During the 88 years that Cal .30 and 7.62mm National Match ammunition was produced by Frankford Arsenal and Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, no less than 13 different headstamp styles were used. Collecting them can be a specialty on its own. Following is a summary of those headstamps.
The first known headstamp used exclusivly for National Match ammunition was in February 1908 by Frankford Arsenal. By 1909 it was decided to select future match ammunition based on competitive trials of samples submitted by the commercial manufacturers and by Frankford Arsenal. Winchester Repeating Arms Co., Union Metallic Cartridge Co.,United States Cartridge Co.,and Peters Cartridge Co. were the major contenders. Headstamps used by those companies were military in style, having both the month and year of production. The two shown, by WRA and UMC, are typical. 1913 was the last year of commercial contracts and all subsequent National Match ammunition prior to WW2 was manufactured by Frankford Arsenal.
Most competitive shooting was cancelled in the years before and after WW 1 and it was not until 1919 that the production of National Match ammunition was resumed. Until 1921, the National Match ammunition was nothing more than specially selected M1906 cartridges. 1919 and 1920 match ammunition used the standard military headstamp of the period. 1921 ushered in the use of new match bullets, powders, and special loads and the first headstamp identifying the rifle anneal cases, FA 21 R. This headstamp style was used in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925, and 1930. The 1924 case was the first to use a NM headstamp. 1926, 1927, and 1928 headstamps, like the cartridges themselves, reverted to selected lots of standard issue Ball ammunition. In 1929 a lot of special match ammunition was loaded, the case having a distinctive headstamp including three stars which the shooters quickly dubbed the “Three Star Hennessy”, a reference to a popular adult beverage of the day. The 1932 through 1940 match cases bore a traditional FA NM headstamp.
World War 2 and the Korean War shut down the production of National Match ammunition and all but a few local and regional matches. When the matches resumed in 1951 selected lots of standard Ball M2 were issued. Coming from war time stocks, accuracy was not very good. 1957 was the first year of production of a new Cal .30 Match cartridge, designated the T291. It was made by both Frankford Arsenal and Lake City Arsenal although the LC ammunition was produced in a limited quantity for practice only.
Franford Arsenal continued to produce Cal .30 M72 and 7.62mm M118 National Match ammunition from 1958 until 1965, all of it bearing the same headstamp. Lake City M72, M118, and M852 ammunition made between 1961 and 1996 used two headstamps, LC MATCH and LC NM.
Two special headstamps can be found in most collections of Match ammunition. A small lot commemorating 50 years of Frankford Arsenal production was issued for the 1956 matches. In 1980 four lots of 7.62mm Match ammunition were produced to select the bullet that would be used in the new M852 Match ammunition. They bore a unique LC SP headstamp.