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Military rifle cartridges of Argentina.

Argentina gained its independence from Spain in 1817, after which its armed forces assisted several neighboring countries to throw off Iberian rule. During the 19th century, the Argentines engaged in a number of border disputes and wars with their neighbors. The most prominent of these was the War of the Triple Alliance (1865-1870), in which Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay were allied against Paraguay. It took the allied armies five years to defeat their small--but very tough-- antagonist.

This five-year conflict left the Argentine army in disarray, and a complete reorganization was undertaken beginning in 1870. One of the first tasks was obtaining modern breechloading rifles, and the Argentines approached a number of North American and European armsmakers to supply their needs.

* Cartucho Cal. 11mm para Remington--as did many Latin American nations at the time, the Argentines adopted the Remington Rolling Block rifle. During the 1870s, various models were obtained from Remington and Belgian firms, and in 1879 a standardized pattern was approved as the Fusil Modelo Argentino 1879 "Patria." All Argentine Rolling Blocks fired the .43 Spanish Remington cartridge with a rimmed, bottlenecked case 58mm in length whose 375-grain lead bullet was pushed to 1380 fps by 78 grains of blackpowder.

* 11mm scharfe Gewehr-Patrone M.67--the Argentines purchased a quantity of Infanterie-Gewehr M. 1867 ("Werndl") rifles from Osterreichische Waffenfabriks Gesellschaft of Steyr, Austria. Its cartridge consisted of a rimmed, bottlenecked case 58mm long with a paper-patched 314-grain lead bullet that 62 grains of blackpowder propelled to 1440 fps.

* Cartouche 11mm a Balle Ordinaire Mle. 1874--the Argentines also obtained a number of French Fusil d'Infanterie Mle. 1874 ("Gras") from Belgian dealers. These were chambered for the 11mm Gras, whose rimmed, bottlenecked case measured 59mm in length and contained an 81-grain charge of blackpowder with a 387-grain paper-patched lead bullet at a velocity of 1490 fps.

According to Argentine arms expert Eduardo Fontenla, the dimensional similarities of the three cartridges permitted the use of the Remington round in Wemdl and Gras rifles. Thus the usual practice was to issue Remington cartridges to troops, regardless the rifle they carried. One can only speculate at the effect of this on marksmanship.

During one of the periodic civil upheavals that rocked Argentine history, rebel forces in the province of Buenos Aires purchased , 500 Mauser Infanterie-Gewehre M.71 from Steyr. After the federal army put down the rebellion, these Mausers were reissued to loyal National Guard units.

* 11mm scharfe Patrone M.71--consisted of a rimmed, bottlenecked case 60mm long whose 370-grain paper-patched lead bullet was pushed to 1430 fps by 77 grains of blackpowder. Because of the unique design of the Patrone M.71's case head and rim, 11x58R Spanish ammunition could not be fired in the Mauser rifles.

Because of its temperate climate and natural resources, Argentina attracted many European immigrants. By the late 19th century, it was the most cosmopolitan, and one of the wealthiest, nations in Latin America. During this time the Argentine armed forces came under German influence and their training, organization and weapons took on a definite Teutonic air. Thus when Argentina decided to rearm with the new smallbore, smokeless powder rifles, it turned to German manufacturers.

In 1891 Paul Mauser's revolutionary bolt-action, charger-loaded rifle was adopted as the, Fusil Mauser Modelo Argentino 1891, and orders were placed with the Ludwig Loewe Co. of Berlin (Mauser's actual corporate owners) for 210,000 rifles and carbines.

* Cartucho Cal. 7.65mm para Mauser--featured a short-necked, rimless case 53mm in length, containing 39.3 grains of flake powder to move a 211-grain round-nosed, full metal-jacketed bullet to a muzzle velocity of 2130 fps.

In 1909 a 98-type Mauser, the Fusil Mauser Modelo Argentino 1909, was adopted, along with the new German designed pointed Spitzer bullet.

* Cartucho Cal. 7.65mm Tipo S--used the same case as the above cartridge but it was now loaded with a 154-grain spitzer bullet traveling at 2755 fps.

In the 1930s, as did the German army whom the Ejercito argentino emulated slavishly, the 7.65mm cartridge was updated with a new aerodynamic bullet.

* Cartucho Cal. 7.65mm Tipo SS--was loaded with a 187-grain boattail spitzer bullet moving at 2375 fps. This increased the effective range by more than 1000 meters.

Local production of military ammunition began in the 1930s at the government facility, Fabricaciones Militares. Despite its pro-German proclivities, Argentina remained neutral during the Great War and resisted joining the Allied cause in World War II until 1945.

After the conflict, and with the start of the Cold War, Argentina--along with many Latin American nations--became the recipient of U.S. military aid and the Argentine navy obtained M1 Garand rifles chambered for the .30 M2 cartridge. Additional M1 rifles were reportedly obtained from Beretta in Italy.

* Cartucho Cal. 7.62mm para Fusil M1--used a rimless, bottlenecked case 63mm long topped with a 150-grain FMJ, spitzer bullet moving at 2800 fps.

In the early 1950s, Fabrique Nationale in Belgium supplied the Argentine navy with 5,500 Mle.1949 SAFN semiauto rifles chambered for the 7.65mm Tipo SS cartridge. This marked the last Argentine purchase of military rifles purposely chambered for this cartridge.

In the 1960s, Argentina's army began purchasing Belgian FNFAL rifles. In 1969 local production of the Fusil Automatico Livano began at the state arsenal, Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles Domingo Matheu. The navy purchased a number of Beretta BM-59 rifles and converted most of their M1 and SAFN rifles to 7.62mm, modifying them to use FAL magazines.

* Cartucho Cal. 7.62mm NATO--Argentine issue ammunition uses a rimless, bottlenecked case measuring 51mm with a 149-grain FMJ spitzer bullet moving at 2750 fps.

During the ill-fated 1982 Falklands War, Argentine forces were equipped primarily with 7.62mm FN-FAL rifles, although small numbers of BM-59s were also captured by the victorious British.

According to Fontenla, since in the 1980s the Argentine Special Forces and the national police have obtained quantities of Colt M16A2 rifles.

* Cartucho Cal. 5.56mm M193--identical to the U.S. M193 cartridge, it consists of a rimless, bottlenecked case 45mm in length loaded with a 55-grain FMJ, boattail, spitzer bullet at a velocity of 3250 fps.

A 5.56mm rifle, the Fusil de Asalto Argentino (F. A. A.), was developed between 1982-1983, but only limited numbers were used. The Steyr AUG was later adopted as the 5.56mm Fusil de Asalto Steyr.

Cartucho Cal. 5.56mm NATO--uses the same case as the M193 cartridge but now loaded with a 63-grain FMJ, spitzer bullet with a steel penetrator in its tip, moving at 3000 fps.

Additional 5.56mm rifles have been obtained by the Argentine Navy and Air Force, including M4A1 carbine (Carabina M4a1), M16A2 (Fusil de Asalto M16a2), Heckler & Koch G41 (Fusil de Asalto G41) and the French FAMAS (Fusil de Asalto FAMAS).

I would like to thank Eduardo Fontenla, Lou Behling, Roy Marcot and Keith Doyon for supplying cartridges, photos and information used to prepare this column.
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Author:Scarlata, Paul
Publication:Shotgun News
Geographic Code:3ARGE
Date:May 1, 2015
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