Cupronickel Jacket Fouling During WWI


I’ve read all Hatcher’s information regarding the bore metal fouling propensities of cupronickel bullet jackets in the .30-'06 up until the early 1920’s when GM jackets took over. My understanding is that the use of CN jackets in the early days generally did not cause a serious metal fouling problem in the .30-40 Krag, or the .30-'03, as velocities were substantially lower than the .30-'06, but that firing more than a few rounds of the higher-velocity CN-jacketed .30-'06 would result in heavy fouling and rapid loss of accuracy.

What I have never read anything about was combat performance problems of CN-jacketed ammunition used in the WWI '03 Springfields and 1917 Enfields. I’d think in combat, cleaning out metal fouling from rifle bores in the trenches would have been well-nigh impossible, and accuracy would have been nonexistent, except at close range. Granted, there were very few US-made automatic weapons used in the trenches of WWI, but I would think that CN fouling problems would have been magnified greatly in them. So how did the Doughboys cope? Or did anyone even worry about it?


I can’t directly answer your question, but I suspect British experience with cupro-nickel fouling might help here. The .303 mk. 7 wasn’t much inferior to the .30 M1906 in velocity and in the first war British bullet jacket material was cupro-nickel too. Surely keeping barrels free of metal fouling in the Vickers MGs used to lay down barrages at long range was of great concern to the British army. At least the American army in France lucked out for most of its time there in using (mostly, at least) French Hotchkiss MGs with their homogeneous non-CN bullets. Jack



CN fouling was also a problem with the Cal .30 (30-40) ammunition. When coupled with the Nitoglycerine based powders used in it’s day, it took a double hit.

Studies have shown that very few of the rifles on the front lines were actually fired in anger. Couple that with the findings that a very large percentage of rifle hits occured at less than 100 yards, and you can see that a little (or a lot) of bore fouling had little effect. Routine cleaning took care of the rest.

I think, as you said, no one really worried about it. The importance of bore fouling in military weapons is probably greatly exaggerated.