In all my years of shooting, and in all of my conversations with other shooters, I have never heard of any wide-scale manufacture of MM. It was always something done by the competitors themselves, maybe a few boxes by an individual, or many boxes by a team or State organization such as the AZ State Rifle Association.
Since the MM violated the National Match rules I cannot imagine any arsenal being involved in altering their own standardized ammunition. That simply isn’t done.
As far as the USAMU, they produced their own ammunition, either by contract with W or R, or by purchasing components and loading it themselves. They did have at least one 168 grain load and it’s possible that Joe Smith had this confused with MM??
If someone “contracted” to produce large quantities of MM, who would that have been and why would competitors not be aware of it’s availibility? As I said before, most MM was made in the 1970s when I and most of my friends were actively shooting and I would think we would have heard of it. And where would surviving boxes of it be?
As to any State Department involvement in any of this, I am at a loss to understand what it may have been. When the M118 was discontinued in 1982 and the M852 began production it suddenly dawned on everyone that it left the Army without a sniper round due to the JAG’s ill advised decision. Lake City immediately responded with the M118 SB which served until the JAG decision was finally reversed. Could it be that Joe Smith knew something that others did not - that the State Department was involved in the JAG decisions? Or could he simply have confused the facts?
The M852 was always manufactured with the distinctive case cannelure, as was the PXR-6803 before it. It was simply a way to quickly identify the new cartridges and had nothing to do with MM. I would not be surprised if M118 cases were used in the initial tests but starting with the PXR-6803 an entirely new case was used.
There is no doubt in my military mind that the box of M852 that you showed is nothing more than plain vanilla M852 cartridges headstamped LC 82 NM. I have boxes of the same identical lot number and that is what they all are.
I have a feeling that much of the confusion goes back to Lake City’s use of M118 boxes with an over-label for the M852. The same is true for the first M118 SB. It also was in M118 boxes with an over-label. Some shooters today still think that M118 SB was nothing more than M118 that had been re-boxed. But, no one has ever been able to produce such a box.
Steve, I am an old guy and I forget more things than where I put my car keys. Others my age are no different. When I wrote my article on NM ammunition I talked to a lot of old friends who were competitors in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Some of their memories were very good and some not so good. By sorting through them all I think I was able to re-construct the events of those days fairly well.
I went through quite a few boxes of ammunition, actually opening sealed boxes and pulling bullets to see what was inside. I discovered some interesting things along the way. For example, one shooter friend insisted that he had shot M118 loaded with ball powder. All of us thought he was hallucinating. He kept saying that “he remembered the smell” of the ball powder. Well, I started pulling bullets and, you guessed it, at least one lot of LC 68 MATCH was loaded with ball powder!
None of this is meant to disparage your friend’s memory. I still have a lot to learn and am always interested in different versions of history. I’ll turn on a dime if facts prove me to be wrong. Just don’t tell my wife that.
Anyway, keep dry in that AZ dry-wet weather. We got another foot last night and are probably snowed in until the weekend, minimum.