30 Caliber TW 54 Match



I have a .30 caliber cartridge with headstamp TW 54 which is confusing me.

It is unusual in that it has a 173 grain match bullet which appears to be an original loading and has what looks to be original crimping on the case mouth from the arsenal. The case appears to be regular issue-type with a nickel primer which has a ring crimped.

I have six of these cartridges and they arrived in a box of Match ammo which were headstamped LC 65 MATCH. Except for the ring-crimped primer, both these cartridges look exactly alike and they both weigh the same. I read Ray Meteta’s article in the journal about the history of match ammunition and TW 54 was listed as a match type loading with the M2 bullet, but this isn’t an M2 bullet. It looks exactly like a M72 173 match bullet. Both bullets are non-magnetic.

What are these things? Were the TW 54 cases leftovers that were loaded at a latter time with the M72 bullet?

Any information or speculation would be appreciated.




I can’t help with the T W 5 4 match version. The only TW Ball rounds with that headstamp I have came from the armory of the USS Monticello LSD35 in bandoleers of 8-rnd M1 rifle clips in 1960. They are M2 ball with GMCS bullets and brass primers.

Too bad Ray is not on the forum anymore. He would probably have an answer for you.


The nickel primer says “handload” to me. Are you sure it’s crimped and not just the remants of a crimp? I’ve seen where traces of the crimp remain after swedging with the RCBS or Dillon tool, and only upon close examination can one see that the primer is not actually crimped. Odd to find mixed loads in a match box of all things… Pics of the headstamp?



If a handload, the original crimp marks of the segmented crimp that I see on Phil’s pictures of ordinary ball would not necessarily disappear, if the case did not need trimming, although, of course, the crimping action would no longer be there. Sounds like a handload to me also. You might try measuring the base of the cartridge case, just above the extractor-groove bevel, against a known original Match round and see if it is appreciably larger. Even full-length resizing seldom takes a cartridge down to original specs unless small-base dies are use, and they usually are not by anyone reloading a cartridge to match-accuracy levels for any rifle in .30-06 caliber that I can think of, including the M1NM.


Thank you all for your responses.

I am now inclined to agree that these are all reloads.

I pulled a bullet on one of the TW 54 headstamped rounds and found the bullet did not have a cannelure. The bullet weight was exactly 180.0 grains and not 173 grains and the jacket is made from copper or gilding metal. The bullet was a boat tail design and appeared identical to the Sierra Match Kings that I shoot in one of my rifles. This was on the advice of Ray Meketa who sent me a personal email. I also sent him some photos for his examination (see below). He was also thinking these were reloads.

After looking at all the evidence I think these were someone’s reloading project and the TW headstamped cases were slipped into the open box of LC 65 match ammunition which are also probably someone’s reloading project.

Sorry for the false alarm, but do appreciate all the help.


The handwritten note: “Bolt rifle” on the carton also looks like a reloaders mark. The load for a bolt actioned rifle can be tuned to give best accuracy in that rifle including playing around with powder types and charge weight and primer type and even overall length. In a semi auto rifle the most accurate load is not necessarily one that will fit the magazine or reliably cycle the action so a compromise then has to be made.