30-06 Military Ammo

I have about 100 rounds of 30-06 military ammo in two varieties. 6 rounds are ball, head stamp U 4 3; the rest are AP, black tip, head stamp F N 53. I have three questions:

  • Are either of these corrosive? How does one tell? I’ve researched the rounds and can find no info except that a lot of the military 30-06 IS corrosive, but nothing states that ALL such ammo is corrosive. No problem either way - I just need to know in case I end up shooting some or all of it.

  • The cartridge length is consistent with specs for military 30-06, but is visibly longer than that of some new production civilian ammo I have. I have an original 03A3 Springfield in my collection, and my son has a new 30-06 hunting rifle that was a gift from a relative. I’m reasonably sure my mil surplus ammo will work in the 03A3, but will it cause problems in my son’s new rifle due to the extra cartridge length? (extra length is due to bullet length - ; case length is standard, consistent with the new stuff)

  • Finally, is there any collector value to this military ammo? If there is, I’d like to find a buyer. If not, I’d like to shoot it up and re-load the cases.

Anyone with the answers I need, please respond to my e-mail address: ottocr@hotmail.com - Thanks.

Except for 30 carbine, all WW2 vintage US 3006 is corrosive. Foreign production varies greatly.

The U headstamped rounds have some collectibility, but not much, maybe a dollar or so. Not aware of any collectibility of the FN.

Can’t speak to the chambering of the round for your son’s rifle, but if the rifle is 3006 marked it’s supposed to take 3006 ammo. If you’re worried about overall length, try gently chambering the round. If the bolt closes without having to be forced there’s no OAL issue.

I think you have a loser for reloading the cases. The “U” ammunition is corrosive, but probably non-mercuric. Am not positive about that. The FN is probably non-corrosive, but also probably Berdan primed. You can reload Berdan-primed cases, but in my opinion, it is nor worth the trouble. I have done it and it is a pain, as far as I’m concerned.

All issue U.S. .30-06 ammunition was corrosive until 1952, and I believe some lots in 1952 were. I believe 1953 was the first “completely clean” year. That excludes some special lots of match ammunition made after 1953 that had corrosive primers.

Chances are, since your U.S. ball ammunition should be with a 150 grain bullet, that your sporting .30-06 ammunition is 125 grain - very light. Otherwise, I don’t know why the overall cartridge length of the sporting ammo would be dramatically shorter. The case length should be the same of course.

Within reason, I have never found overall cartridge length to be a problem in a Springfield, as long as the bullets are seated properly so the ogive is not jammed into the lands (should be about 1/10" off the lands, as I recall, for hunting loads - it has been years since I loaded any '06 or anything other than .223 for my Sako, or .44-40 for my Winchesters) so don’t go by my memory. Consult a competent loading manual in the general information section if you are not sure about such matters yourself). I have loaded a lot of different weight bullets in '06, in some cases to shorter overall length than G.I. for light bullets, and not had any problem with them feeding from the magazine. You didn’t mention what kind of sporting rifle your son has, but there shouldn’t hardly be a .30-06 rifle in the world where U.S. G.I. Ball of 150 grain bullet weight should cause problems.

I don’t know what weight bullet FN AP is. Never shot any of it. U.S. AP is 173 grain nominally, and I have shot that in service and out of service, although almost exclusively in semi-automatic M1s. It generally shoots very well, but should never be fired against a backstop closer to the shooter than about 100 yards, due to the possibility of bullet cores bouncing back. That is a real danger, not a myth.


From a shooter’s perspective, I doubt if you will encounter any problems in shooting the ammo in any factory rifle. Factory chambers will be throated to accomodate the heaviest bullets normally encountered (220 grain RN) and it’s doubtful if any spitzer bullet will have a longer ogive. The only area that could cause a problem is if the rifle’s magazine is too short for the cartridges. That easy enough to determine.

Treat all military ammunition made prior to 1955 as being corrosive. Better safe than sorry. If you clean the cases thoroughly, those that are boxer primed should be good for many reloads. The corrosive primers do not really have that much bad effect on the brass cases.


My thanks to Keith and John for their prompt and informative responses.

I accept and have no problem with the ammo being corrosive - I have a lot of foreign ammo with corrosive primers and know how to protect my firearms - both bolt and semi-auto. I hoped that the U.S. made stuff might be non-corrosive, as it may get fired in my younger son’s very expensive hunting rifle and he’s not up to snuff on cleaning techniques… which means I’d get the job if it requires extra techniques! I had some custom loads made for him, so will probably keep the military stuff for myself.

I think I’ll set aside the 6 rnds of M2 Ball and an equal number of the AP to display with my original 03A3, remove all from the linked chain and shoot up the balance - in the 03A3 of course! I don’t reload anything that comes with Berdan primers… you’re right - it’s a pain and not cost-effective. There’s plenty of good reloadable '06 brass around.

John - The locally made ammo I have is in 3 varieties - 180 Gr. Nosler Accubond, 180 Gr. Nosler Ballistic and 150 Gr. Nosler Ballistic… nothing in the light-weight category.

I’m not concerned about the military stuff in the 03A3 - have already worked 3 rounds thru the action with absolutely no resistance, and, of course, the custom loads work as well.

Per mil specs for the '06 Springfield, case length is 2.49, cart. oal is 3.34. The M2 AP round has a 165.7 Gr bullet loaded to 2,715 fps, while the M2 Ball round has a 150 Gr. bullet loaded to 2740 fps. Bullet length for the former is 1.40 in., and for the latter is 1.12 in. Both are spitzer/boat-tail type bullets with cannelures near the bullet base, and both are seated at the cannelures, making the oal somewhat longer than the sporting rounds I have on hand… which was why I had some concerns about putting the mil. rounds in the sporting rifle.

I’ll keep in mind your caution re: using the AP rounds at less than 100 yards!

Thanks again to both gentlemen for the information. I hope my own research has added to the knowledge base.


Are you positive that the 150 grain Ball are boat-tail???


The only way to be positive is to disassemble a round. I only have 6 of these and no dies to reassemble, so I’m not going to do that. I pulled the bullet from one of the AP rounds, so know for sure it is a boat-tail.

From your post and all the detailed dimensions I incorrectly assumed that you had pulled a bullet.

I believe you would find that the M2 ball bullet is flat base.


I’m just curious - are the sprting rounds you mention factory loads? I note the use of nosler bullets, but some factory loads have used them and Nosler loads a line of ammunition now. I am rather surprised they seat the bullets that deep, as to give them a shorter OA ctg Length to 150 Grain Ball M2. As I mentioned, I have not fooled around much with the .30-06 except my Garands for years, and I shoot G.I. ball or my own equivalent loads in the Garand. Maybe my poor memory is failing me again and factory 180 grain loads are shorter OAL, but I recall them being about the same.

Ray is correct. Ball M2 is a flat base bullet. If your rounds have a boat-tailed bullet, they are not Ball M2.

Sorry about the error in AP weight. I always was told in service they were 172 grain, and not collecting them, never bothered to look it up. Nominal weight of AP M2 is, I see, 168 grains, and Punnett mentions actual bullet weights running from 160 to 168 grains, quite a spread in my view.

John - the “sporting” rounds were made by a custom loader who’s a real artist - also makes custom exotic firearms… very expensive, way beyond my pay grade. He’s a friend of my older son - did these rounds as a favor. They’re good for medium to large game and other “predators,” at least equal to some military ammo in the same caliber. I looked up the price for comps… almost choked! What I paid barely covered the components!

The military stuff I have is M2 - there is earlier production dubbed M1. I did notice a considerable spread in the bullet weights… In my own loads, I’m much more precise, like +/- half a tenth of a grain for a batch, same with powder loads. I’ve done all straight-wall handgun carts, no bottleneck stuff - that’s an art in itself. I tried once and mashed a couple of cases beyond repair, decided to stick with what I know and do well at.

Thanks again for the exchange. Must end here, I’m out on a mission all next week, leaving early morning and won’t be in a position to read or answer mail til I get back.