U.S. NATIONAL MATCH Powders


#1

And now for something a little different. I’ve shown you the headstamps and bullets used in the U.S. National Match ammunition, but now we’ll go inside to see the guts.

NM powders used over the years were very similar in appearance, except for a few that had a distinctive look. To make things worse, this is going to take up a big part of your flat-screen monitor, so try not to get too bored.

When the first National Match ammunition was manufactured by Frankford Arsenal , the standard service powder was single-base DuPont Military Rifle (MR) #20 which the government used in a non-canister grade called Pyro DG. It was used in all NM ammunition until 1920. With a kernel size of .030" x .078" it was a very plain-vanilla looking powder.

The 1920s ushered in an era of experimentation with both bullets (as we saw earlier) and powders as well. The 1920 NM powder was Improved Military Rifle (IMR) # 17 ½. With a kernel size very much like Pyro DG, .030" x .080", the “½" in the designation indicates the incorporation of tin which helped to lessen bore fouling. In 1921, IMR 1076 was used. Kernel size was .031" x .085". Instead of tin in the powder, the 1921 ammunition used tin-plated bullets to control fouling. It was popularly know as the “tin can” ammunition. In 1922, Frankford Arsenal abandoned the tin idea and switched to one of the Hercules double-base powders, HiVel #2, .030" x .087" in size. It was used until 1924.

1925 saw the return to the old reliable DuPont series of powders which were used almost exclusively for the next 71 years of NM ammunition production. 1925 - 1927 was loaded with IMR 1147, a short (.030" x .040") kerneled powder that is easy to recognize. Another short powder, IMR 1186 (.033" x .045") was used for two years, 1929 and 1930. In 1928 and from 1931 until 1940, the standard service powder, IMR 1185, was used. It is, essentially, IMR 1186 cut 11 to the inch, .032" x .085".

Post war match ammunition (1951 - 1956) consisted of selected lots of standard service grade Ball M2 or AP M2. It can be found loaded with either IMR 4895 or Western spherical WC 852, both of which were spec at the time. When production of NM ammunition resumed in 1957, the powder was the standard service powder that made its first appearance early in WW 2, IMR 4895. It was used in all Cal .30 Match M72, 7.62mm Match M118 (except as noted below), and 7.62mm Match M852. It changed little over the years, kernel size .035" x .060". In an attempt to use the service powder in NM ammunition, at least 7 lots of 7.62mm Match M118 were loaded with WC 846, another Western spherical.


#2

Ray: Interesting, and instructive, to see the powders in a uniform scale. This brings to mind a question that’s been in the back of my mind for a good while: did the DuPont series of IMR powders begin their numbering at 1000? Several of the early ones are numbered like your examples, but I’ve never heard of an IMR 964, for example. Jack


#3

Jack

I’m not sure exactly how DuPont numbered their powders. There are obviously large gaps in the sequence of numbers. For example, like you, I have never seen any DuPont powder with a 3 digit number. I’m too old to try to sort it out so I just report what the references tell me.

The first of the IMRs was #15, introduced in 1914. But it preceeded IMR #13 which was introduced in 1917 and was developed after MR #20 which came along in 1909 - so go figure.

DuPont also made SR (Sporting Rifle), Pistol, and Shotgun series’ of powders which had their own numbering sequence.

The Hercules powders use a numbering system that is even more confusing.

This sounds like a research job for a young collector. Someone that wants to make a name for himself. ;-)

Ray


#4

I posted the question on 300 H&H super match ammo got no response maybe you can help? I have two boxes of ( as read on label)
20
Q3013
300 H&H MAGNUM
180 GR. F.M.C.B.T.
SUPER MATCH
LOT 6010
FSN 1305-348-8648-000 MADE BY WINCHESTER- WESTERN DIVISION
OLIN MATHIESON CHEMICAL CORP.
EAST ALTON, ILLINOIS U.S.A.
MUST HAVE BEEN BEFORE THE 300 WIN MAG BECAME STANDARD FOR THE ARMY. THE BOXES HAVE NOT BEEN OPENED. IS IT POSSIBLE TO DATE THE BOX BY LOT NUMBER?


#5

The label would indicate manufacture after 1954. Possibly made for the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) or one of the Service teams for International Match or Palma Match competition? What is the color of the box and label?

Perhaps someone can interpret the FSN number?

Sorry I can’t help more. I do not ordinarily collect the contract match ammunition.

Ray


#6

the box is light cardboard tan, tan label. on the back of the box 47VB5D BPH. Thanks for the help.


#7

Ryaussy,

Not an answer but some insight:

“300 H&H Match cartridges have been around for more years than you or I have, made by both Big Green and Big W. For most of the first half of the 20th Century the 30-06 dominated conventional long range shooting in the United States, however, in 1935, something astounding happened. In that year a shooter named Ben Comfort won the Wimbledon Cup with a rifle chambered for the 300 H&H Magnum, shooting factory match ammo of all things. Popularity of the cartridge picked up immediately but ground to a halt with WW II. After the War shooters returned to the big magnum but when the AMU was created in 1956 the H&H was replaced with the improved versions and that was pretty much the end of it as far as a match cartridge was concerned. Ray” viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6232


#8

great info do u know when the 300 win mag was chosen by the army?


#9

I’m not sure what you mean by “adopted” or “chosen” by the Army. Several local, state, and federal agencies have contracted for the manufacture of 300WM ammunition for specific purposes such as sniper and special ops but the cartridge is not a US standard AFAIK.

I have a very few of those cartridges dated to the late 50s and early 60s.

Ray


#10

Regarding IMR numbering, my understanding that DuPont used four digit codes internally from the beginning, and the two digit designations were merely the canister variants of an existing four digit type. Two digits with a “-1/2” suffix indicate that tin was included in the propellant. It looks like the older 1000-series were replaced across the board during the 1930s.


#11

The .300 Win Mag is certainly standard now that the US Army is replacing their M24 sniper rifles with the M2010.


#12

Daniel

I guess it depends on what the definition of “standard” is. To me, it means a cartridge adopted for use by all services as manufactured by or for LCAAP, as compared with contracted ammunition for a specific service and use. The 7.62mm NATO M118LR as compared with the USN Mk 316 Mod 0 for example. Two nearly identical cartridges but with different purposes and produced by two different manufacturers.

Special purpose ammunition like the 300 WM Mk 248 is (was) all contracted, as far as I know, and is restricted issue not available to everyone (not even collectors). I had a heck of a time getting a carton of the Mk 316 and, truth be told, I probably should not have it. On the other hand, I can get all of the M118 LR that I want or need.

Ray