1930 Match Cartridges


Those of us who collect Match and other Competition cartridges (you are one, right?), know that 1930 was one special year. No less than 6 very collectable cartridges were manufactured, all by Frankford Arsenal.

In 1930 a new non-corrosive primer was used in match ammunition for the first time. The chemical composition of the pellet was such that more mixture was required than the Boxer cup could hold and so Frankford turned to a Berdan type cup and anvil to accomodate it. They manufactured 3 cartridges with the new primer, National Match, International Match, and Palma Match. All three were headstamped FA 30 R. Except for the International Match, which held less powder, there is no way to tell one from the other once they are removed from the box.

During preliminary firing, the National Match and Palma Match exhibited exceptional accuracy but appeared to develop high pressures. In the interest of safety they were withdrawn and replaced with cartridges having a conventional primer, headstamped FA 30. To help further identify them they were labeled as Special Match and Palma Special. Since the International Match was loaded to a lower velocity it did not have the high pressure problems.

In addition to the 5 cartridges, Frankford Arsenal also produced 150,000 unprimed cases to be sold through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) to shooters wishing to handload their own match ammunition for practice. These cases are all headstamped FA 30. Boxes of 172 grain M1 bullets were also sold directly to shooters.



Thank you for the very interesting thread. A couple questions come to mind:

It was my understanding that the “R” in the headstamp stood for “Rifle Anneal”. Were the conventionally primed “FA 30” cases later made with this annealing as well, despite the removal of the “R” from the headstamp?

Did they continue with the Berdan type primer for the International Match load as it wasn’t a problem or was that changed to a Boxer type as well? If they left it Berdan primed, did they leave the “R” too?

“…exhibited exceptional accuracy but appeared to develop high pressures.” Isn’t that what you wildcattin’ bench resters live for?? Those National and Palma match shooters must have been a bit wimpy, eh?..



Ray: Would not the International and Palma match loadings of 1930 have had greater OA length than the National Match? Hackley et al. mention this in general terms, and while I don’t have the 1930 Boxer-primed match cartridges I do have other Int’l and Palma rounds with the bullet seated longer than the NM and service cartridges. Jack


Lots of questions, most of which I don’t know the answer to. I’ve never been particularly interested in the International and Palma Match cartridges and haven’t done much research into them. I have several boxes of each but they are mostly those from the 1950s and I keep them as representative samples only. It’s a wide open field for collectors who think there is not much new. There are far more International and Palma Match cartridges and boxes than there are National Match.

I don’t know if Rifle Anneal cases were used for the FA 30 Special ammunition. Since the change was a last minute decision, it may be that they simply used cases intended for service ammunition. I’ve not seen any reference that addresses this.

The 1930 International Match was loaded to only 2200 fps and so, it did not show any signs of high pressure and was used as is. It had the same FA 30 R headstamp as the National and Palma Match. International Match was not made by FA again until 1954 when it was loaded with the FA 26 primer.

There was some controversy surrounding the “high pressure problem” using the Berdan primer. Some felt that it was the result of unseasonably hot temperatures and the decision to withdraw the ammunition was made in haste. General Hatcher was in Europe at the time and didn’t witness the situation first hand but wondered why pressure problems had not occured in other nations that all used Berdan primers. Whatever the cause, it was a setback to the development of a non-corrosive primer.

Jack - HWS does mention several of the Palma and International Match cartridges that were loaded to a longer length than the Naional Match, but is silent where the 1930 cartridges are concerned. I have boxes of the National Match but not the International or Palma, and the loose cartridges that I have are all the same length. Do you have 1930 cartridges with the shallow seated bullets? It would be easy to confirm the International Match by pulling a bullet and weighing the powder charge.



Ray: The only version of the 1930 match loadings I have is a Berdan-primed National Match round, headstamped FA 30 R. I have only two non-NM loadings from this period, an “FA 34P” Palma and–if I’m recalling correctly, an “FA I & P” version (from 1929?). Both these latter specimens do have the bullets seated out beyond normal. Jack



I have quite a few International, Palma, and National Match rounds with the bullet seated out for “single loading”. Both military and commercial. But, also quite a few that aren’t. And those that are seated out will vary in OAL. The same goes for the 7.62mm. I’ve tried to make sense of the different lengths by sorting according to type, velocity, etc, etc but cannot find any definite pattern. Unless the headstamp or primer seal color is unique, it’s an impossible job once they are out of the box (which most are).

As I said earlier, this is a job for someone much younger than me who is looking to be a pioneer and get his/her name in lights. ;)



Ray: I know what you mean about those fascinating research projects for someone young and enthusiastic to take on. I have a number of these awaiting just the right person. Jack