.30-06 Blank

I am looking for some help with this Blank Round made from a Frankford Arsenal case. I understand that the cases were crimped with 5 crimps but this is 6 crimps. So was it made by someone else using FA cases?..thanks…paul

Hi Paul,

could be a movie blank.
All my military blanks have a 5-crimp whereas I have some movie blanks with a 6-pental crimp

cheers
René

Interesting that there are “movie” blanks. I’ve often noticed that blank firing on TV and movies often throw more sparks and smoke than normal blanks.

they come in many variations. quick snapshot

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Kevin - they are made to do that, for visual effect, making it “more realistic” for people who don’t understand that many weapon, caliber and live ammunition combinations exhibit very little flash or smoke when fired, and that is often reduced by weapons with built-in flash hiders. Good for the sniper in real-life combat, but pretty boring in the movies, where they sometimes even dub in the sounds of the shots.

There are many kinds of movie blanks, not only in the physical features, such as types of crimps. number of lobes in a star-crimp, etc., but also in the way they are loaded. There are various loads, often marked on the box or on the over-powder wad when the crimping style allows seeing it. There ar 1/4 loads, 1/2 loads, full loads, depending on the noise levels required, as well as long-duration flash loads. I don’t know anything about digital movie making, but when film was used in the cameras, there were only a certain amount of frames-per-minute, and it was possible that a gun being fired could have the desired muzzle flash occur between frames, and thus not seen at all by the audience.

It is an interesting subject. I was the firearms “expert” required on set by regulations during one day’s filming of a movie called “Cardiac Arrest.” Not a bad flick for a low-budget movie. I supplied a real S&W Chief’s Special revolver (they used a very realistic looking toy in all the other scenes in which the gun was present, a very realistic toy S&W). They had not known about the manufacture of movie blanks by specialist in the field, like Stembridge Gun Room, and did not leave time to acquire any .38s. They had to use normal Winchester off-the-shelf .38 blanks, basically made for dog training, starting races, etc. very load. Right before filming, I had to simply shoot five rounds off into nowhere for sound-man to record the technical aspects (beyond my pay grade) of gunshot noises in movies, so he could moderate the sounds if needed. They were very loud.

In truth, the Expert (?), me, learned far more that day than I taught others. While I had plenty of movie blanks in my collection, I did not care much about them, and knew next to nothing on the subject. I did not even care about boxes unless they were made by the Major ammunition suppliers. Big mistake.

John Moss

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I always thought that movie blanks had only one function, make noise (and move the gun). And I always wondered if it were cheaper to buy regular blanks from major producers (who were already manufacturing blanks) so there would be no need to custom manufacture movie blanks. Your explanation about “realistic” looks makes sense now.

I bet movie blanks are also loaded hotter so that the weapons will cycle without an ugly blank adapter at the end of the barrel as we had in the military. Just an observation but as usual I could be wrong…

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Another factor in determining which blank to uses was a perhaps smoke from the muzzle or flash. (notice B.P. [“1/2 B” Ellis is one] & Smokeless powder loaded boxes below)
As to cycling the weapon the weapons used were tuned to the load not just a hotter load. Also loads for rifle and machine gun.
At one time and probably still today, regular blanks were used, where they could be. A factor in the large variety of the crimps & headstamps found especially with a company like Stembridge was that they farmed out a lot of manufacture to various local hand loaders. They would supply the brass & etc plus boxes & get back loaded product.
In as a guess in the 1980’s a cinema blank maker & gentleman named Joe Sawnson developed a load to not only cycle a firearm but ensure it wasn’t dangerous down range. I’m talking right-up-against you down range.

Here are few more variations of .30-06 movie blank boxes.

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I am not at all sure than any semi-auto or full-auto weapons will function properly based on “hotter loads” without a blank attachment. Many movie guns, owned by the studios or rented for movie use from places like Stembridge are altered internally in one way or another. I read on article one about having problems doing a P-38 Walther Pistol to fire blanks, and they found that removing one of the two recoil springs and removing the tilting locking block let the pistol work. I saw a Hollywood Type movie once, where a Japanese officer was often seen holding an Japanese Type 14 8 mm Pistol, but when you saw him firing the pistol, it had morphed into a P-38. Perhaps it simply wasn’t worth the trouble to make 8 mm Nambu blanks, or did not want to alter the pistol. ¿Quién sabe?

I have seen a lot of U.S. Ml Garands in movies where the short portion of the barrel that protrudes beyond the gas-cylinder lock is noticeably longer that normal, not likely noticed by most but real nit-picking Garand lovers like me. I assume that a blank adaptor is welded to the end of the barrel, or some other alteration has been made, to convert it to a blank-fire only rifle.

I guess each type of gun is a special case, and I am no expert on all the ins and outs of converting firearms to shoot blanks. Of course, revolvers and manually operated rifles and shotguns don’t need conversion.

John Moss

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Makes perfect sense John. Thanks for the explanation. Wonderful to have so many different experts in this great forum.
Regards,
Kevin

I had wondered if that M1 rifle blank device wasn’t a part of the gas cylinder lock. That way by switching from standard lock to ‘blank’ lock and back no permanent modification to the barrel would be required. Jack

Jack, I have seen the M1 Garand with extended barrel in many movies. I can’t say it is NOT on the gas-cylinder lock, but it didn’t appear to be. I have a blank-firing device for the M1 rifle, and it is quite a different shape than simply an extension of the same basic diameter as the barrel.

The top one screws to the muzzle, replacing the original gas-cylinder lock and is used with the gas-cylinder lock screw. Not the enlarged and unusual muzzle profile. The bottom one screws to the barrel, and completely does away with the gas-cylinder lock. I have never put it on a rifle so I don’t know how it works with the gas-cylinder lock screw, if at all. It, too, changes the total appearance of the rifle’s front end, and because of shape and diameter, neither permits the use of the M1903 or M1 Bayonet. I don’t think either of these would be suitable for movie use, as every vet and/or shooter who ever handled a Garand would spot it instantly and be turned off to the technical inauthenticity involved.

I am sure there are other types. I think the top one was actually military issue, although when I was in the Army, I never saw a blank attachment for anything but the Browning .30 MG Model 1919A4 and M1919A6. The Garands, in simulated combat, were simply used like a straight-pull bolt-action rifle.

John Moss

Well yet again Gents, thanks for the insight…There seems to be plenty of countries that used cases other than than their own to make blanks. Austria used cases from Lake City, St Louis,Frankford Arsenal, but dont think they were crimped.Canada (DIL) used cases from the US and Japan. China(PRC) used US cases, Colombia used US and Belgium cases and had a 6 lobe crimp The Netherlands etc…etc. The list goes on, I dont think I will ever know if its a movie blank or a blank made by a country using someone else’s cases…paul.

John: Your upper example is similar to what I believe I have seen used in movies, but I’m recalling that what I saw didn’t include the truncated cone. Perhaps some Hollywood techie saw that one and improvised one with that portion deleted.

I have seen movies in which M1 rifles were apparently fired successfully with blanks, as sparks could be seen at the rifle’s breech. This effect was seen in movies made long enough ago that the sparks weren’t likely added by computer magic. Jack

Jack - not sure I understand the point of your last entry. There was no question about the M1 being fired successfully with blanks. Firstly, they will fire blanks with no adaptor, but the rifle must be manipulated like a bolt-action rifle. Secondly, they will fire blanks semi-automatically if they are fitted with some sort of blank attachment, or have been permanently altered, as I am sure many of the movie guns (all types and models, not just the Garand) to successfully fire blanks. Some of the alterations could be internal, I would think, although I don’t know as I have never examined one.

For movie use, the ability to fix the proper bayonet would be important, as they often shown rifles with bayonets fixed. With the two adaptors shown, the M1906 and the M1 Bayonets cannot be used. The M5 and M5A1 can be, but are seldom seen in movies. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing one in movies.

John M.

The blank firing scenes I recall are close-ups of the rifleman and the rifle’s breech area, so problems of odd looking muzzle or bayonet attachment were not at issue. Jack

Jack - the question of some sort of blank adaption would be an issue, seen or not. I do not know of anything that would need to be done at the breech area for using any M1 Rifle with blanks, semi-automatically. The rifles were almost certainly altered in one way or another at the muzzle area, past the gas port.
There were no feeding issues with the Garand using even the standard military blanks that had no simulated projectile (U.S. military blanks I am referring to). I shot a few dozen blanks or more in the M1 during training, all using the rifle like a straight-pull bolt action, and of course witnessed hundreds of blanks fired by other soldiers, all with unaltered rifles and using the standard 8-shot clips, with zero feeding issues.

Johne