PRE-NATO .30 CAL. T103E1 OBSERVATION ROUND QUESTION (1951 date) & 1951 DATED BALL ROUNDS?

A fellow cartridge collector has asked me to post some questions for him, the following is the information sent to me to post here.

Below are photos of the cartridges in question:
1951, a

Matching headstamps for the above four cartridges (all are F A 5 1 ).

Question subject #1 pertains to the two T103E1 yellow tip cartridges. Below is a detailed description for each yellow tip cartridge (click on photos for larger image)-

1951, e

Reference material from earlier Forum discussion:

Questions concerning the T103E1 Obseration rounds:

1) Is there an explanation for such a large variation in the length of the yellow painted bullet tips?

2) Is either cartridge a fake or are both fakes?

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Question subject #2-

Information provided for the two cartridges in question:

Note there is 3 grains difference in weight between these 2 cartridges, most likely NOT powder related. Also each cartridge has a metalic rattle noise when shaken

Questions concerning the two “ball” cartridges:

1) What is causing/making the metalic rattle noise in the bullet area of the cartridge?

2) Are these AP bullets with unpainted bullet tips or are these something else?.

NOTE: I have no access to X-ray these cartridges at this time.

So there you have it, any help from the .30 Cal. pre-NATO/7.62x51mm crowd would be most appreciated!

1 Like

Questions concerning the T103E1 Observation rounds:

1) Is there an explanation for such a large variation in the length of the yellow painted bullet tips? I don’t recall seeing such variation but then legit T103 and T103E1 rounds aren’t seen that often. I would say that the tip colors seem very clean. I got a box of T103E1’s a few year’s back and the color was not as good as the rounds shown in this thread. I don’t think I have factory drawings for the T103E1 that might give specifications for the tip length but will check along with the examples in my collection.

2) Is either cartridge a fake or are both fakes? I wouldn’t like to pass judgement but I have seen a number of yellow tipped rounds passed off as incendiary/star burst rounds. Typically these are after market with much later headstamps. X-ray is the surest means of confirming id.

Questions concerning the two “ball” cartridges:

1) What is causing/making the metallic rattle noise in the bullet area of the cartridge? I can’t answer this. But will say that I have a few late pre-NATO rounds that rattle as you describe. There are a couple of black tipped rounds, a couple of “ball round” like yours and one one round with a black ring around the jacket with no evidence of missing tip color. The latter has been x-rayed and looks like a regular M2 AP bullet. Same is true for the black tipped rounds

2) Are these AP bullets with unpainted bullet tips or are these something else?. What makes you think they are AP and not one of the many ball variations produced during the the development of the .30 cal light rifle round? Mild steel cores were the order of the day - ultimately resulting in the M59 round which was rapidly replaced with the lead cored M80 once the 7.62x51mm round was standardized by NATO.

Sorry I can’t be of more help.

NATO Dave

Like NATODave I think you should assume steel core bullets (similar to later M59) as typical for the time, not lead core bullets.
At the 1951 Defence Minister conference (Pentagon, August 1951) on Small Arms Standardization, Col. Rene Studler made it quite clear that the U.S. considered only AP bullets as the future standard and had no use whatsoever for lead core bullets.

1 Like

Dave and JP,

Thank you both for your feedback which has been passed along to the person asking the questions.

Brian