7.62MM USMC Competition cartridges


Recent threads have discussed variations of the 7.62MM National Match ammunition, more particularly the Mexican Match and the Special Ball. I’m probably the only competition shooter on the Forum and also the only collector of competition cartridges so I’m preaching to the choir, but here’s another interesting variation that I recently acquired.

The M852 Match was introduced to the shooting world in 1980 as the PXR 6308. The next year it was designated the XM 852 and, in 1982 officially adopted as the M852. Loaded with the Sierra 168 grain MatchKing bullet to 2550 fps, it would remain the Match standard until 1996.

The United States Marines always considered the M852 a little on the mild side and several of it’s Marksmanship Units handloaded their version of it using new brass from Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. This particular box was loaded at Quantico by the Weapons Training Battalion. “G4” designates it as high pressure load, which it apparantly is since it is not recommended for firing in any rifles but the M14 Service Rifle and the M40 Sniper Rifle. I’ve always felt that loads such as these led directly to the development and adoption of the M118 Long Range cartridge.

The bullet is the 168 grain Sierra MatchKing, powder is IMR 4895, and the case is the LC 86 MATCH.




Curious that this round is thought high pressure as the velocity figure on the box is unamended and is the same as the standard M118 round. Do you know the weight of the powder charge?

Were these ‘boutique’ loadings done on a large scale or were the facilities those of an enthusiastic handloader?

Many thanks for the depth and variety of your postings by the way, each is fascinating.




That’s a new generic box supplied by Lake City along with the brass. The cartridges are not M852 and the velocity is not 2550 fps. The G4 is what identifies it as a high pressure load, along with a black magic marker stripe across the primer, which I did not show. Powder charge is about 2 grains more than the standard but that doesn’t mean a whole lot since we don’t know what lot of powder they used.

The loads are not unsafe in other rifles, just a little on the hot side. As one shooter told me, they would really make his rifle rattle.

These are not individual handloads like much of the Mexican Match. They were loaded in quantity by the WT Battalion.



As you say the USMC was not satisfied with the M118 Special Ball accuracy for snipers and developed the M118 Extended Range (ER) in 1994-95 that used a commercial Sierra 175gr open-point bullet match bullet. Extended Range was the term the USMC used during the development phase. However, when the round was placed into production and more or less standardized it was called the Long Range (LR). The USMC circumvented the normal SA cartridge standardization procedures by pushing this improvement through using USN Special Operations funding which speeded up the process and kept the Army Development Command (ARDEC) out of the loop.




Many thanks for that. A couple of grains difference can certainly add a bit of spice to a load. I’m all in favour of this in the right place as I don’t like my projectiles taking the scenic route.




Thanks. That partly answers my question in the other thread, at least as to how it came to be called M118LR. Do you have any info as to why it wasn’t named M852LR, which would’ve been more fitting?



Dave & Stan

My understanding is that the original M118 LR (M 118 ER) was too hot for desert areas like Iraq and Afghanistan and was eventually scaled back to it’s current 2575 fps. This also allowed it to be used in the M1A (Match Rifle) and DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle). At least that’s the way I wrote it up in my National Match article.

Do either of you guys have boxes or single cartridges of the early M118 LR??




Check your PMs.

Everybody else,

For those of you who don’t know, the M14 is the standard 7.62MM Service Rifle. The M1A and DMR are target and sniper versions of the M14, and the M40 is a bolt action Sniper Rifle based on the Remington M700. The designations may be different today but I don’t keep myself up-to-date on the new fangled designations.



Thanks for answering my question before I got around to asking it. I have a couple of these rounds that I wondered about.


Nice ones Phil. Now you are a Competition Cartridge collector. ;)



[quote=“RayMeketa”]Dave & Stan

Do either of you guys have boxes or single cartridges of the early M118 LR??[/quote]
I don’t.


Ray explained the G4 and indirectly, the ‘WTBn AMMO’; what’s the meaning of ‘POU?ED BY 32A SECTI?N’?



Leatherneck lingo for who did the loading??