By 1972, accuracy of the 7.62mm NATO Match M118 had deteriorated to the point that something had to be done. Several attempts were made to improve accuracy but none were successful. The only solutions appeared to be a complete overhaul and modernization of equipment and tooling, requiring a large investment, or using commercial bullets in a redesigned case. The latter option was chosen.
Beginning in early 1980, four different commercial, match grade, bullets were selected for testing - Sierra , Hornady, and Nosler 168 grain, and Lapua 170 grain. A small evaluation lot (13,800 rds), and a larger lot (200,000 rds) to be issued at the 1980 National Matches at Camp Perry, were loaded with the Sierra bullet. Arrangements were made with Army, Marine, and National Guard MTUs, and ARRADCOM, to test the four bullets along with a control lot of Match M118 that had been manufactured in 1979. A total of 11,040 rounds with each bullet was manufactured for these tests. As a result of the tests, a new Match cartridge designated the XM852, using the Sierra 168 grain International bullet, was standardized, replacing the M118 cartridge for all competitive purposes.
Because only small quantities of these cartridges were manufactured, and most were expended during the tests, surviving cartons and individual rounds have to be considered uncommon, if not rare. Shown below are cartons of the 6 lots produced, and the bullets:
80C300S090 - Evaluation lot
80F300S111 - Camp Perry lot
80J300S119 - Sierra bullet lot
80J300S120 - Hornady bullet lot
80J300S121 - Nosler bullet lot
80J300S122 - Lapua bullet lot