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Old 10-30-2007, 10:34 AM
30Cal 30Cal is offline
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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,
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