.30 Remington WWII Era FBI "Special Velocity" Load


I have been trying to research this topic for some time without much success. I notice there were some postings about the .30 Remington FBI load made in this forum back in 2008, but those do not really answer my questions.

It is known that the FBI purchased several hundred Remington Model 81 long-recoil semi-automatic rifles in the early 1940’s, and possibly even shortly before that. For reasons unknown, the FBI at that time wished to “duplicate the .351 WSL” (whatever that means) in a .30 Remington load, and requested a “Special Velocity” load in .30 Remington to do that. There is some indication that the FBI load may have used a 160 grain FMJ bullet, but at a reduced muzzle velocity vs. the factory standard .30 Remington load. The Model 81 for FBI service reportedly required a weaker buffer spring to achieve proper functioning using the “Special Velocity” load. Based upon personal experience with the Model 81, this lower velocity is likely to have been below the 1850-1900 ft/sec range required to function the normal .30 Remington Model 81 action using a bullet of this weight.

Can anyone provide greater detail about the specifics of the FBI .30 Remington cartridge, who made it (probably Remington), how it was packaged (I assume it was sold in commercial packaging with some notification that it was a special load), and, if known, why the FBI felt it needed a reduced-power load?


I read something about FBI loads fot the M8 here:



Yes, I have looked at that site. There is one posting there about someone having a case of what is purported to be “surplussed” FBI ammunition, but no meaningful information is provided. There is a picture of the opened wooden case with individual 20 round boxes in it. I have captured and attempted enhancing and enlarging that image, but the resolution is too poor to read much of the printing on the boxes. The box is the typical Remington post-WWII green type, without an “R” in the identification number (which seems to be 2120 or 2150, but it is difficult to make out). The bullet type SEEMS to read “160 Grain Full Metal Cased”, but there does not appear to be identification on the boxes of it being anything otherwise out of the ordinary. But there is no view of the back side of any of the boxes. And, of course, there is no view of the wooden case’s side or end to see what is printed there. The person that made the posting is apparently not the owner of this ammunition, as he refers only to some “Collector” buying the full case, so there is probably not much point in contacting him.


Dennis-Remington changed to the 4-digit Load Numbers in 1946. The R numbers were used from 1930-1942. There was no civilian production from 1943-1945.

The Load Index Numbers for .30 Rem. were #2330–Metal Cased 160gr. (R128 before 1946), #2430–Mushroom 170gr. (R127 before 1946) and #2530–170gr. Soft Point (R436 before 1946). There was also a R129H–Hi-Speed Mushroom 110gr. made before 1946. This last load was not resumed when production started up again 1946.


If this helps, I read about an FBI rifle with “weaker” springs to work with reduced loads but I cannot remember were.
I will search it a little more.

PS: I made the question myself:
vintagesemiautorifle.proboards.c … thread=146


The number on the pictured box is not 2330. If it was 2120 or 2150, as it appears to be from the photo, then it may very well not have been a cataloged item if there was only one customer, which was the FBI. And in fact, no one else could use it due to functioning difficulties.

Regarding the spring, there are actually two springs in the M81’s barrel tube. My understanding (which is second-hand) is that the FBI model M81’s main barrel spring was the same as the standard .30 Rem Model 81’s, but it used the weaker buffer spring of the Model 81 in .25 Remington. This was because the (probable) lower recoil impulse of the FBI load would not result in reliable functioning with the .30 Rem buffer spring in place. Now this brings up another question - would the use of “Standard” .30 Rem ammunition in the FBI rifle cause any damage? The whole idea behind FBI’s use of a reduced .30 Rem load makes no sense to me, no matter how I look at it. What was their problem in using the standard .30 Rem Model 81 with standard .30 Rem 160 grain FMJ ammunition?

My personal experiments have shown that the MV threshold for functioning of the standard .30 Rem Model 81 with 165 grain bullets is in the mid 1800 ft/sec area. Even though this may not be the impulse threshold of every standard Model 81, it points strongly to the conclusion that the FBI load is probably in the sub-1850 ft/sec MV range. So, why would the FBI actually want lower power level amunition for their rifle? I don’t think anyone was worried about overpenetration back then.


Could the reduced load be for the reason many modern auto rifles have been redesigned, to reduce muzzle jump. This allows rapid fire with it staying on target? Just a guess. Vic


Dennis–The #2120 and #2150 Load numbers are strange. The way the 4-digit numbers work on normal loadings is the 1st two numbers are the load type (SP, HP, MC, etc.) for that case type, while the last 2 numbers are the caliber. So all .30 caliber cartridges (.30-30. .30-06, .30-40, etc.) all end in 30. The Load types for .30 caliber range from 02 (.30 Mauser Pistol 85gr. MC) to 96 (.30-06 Paper Bullet Blank). So, your numbers would be Load type 21, caliber .20 and Load type 21, caliber .50, neither of which exists in the catalogs and, AFAIK, Remington followed the same number scheme for non-cataloged items as well. Are you absolutely positive of those numbers?


The picture of the supposed .30 Rem FBI ammunition is here:

vintagesemiautorifle.proboards.c … &thread=84

Maybe you can make out the numbers better than I.

As no one else could use the ammo other than the FBI (as it would not work reliably in a normal M81), I guess Remington could assign about any unused number to it.

I have to believe there are some long-retired FBI personnel viewing this site that could give some background on the ammunition.


Dennis–Perhaps my monitor has a higher resolution than yours, but it is clearly Load Number 2330, which is exactly what it should be for the .30 Rem. 160gr. Metal Cased.

Were you trying to read the number on the end flap of the boxes. That would be almost impossible. But if you look at the vertical 4-digit number in the lower right-hand corner of the box on top of the others, it is quite easy, at least on my screen to read “2330”.


Can you make out what it says on the endflaps also?


Dennis–No I can’t read the end flaps. I was typing the edit to my comment as you were sending yours. The Load Index # is printed in 3 places on the Remington boxes of this era (1946-1960): both end flaps and on the corner of the front.


Regarding the purported reason for the downloaded .30 Rem in the M81, the story seems to go something like this. As a result of FBI experience with the Winchester 1907 in .351 WSL, the FBI liked the performance of the .351 cartridge, but felt that the 1907 rifle left something to be desired. Therefore, they wanted to use the Model 81 (which was about the only other civilian semiautomatic rifle of the time) chambered for a cartridge equivalent in performance to the .351. I have no idea what their definition of performance equivalence was. My guess is, that as the factory .351 had a MV of about 1800 ft/sec, then they wanted the .30 Rem in the M81 to also have the same MV. If this was the situation, it was highly likely that unreliable functioning of the standard M81 would result with such a load, therefore, the M81 required spring modification to overcome this problem.

At this late date, it is not possible to know the FBI’s decision process, but mine would have been to use the .35 Remington, not the .30 Remington, in the M81 (which was also chambered in the .35 Rem) using exactly the same bullet weight and diameter at the same MV as the .351 WSL. Then they would have achieved exactly the same ballistic performance the Winchester 1907, but in the Remington Model 81.

As the above is all anecdotes and conjecture, back to my original question - Does anyone know the facts about the FBI load (assuming it actually existed) and why it came about?


One variation of the .30 Remington factory cartridges was loaded with a 155 gr. pointed full metal case bullet. Perhaps that is the FBI cartridge?