Posted this on another forum and thought some of the guys here might have some White Box ammo come their way. While it covers M72 30.06 match the same principle should apply to M118 Match and perhaps M2 ball ammo.
I was first introduced to Bill Davis in the 70s when he made a visit to the Army Small Cal Lab at Picatinny and have had many conversations with him over the years, many of which involved Match ammo made by the gov't at Frankford Arsenal and Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.
Bill was highly revered by all and was considered the Dean of Army Ordnance. He was the GO TO guy if you had a problem you could not figure out and I did several times as he was a great source of knowledge.
Obviously for best performance you want to pretty well fill a case with propellant up to the base of the bullet and 4831/4350 did just that. So I asked Bill why 4895 was used in the 30.06 match ammo and his reply was "that was what they had" and they had plenty of it so they made it work. I have since been told by a unofficial historian of FA (he worked there for Larry Moore) that best he could determine 4895 came on the scene at FA in the 30s.
In long conversations with Bill Davis he explained when FA started work on the 30.06 Match ammo in the 50s they did all the calculations on the 173 grain match bullet with slide rules and the basis for the envelope was the 50 cal ball ammunition scaled down to 30 cal. Match ammo production was suspended for a few years during Viet Nam and when it came back on line Bill said they had computers and ran models and the computer projection indicated the original design could not be improved upon so the drawing was not changed.
The first lot (M72) I believe was 1957 and some of it was known for soft case heads. That was corrected from then on. I was the recipient of brass from one of the first lots and I was given once fired FA57 Match cases and I noted when I started to reload it that the primer pockets were not snug. Larry Moore later told me some of the first M72 had soft heads.
First lets look at the targets used when MATCH ammo was fielded: First off is the A and B target value rings were about twice as large as they are now in the 50s and the targets where made smaller in 1967 time frame and in full use in 1968. Larry Moore explained it to me when I asked him about ammo performance and he said, "the targets used were not very discriminating". So basically on the old targets could have a possible fired on them with ball ammunition which is all there was when those targets were adopted I suspect in the early 1900s when 1903s and 1917s were the rifles. http://imgur.com/TuJEyNQ
Above will give you some idea of how large the targets were when the 30.06 was THE cartridge and were carried over when the 7.62 came on line. The small target shown is the OLD "A" target which was shot at 200 and 300 yards and the larger "B" target (New design) used at 600 yards that was adopted in 1967 time frame. This "B" Target was very hard to see so the aiming black was increased in size about 1979 and was one of my assignments when I worked for the Army Small Cal Lab. At the same time a new 300 Yard repair center was introduced with larger aiming black. The scoring rings are the same on the new targets, only the black area was increased by one ring.
OK lets look at MATCH ammo specifications:
SAA Pamphlet 23.1 lays out the requirements for M72 Match ammo and the "Accuracy: 3.5" mean radius max. avg. at 600 yards" with bullet drawing number B8595434 175.5-3 grs." All of it was loaded with 4895 until I believe it was 1967 and production was ceased to make way for the events in S E Asia. Of note in the two lots of LC Match I have had both are loaded with 46 grains but the drawing calls for 50 grains. Propellent weight in the specs is changed when the propellent lot burns slower or faster and ammo is loaded to velocity.
The same Pamphlet 23.1 lays out specifications for the M118 Match Ammunition and the "Accuracy: 3.5" mean radius at 600 yards with bullet drawing number B8595434 -175.5-3.0 grs" The spec calls for 42 grains of 4895.
Obviously both these rounds were loaded with the exact same bullets and 4895 though the M118 spec also calls for WC846 (a ball propellant) which I must confess I have never pulled down one round of M118 and found ball propellant therein. If anyone has ever pulled down any M118 with ball propellant please advise and if you have a lot number I am sure others would like to know.
There was one incident I do remember being told about by MTU personnel. In the 60s they were out on the road and all their rifles lost accuracy. The ammo they were shooting was loaded with ball propellant. I do not know if this was M118 or handloads but suspect it was M118 as the Army was still firing LC Match when I shot my first highpower match at Camp Perry squadded with SFC Earl Waterman and he was using LC 20-23 ammo lot and the following year the Army was using LC20-27 and year after it was LC20-28 which was loaded with 4895.
I have shot both M72 and M118 for many years and I determined the older M72 Match was deteriorating and this could be seen readily at 600 yards. Elevation in lots I was shooting was terrible. In other words you could expect shots from 8 ring out the top to 7 ring out the bottom. You will not get a leg shooting such ammo.
This was confirmed when ammo was pulled down to make Mexican Match (pull 173 bullet, neck size and replace with 168 Sierra MKs). If you are pulling with a collet puller and you start pulling first you will find a tremendous difference in the energy required to pull the 173 and a wide variation of bullet pull will give you wide variation of elevation differences at longer ranges. If you set your seat die to bump the bullets and break the mouth lacquer and seat the bullets maybe .010" deeper and then start pulling them you will find the bullet pull forces are much more uniform. It must be understood that bullet pull is a part of ammo acceptance but it is only done once within hours after it is loaded and never again subjected to bullet pull by the Ammunition Surveillance personnel.
The service teams knew this and they routinely bumped their ammo right before a match to get a more uniform bullet pull which equals better scores.
I laid in M72 match in the late 70s when the DCM dumped hundreds of thousands of rounds of it at Camp Perry and I wanted it mainly for the brass. No one really wanted it as 99% of the shooters had switched to 308 and the service teams had made great strides in accurizing the M14.
I had some shooting friends from NY state and they had just picked up about 20,000 rounds of M72 and were not going to use it for themselves. I asked them what they would let me have some for and they made me a deal I could not refuse.
THE DEAL: You buy us 168 gr Hornady Match bullets and we will trade you a loaded round for every bullet you buy us. Lets just say I have not purchased any 30.06 match since that time.
Two of my buddies used the 30.06 continuously, Larry Moore and Ray Steele and they won hundreds of matches between them and made Palma Teams and all they ever used was 30.06. I never saw either use 308 in competition. Though I started highpower with the 308 in 1973 and in 1975 made the 1976 US Palma team with the 308. This begs the question if it was so good why did I not switch. Simple I had the mother load of 30.06 laid in.
The only service teams using 30.06 was the Navy Shooters and they seemed to pick up all their brass and take it home. The Navy van at Camp Perry still had 30.06 Match for issue into the early 90s as some of the older guys liked their 06s though the Navy rebarreled thousands of M1 Garands to 7.62 in the 60s.
When I got to Aberdeen I was only 20 miles from Ray Steele and he got me on tight chambers and built several rifles for me in 30.06 and they were dreams to shoot so since I was winning a goodly share of my matches with 30.06, I had the tight chambers to make the brass last for years it was a win win for me. I was able to win with the 06 so I stayed with it. I beat 7.62s and got beat by them but as stated above the 30.06 is felt to have a slight edge beyond 600 yards. Gary Anderson told me he considered the 30.06 to have a 3% edge on the 7.62 at 1000 yards and I agree.
Then about seven years ago I made a marvelous discovery. I could make M72 match shoot almost as well as my handloads I loaded with Sierra bullets. A good friend who also liked 30.06 and I were on the phone one day and I told him I was going to pull down some M72 match, wash the mouth lacquer off the bullets and reload them. He also told me to reduce the charge. All my match has 46 gr 4895 and I dumped the propellant in jars when I pulled it down before I started reducing the loads.
I experimented with different solvents and went through the usual suspects, lacquer thinner, gas, etc and then I found the ultimate 173 bullet cleaner at Home Depot which is the only place I have ever seen it. When I first spotted it and read the can I decided what the heck, give it a try and I did.
It was absolutely fantastic and I could fill a glass mayo jar with 173s, pour it in and within a day the mouth lacquer residue on the bullets was falling off in flakes. I left it for two days and not only was all the mouth lacquer gone the 173s looked just as nice as the 168 Sierras I was using! ! ! ! I literally could not believe how well it worked.
Fast 505 Industrial Cleaner and Degreaser is THE magical cleaner.
OK the bullets were clean and I remembered the lesson I was taught by Bob Lutz who was an ammo tech at Frankford Arsenal. He taught me how to inspect 173s and remove the ones with the bad bases so I culled out those. Explanation: The 173 has an exposed lead core at the base of the bullet and thus the machines that made them made produced at least 12 different variations of bases.
I remember about 1982 I was on my way back from Camp Perry and stopped by the Secret Service Training area to see Ray and Bob. I walked in and showed them 150 gr. FMJBT bullets in 7MM I had purchased at Camp Perry. I pulled out the box and Bob said, "they won't shoot". He took the box and started going through them and segregated them in three piles, won't shoot, so-so and will shoot. I bagged them up as he separated them and took them home and loaded ten rounds with each "batch".
He was absolutely correct, the funky bases were terrible, the so-so bases were so-so and the "will shoot" was about 1/3rd what the "won't shoot" group was.
Knowing the above from Bob Lutz about the base of the bullet being absolutely critical for accuracy I inspected the bullets before loading them and segregated them for practice and matches.
I tried dipping the case necks of the M72 cases I pulled down and attempted to wipe the mouth lacquer from inside the case necks after gently neck sizing them down a thou or two but the 505 did not work that quick.
I have some bullets soaking now (been in about 21 hours) and the below pic shows the mouth lacquer is falling off the bullets in sheets. I will leave them for another 24 hours and photograph the bases and how to inspect the bullets to achieve much better accuracy. http://i.imgur.com/ablWzgN.jpg
OK now for the loading information. I loaded ten clean bullets with the same propellant that came out of them and loaded 46 grains which is the arsenal loading.
First off all the groups was better than the 10 round group I fired with unaltered M72 match.
The second group was loaded with 45 grains of 4895 weighed and the group was smaller.
The third group was loaded with 44 grains of 4895. This was getting interesting.
Then I did a step load test and started by zeroing rifle (w/ scope) at 300 yards and I shot loads starting at 45 grains and dropped the charge 3/10ths grain 45, 44.7, 44.4, 44.1, 43.8etc. and went down to the min load.
43,3 grains was the best in my course gun and I started pulling down more and since that time my 200 and 300 yard ammo has been that load in that rifle and I have shot cleans at 300 rapid fire with it. The sight change was only 3 clicks of elevation.
Now here is the interesting point. The manual calls for 42 grains in the M118 Match and the most accurate load I found was on 1.3gr above that but then again the M118 round is loaded with propellant at base of the bullet and the M72 round is way below with lots of air space.
Thusly the 30.06 lovers went to 4350 and 4831 and filled the cases as did I.
Hope this will help some of you guys that still have M72 match laid in though the M118 will require a little testing to arrive at a good load below what it came loaded with. Same for M2 ball.
I suspect M118 ammo could benefit from similar cleaning and inspection. Will post the bullet pics ASAP.