1960s Radway Green 5.56mm

Would anyone happen to know what kind of gunpowder was used by Radway Green for their 1966 and 1967 production runs? A 1968 report by Frankford Arsenal “Special Tests of 5.56mm Ammunition” noted that the British had complained of extraction problems with their AR-15.

Very little production of 5.56mm took place in Britain in the late 1960’s, only small experimental batches being made.

The earliest known rounds are headstamped “RG” at 12 o’c and “66” at 6 o’c. Presumably live rounds were made, but only one or two dummy rounds have survived. Small batches were made in each of the subsequent years up to 1969, all headstamped with “RG” at 10 o’c and the last two digits of the year at 2 o’c.

These are all extremely difficult to find today. To give an idea of scarcity I have thirty different 4.85mm and 5mm rounds but only a fired 5.56mm case dated “RG 68” and a live “RG 69”. I also have an unheadstamped Kynoch round from 1969 experimental production.

In 1965/66 Britain purchased 6000 AR-15 rifles from Colt for use “special to theatre” and the ammunition for these was all US made, “RA 64” being typical.

Production of M.193 type ball did not start at RG until 1980 and in 1980 -1982 some powder from Pouderie Belge (PRB) was used, but otherewise Nobels Nitro Neonite (NNN) was used.

The powder used in the 1960s experimental batches is not known, although it was probably a version of NNN or NRN (Nobels Rifle neonite).

BTW, in the UK the term “gunpowder” is used for black powder, never for smokeless propellants.


Thank you for the clarification on British production.

In 1964, Remington was running batches with WC846 and two types of IMR. One wonders which they received.

An order for 5,000 AR-15 for the UK went through in 1965. By the time of the Ichord Subcommittee Hearings in 1967, the UK was looking at purchasing another 13,000 rifles.

Here’s a pic of me in about 1984, carrying one of those inital 5000 AR15’s they were still going strong :-)

At the cd from Ron Fuchs the earliest known round is headstamp RG 66