Cal .30 MATCH Primer Seal Colors


Between 1957 and 1961, Frankford Arsenal manufactured 131 lots of Cal .30 MATCH M72 (T291) ammunition. Of that, only 3 lots had other than the traditional red primer seal. Those 3 lots were especially marked for very specific reasons, with colors not often seen, and are not common.

During tests of a new styphnate primer in 1957, Frankford Arsenal decided to combine a test of the primer with 2 different processes for primer pocket forming. One lot, FA 27, had the pocket formed in two steps and was identified by a gray-rose (whitish) primer seal. This lot was sent to the USMC rifle team for testing. The second lot, FA 28, had the pocket formed in one step, the same process used for all Cal .30 during WW2. This lot was sent to the AMU for testing.

Although it’s believed that the two step draw process was adopted, I have yet to see any report of the test’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Maybe someone here can shed more light on them?

The third of the specially marked lots was manufactured in 1961, lot FA 121. Ordnance notes indicate the ammunition was manufactured for the U.S. International Match Team, with an orange primer sealant. No other information is known. Examination of the cartridges fills in a lot of details but, unfortunately, raises a lot of questions that beg for an answer.

Physically, the cartridges from lot FA 121 appear to be the same as other M72 from 1961, including lot FA 120 which was the NM Camp Perry issue that year. Ballistics are also the same. But, the cartridges are packaged in both 20-round cartons and 8-round enbloc clips. The clips are for use in the Garand, and the Garand is certainly not an International Match rifle. Also, I.M. cartridges are usually loaded to less velocity and longer OAL for single loading. So how were they intended to be used? Were they simply for use by the I.M. Team in some competition that called for the service rifle? But why would the I.M. Team enter a competition for which they were ill prepared and trained?

The orange sealant certainly means something. But what?


Ray, this is only a guess, but since 1960 the U. S. Army Southern Command organized the Pan American Invitational Military Rifle Match held every year at the Empire shooting range in Panama and they always provided each participating country with M1 rifles and ammunition for practice. It was supposed to be exactly the same ammunition that was later used in the actual matches.

Given that I have never found any information about the ammunition used in these military matches, I thought that maybe there is a relation with some of the unexplained features found in these match cartridges.