I believe the mysterious “Olympic” cartridges with the red primer seal are nothing more mysterious than a pre-production lot of T275E2.
In 1956 the T275E1 designation was assigned to a cartridge intended for use by the AMU in newly acquired Swiss rifles. But, apparantly, the AMU opted to use another cartridge and so production of the T275E1 was delayed until 1959 when it was manufactured as Lot FA 7 with a FA 59 MATCH headstamp.
In the meantime, Ordnance notes indicate that a special loading of Olympic Match Competition ammunition, designated by the next “E” number available, T275E2, was to be manufactured with a red primer seal and an OAL of 2.950. But, except for those mysterious single cartridges that every collector seems to have, cartons of this ammunition have never been found. At least not in that configuration and not with any “Olympics” designation.
That is, until a few months ago when I found and bought the carton shown here.
This carton contains the special lot of Olympic cartridges exactly as the notes described. Unfortunately, the “P” lot records have been lost or destroyed so there is no way we can be sure. Since it is a P lot, the use of old cartons with the original lot number crossed out is reasonable.
Production lots of T275E2 are known with cartridges of 2.95" OAL, at both 2600fps and 2640fps (Lots FA 3 and FA 4) but with a black primer seal.
So, again, I believe the mysterious cartridges are all from the pre-production lot. Contemporanous accounts by 1956 Australian Olympics shooters make no mention of such a cartridge so I’m of the opinion that they were not manufactured in time for the Olympics but were, instead, issued for practice purposes. Many cartons of T275E2 stamped “PRACTICE” are known to exist in collections. I have 3 myself.
I believe the “Olympics” connection to the T275E2 cartridges started when someone penciled in the word on a T275E2 carton. I have talked to the collector who supposedly made this notation but he could not recall ever having done it. Of course, that would have been more than 50 years ago so that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. As it often happens, I think other collectors picked up on that and repeated it, and then another, and then another.
So Brian, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it for now. If anyone out there has any information that would contradict mine, or if they have a different opinion, I would like to hear from them. Mine is not set in concrete and I’m open to change any or all of it.