AP rounds issued to GIs in WWII?

Hello, I am new to the forum and intend to join the IAA very soon. I have collected military items, quite literally, since I was a child. Part of my collection consists of US cartridges–either single rounds or full boxes–from WWI to WWII. Along the way I have added a number of .30-06 AP rounds to the collection and always assumed that they were used in machine guns. However, some fellow collectors have stated that AP rounds were issued to riflemen during WWII. I’ve never seen any documentation for this claim other than “so and so told me.” Does anyone in the collecting community have any hardcore evidence to support the claim that AP rounds were issued to riflemen in combat situations? Your responses are eagerly anticipated. Thanks!

All I can add to this subject is what my Father told me. They had the capability of going through 30 one inch wooden blocks of soft pine, approx. one inch of soft steel. Dad was in north eastern France in Dec 1944. said he didn’t see any A.P.'s in 30.06 caliber where he was at. Also did not see any 30 round “banana” Carbine magazines issued as well. Tom from MN

yes. Here’s the providence trail for that statement.

At least in the European theatre, Pacific had a lot of Marines and many of them carried .30 cal bolt action rifles, Springfield, internal magazine, magazine charged with 5 round stripper clips that were packed that way from the ammunition factory. In the European theatre it was more heavily Army. (There were some of both in both theatres of course). The Army guys mostly had rifles that were the M1 Garand, which was charged with ammunition in 8 round disposable clips that fit directly into the rifle, rather than a clip that was used to load the rifle then discarded, like the Marines. The Garand clip was loaded at the ammo factory and stayed in the rifle till all the rounds were fired. So the key to your answer is finding packaging of the ammunition, with markings that say .30 caliber, AP, packed in the 8 round clips instead of belts for the MG.

Many collectors have such cans. Here’s an example of one that I found on the internet. You can probably do your own search and find others.

The illustrated packaging is common for WW2, but there are other examples of packaging used. The Garand and the Springfield were not the only rifles issued, but they used the same caliber ammunition as the .30 machine gun, which was your delineating question.

Ball ammo was also packaged in 8 round clips, so it wasn’t ALL AP ammo. Also, this packaging and ammo was used after WW2 as well, while the Garand was still issued, at least through the Korean War if not also some in the Viet Nam war.

Bottom line: There would not be any need to package, in bulk, .30 AP ammo in 8 round clips if the ammo was for the machine gun, which only used belted ammo. In 8 round clips, it had to be intended for the M1 Garand rifle as that was the only weapon that used 8 round clips.


Great definitive answer. My Father was in WW2, from Normandy through to the Army of the Occupation. He shared stories were expert rifleman and designated Snipers coveted the M2AP for better accuracy and longer range performance than the M2 Ball. He also said that DEN (Denver Colorado Army Ordnance Plant) 1942 and 1943 made ammunition (even though still M2 Ball) was highly regarded and coveted for accuracy.

Well, this is great information and, as far as I’m concerned, nails the core question. It’s one thing to come across a random Garand clip loaded with AP–anyone could put that together–but to find such clips in bandoleers AND in sealed tins, erases all doubt about who was destined to use the ammo. Thanks very much for your response!

Although the St. Louis Ordnance Plant packaging shown above makes a good WW2 packaging example, it should be noted that this lot in particular dates from 1953. It was delivered to Greece as part of the Aid Program and came back many years later to be released to the US public via the Civilian Marksmanship Program.



American troops were issued with a few clips of AP ammo alongside Ball ammo in standard loadouts during WW2 in Europe. It’s probably of the “rather have some and not need it than not have it when you do” philosophy.
It could be used to penetrate an enemy soldier’s helmet or heavy winter clothing, penetrate light cover, or damage a motor vehicle’s engine block. Volley fire by a squad on a vehicle could act like an automatic rifle or machinegun.

I also heard that squad leaders and scouts used clips or magazines loaded with just tracers to designate targets or point out a hidden enemy. This would unify the unit’s firepower and wouldn’t waste ammo.

Tracers have the unfortunate ability to point both ways. In VN, except for machine gunners, no one carried tracers in my unit. During my first tour in 1966 some Marines put a tracer in the magazine first to let them know they were at or near empty.

Here is proof that cal. .30 AP M2 was issued in 8-round clips during WW2. This illustration is from TM 9-1900 Ammunition, General, dated June 1945. Bruce N.Canfield, in his book The M1 Garand Rifle, page 636-637 can tell you about the use of .30 AP M2 in rifles.

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I believe this was covered in HWS II. Towards the end of WW2 the Army in Europe wanted M2 AP to be standard issue for rifleman because they felt it was a better “all around” cartridge. As a result, production increased significantly.

A friend of mine was a Marine marksmanship instructor at Parris Island in the 1950s. He told me that the recruits shot almost exclusively M2 AP and that the cartridge was indeed more accurate than M2 Ball.

Another friend was an ROTC cadet at Norwich University in Vermont in the 1960s. He mentioned that they shot a lot of M2 AP there.

Apparently as a result of the increased production towards the end of WWII, there was so much M2 AP in inventory that it could be issued for regular target practice…

Likely under impression by the wide German use of 7.9 SmK (AP)?