Cal. .30 tracers

An incomplete history of the Cal. .30 TRACER. Please feel free to fill in the blanks.

The first Cal. .30 Tracer adopted by the United States was the M1917. Identified by a blackened case, the M1917 was loaded with a 150 grain CN bullet. Close examination will reveal a small ring about 1/16" from the tip of the bullet. The purpose of the ring is unknown.

During the early 1920s several experimental tracer cartridges were tested. None were adopted and the M1917 remained the standard until 1923. The M1923 was a short lived tracer intended for aircraft use. It also had the blackened case and a GM bullet.

The M1924 was loaded with two colors of trace mixture - red and green. Using blackened cases with a GM bullet, the cartridges are most often identified by the box label but primer seal color can sometimes, but not always, be used.

The M1924 was replaced in 1925 by the new Cal. .30 M1 Tracer. The first cartridges had blackened cases and a GM bullet. Primer seal colors were used for a few years only. In 1930 the blackened cases was replaced with plain brass, the green tracer was discontinued and the red tip was added for identification.

In 1942 a tracer with a short burn time was adopted. Designated the M2 it was identified by a white tip, a second cannelure, or both. That identification was soon replaced by a red tip and the second cannelure. Also developed in 1942 was a special experimental dim tracer for aircraft use identified by an orange tip and designated the T10

In 1945 the T10 became the M25 and continued as the standard throughout the service life of the Cal. .30.

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Love the white and blue tipped ones…how hard are they to find?



Thanks for reading my thread, and responding.

The blue tipped M2 is from a link belt of target markers. It actually has a red tip but it’s mostly covered by the blue ink. I put it in the photo to see if anyone was paying attention. You win the prize for being the first to notice. Now, your prize is waiting if you’ll just send me a list.



HA! I have been duped by a blue tipped target marking 30-06!!! That one is a classic! Anyhoo I am working on some things for you give me a coupla more days.

I have a magenta over blue tipped experimental 7.62x51 Match, High explosive Tracer round you might like! LOL


This is very interesting information, thanks for posting.

Thanks Ray.


that’s a nice row.
Let’s see if I can add something to that . . .

Headstamp of tracer green and tracer red

some others (left to right)
long distance tracer (HS = FA 19)
M1 bullet w/o cannelure (HS = FA 27)
M1 bullet with cannelure (HS = FA 29)
M1 bullet with red tip (HS = FA 30) first year with red tip
M1 with experimental primer (HS= FA 40) dark red tip

M25 (HS = LC 52) , one cannelure
M25 ( HS = RA 56), two cannelures

enjoy . .



Nice additions.

I have a FA 25 Red and a FA 27 Green which is probably one of the last green headstamps. I also have a RA 57 with two cannelures and still have not seen an explanation as to why they used two. By then the orange tip had been in use for more than 10 years so the second cannelure was hardly needed for identification.