with 2 emblems 1950 & 1951 National High Power Rifle Champion.He said his Springfield had approximately 6 inches of rifling left near the muzzle.

That didn't effect his skill and accuracy that day he outshot everyone on the range.

High and Right 03-01-2010 11:16 AM

Everyone! Thanks for all the information.

Here is a question, two parts.
One, will STEEL jacketed ammunition cause excessive wear to the bore...? What of the differences in Chrome-lined and NON-Chrome-lined bores...?
Two, are the difficulties in reloading Berdan primed ammunition worth it...?

Thanks.... Just trying to see if a "deal" on some surplus non-corrosive steel jacketed berdan primed ammo is worth it....or too good to be true!

scr83jp 03-06-2010 1:43 PM


Originally Posted by 30Cal (Post 1845546)

I fired a garand qualification match in Yucca Valley along with 3 other fellow law enforcement officers in the late 1970's at 100 yards using 600 yard simulator targets.One of the participants was using his 30-06 mil 1903 Springfield rifle for slow & rapid fire standing kneeling & prone but he put most of his shots in the 10 ring and a few in the 9 ring,we watched in awe as this eldery shooter performed.His shooting coat had 2 emblems 1950 & 1951 USA National High Power Rifle Champion,he told us he had fired in excess of 58,000 rounds in practice and competition thru his rifle and it only had approx 6 inches of rifling left near the muzzle.I've read so many articles about barrel life from people who have never duplicated the master riflemans fete we watched that afternoon with a 'shot out barrel' that was still deadly accurate.

MAC USMC 05-25-2010 2:20 PM

The "old gentleman" was a former U. S. MARINE ..... correct?

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