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Old 06-03-2020, 09:47 AM
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Default Vintage US M2 Ball Ammo

I posted about Tommy Gun Ammo for the Brits! a few weeks ago. The same collection included a variety of M2 Ball ammo that was well buried and took a while for me to discover. I have several Garands, an 03A3 and an 03A4, so I was thrilled to add the following to my stash!

First up is a spam can from 1946. The ammo was obviously Remington production from WWII, repackaged at the Twin Cities Ordnance Plant for long term storage.

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Next up is a full ammo can of 1969 Lake City on en-bloc clips for the Garand. You'll notice that contents of the can are described in writing (for the Army/Navy) and with a pictograph (for the Marine Corps)! Just kidding!

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The third type is rather interesting. I found 2 identical cans of these bandoleers marked "CN 9 40" in crossed lines. The cans obviously weren't original to the ammo and were intended to mount on a belt-fed machine gun. The ammo is on 5 round stripper clips that fit the 03-A3.
Research indicates the ammo was actually produced by Lake City in 1953, at the request of the CIA. By August of '53, Lake City had geared down and the intelligence community saw future needs for M2 Ball ammo that couldn't be traced back to the US. They obviously had future covert operations in minds and came up with this fictitious headstamp.

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Last up are a couple 20 boxes; one by Kynoch (1954) and the other Winchester-Western (1956-57?).

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Last edited by s&wchad; 06-03-2020 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:58 AM
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Excellent!!!! I can remember going to the "real" army navy surplus stores in Pontiac and sorting through stuff like that. My dad, who competed with a pre-64 Winchester Model 70 target rifle was always on the look out for brass. Competitors at Camp Perry used get an allotment of Match rounds and could buy extra for $1 a box, if memory serves me correctly.
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Old 06-03-2020, 10:36 AM
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I remember those of us who couldn't afford M73 match ammo using M2 AP whenever we could find it. I don't know why, but for some reason, DEN headstamp was the one we coveted most. Superstition, for all I know. I do remember the heavier AP bullet being more accurate than M2 Ball, especially for slow fire.
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Old 06-03-2020, 02:00 PM
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The CIA M2 ammo is usually called "Cuban invasion" ammo, supposedly made up for the Bay of Pigs invasion. It has never been officially documented it was CIA clandestine ammunition to be used for the Bay of Pigs invasion but was more probably made for general clandestine use by the CIA, not specifically for the BOP invasion. There were three headstamps (AN, BN and CN) indicating manufacture at different locations - AN was Twin Cities, BN was St Louis, and CN was Lake City. Obviously, the H/S dates are bogus. I have several rounds of BN .30-'06 I found at a flea market. It might be interesting to speculate how:it got into general circulation, as it is not in the “rare” category.

This is supposedly the full story:

"In November 1952, the Office, Chief of Ordnance received a classified request from Army Intelligence to provide a schedule for the delivery of Cal. .30 ball cartridges for use by “other than U.S. Forces.” The plan called for the procurement of this ammunition to realize economies while the Ordnance plants were still operating to near full capacity in support of the Korean War. This ammunition was not for immediate use, but would be stored for later issue in support of strategic and contingency plans being formulated by various U.S. intelligence departments and government agencies. The order for this ammunition called for standard Cal. .30 ball M2 cartridges to be made to U.S. specifications, but with special markings on the cartridges and packing which could not be easily traced back to their origin or date of manufacture. Anticipating long-term storage under field conditions and combat use, the rounds were to be packed in waterproof metal containers with bandoleer inner pack. Most of the order was packed in five-round clips, since it was expected that the ammunition would be used in bolt-action rifles or magazine-fed automatic weapons. Because a standard U.S. container would disclose the identity of the country of manufacture, it was initially planned to procure suitable metal containers “offshore.” When this proved to be too costly and time consuming, the use of surplus U.S. Navy Mark 1-series steel boxes was authorized. This container had originally been adopted during WWII for shipboard storage of 20mm ammunition, and resembled those used by European ammunition makers.

The total order was for approximately 250 million rounds and was originally to be divided equally among the three plants then producing Cal. .30 ammunition; Lake City, St. Louis, and Twin Cities. However, because of technical problems and a shortage of propellant, St. Louis production was reduced to about half that of the other plants. The head marking was to be of the “European” style, not specifically known to be used by any current producer, showing the manufacturer’s code, month, and year of loading separated by segment (radial) lines.

Manufacturer’s code “AN” was assigned to Twin Cities, “BN” to St. Louis, and “CN” to Lake City. The year was to remain constant; 1940 (40) on all production. Each plant was also requested to denote the lot number in lieu of the month on the headstamp. Lake City loaded nine lots for a total of 90,832,304 rounds (further broken down into 5 or 6 alphabetical sub-lots of about two million rounds each) with headstamps C/N/1/40/ through C/N/9/40/. Production at St. Louis totaled 49,669,200 rounds, which were loaded into four lots with B/N/1/40/ through B/N/4/40/ headstamps. An unfinished case headstamped B/N/5/40/ has been examined which may have been made in anticipation of a fifth lot, but available records indicate that St. Louis produced only four lots.

Twin Cities Arsenal produced 91,000,720 rounds divided into nine lots with headstamps A/N/1/40/ through A/N/9/40/. Some variation has been observed in the orientation of the lot number (“month”) on the headstamps. All of the A/N headstamps have the lot and year facing inward toward the primer pocket. The B/N headstamp has the year facing inward and lot numbers 1, 2 and 4 facing outward, lot 3 either inward or outward, and lot 5 inward. All of the C/N headstamps have the year and lot number facing outward.

Production started in February-March 1953, and was completed by November of that year. Standard components and production processes for the period were used, with both Lake City and Twin Cities using IMR 4895 and St. Louis loading both IMR 4895 and WC 852 ball propellant. Examination of existing rounds discloses that Lake City (C/N) and Twin Cities (A/N) used their normal primer sealant colors, red for Lake City and green for Twin Cities. However, St. Louis (B/N) used at least two different colors, their usual green and a reddish-orange. It is possible that the different colors indicated a different process, primer, and/or propellant. Examination revealed that those rounds with green seal are loaded with IMR propellant and those with reddish-orange seal contain ball propellant and have a flatter primer cup. After inspection and lot acceptance testing, the ammunition was graded into two categories, A and B, corresponding to Rifle ® or Machine Gun (MG) grade, and shipped to depots for storage."


One wonders why it has any H/S at all, just use no H/S. Or something like one punch mark for LC, 2 for SL, and nothing for TW. I also wonder why the CIA felt it necessary to get it from three different US sources.

Last edited by DWalt; 06-03-2020 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 06-03-2020, 02:18 PM
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That is some really interesting history of ammo. I'm sitting in my shop right now servicing M1s for the honor guard. When I took over the task of keeping these rifles running they would barely function they had been fired so many times without cleaning. The first time I opened one up for cleaning it looked like a smooth bore there was some much carbon buildup plus the gas vent was completely clogged.
I've got them limited to 250 rounds between cleanings now and all of them are running fine. It's amazing just how dirty blanks are.
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
The CIA M2 ammo is usually called "Cuban invasion" ammo, supposedly made up for the Bay of Pigs invasion. It has never been officially documented it was CIA clandestine ammunition to be used for the Bay of Pigs invasion but was more probably made for general clandestine use by the CIA, not specifically for the BOP invasion...
Thank you for that! It was way more information than I had.
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:23 PM
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It's fairly well known that the CIA procures and distributes all sorts of clandestine ammunition and weapons to various groups all over the world. They have been doing it since WWII, and probably more today than ever.
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:35 PM
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When are you going to shoot them????

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Old 06-03-2020, 09:47 PM
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I think that I still have two cans of 1969 LC. Good stuff. I have been shooting Greek in my Garand, but I would have no reservations in using the LC.
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Old 06-04-2020, 12:22 AM
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I remember back in 1967, Dad got a bunch of AP from the DCM for matches with 03A3s down at Camp Adair. We kids got to hang out in the butts and root through piles of spent ordnance. Those were the days. OP, great pick ups.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:32 AM
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I just love the way those Garand clips look in that can. Wish I had several such cans full.
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Old 06-14-2020, 01:23 AM
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Most of the Greek ammo I have is in cardboard boxes and the glue used to seal the boxes tarnished about 20%+ of the rounds beyond use. Then I got a couple of cases in Garand clips in cloth bandoliers.
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Old 06-14-2020, 05:07 AM
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Default Greek ammo

Quote:
Originally Posted by rds95991 View Post
Most of the Greek ammo I have is in cardboard boxes and the glue used to seal the boxes tarnished about 20%+ of the rounds beyond use. Then I got a couple of cases in Garand clips in cloth bandoliers.
Put the tarnished rounds in a tumbler.....or just shoot them they should chamber even with some tarnishing.

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Old 06-14-2020, 08:44 AM
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All I have is several cans of belted 30cal ( 30/06 ) blanks. Been going to take it to a big show and trade it for something useful.
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Old Yesterday, 09:52 PM
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From a Winchester 1917 Enfield: LC 69, scattered. Greek HXP, not much better. FN53 AP, super!
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