US National Match Bullet Test


A recent thread by Phil discussed bullet tests leading to adoption of the M852 National Match cartridge.

I am writing a short blurb on these tests for a Shooter’s web site and have taken photos. Here they are.




Does the Lapua 170gr. have a closed point and open base? Curious if that would’ve been a feature desirable for the military application.




The Lapua is a FMJ (open base). I understand that accuracy was good but cost was not. Also, there were concerns about relying on a foreign supplier for military ammunition, although Match ammunition can hardly be considered vital to National Defense.

The PXR 6311 box is Lapua.



Thanks for posting the pictures. It’s interesting to see what the entire bullets from the cartridges look like.


Ray, when was the 1st Match? Which year? Also, do other countries have similar (i.e. specific ammo) events?



If you mean the US National Matches, they were established by Congress in 1903. But there were competitions held all around the world well before that. The Palma is probably one of the better known international matches, first contested in 1876. I’m not positive how far back the matches at Bisley go. I think Wimbledon dates to the 1860s. Maybe one of our Brit members can tell us.



Ray You are right about Wimbledon, 1860 it started there but that was in response to a ground swell of interest that had grown in the decades before.

Competitive rifle shooting in Britain evolved from friendly rivalry between regiments and local militia into a High Society fashionable thing in Victorian times so its hard to pin it down to a specific date to say thats when it all started. The start of the Queens Prize I guess, July 1860

Back on the subject of ammo. Most events were traditionally shot with issued ammunition and indeed still are. For many years it has been specially made but that doesn’t necessarily translate into defining it as match ammo. By the rules it should be service ammo but the boundaries are blurred. Up to this year we have been using service sniper grade (Green Spot) officially. One for Tony I would say.

I’m just finishing up a cup of coffee and I’m off to Bisley for the day, I’ll give them your regards.



Times have changed and are yet to change even more. Competition shooting in the 19th Century was a socially acceptable activity with Royalty often among the competitors. The top shooters enjoyed celebrity status much like today’s movie stars. Newspapers routinely reported on the matches. Those were quaint days that we’ll never see again.

Issued ammunition has been virtually done away with at most International matches because teams were constantly bickering over perceived, or real, cartridge tampering by the host country. Palma is now fired with ammunition selected by each country, as long as it meets general criteria set by agreement. Military ammunition is slowly being phased out, largely because of restrictions in several countries, not to mention regulations prohibiting transportation of military munitions by several of the air carriers.

I can see the day when competition shooting will be restricted to 22 rimfire or even air rifles and pistols. Even those will probably be outlawed some day. Rock throwing may be back in style, although there will be restrictions on their size and shape. And we won’t keep score either lest someone’s feelings get hurt by losing.

I’ll be gone this weekend so that’s my Sunday sermon a few days early. ;)



Were the 4 bullets used in the US National Match Bullet Testing off-the-shelf commercial items; or were they specially made for the military?



I have no way of knowing that, so can only speculate. Since there was only a small quantity of each that were loaded, I would guess that they simply purchased them directly from the manufacturer. Probably not in the little 100 ct boxes though. ;)

In the case of the Sierras, where they went on to load millions of rounds, I don’t know why they would require Sierra to change the bullet. The bullet was in reality the old 168 grain International Match, the design of which was heavily influenced by Col. Hatcher. So, it already had quite a bit of “military” input.

Based on correspondance that I have from one of the early techs at AMU, they used 168 grain MatchKings supplied directly by Sierra. AMU also worked closely with Sierra in designing the 175 MatchKing so there would be no reason for Lake City to call for a different bullet when they started loading the M118 LR…