"A Look Inside"..... Lake City AP ammunition from 1954
I was recently reminded of a series of articles I wrote for a a MilSurp forum, some years back. Digging into archives, I dragged this one (Kicking and screaming) back into the light, and revamped it to appear here. Have to say.... I had forgotten how much I liked looking into the guts of ammunition like this.
Today's subject is Lake City 30-06, dated 1954 and armor piercing black tip. I happened to have about twenty rounds of this, and now ten have been given to the cause.
I'll admit to having enough nationalistic pride that I expected this Lake City ammo to become the standard by which other Mil-surp ammo is measured. The truth turned out to be pretty close to that mark, if not right on. That said, I tried my best to be clinical and unbiased as I weighed and measured. I even swore in French once just to make it fair.
Adding to the usual battery of measurements, this time I extended the investigation to unfired case dimensions. I applied my Mic to the base width, neck width, and case length on each sample case.
The powder is a medium extruded grain that appears like IMR 4895. I happen to have some old cans of IMR and Hogdons powder from that era (not sure why....) and I took the time to compare. It's not 4350 nor 4064, but looks pretty much exactly like IMR 4895. I did note the powder from the LC cartridges was actually in better condition visually than the old samples I have in the original cans. Compared to a new and fresh sample of IMR 4895 it appeared to be the same dimension, but did not have the shine nor odor of fresh IMR powder. If I found this in my can today, I might load it for plinking rounds but not for my best accuracy loads because of the visual indications.
The bullets are a FMJ Spitzer design with an indented base. They were well sealed to the case and required two hands on the press handle to pull. I doubt they could have been removed with anything less than the RCBS collet puller. On the plus side, they all seemed to pull with equal force. none being easier than another. Short of mounting a torque wrench to the press handle I'm not sure how to measure that.
The bullets have a canalure and the case mouth was crimped pretty tightly into the groove. The bullet was not compressed or marked in any way by this so the crimp appears Juuuuuust Riiiiight.
To make the dimensional measurements on the bullets I needed to clean the sealer off the bullet. I found it wiped off easily with nothing more than carb clean on a rag. I have yet to find a sealer that would not come off with the same method.
Now, to the numbers:
Powder: high of 49.7 grains and a low of 49.1. It should be noted that every sample but the two extremes was exactly at 49.3 grains. That is excellent control, and well within the spread of a manual powder measure (why I individually weigh every charge I care about). Cases: Here I found the widest weight variations, with a high of 206.4 and a low of 197.6 grains. The high number is so much out of the range that I suspect my own measurement. I'm just too lazy to go recheck. Take it for what it's worth. The case dimensions were pretty decent, with the case bases ranging from .465" to .467". The case mouths on the other hand all measured at exactly .335", which speaks well of the neck wall thickness non-variation. The case lengths ranged from 2.481" to 2.486". This is not an surprising spread in my experience, and I have seen much wider in brand new virgin commercial brass.
Bullets (almost forgot this!): Weight varied from 162.6 to 163.6 grains, with most centered around 163.4 grains. Their diameters ranged from .3076" to .3081". A variation of .0005" with military armor piercing bullets is pretty decent. I note they are slightly undersized by typical .308 standards. Would this effect accuracy? It certainly should if the rifles bore is over nominal dimensions by much at all. Conclusions....... I have nothing to shoot this stuff with !!! AArrrgggg..... That colors everything I might say. Just judging by the components I would think the ammunition should be excellent in any decent firearm. It's consistent in weight and dimension with what appears to be excellent quality control. I suspect the powder could be in better condition, but I also suspect that is more a past storage issue than anything else. I now recall I found this ammunition in an upper room of an Amish barn. Dry, but hot.
I have a few rounds left which I would love to shoot over my chronograph. Does anyone have a nice 03 or a Garand they'd care to lend me for a while? (lol)