T275 match cartridges

An earlier posting (primer seal color) brought up the subject of the US T275 match cartridge family. Here is a summary of the information I have.

Bullet: FA28871
Overall length: 2.860"
Primer: FA26
Identification: Majestic blue primer seal

Bullet: FA28871;
Overall length: 2.950"
Primer: FA26
Identification: Green primer seal

Bullet: FA28871
Overall length: 2.950"
Primer: FA34
Identification: Black primer seal

Bullet: 8595434
Overall length: 2.860"
Primer: REM #72
Identification: Black primer seal

Bullet: 8595434
Overall length: 2.860"
Primer: FA36
Identification: Match headstamp

The T275E4 was redesignated XM118 in 1961 and the overall length reduced to 2.83"

Source: JW Hettel, Technical report ARSCD-TR-81018, July 1981 7.62mm Match Cartridge Accuracy Improvement Program.

Note that the T275E2 is found with a red primer seal - this was a lot for the Oylmpics. The T275E4 has a red or green primer seal. In addition, the T275E1 can be found with a FA 59 MATCH headstamp.

Hope this is of interest


Good info. To add a little more, the T275E4 is also found with both FA 56 and FA 58 headstamps, with both the 172 and 173 grain bullet, green primer seal, and in boxes marked “PRACTICE”. I’ve still not found anything definitive on what “PRACTICE” means exactly.

I’ve always been led to believe that the seal colors also “help” to determine the exact cartridge loading. Green = 2440 fps, Blue = 2250-2300 fps, Black = 2600 fps.

Except when they don’t. :) I have seen boxes with green seal loaded to 2280 fps, and blue seal T275 loaded to 2440 fps…

Bottom line is, once the cartridges are removed from the original boxes it’s a guessing game.


My understanding of PRACTICE is just that, Pracrtice, issued to pracrice with before matches or perhaps as fouling shots for those allowed during matches? Probably doesn’t answer exactly what you wanted, sorry. Wish Col. Joe Smith was still around!
Nice list & good info!

Yeah Pete, practice for a match makes sense. But why seperate cartridges? It seems they would be loaded to the same specs as the good stuff otherwise you’d have to make sight adjustments, etc. Most competition that I’m aware of does not provide for fouling shots so that can’t be it.



I would assume that Practice Rounds of a given match type were lots that did not measure up to the accuracy requirements of the load, but that were not so bad as to be destroyed. Slightly poorer accuracy doesn’t inhibit the practicing of “hold, squeeze, fire and recover” and would save the best lots for when you hope that “9” you just threw will be tight in enough to be a scratch 10. It also doesn’t mean, necessarily a different zero.

I used to use ball M2 for practicing. The zero was different on that, but I didn’t care because I knew how my NM Garand, and my '03 grouped with ball, and I simply practiced to the best groups I could get, not to the numerical score on the targets. If I was shooting poorly, I knew it from the group size, and frankly, usually knocked off for the day as I didn’t see any point in practicing poor shooting.

By the way, sometimes some of the Ball M2 rounds shot pretty darn good. (I guess I had better admit that sometimes - well, not so great).

I agree with Ray - I have never been at a rifle match were they allowed zeroing, barrel warming or fouling shots once the actual scoring began. Some matches had some time the day before (seldom could go to those) or a morning session for zeroing, but not nearly all of them). I was a local shooter - never went to any big or important matches. Wasn’t that good, frankly. So, admittedly, I don’t know the regimen of places like Camp Perry, etc.


My point, exactly. All good shooters that I know will practice only with ammunition as good as what they will use in a match. Otherwise, you have no way of knowing if the poor shooting is the result of the ammo or you.

I’ve put the “PRACTICE” question to some of my long range shooting friends to see what they say. Not too many are still active that used the IM cartridges of the 50s and 60s, but we’ll see if their memory is any good.


Ray - that wasn’t exactly my point. I agree that shooting at all with truly poor ammunition is simply silly - why bother with so much good stuff in the world, and the ability to load ammo even better than most of that. However, good quality non-match ammo I found simply fine for practicing. However, you must establish what your rifle does with that ammo in comparison to the top-grade ammunition you would use in a match. As long as you do, I see no difference in practicing with it and practicing with the finest match ammo. Even the point of impact isn’t a problem, as you simply judge by group size. I never altered my zero to accomodate any ammunition I practiced with, nor for range conditions on days I was only practicing, unless I was shooting at the same range, with a good bet it would be the same conditions, as the next match. Not always easy to do in the SF Bay Area, where we have no seasons. Can be hot and dry one day in summer, and cold and wet the next, and you can have hot, beautiful days in mid-December as easy as cold crappy days in Mid-July.

It was when I had a day at practice that I found I was shooting twice the size groups, or more, than I knew I was generally capable of with that rifle/ammo combination, that I call it quits for the day. That was on days with mild conditions. Sometimes you have to practice when the range conditions made the groups worse, as you know, so that you can minimize the effects.

I still think that any Match-designated ammo downgraded to “Practice” was simply because the accuracy of that lot did not quite meet requirements, but was good enough that to destroy the lot would be simply a waste of money.

Ammo lots are often down-grade even in service-grade ammo for various reasons that have nothing to do with its safety to fire. We discussed some of that on a thread to do with German labels on boxes, as I recall.

For those with a wide-open budget, and especially if they handload their match cartridges, of course they might as well practice with their match loads.
I never had that luxury. I could buy good ball M2 through the store cheaper than I could buy the components (Sierra Matchkings, etc.) that I used in my own loads, cost-per-round. Using G.I. also saved wear and tear on the good quality brass I was using. That was before I switched to .223, which by then, I was not shooting in enough quantity nor was the cost as dear to me thanks to a better income, to bother shooting G.I. ball in my Sako.

Well, we all follow our own systems. Maybe mine was why I never became a great shooter - I suspect, though, that it was as much that I did it primarily for fun and was never a really competative chap, and that the budget didn’t allow as much shooting as some could do. Unfortunately, I am back to that in the present situation, and have cut my CAS shooting by 75%.


I think you would find that competition shooting has changed a lot from when you shot. Today, fully 3/4 of the rifles on the firing line at any given match are probably capable of winning. The ammunition used is probably somewhat less quality since there are still shooters who are not willing to put the required effort into making truly comptitive cartridges. So what seperates the winners from the losers is not equipment but shooting ability. I’d say that 90% of that is the ability to read conditions and adjust for them. So the really good shooters do not practice in good conditions or with ammunition that is not the best they can make or buy. Otherwise it would be nothing more than exercizing your trigger finger and wasting ammunition and barrel life. You only learn by recognizing why a particular shot or group is not what you expected. The world class shooters have a memory like a steel trap and can remember “that time last August when the conditions were like this and my shots kept going 1/2 moa low.”

Sure, shooter ability has always been important but there were times, not too long ago, when few rifles and/or ammunition were capable of the supreme accuracy that’s required today. An average shooter could beat a good shooter simply because he had better equipment. Or, as we used to say, “He bought the trophy.” That seldom happens today. But there are still a ridiculous number of shooters who think they can win with enough money to spend on equipment.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it all depends on what your definition of “practice” is. I’m sure that those PRACTICE cartridges were boxed and labeled for some reason and it may well have been because that particular lot did not meet certain accuracy standards. But, I’d also bet that the really good shooters of those days would not have used it for actual practice. In fact, they would bend the rules as far as they could to make the standard issue match ammunition even better than it was. The “Mexican Match” ammunition is the best example of that wherein they pulled the Arsenal bullets and reloaded with SMK’s. Those “illegal” cartridges led to the development and adoption of the XM852 and eventually to today’s LR match ammunition.

As usual, JMHO


Ray and John. My memory is not completely shot yet :-) When I started shooting “high power” in 1954 we shot the old National match A course. 200 OH, 200 sitting rapid, 300 prone rapid, 600 slow fire, 1000 slowfire. Iron sights. The rules then allowed 2 sighters at each distance 8 total. The three ranges we shot on had firing lines that were varying heights above or below the butts. The three ranges required a few “clicks” elevation difference at the different firing lines. One range had declining elevations to 600 yards then a geartly elevated 1000 yard firing line. One declined all the way back and one was almost as level as an ironing board. Of course this was way before the T275 cartridges. Almost everybody used handloads a few used factory match loads at long range. We shot 3 Sunday’s out of the month + regional and State matches so got a lot of primer pops in during the approximately 5 month season.
Agree that “pratice” ammo would only help applying the three graces, proper sight picture, trigger squeeze and recovery.


Ray - you make some good points. You are probably right. I did as good as anyone pretty much could except the top shooting from prone - usually shot a possible for points, but never with “V’s” or “X’s.” In small bore I did the same in sitting, but my offhand and kneeling sucked. The point is, in my agreement that things have probably changed, is that my first “match” rifle was a two-groove barrel stock 03A3 with only the addition of a Lyman 48 rear sight and a 17A front sight, and a timney sportsman trigger (I couldn’t afford a Timney or Canjar target trigger). I guess things have really changed. That’s the problem with being an old f–t, I still think like it was still the Civil War.

I still think that you can practice at least trigger aqueeze, position and recovery, as “Gourd” said, with less than perfect ammo if you know your own skill and rifle. Probably not for the modern match winner though. They must be well financed to even afford the equipment it takes today to participate. So, I definitely accept most of your argument. I haven’t been active in any precision shooting competitions in over twenty years. Cowboy shooting is fun, takes skill to be a champion (they make LA rifles and SA revolvers sound like auto weapons, and hit the targets), but it is NOT precision shooting, with targets as big as 16" shot eve3n with rifles at less than 35 yards. Sunday, on a timed practice stage at our practice, I shot 24 rounds out of four different guns and cleaned the stage in 29 seconds and change, and I am slow (and I mean that - not modest. I never finish a match higher than about the middle of the pack). If the targets were like bullseye, I would have had 24 misses!

Well, back to cartridges. This has been a nice discussion though, at least for me, and I have learned something.

John - Gourd

Yes, time to get back to cartridges. We’ve probably lost all the others by now anyway. They are probably rolling their eyes and saying, “There they go again Three old f**ts who can’t even remember what day it is.” But we have the satisfaction of knowing that they will be like us some day. And that day will be sooner than they think.


[quote=“Ray Meketa”]Yeah Pete, practice for a match makes sense. But why seperate cartridges? It seems they would be loaded to the same specs as the good stuff otherwise you’d have to make sight adjustments, etc. Most competition that I’m aware of does not provide for fouling shots so that can’t be it.



Most all of the Practice marked stuff I’ve seen is match T275 boxes with an black PRACTICE rubber stamp, so same ammo just a rubber stamp. This I’m very sure about is because when matches at Perry are going, each shooter is issued a certain mumber or rounds/boxes per stage. These have to be accounted for as correctly issued. The shooters could otherwise shoot anything they wanted or perhaps guys would not have enough to get through that stage & thus a problem with equal footing. So count was very important. (see below about the Asst. DCM Col. Joe Smith who I met in 82 at Perry & who later lived / passed in Prescott) So to provide shooters with the same ammo but to not detract from the “issue” count some was stamped “practice” so shooters could practice or PERHAPS for the two sighters that Gordon mentiones. I never shot any of the High-Power disaplines and so am unfimilar with the rules governing shooting at Perry. I do know they issue counted match ammo for the bulleye national pistol matches and for most? of the national rifle matches to assure equal footing for all shooters. I’m not sure about some matches such as Dewar or such.
As an aside Col. Joe Smith U.S.Army Ret. was the guy responsible for getting the XM852 out of the XM and into the M. We tried to get him to write that story down but to no avail.
Anyhow that is, I’d bet money, the reason for the stamp. & so no reason for sight adj. & etc (other than weather) as same ammo, just a rubber stamp. Hope this makes sense.

(I finally found my listing on US match ammo):

Notes re US 7.62x51 Match ammo examined at WHW Labs, 5 Jul 1997. Weight measurements are nominal, as most specimens had labels. Length measurements are o/a length.

    • FA 56; 2.773", 390 gr. total weight. No label. , cambered pocket, OB pr, blue annulus, cambered pocket. International Match, T275E1 (?), unknown velocity. 172gr., 36.5gr. powder.
    • FA 56; 2.78", 395 gr. total weight, cambered pocket, FB pr, black annulus, uncambered pocket. International Match, T275E2, unknown lot. 42.0gr powder, 174gr bullet.
    • FA 56; 2.81", 395 gr. total weight, uncambered pocket, FB pr, black annulus, uncambered pocket. International Match, T275E2, unknown lot. 42.5gr powder, 174gr bullet.
    • FA 56; 2.85", 391 gr. total weight., cambered pocket, OB pr, blue annulus. International Match, T275, 172gr b

Mr Cyberwombat

That is great information. I, for one, thank you for posting it.

The WCC cartridges listed at the bottom I have cataloged as AMU Match. Based on full boxes that I have plus some correspondance I had with an AMU Armourer some time ago. I also have 4 different RA cartridges that I’ve catalogued as AMU Match, headstamps RA 59, 60, 62, and 65. But only one full box - RA 60, 197 Grain HP Match, RA-5015.

Do you have any information on the 51mm AMU ammo?


I used to have a box of them; they weren’t marked AMU but it wouldn’t surprise me.

I do know that civilian long-range shooters liked the WCC 58-headstamped cases for reloading, as they had a thinner webbing and would hold more powder.


You’re right, they are not marked as AMU specifically, unlike the 30-06 boxes which had a hand stamp “AMU” on the white boxes.

However, when I talked to that old retired AMU armourer he described the 7.62x51 boxes, as he recalled them, and his description matched mine almost word for word. He told me that some of the cartridges were loaded by RA and WCC and others were delivered to AMU as empty primed cases and they handloaded them with their own bullets.

Not the best of provenance but it’s all I have. The early years of AMU were pretty much a bunch of gunsmiths, shooters, and handloaders doing their thing. And getting paid by Uncle. ;)


About your ? concerning the Practice marking on the boxes. In the “Program of the National Matches” published by the NRA & dated Aug. 20 - Sept 9, 1939. The Wimbledon Cup Match Course description allows "2 sighting shots, and 20 shots at 1,000 yards prone. Sighters, must be taken and scored within the regular 30 minute time limit"
OK so not using T275 NATO ammo, but at one time sighters were allowed. No definate answer perhaps some one has a current Camp Perry NM rule book?