In a recent thread I showed the different headstamp styles used for National Match ammunition over its history. It’s only appropriate to show the bullets. This was posted a couple of years ago but is worth repeating.

U. S. National Match ammunition was first manufactured by Frankford Arsenal in 1908 for the two-year old Cal .30 M1906 cartridge. Except during wartime, and a few years when the Matches were cancelled, National Match was made by Frankford, and by Lake City, until 1996. Some consisted of selected lots of standard issue but most of it was manufactured specifically for match use. During that time, no less than 10 different bullets were loaded. Match ammunition became a testing ground for new bullets, especially during the 1920s when 5 different designs were tried. Some bullets, such as the M2 Armor Piercing, were used in only one year while others, specifically the M1 Type, were loaded in 25 different years. A history of the ammunition itself can be found in IAA JOURNAL issue #471. Shown here are the bullets.

  1. 150 Grain CN 1906 Uncannelured, 1908 - 09
  2. 150 Grain CN 1906 Cannelured, 1910 - 19
  3. 170 Grain CN, 1920
  4. 170 Grain CN Tinned, 1921
  5. 170 Grain GM 6 Degree Boattail, 1922 - 23
  6. 172 Grain GM 9 Degree Boattail M1, 1928, 31 - 40
  7. 172 Grain GM 9 Degree Boattail M1 Type, 1924, 25, 27, 29, 30, 57 - 81
  8. 168 Grain GM M2 AP, 1951
  9. 152 Grain GMCS M2 Ball, 1952 - 56
    10.168 Grain 13 Degree Boattail Sierra International, 1982 - 96


Sweet! This one will go in the file.

What Zac said, plus Ray’s other threads.


Cannelure question:
#1 and #2 have the same weight but #2 has a cannelure.
The reverse is with #6 and 7 (I think).
So, is cannelure good (useful) or bad (has no advantage)?
There are plenty of un-cannelured rounds, and I assume, they function well.

A cannelure or crimp groove is aerodynamically bad, because its disturbance of the airflow creates an additional shock wave. That increases projectile drag by roughly 5 percent.

The German S bullet originally was smooth. But in WW1 too many bullets worked loose under rough field handling. So a groove was added during the war, and the case mouth crimped into it. Another example of an originally grooveless bullet is the Swiss GP 11 of 1911 which got a groove in 1929 as far as I know.

P.S. Ray, thanks a lot for the great display.

Ray, I knew that the U.S. Army intended to replace all ball rifle ammunition by AP. But I am surprised that AP M2 was used as Match ammunition (acceptance criterion 10 inch mean radius versus 7.5 for ball).

Is it known what mean radius this Match lot using AP M2 bullets had?

J Peelen

The Service Rifle Matches were held at Camp Mathews CA in 1951 following the hiatus from 1941 through 1950. The 1951 ammunition consisted of selected lots of FA and WRA AP M2. I have no record of the accuracy of the ammunition used although it can be assumed that it was better than the spec (10.0") but not as good as previous NM ammunition. The selected lots of Ball M2 used from 1952 until 1956 were approximately 4.5" MR and I would guess that the AP M2 was less accurate since they used it only in that one year.

It was the poor showing of the 1951 through 1956 ammunition that led to the development of Cal .30 Match T291. The MR for the Camp Perry lot for the first year (1957) was a measley 2.8".


Ray, thanks for the data.


Development of the uncannelured bullets (1 & 7) preceeded their cannelured versions. Cannelures were added to both for the reasons JPeelen posted. The cannelure did degrade the accuracy to a certain extent but military requirements took precedent.


JPeelen: While it is true the 7.9 m/m S bullet got a cannelure in mid-WW.I, the case mouth was crimped into the bullet even before the addition of the cannelure. The cannelure made the crimp more positive. Jack

I don’t recall if I posted this picture before, but it’d reasonably relevant to this topic.


Great drawing, thanks a lot.

From an aerodynamic drag view, the 6 degree boattail should be better than the 9 degree. I was once told it is more diffcult to manufacture, especially to keep it symmetrical in view of the tolerances obtainable with equipment of the day. But I do not know if this explanation is correct.

do you know what reason was given for going from 6 to 9 degrees?

Frankford Arsenal tested long-range boattailed bullets with every angle between 2 and 15 degrees. The 6 degree gave a little better accuracy but the 9 degree was chosen as a compromise between accuarcy and ease of manufacture. For mid-range distances, even steeper angles, such as 12 or 13 degrees, are very accurate and easy to make. But if pushed past 600 yards they become unstable unless driven to high velocities. That’s what led to the death of the 7.62mm Match M852 with the 13 degree Sierra International bullet. The case did not have enough capacity to reach the velocity needed. In a 30-06 they work just fine, even to 1000 yards. It’s interesting that the current LR cartridge, the M118LR, uses a 175 grain, 9 degree boattail, almost exactly where we were back in 1924.

Thanks for the information.