Cal .30 Ball Alternative/Alternate

In 1940 there were two versions of the 172 grain Ball cartridge, the M1 and the M1 Alternative (M1B1). The alternative had a bullet with less antimony in the core but both used gilding metal jackets.

Like the M1, the M2 was also made in an alternative version having less antimony in the core. But in late 1942 a bullet with a clad steel jacket was authorized and the cartridge was called the Ball, Cal .30 M2 (Alternate). By the fall of 1943 the copper shortage had eased and the GM jacketed bullets were once again authorized. The last lot with the GMCS bullet was accepted in February, 1944.

It seems odd that the same designation would have been used for two different cartridges. Maybe there’s a clue in the use of the words Alternative and (Alternate)? The boxes I have are are marked Alternative and have the GM jacketed bullet. I have not seen a box marked Alternate. Does anyone have such a box and can tell us what cartridges are inside?

Notice that the M1 tracer with the GMCS bullet is also called (Alternate).


What about 30 cal cans marked “M2 (ALT)” are they one or the other?

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


I have (seen) quite a few 30-06 boxes and let me just sum up my observations, which
of course doesn’t mean this is final:

  • I have never seen a .30M1 box (or any AP or Tracer) with ALT, alternative or alternate
  • I have never seen a box with alternate
  • only boxes with alternative are all from ST LOUIS ORDNANCE PLANT
  • only boxes with ALT are all from DES MOINES ORDNANCE PLANT

None of the other WWII boxes I have from US manufacturers are with any additional designations.
So if you have any, pls show


Thanks Rene. I was hoping you were reading this. My observations are very much the same as yours.

I have never seen an M1 box with Alternative or Alternate.

The only M2 Alternative box I know of is the one pictured. It has the non-magnetic GM jacketed bullets. I’ve never seen an M2 Ball (Alternate) box although I do have some of the cartridges (GMCS). I also have some of the M1 Tracer (Alternate) cartridges (GMCS).

I noticed that you have one of the M2 ALT boxes. Is it empty?

It’s my opinion that neither the M2 Ball (Alternate) nor the M1 Tracer (Alternate) boxes, were marked in any special way.

So, if anyone has any boxes marked Alternate, either Ball or Tracer, please chime in.



Do you have a photo of an M2 (ALT) can?



my DES MOINES box which is marked: .30M2 ALT.
has LOT number D.M. 20155 and has one cartridge with HS: DM 42
The bullet is non-magnetic


I traded off all my 30-06 boxes and failed to scan them before hand so I can’t help with pictures from the boxes I used to have.

Here are some scans from Jerry Marchello’s “30-06 WE HAVE SEEN VOL. II AND III”. Unfortunately Jerry didn’t list what was in the boxes illustrated (or if he did I can’t find it). I have heard that the boxes from Jerry’s collection are now in the Wooden Lab’s collection.


Interesting stuff from you, as usual.

Those are the first boxes of Tracer Alternate that I’ve seen. They would tend to indicate that possibly boxes of Ball Alternate exist also. They shoot down my previous opinion.


First, sorry to druge up an old thread, not sure if it is frowned upon here or not.

Ray, I was doing some homework on a box I picked up recently, contains 19 rounds, one missing. It looks identical to this photo you posted here except the lot is S. L. 8372 and the headstamp is SL 43 so I guess it was manufactured early to mid 1943. The reason I am posting this is that mine are quite strongly attracted to a magnet indicating the clad steel jacket you mentioned. The only reason I posted this is because you said yours had the Gilded Metal jacket. I keep finding old ammo in strange places up here in Maine.


Revolver–Yes, it is perfectly OK to “Drudge up an old thread”, in fact it is encouraged, if you can add new information. Feel free to do so.


It’s never too late to revive old posts and add new information. I know that I sometimes have occasion to read my threads of year’s past, and I’m always amazed at how ignorant I was back then. Almost as ignorant as I am today!

The Alternative/Alternate, GM/GMCS, changes took place during the early years of WWII and it’s not surprising that there is a lot of confusion, to this day. The demands of war took priority over everything else and the Ordnance Plants were not about to let little things like nomenclature get in the way of production. Even things like carton labels were often substituted, as confirmed by the existance of M2 Tracer cartridges in M1 Tracer cartons. The life of a cartridge was very short in those days, probably measured in days from the time of manufacture until it was fired. The carton that it came in meant little to the end user.

Thanks for that great photo.



Thanks for that great photo.


YOUR great photo! :)