Question for Doc Av Re: Mortar Propelling Charges

Question for Doc Av, but anyone with input is welcome…

I am doing some testing at a pilot plant to demil US Munitions…part of the muntions to be demilled include rebuild kits for 81 and 60mm mortar practice rounds, which each contain a new, live M775 PD Practice Fuze…

They don’t neccessarily want to burn the propelling cartridges or the spotter cartridge contained within…I looked at the two cartridges, and the propelling charge is basically a plastic hulled 12 ga. shotgun blank. The spotter cartirdge in the fuze is a 20 ga. plastic hulled shotgun cartidge filled with diatamaceous earth (makes the puff of smoke…).

Their question is, is there an alternate use for these…I looked at the propelling charge and thought maybe theatrical blanks for shotguns…feasible?

Actually the whole thing kind of tees me off, today they were burning hundreds of rounds of M200 5.56mm blanks, and M64 7.62mm grenade blanks…they also have .50’s, .38 Specials, artillery primers, and aircraft flares…oh, and cases of M1A2 Grenade Adapters (the ones that use an M2 Frag, and fired from the Garand…)

What a waste, the gov should sell it to wholesalers and could probably get twice what they paid, and help with the tax situation…When I was in ROTC, during Bush I, most of the time we got issued one 20 round box of blanks for an entire weekend FTX…I used to either go beg for some at my Guard Unit Armory, or more often bought my own. I wasn’t going to ration my ammo! At least I was able rock and roll when everyone else had to do onesies…now they were burning cans full of them (LC 96 headstamp for the most part). And this is just the feasability study!

This is a vexing question.
Firstly, the Mortar 12 and 20 ga. cases they can ONLY be used as Propulsion charges. They are definitely NOT to be used as “Blanks” for theatrical or Movie or Re-enactment use…they are totaly different loading density, and could (will) be dangerous in these alternative uses.

As to the “Burning” off of such charges…there is no other solution…They are probably “Broken packets” or “Life Expired” or have shown on test firings, more than a certain level of misfires (bad storages, etc) and so, the only “safe” solution (for the gov’t at least,) is to destroy them.

I see this carried to extremes here in Australia, where Ball ammo and standard Training blanks are routinely burnt these days, when they reach 15 years from HS date…irrespective of whether they work or not…what a waste of taxpayers money…Everyone knows that SAA can last in full functionality up to 50 years or more (we regularly use 30 to 50 year old US and British made Blank cartridges for Movie use…without any “FTF” problems.

As to balkl ammo, there are millions of rounds of 1930s to 1960s rounds regularly sold and fired on Civilian Ranges without any untowards effects…

But try telling that to some bone-headed Gov’t Bureaucrat with a copy of the UN Ammunition Rules at his fingertips… (WE used to sell large quantities of “old ammo” to the USA years ago…and even give it to the NRAA (Rifle clubs)…not anymore…that would breach UN Disarmamment guidelines.)

I have done an offer to our DoD some years ago, to do a “Demilling” process with Ball ammo…pull the bullet, dumpt the powder, use the Primed cases for Making new Blanks for the Movie and Re-enactment;No reply… we even included the possibility of “Re-Manufacture” where the Rrimers or Powders were found to have deteriorated…again, NO reply.

As to 5.56 M200 blanks, we use them (once fired) to make 7,62x25, 9mm Para, and .380 Auto Movie Blanks ( and even redraw them (the cases) to .30 M1 carbine Full Blanks)…simply by cutting off the crimped end and or shoulder to get the case we need. Currently we are doing 10K of fired RG blanks to make 9Para full blanks.

Demilling by Pulling or Cutting is simple, has no “explosive” effects, can be fully automated (ie, “man-safe”). And more often than not, the compnents can be re-cycled to the Civilian trade as “Pulled Bullets” “primed cases”, “basic brass” etc. And of course, there is always the solution of "Clean " scrap Brass ( Burnt Brass fetches much less because of the high levels of oxidization of the copper and Zinc…

And with the current Scrap prices downturn, now some large dealers are even refusing the accept anything but the Best quality scrap, and at rock bottom prices at that.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics

Thanks for the response.

One of the reasons for not wanting to burn the propelling and spotting cartridges is the plastic material…burning plastic creates dioxins, which then creates headaches as far as environmental regs go…I don’t know why the refurb kits are being demilled. They are brand new, in the box, as packed. They are used to “re-load” the Short Range Training Rounds for the 81mm and 60mm mortars…fire off the practice round, go collect it, install all the new components, and fire again…being short range, I am sure the propelling charge is much reduced versus the full regular loads…I understand there are a lot of them they are getting rid of.

The two belts of .50 cal they were testing were all St. Louis 1944 marked ball…old, but appeared to be in really good shape, no corrosion, etc. I am assuming the .38 specials are because I believe all the .38s are out of the Army inventory now. I am guessing the lack of use for the .22’s might explain them. The M64 Grenade blanks I would assume there isn’t much call for them…the boxes were marked “ONLY FOR GRENADE LAUNCHING OR DRAGON LAUNCH EFFECTS TRAINER”. I don’t think they are doing much grenade launching with the M-14’s, and I don’t know if the Dragon is still in the inventory with the AT-4 being available…The M200’s, I have no clue why they would burn those…they are only about 10 years old…Typical gov nonsense I would guess.

Anyway, typical govt waste, pissing away more taxpayer money. The Army (therefor the taxpayers) is paying the company to take this stuff away to destroy it, instead of maybe doing something smart like getting paid for it. No doubt you can thank the army of lawyers in the gov worried about liability. Shakespeare was right about lawyers…

I asked about demilling by pulling the bullets and burning the powder and selling off the primed cases and bullets…but apparently the new regs require the cases to be rendered unuseable…doesn’t address the bullets though, my thought would be to pull them, salvage the bullet, burn the powder and crush the cases, but thats not my call.

The UN would like to see the day when all civilians throughout the world are completely disarmed, it is easy to see that is the case. Preventing arms reaching third world countries is an easy cover that most people will swallow.

I certainly agree with this…and I am sure this is partly our government “doing its part”…

Seems like simple economics to me though…look at the .22’s…a brick of .22’s (500 rounds) goes for what, $10 or $12 here in the states. I am sure the gov paid $2-$3 tops for a brick…so if they sold it to a wholesaler for $6.00 a brick, they could make back at least TWICE what they paid for it. Instead they are PAYING someone to burn it. Way to waste more of our tax dollars…

Probably not much use for Grenade Blanks, or 5.56 blanks in the public sector, so I can kind of understand the thought behind those (still a waste in my book). But the .38’s, .22’s, and .50’s can make the gov back some serious money…but lets not bring sense into the equation!

I think now the UN also insists that governments destroy milsurp firearms rather than selling them off. The UK cut up its entire remaining inventory of Lee Enfield No. 4 rifles when they got rid of them. I’m sure collectors and shooters in the USA would have been more than happy to buy them.

Does the UN actually do anything useful? Look at all the billions of dollars poured into Africa, does the situation get any better over there?

An “interesting” aside to this story…in the U.S.Navy, everything metal that is not going to be used goes “over the side”, including bazillions of cartridge cases of all types. (being a scrap guy, made me sick!!) Anyway, one day, we get a new Senior Chief aboard who says, Whoa!!..lets keep all that brass until we get to Hong Kong, and we’ll get the ship painted for the brass. Sure enough, on one of our in ports at HK, many young Chinese ladies showed up…supervised by a couple of young men…who made sure all sailors were clued in that “ladies only for painting, only for painting !!” Uncle Sam provided the paint, and the ship was painted from stem to stern, mast top to bilge. And…no brushes…they wore rubber gloves and painted with balls of cheesecloth…and it turned out better than any brushwork…I have pictures of this somewhere, I ought to dig 'em out…

Your post brought back memories I had forgotten. In 1959 the ship I was stationed aboard spent 30+ days in Hong Kong as Station Ship. As soon as we had moored to a buoy, Mary Soo and her side cleaners as they were known as, came aboard (all female, no males). For old frayed line (ropes), steel cable and any metal scrap that we would normally toss over the side they really did a job on the ship. They even had girls stationed on the mess deck to separate any uneaten food from your trays. Nothing was thrown out.
We had just left the yards in San Francisco before deploying to WESTPAC and an open 5