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U.S. MILITARY .30-06 CARTRIDGES: Have a Ball--And Other Types.

The U.S. Army adopted its first small-bore, smokeless-powder rifle, U.S. Magazine rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1892, in late 1893. Better known as the Krag-Jorgensen, its cartridge, the U.S. Service Cartridge Cal. .30 (a.k.a. .30 Army), consisted of a rimmed, bottlenecked case 2.34 inches (59mm) long topped with a 220-gr. Round-nosed, full-metal-jacketed (FMJ) bullet with a rated velocity of 2,000 feet per second (fps).

Over the next few years, the Army took two other Krag rifles (M1896 and M1898) in service along, with three carbines (M1896, M1898 and M1899).

While the Krags proved light recoiling and accurate weapons and were popular with the troops, the .30 Army's long, round-nosed bullet lost velocity quickly and had a very high trajectory. Combat service in the Spanish-American War showed it was outclassed by the Spaniard's flat-shooting 7x57 Modelo 1893 Mausers and during the Filipino Pacification Campaign, especially when used against the fanatical Muslim Moro Juramentados, it proved a poor "man stopper."

In response, in 1900, Springfield Armory developed the Experimental Rifle of 1900, with a Mauser-inspired bolt and a single column, charger (stripper clip) loaded magazine. Its .30 caliber cartridge was a rimmed design with ballistics similar to the .30 Army.

In 1901, an improved rifle with a Mauser-style flush-mounted, charger-loaded magazine was introduced.

A new .30 caliber cartridge was designed with a rimless, bottle-necked case 2.564 inches (65mm) in length loaded with a 44.5-gr. charge of Laflin & Rand "W.A" nitrocellulose, smokeless powder, which propelled its 220-gr. round-nosed, FMJ bullet with lead/tin core enclosed in a cupro-nickel jacket, to a velocity of 2,300 fps.

This rifle and cartridge combination performed well enough that the Secretary of War approved it for experimental issue as the U.S. Rifle, .30 Caliber, Model 1901 and Caliber .30 Ball Cartridge Model 1903.

After two years of field trials, the Board of Officers for Rifle Testing recommended that the barrel length be reduced to 24 inches to allow the same rifle to used by infantry and mounted troops. The shortened rifle was adopted as the U.S. Magazine Rifle, Caliber .30, Model 1903.

The finalized cartridge design, the Caliber .30 Ball Cartridge Model 1903, was ballistically identical to the 1901 cartridge, but the rim thickness was reduced from 0.060 inch to 0.045 inch.

In January 1906, it was decided to modify the cartridge to use a pointed-style "Spitzer" bullet that had been adopted by the German army. (1)

Adopted as the Cartridge, Caliber .30 Ball, Model 1906 (a.k.a. .30-06), its 150-gr. flat-based, pointed bullet consisted of a lead/tin core inside a cupro-nickel jacket, and was driven to a velocity of 2,700 fps by 47-50 gr. of pyrocellulose powder. The shorter bullet required shortening the cartridge case's neck, which reduced case length to 2.494 inches (63mm). Those rifles already in service had their barrels shortened and re-chambered for the M1906 cartridge.

While the new cartridge proved an immediate success, the military required a number of specialized cartridges other than ball ammo:

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Blank, Model 1906--This cartridge was used to simulate rifle fire for training purposes. It used a resized neck and was loaded with a paper bullet containing a small charge of black powder that broke up the bullet as it exited the barrel.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Guard, Model 1906--A reduced-charge ball cartridge loaded with the standard 150-gr. FMJ bullet, this was intended for guard and sentry duty in built-up areas. The cartridge was originally marked with six cannelures in the middle of the case, which were later replaced by six flutes on the shoulder of the case.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Blank, Model 1909--This cartridge is identified by having no bullet, a deep cannelure in the neck of the case, and the crimp sealed by red lacquer. Note: this is still a current cartridge for ceremonial Ml Garands and modern Model 1909 blanks are rose crimped.

With the rapid expansion of the American Army, shortages of equipment became a major problem. To supplement the standard M1903 rifle, the Army adopted the Rifle, Caliber .30, Model 1917. This was a modification of the Pattern 1914 rifle that Remington and Winchester had been producing

for the British and was easier and faster to manufacture than the M1903. It is a little-known fact that the majority of American Doughboys who served on the Western Front were armed with the "substitute standard" M1917 rifle.

The need to provide our troops with a lightweight, fullauto weapon--what today is referred to as a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)--saw the adoption of the Browning-designed Automatic Rifle, Caliber .30, M1918. Better known as the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), it was a gas-operated, selective-fire weapon that used a 20-round detachable magazine and was light enough to be used by one man. Few made it to the front before the war ended, but the M1918 quickly became popular with its users.

World War I showed the need for more specialized rifle ammunition in order to defeat armored vehicles, entrenched bunkers, anti-aircraft fire (including observation and barrage balloons) and ranging fire.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing, Model 1917. This was the first armor-piercing rifle cartridge used by the U.S. Army. Its 165-gr. bullet had a steel core in a lead envelope with a partial cupro-nickel jacket, which had an exposed soft tip. The exposed tip was to allow the envelope to peel away on impact to allow the core to penetrate the target, but according to the terms of The Hague Convention, it was considered an expanding bullet, and thus outlawed.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Incendiary, Model 1917--The bullet had a large cavity in "the nose to allow the incendiary material to shoot forward on impact. As a result, the M1917 had a tendency to expand on impact and, as with the M1917 Armor-piercing round, was "illegal" according to The Hague Convention, and neither were used during the 1914-1918 bloodletting. For identification purposes, the M1917 had a blackened tip.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Incendiary, Model 1918--A variant of the M1917, this had a normal bullet profile to comply with international laws regarding open-tipped/ expanding bullets. For identification purposes, the bullet was painted black.

Lessons learned during the war resulted in the redesign of certain .30 caliber cartridges and the introduction of new ones.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing, Model 1919. This was similar to the armor piercing M1917 round, except it had a smooth cannelure near the case-mouth and utilized a 165-gr. steel-core, FMJ bullet moving at approximately 2,700 fps.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Guard, Model 1919--A reduced-charge cartridge with a 140-gr. wax-coated lead round-nosed bullet, this was used for target shooting at indoor facilities or near built-up areas. It was renamed the Caliber .30 Guard, Ml in 1933, and was used for guard and sentry duty at defense plants and military installations during World War II where over penetration was a concern.

During WWI, the German army had adopted the 7,9mm Patrone sS (schweres Spitzgeschoss--heavy pointed bullet) for use in machine guns. Its aerodynamic 198-gr. FMJ, boat tail Spitzer bullet increased the effective range of the cartridge by more than 1,000 meters over the 7,9mm Patrone S then used in rifles. In the 1920s, tests showed the heavier bullet increased the accuracy and range of rifles, resulting in a number of nations adopting the sS cartridge as general issue for rifles and machine guns.2

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Ball, Ml--In 1926, the U.S. Army adopted the .30 Ball Ml loaded with a 173-gr., Spitzer bullet with a 9[degrees] boat tail designed for aerodynamic efficiency. Though it had a lower initial velocity (2,600 fps), velocity and energy were greater at longer ranges due to its efficient shape. The bullet core was made of seven parts lead to one part antimony, and the jacket material was changed to gilding metal (an alloy of 95% copper and 5% zinc) to reduce fouling. When fired from heavy machine guns, it reportedly increased the effective range by almost 2,000 yards.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing, Model 1922. A redesigned armor-piercing round, its 167.5-gr. bullet had a heavier steel core. It was the first armor-piercing round to be identified by a black painted bullet tip.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing, M1--This was under development between 1934-1939, and was similar to the Model 1922, but its projectile was moving at approximately 3,180 fps.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Incendiary, M1--For use against unarmored, flammable targets, this cartridge was similar to the M1918 Incendiary round, but the bullet had a blue tip.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Tracer, M1--Designed for observing fire, signaling, target designation and incendiary purposes, its 143.5 bullet contained tracer material that was ignited by the burning powder and produced a visible light out to 900 yards. The bullet's tip was painted red.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Dummy, M40--This cartridge is inert, and is used for practice in loading weapons, for simulated firing to detect flinching of personnel when firing, and for inspecting and testing the mechanisms of small-arms weapons. The cartridge is identified by six one-inch longitudinal corrugations (flutings) in the cartridge case. In addition, there is no primer.

When the U.S. Army began trials of the semiautomatic Garand rifle, it was discovered that the Ml Ball cartridge was responsible for some of the functioning problems the rifle was experiencing. In response, in 1937, the .30-caliber cartridge was re-designed to use a lighter bullet.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Ball, M2--This used a 150-gr. flat-based Spitzer bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2,740 fps. The bullet incorporated a gilding metal jacket similar to the Ml projectile with a slightly heavier, pure-lead core. The M2 was to remain the standard U.S. .30 caliber rifle/machine gun cartridge for the remaining service life of .30 caliber weapons.

In January 1936, the Garand was adopted as the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1. Despite early teething problems, it proved an overwhelming success, and by 1942, was the primary rifle of the American Armed Forces. Its semiautomatic firepower gave American soldiers a distinct advantage over their German and Japanese foes, leading no lesser an authority than General George S. Patton to declare it, "The greatest battle implement ever devised."

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing, M2--Adopted in 1939, the 166-gr. bullet's velocity was reduced to 2,715 fps, and it would remain in service until the mid-1950s. Like earlier armor-piercing rounds, it can be identified by the bullet's black tip.

BARs--both the original M1918 and improved M1918A2--saw wide service during WWII and, reportedly, it was common practice for BAR gunners to use AP ammunition exclusively whenever it was available.

In order to supplement the Ml rifles in service, Springfield Armory assembled M1903 rifles, while Remington and Smith-Corona received contracts to manufacture a simplified rifle known as the M1903A3. It featured many stamped metal parts, less machining and finishing and a simple aperture rear sight. The M1903A4 sniper rifle was an M1903A3 equipped with a Weaver 330C telescopic sight.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Tracer, M2--With a shorter burn time than the M1 Tracer, it originally had a white tip, but then switched to a red tip like the Ml Tracer.

During WWII, the Marine Corps obtained numbers of Johnson M1941 Light Machine Guns to equip its short-lived Parachute Battalion (ParaMarines) and Raider units. The Army also issued the Johnson gun to the U.S./Canadian Joint Special Forces, who served during the Italian campaign. A lightweight (12.25 lbs. vs. the M1918A2's 19 lbs.), selective-fire, recoil-operated weapon, it was fed from a side-mounted 20-round magazine. They were extremely popular with USMC units that used them.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing Incendiary, T15 --This dual-purpose cartridge was loaded with a 155-gr. steel-core bullet with a rated velocity of 2,780 fps. The nose of the bullet contains two grains of incendiary material that bursts into flame upon contact with a target and will ignite flammable material.

Cartridge, Caliber .30 Armor-piercing Incendiary M14/ M14A1--Adopted in 1943, it could be substituted for the M2 armor-piercing round and was normally employed against flammable targets. The tip of the M14's bullet is colored with a blue tip, while M14Al's entire bullet is coated with aluminum paint.

Cartridge, Rifle Grenade, Cal. .30 Ml & M3--This cartridge was designed for launching rifle grenades from M1903 and M1 rifles. The cartridge has no bullet and the mouth is crimped. The differences between the two cartridges have to do with the powder charge and the subsequent range of the launchers. The M1 rifle grenade cartridge used a propellant mixture of black powder and smokeless powder, because it was feared that the smokeless powder would not reliably ignite by itself and was designed to be used with cup-type launchers. The M3 was designed to be used with the M1, M2 and M7 spigot-type grenade launchers and used a propellant that was a mixture of five grains of FFFG black powder and 40 grains of IMR-4898 smokeless powder.

(1) Actually, the French army had adopted a pointed bullet years before the Germans, but they had managed to keep it a "military secret" so well that the German name for the projectile became the accepted term.

(2) Because of Allied restrictions imposed after WWI, the German army did not adopt the 7,9mm Patrone sS for general issue until 1934.

Photos by: Lou Behling, Nathan Reynolds & Paul Budde (unless otherwise indicated)

Caption: U.S. military rifle cartridges from 1893, to the 1920s (L to R): .45-70-500, .30 Army (Krag), .30 Ball Model 1903 and .30 Ball Model 1906. Note the .45-70 and .30 Army use tin-plated cases to preserve them for reloading.

Caption: The M1896 Krag-Jorgensen was the rifle used by most U.S. regulars during the Spanish-American War.

Caption: The M1899 Krag-Jorgensen carbine was the last purpose-built cavalry carbine used by the U.S. Army.

Caption: (L to R) .30 Army, .30 Model 1901, .30 Model 1906, .30 Blank Model 1906, .30 Guard Model 1906 (1st version) & .30 Guard Model 1906 (2nd version)

Caption: American soldiers in Cuba armed with Krag-Jorgensen rifles.

Caption: Troopers of the U.S. 9th Cavalry pose for a unit photo with their Krag carbines.

Caption: Comparing the M1901 rifle to the various M1903 rifles (from a U.S. Army manual).

Caption: A (very rare) charger of .30 Model 1901 training cartridges.

Caption: The original M1903 rifle had a ramrod-style bayonet in the forearm and a Krag-style rear sight. (Courtesy Bruce Canfield)

Caption: In 1905, the M1903 rifle was modified to use a sword-style bayonet. (James D. Julia Auctioneers)

Caption: A charger of .30 Model 1903 cartridges. Note the round-nosed bullets.

Caption: A group of pre-WWI American soldiers armed with M1903 rifles.

Caption: 1917. American Doughboys training with M1903 rifles prior to going "Over There."

Caption: WWI American soldier armed with an M1917 rifle.

Caption: During WWI, most Doughboys were issued the "substitute standard" M1917 rifle.

Caption: The M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle was adopted during WWI to provide American troops with a squad automatic weapon. (James D. Julia Auctioneers)

Caption: 1918. American soldiers demonstrating M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles for a group of Army officers and Congressmen.

Caption: In the 1920s, the M1903A1 rifle with a pistol-grip stock was approved, but few were issued.

Caption: (L to R) .30 Ball M1, .30 Armor-piercing Model 1922, .30 Incendiary M1, .30 Ttacer M1, .30 Dummy M40, .30 Armor-piercing Incendiary M14 and Rifle Grenade, Cal. .30 M1.

Caption: (L to R) .30 Blank Model 1909, .30 Armor Piercing Model 1917, .30 Incendiary Model 1917 and .30 Incendiary Model 1918.

Caption: The U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1 was the first semiautomatic rifle to be general issue with any army. (James D. Julia Auctioneers)

Caption: The Ml Garand was loaded with an eight round, enbloc clip.

Caption: WWII American soldiers and Marines armed with the M1 Garand rifle.

Caption: 1941. An American in the Philippine Islands armed with an M1903 rifle.

Caption: 1941. An American Gl training with an M1903 rifle

Caption: The improved M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle was widely used by U.S. Armed Forces during WWII. (James D. Julia Auctioneers)

Caption: American Soldiers and Marines armed with M1918A2 BARs.

Caption: This M1903 rifle was assembled by Springfield Arsenal in 1942.

Caption: M1903-armed American GIs marching through an English village prior to the D-Day invasion.

Caption: The M1903A3 rifle featured much less fitting and finish and used an aperture rear sight.

Caption: Italy, 1944. Four American GIs pose for a photo. The soldier on the left is armed with an M1903A3 rifle.

Caption: 1945. An American Sailor, armed with an M1903A3 rifle, doing guard duty at a base in the South Pacific.

Caption: During WWII, the M1903A4 was the Army's standard sniper rifle.

Caption: An American sniper in Italy armed with an M1903A4 rifle.

Caption: 1944, Luzon Island. An American Army Ranger in the Philippines armed with an M1903A4 sniper rifle.

Caption: U.S. troops firing on a Japanese position in Burma with M1903A4 and M1903A3 Springfield rifles and a Browning M1919A4 machine gun. (Courtesy Bruce Canfield)

Caption: (L to R) .30 Armor-piercing Incendiary M14A1, .30 Ball M2, .30 Armor-piercing M2, .30 Armor-piercing Incendiary M14 and .30 M2 Tracer.

Caption: During WWII, the USMC used numbers of Johnson M1941 Light Machine Guns. (James D. Julia Auctioneers)

Caption: U.S. Marines armed with the Johnson M1941 Light Machine Gun.

Caption: Army instructors showing how to launch rifle grenades from an M1903 rifle.

Caption: 1944. An American Soldier preparing to launch a rifle grenade from an M1903A3 rifle.

Caption: An American Marine on Peleliu firing a rifle grenade from his M1 rifle.
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Author:Scarlata, Paul
Publication:Firearms News
Date:Jun 1, 2018

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