Understanding the pre-NATO Cal .30 Light Rifle Cartridges


#1

Even seasoned collectors of US Military often get confused when trying to ID and catalog the pre-NATO Cal .30 Light Rifle cartridges. Here’s a quick guide that may help. Be aware that this is very basic and does not account for all the twists and turns in the development of this cartridge.

First, it’s necessary to separate the case from the cartridge. Each case had it’s own official designation and many collectors tend to mix case designations with cartridge designations, leading to all sorts of identifications that are not official and confusing at best.

300 SAVAGE - Commercial case first used to determine the basic feasibility of the project goals. Headstamps most often encountered are SUPER-X, SUPER SPEED, and REM-UMC.

T65 - The first Frankford Arsenal case, nearly identical to the 300 Savage,1.87" long. Headstamps are FA 45, FA 46, and FA 47.

FAT1 - 1.95" case, thin rim, wide extractor groove. Headstamps are FA 47, FA 48, and FA *48.

FAT1E1 - 1.95" case, thick rim, narrow extractor groove. Headstamps are FA*48, FA 48, FA 49, and FA 50.

FAT1E2 - 1.95" case. None known to exist.

FAT1E3 - 2.01" case. The final design. Headstamps are FA 49, FA 50, FA ●50● , FA 51, FA 52, FA 53, FA 54, LC 54, and WCC 54.

Next, I’ll get into the different cartridges.

If anyone sees any errors or ommissions, PLEASE let me know.

Ray


#2

Ray–This is GREAT reference. Looking forward to the cartridges themselves.


#3

Ray,

What Ron said!

Re: the FAT1E2 case. Is it known what the distinction between it and the FAT1E1 is? Or perhaps it is something that is not detectable and they reside amongst the FAT1E1 in collections?

Dave


#4

Just when I thought I had everything cataloged correctly! Time to dig out the 7x62x49 rounds and see if I have FAT1 or FAT1E1 cases. Thanks for the info Ray!


#5

Dave

The FAT1E2 has several dimensional changes and a different shoulder angle than the E1. There is an official drawing. Fakes have shown up from time to time so some collectors are obviously aware of it and it’s value if one is ever found.

twoaz

Good luck. It takes several examples of each, a jewelers loupe, accurate caliper, and a lot of measureing to tell them apart. There are manufacturing tolerances on all dimensions so they come darn close to overlapping. Luckily, it’s only the FA 48 headstamps that you really need to worry about. The FA * 48 are almost always the T1
Ray


#6

Loaded cartridges have their own designation based primarily on the bullet type. Again, so as not to get too detailed, here are the basics.

T65 to T65E5 = Ball

T70 to T70E5 = Dummy

T71 & T71E1 = High Pressure Test

T93 to T93E2 = AP

T101 to T101E2 = API

T102 to T102E2 = Tracer

T103 to T103E2 = Observing

T104 to T104E2 = Ball, (M59)

T116 to T116E2 = Grenade Cartridge

T172 = Ball

T233 = Ball, (M80)

Differences between cartridges in a series, such as E1, E2, etc. are primarily due to features such as case length, bullet weight, FB vs. BT, and ogive. There are several lists available that detail most of this information. There was one in the Archives Forum but apparantly the link is broken. Try here:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5448&hilit=cal+30+light+rifle

I can’t believe that I am smart enough to know all of the answers so please, post any errors or omissions.

Ray


#7

If someone needs a breakdown of the different cartridge types I can try to help.

Just ask.

Ray


#8

Yes please, Ray, this is great stuff.

Some of this material is in Peter Labbett’s “Assault Rifle Ammunition 5.6 to 11mm Calibre”, one of the few works I keep handy on my desk for quick reference. One point from it: the initial lead-cored ball bullet originally came from the .30’06 and was flat-based, it wasn’t until the T65E4 that a boat-tailed bullet was introduced.


#9

I have seen .30 LR cartridges with black tip (I assume AP) , silver tip (I assume API), and plain tip (I assume ball). But what is a bullet with a knurled ring and a plain tip?


#10

Ray–You said to “Just ask” if we wanted a further breakdown. I’m asking!!! Lets make this a comprehensive thread on the subject of “Pre-NATO” .30 Light Rifle and 7.62x51.


#11

Ray,
I’m with Ron on this heck I’ll even add a pretty please!
Lets make this a comprehensive thread on the subject of “Pre-NATO” .30 Light Rifle and 7.62x51.

Zac


#12

Can you add colors on the list for the ones that had color tips?

And, for us lazy folks, how about PICTURES!

(Then send it all to Chris P for the Journal!)


#13

Easy one first. Color tips. The colors are the same as the Cal .30 before them.

Ball = Plain
Armor piercing = Black
Armor Piercing Incendiary = Silver
Tracer = Orange
Observing = Yellow

The early Ball used the Cal .30 M2 bullet and so a second smooth crimping cannelure was cut below the knurled cannelure. The later Ball had it’s own bullet with the cannelure located for the particular neck length. AP had a second, smoother cannelure above the crimp.

Below are the original M2 bullet with cut cannelure. Then l to r, FA 45 Ball, FA46 Ball, AP, API, Tracer, Observing.

Ray


#14

T103 Observing

T103 = 1.95" case
T103E1 = 2.01" case
T103E2 = 2.01" case

I know very little about the T103 cartridges. They are not common. I believe the bullet is 145-150 grains. I’m not sure of the difference between the E1 and E2 although I suspect the E2 has a 10 ogive bullet. I have only one specemin and do not want to pull the bullet to see what it is.

T71 High Pressure Test

T71 = T65 case, 170 grain bullet, tinned case
T71E1 = 2.01" case, 170 grain bullet, tinned case

T102 tracer

T102 = 1.95" case, 140-145 grain bullet
T102E1 = 2.01" case, 140-145 grain bullet
T102E2 = 2.01" case, 140-145 grain 10 ogive bullet


#15

Ray, this is awesome. I have many examples of pre Nato 7.62 and will look forward to going through them all again and checking all my designations. Thank you very much for the easy to understand simply laid out information!
Keep it coming :)
What is the difference in rim thickness between the FAT1 case and the FATE1 case so I can run my digital verniers over all mine?


#16

Great work, Ray. Just a couple of remarks from my files:

FAT1E3 - 51mm case. The final design. Headstamps are FA 49, FA 50, FA ●50● , FA 51, FA 52, FA 53, FA 54, LC 54, and WCC 54.

It seems that there was also · F A · 51.

The early Ball used the Cal .30 M2 bullet and so a second smooth crimping cannelure was cut below the knurled cannelure.

It seems that the two-cannelure bullet made its way to the 51 mm case. Although I have to say that the knurled ring on this bullet doesn’t look like a crimping cannelure to me.

Schneider.


#17

craigt

Based on my actual measurements, the rim of the FAT1 will run about .045" to .047", while the FAT1E1 will be .050" to .051". Double check by measureing the extractor groove. The FAT1 is approx .060" to .063" while the FAT1E1 is .058" to .060".

As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of difference and it takes some careful measurements with magnification from a jeweler’s loupe or some such. The headstamp helps to verify what you think you see.

Ray


#18

schneider

The ●51● headstamp is a new one for me. There are a lot of examples of the Cal .30 M1906 case with that headstamp, and you sometimes see one that has been shortened and resized to Cal .30 LR. Along with the FA 50 FAT1E1, yours would be an uncommon case.

The second cannelure on your FA 51 case is not in a proper location to be a crimping cannelure. It could be an AP with the color tip missing? Is it GMCS, steel core, or GM/lead? It may be that the only way you’ll ever know is to pull it and see. I do that all the time but I don’t recommend it to anyone else.

Ray


#19

[quote=“RayMeketa”]schneider

Is it GMCS, steel core, or GM/lead? It may be that the only way you’ll ever know is to pull it and see. I do that all the time but I don’t recommend it to anyone else.

Ray[/quote]

I don’t have the cartridges pictured. The photos have been taken from ORD-SIP-S315, Visual inspection standards for small arms ammunition, 1952.

There are several photos of these knurled bullets showing different manufacturing defects. I don’t know if these defective cartridges were AP and were taken from the production line before the bullet tip was painted. But the knurling seems different from that of the AP bullet shown in the same photo.

Schneider.


#20

T93 Armor Piercing (AP)

There were at least three different AP bullets loaded in the Cal .30 LR cases over the years. Unfortunately, they all look the same externally and the only way to be sure of which one you have (unless it’s still in the box) is to pull it.

300 SAV = The Cal .30 M1906 AP M2 bullet was loaded during the initial pressure and velocity tests. The one shown has a red base and bullet tip, the meaning of which is uncertain.

T90 = M2 bullet loaded in T65 case. Uncommon.

T93= 140 grain flat base T6 bullet loaded in the 1.95" case. Photo, middle cartridge.

T93E1 = 140 grain flat base T6 bullet loaded in 2.01" case (stick powder). Photo, right cartridge.

T93E2 = 150 grain boattail T29 bullet loaded in 2.01" case (ball powder).