50 Cal Multiball?


Howdy , what do I have ? , is it a Gerlich Multiball 50 cal , headstamp is 4 5 T W , flat brass primer with 3 crimps and purple seal , to me it looks like 3 bullets , (2 out of the case )and held together by a clear plastic sabot which dose not go to the end of the first pointed bullet ,there are 2 pairs of deep large dot neck crimps which are .44 from center of crimp to top of neck , , the bullet (bullets) are 1.41in out of the case ,cal. is .522 over sabot , OL is just under 5 1/2 in. all non magnetic ,what exactly do I have ? thanks Randy



From your description it is a Twin Cities Ordnance Plant 1945 case loaded sometime in the 1960s as a SALVO Squeeze Bore. The “bullet” consists of 5 seperate cone shaped projectiles nestled together. Each weighs 144 grains. When they came out of the dangerous end of the barrel they were only 30 caliber. Supposedly to increase the hit probability. Fairly common and worth maybe $15 +.

Want photo?



I’m sure CSAEOD will be along with pictures fairly soon, but I believe these were an outgrowth of Project Salvo, an attempt to increase hit probability per round fired. There are several designs of multiball projectiles used, differing mainly in the type of plastic covering used to hold the stacked projectiles together (some look like they’ve been shrink-wrapped, some look like they were cast inside a mold, some have different colours, etc.) The ones I’ve seen all had five cone-shaped copper projectiles in the stack, and they were meant to be fired from the 50 M2 Browning, but I’m sure they would’ve required some sort of muzzle attachment to strip off the plastic and separate the cones. HTH.


You have one version or another (there are several) of the Colt .50 SSB (Salvo squeeze Bore) loading. These actually were loaded with five projectiles in the plastic sleeve. This was part of a larger project which included 9x19 and .45 ACP rounds with three projectile payloads in plastic sleeves and the 7.62x51 design which had three, without plastic, nested in the neck of the cartridge.

As the stack progressed down the bore, they separated and were “squeezed” by the progressively more narrow bore. They exited the bore milliseconds apart and the idea, like the original Project Salvo, was to put multiple projectiles on target with each cartridge fired.

Only the .50 BMG reached the point of field trials - they were tried in some degree by the riverine patrols in Viet Nam.

The design was never adopted. My understanding (which I’m sure will be corrected by those more knowledgeable) is that they didn’t deliver much advantage, tended to erode the far more expensive barrels they required fairly quickly, etc.

Headstamps can be just about anything from late WW2 and Korean eras - Colt used original brass from ball rounds of earlier conflicts. I don’t know if they re-used the other components, replaced the corrosive primers or other details on the loading.

Not terribly scarce except in some of the earlier loadings . . . there is also, I believe, one tracer load in addition to the ball types which is much less common.




A special tapered muzzle attachment was developed for the Browning. I don’t believe the bore itself was tapered?? The individual projectiles seperated, at least in part, due to the air trapped between them.



thanks guys ,that’s what Ive got Randy


That is so cool. Learn something new every day here. I have never seen a projectile like that. Thanks for the photo Ron.


How is that projectile seated in its casing? I’d love to see a picture of the entire round if any one has one.



Here’s a loaded round using the projectile group which Ray illustrated:

Here is another style:

As I noted in my first reply, there many variations of this type - different sorts of projectiles (early RICA designs used what appears to be zinc projectiles in addition to the two styles seen above), different sorts of means of holding the projectile package together - glue (? I think . . . no visible means but something holds them together), the “shrink wrap” of the first photo above and the sabot type of the second. Among the latter, particularly, there are additional variants. I can’t find my reference for it, but I believe there are nine (possibly more) distinct different combinations recorded.

I would expect others more versed in this material such as CSAEOD, 50m2hb or Tony Williams could offer further insights and may well point out errors in my comments.



Thanks, Ray. I was not familiar with the .50 field trials. The pistol rounds were used with the tapered bores - a very few such barrels and (modified ? - IIRC) pistols were made for the purpose of testing these and I had always made the erroneous assumption the same system was used for the .50 BMG version.

Trust a gunner’s mate to KNOW the details! Thanks again!



Mr Iconoclast,

Note that I put two question marks after my comment about the tapered bore of the 50 Browning. I’m not absolutely positive and am hoping someone will clarify it for us. TWO question marks is the same thing as CYA.


Also it should be noted that my photograph shows the 5 projectiles nested together as they would be in the loaded cartridge. They are actually 5 individual loose projectiles not held together in any way, thus the need for the sleeve or sabot.



Mr. Meketa -

At the very least, I’ll take a CYA statement from a gunner’s mate as a damn good starting place - so I still say thanks!



That is a really awesome concept and design I have not seen befor. Thank you for the grate photos and definition on function. I would guess that is a rare round? I am starting to get FIRED-UP about 50’s! Really appreciate all the grate information and pics. It would really suck to be on the receiving end of that! Very cool that it requires a SABOT. I LOVE SABOT projectiles and to date my smallest DS round is a 30 MM. I may have to hunt one of those down :-)


Jason, the two types shown are not terribly hard to find. The RICA types with zinc projectiles and some of the low production Colt items can more difficult, perhaps considerably more difficult, depending.



APFSDS, you can also find SLAP (yellow sabot) and SLAP-Tracer (maroon sabot) discarding sabot rounds in .50; here’s a couple of cutaways that I did, showing a SLAP-Tracer and SLAP, 2nd and 3rd from the left.


I had no idea these were out thier in such a variety. Very cool! I appreciate the information grately Teak. The photo of the cutaways are increadible. You did a great job on them, SDC.



Then, of course, there are various flechette types, most in nominal .22 caliber (5.56 - 5.8 mm), 7.62x51 flechettes and SLAP, etc. Lots of goodies produced in the creative spasms of the late 20th Century!



The .50 Colt Squeezebore salvo program was quite extensive but has nothing to do with Gerlich other than the basic idea. Here are some variations.

The rarest one is the first model all the way to the left which has steel bullets held together with wax. Fred Datig called this a fake in his book. NOT SO according to Woodin Lab. which got these directly from the inventor and father of the program.


Do they make a 50 cal Flechette?



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