Ball, Frangible Caliber .30 M22

Inherited a bunch of ammo that included frangible rounds. Web said it has a bakelite bullet and would leave a pencil like mark on any hard object it hit. Ammo was made by Frankford Arsenal Lot F.A. 70 Headstamp FA 45. I would appreciate any info on its intended use

According to C.Punnett, the intent was to develop a bullet that could be used to train bomber gun crews by allowing them to fire at a real aircraft. From green section of IAA front page on the left, “Introduction to 30-06 cartridges”.

Is this the stuff with the green and white coloration on the bullet tip? vlad is correct.

I don’t recall that it was ever used in any air-to-air training, but I have read that machinegun crews on bombers trained by riding in a jeep with the 1919 .30 cal gun in a mount, firing at a hardened mockup fuselage mounted on another vehicle. The 2 vehicles would drive on various tracks, allowing the gun crews to practice leads on targets traveling at different speeds and elevations in relation to their jeep.

My informal tests show that this stuff would absolutely penetrate aircraft fuselage at within 30-40 yards, so I wouldn’t let anyone fire this at an aircraft I was piloting. It is also not very accurate compared to standard ball ammo, so worthwhile training air-to-air at realistic combat ranges might prove difficult and/or dangerous.

I really enjoy shooting this and other plastic-bullet loads…lower recoil and lower noise is almost always preferable. If you’re interested in selling any of it, please PM me.

Ammo does have a green tip with a band of white (< 0.25") directly behind the green tip

Mwinter - I’m sorry, but these rounds were intended to be shot at airplanes, and were. They were intially part of the equipment used in “Operation Pinball” during WWII, a U.S. Army Air Force aerial Gunnery Program. The basic aircraft used was the RP-63A, although there may have been other “letter modifications” of the Kingcobra used. I am not expert on this program, which is outside my major interest, and have not read the book “Operation Pinball” from my library in some time. It is too long and complex a story to be told here anyway.

If anyone is interested in pursuing this, I would highly recommend the book “Operation Pinball,” by Ivan Hickman, published in 1990 by Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers, P. O. Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, WI 54020, USA. It is a book that belongs in a cartridge library, especially if one has an interest in .30-06.

John Moss

The Cal .30 Frangible was intended to be fired at aircraft but, a special target aircraft with armor plate. That was the idea at the beginning anyway, and the cartridge went thru a lot of twists and turns along the way.

Frangible cartridges in Cal .30 are very common and are more of a novelty than anything else. Those in 7.62mm are a little more scarce but not enough so to make them worth more than a couple of bucks at most. Those in 30 Carbine are very hard to find and those in Cal .50 are rarest of all.

And then there are the Cal .30 Frangible Tracers. Those are the ones you need to look for but be very careful of fakes.


I haven’t heard too much about the 7.62 X 51 versions of the frangible/bakelite bullets. I was at Fort Polk, LA in the early 70s, helping the Army EOD unit there with some range clearance stuff. We encountered some 7.62 X 51 rounds with bullets identical to the Ball, Frangible Caliber .30 M22. I asked the Army guys what they were for, and they indicated that the tanks used them in a coax MG to simulate engaging other tanks with the Main Gun. I tried to get labels, boxes, SOPs, etc. since I wasn’t sure of this alleged use–maybe the Army guys were just trying to get the AF guy to quit asking questions! I do remember being impressed by how much 7.62 ammo would be turned over to the EOD guys for disposal after each live fire training day for the tanks. It seems that the MGs jammed, and were cleared, generating a short (3 to 6 rounds) belt of “unserviceable” ammo each time. In most cases, one of the rounds would be dented, scratched, bullet seated too deeply, canted, etc. but the other rounds were fine. However, there wasn’t a process to re-inspect, and relink this ammo, and most of it had been dropped to the bottom of the tank, where it became oily, greasy, or otherwise dirty anyway.


The 7.62 MM Frangible (M160) uses the same bullet at the same velocity as the M22.

Don’t believe any EOD guy who tells you that he properly disposes of any surplus or left over ammo. Unless he means “disposes” of it in the trunk of his car. Back when I was stationed at the Mothball Fleet in SD I issued ammo to the pistol teams and there was never a single round that was turned in as excess. On paper anyway. Man, a seabag full of 45 ACP sure is heavy. ;)


I’m always glad to be corrected, and I’m relieved to hear that someone thought to up-armor the ‘target’ plane involved. I may need to order that book for my old man, as he is a fan of the aircraft involved.

John and Ray are correct about the intended use of these 30-06 loads. The “Pinball” aircraft were F-63 King Cobras fitted with external armor plate and sensors. They also had lights on the Wings and on the nose and other places. When the Frangible bullets hit the armor plate the lights on the aircraft lit up and flashed telling the gunner in training that he was getting hits. Pretty realistic training for air gunners about to go into combat. The flashing lights are where the name “Pinball” came from because and was an illusion to the old pinball machines all of us old guys remember.

Back when I was a Captain, a Colonel I worked for had been a maintenance officer during WWII working the pinball aircraft. Lots of interesting stories.

Cheers, Lew

Lew & others, are there any images of these “Pinball” aircrafts?


I believe this is one. You can tell by the color (bright orange).


Ray, thanks for the image.

What happened to the wind screens when they got hit?

For some reason I can not enlarge images anymore (since the new forum).

EOD, you can actually see the image posted by Ray? All I’m getting is a tiny box with a red cross in it. It’s the same with his post on the 6.35 x48mm - I’d love to see his picture but I just get the same red cross. Frustrating!


That is odd. Usually the box with the red X means that the image has been removed. It seems that not only do our PCs not speak to each other, photobucket won’t either. I’m beginning to think it’s all a conspiracy. Maybe those radicals in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are plotting a second revolution?

Ron will probably chime in here to tell us what we’re doing wrong.


While it isn’t big, I can see Ray’s photo just fine. (If I see any orange planes flying by, I’ll assume it’s OK to shoot at them with the proper ammunition…) I think the photos are automatically shown full size now (as big as it’s gonna get) where the old forum shrunk them down by default and you could enlarge them if needed. When Photobucket no longer has the photo, there’s a box with blue text that tells you just that. The red X is like what you see if you go and look at Chris P’s article on the .30-06 found on the IAA home page links. For some reason all the photos are “red x’ed”. Even more funky are Lew’s 9mm article photos. (Far out, man…) A conspiracy, no doubt.


Whatever the problem was it’s now sorted out and working perfectly - although I still can’t see any pictures on Chris’ .30-06 article.

[quote=“Jim”]EOD, you can actually see the image posted by Ray? All I’m getting is a tiny box with a red cross in it. It’s the same with his post on the 6.35 x48mm - I’d love to see his picture but I just get the same red cross. Frustrating!

I noticed you can see the image now but to answer your question: Yes, I can see the image, just very small.

Thanks for all the inputs on the frangible ball. Some of the guys I work with had an idea of how it was used but nowhere the detail I’ve learned in the past few days. As a retired B-52G Crew Chief, I can’t imagine purposely taking to the air so others could shoot at you and if hit, you’d light up like a “Pinball” machine. You have to love how good ole American ingenuity prevailed.

Thanks Again and Don’t Quit Now, Let’s keep the stories and history flowing

Maybe this helps