(For the first time ever, a guest post on Carteach0. ASM826 at Random Acts of Patriotism read an article about some elderly US Mil-surp ammunition here, and in true gunny fashion simply had to go out and experiment. What follows are his words, and findings.)
Carteach0 had written an article about military ammo, where he dissembled and inspected some 1954 Lake City 30.06 armor piercing rounds. Commonly called “black tip” ammo, because of the paint that marks the bullets, this ammo is fairly rare. I had some from two different lots. What we shot was made in 1955. The loose rounds and the rounds on the cloth belt were made in 1950 and 1951, making it likely they have corrosive primers. I will shoot them on some summer day when I can clean the rifle properly in the warm sunshine.
I had heard this was really accurate ammo, as Carteach0 says, “the standard by which mil-spec ammo is measured”. In his post, he lamented not owning a rifle to shoot some samples. I emailed him, offering to host him at my range with my Springfield 03A3. Time and distance made that impossible, so we agreed on the next best thing. I would shoot the ammo, document the process, and report the results.
After some discussion with another friend, he and I made range plans since he has the chronograph and was interested in the project. We decided that we would each shoot 5 shot groups from the bench at 100 yards, capturing the velocity of each round and photographing the resulting targets.
The Springfield 03A3 we used was made in 1943 and sold through CMP sometime in the 1970s. I shoot it in Garand matches and it is capable of delivering very accurate results. Of the mil-spec ammo I have shot through it, it performs best with the Greek HXP made in the early 1970s. As you can see, it has sharp rifling right out to the muzzle. I went into this with high hopes for the black tip ammo results.
To have something to compare it with, we would also shoot the ammo though a modern 30.06 rifle, a Remington 700. Additionally, we would shoot some hand loads as sort of a standard. The hand loads were 48gr. of IMR4895 loaded behind 168gr. Sierra HPBT bullets.
This is what we had planned when we went to the range.
Targets 1 and 2 were shot with black tip ammo, headstamped AYR 55, from the bench. Shooting for group size, we did not make any adjustments to the sights or the sight picture we were using during the shooting.
The first round fired on target 3 clipped the metal rods that hold the plastic diffusers over the chronograph. Our first conclusive finding is that quarter inch metal rods will not withstand any contact with an armor piercing bullet traveling 2500fps+. The chronograph seems to be okay, but the rods and diffusers will have to be replaced. The rest of the velocities are now lost to science.
Target 3 was shot with the Remington 700 and the black tip ammo. This used up the AYR 55 ammo, so only shooter 1 shot this. It was interesting that 3 rounds were in the 10 ring and 2 were outside the black. I will return to this in my conclusions.
Target 4 was the Remington 700 with a Sierra boat tail hand load, and serves to show the accuracy potential of the rifle.
1. In our very informal test, the black tip ammo was not as accurate as other mil-spec 30.06 ammo I have shot.
2. The velocity spreads are not excessive, especially when you consider the age of the ammo.
3. The results observed of the first 3 targets makes me think that the issue may be the bullets themselves. If the armor piercing core of the bullet is not precisely in the center, the rotation of the bullet in flight would cause an oscillation that would affect accuracy and group size. I did not see even the usual (approximately) 2 minute of angle accuracy I expect from the old Springfield rifle with mil-spec ammo.
4. Carteach0 measured the bullets as somewhat undersized. This also might explain the results.
5. The group on target 3, shot with the Remington 700, is interesting for the same reason. Putting 3 rounds in the 10 ring and 2 rounds out in the 8 ring also seems to suggest some variation in the bullets.
6. More black tip ammo, from more lots, shot by more shooters from different rifles, would give a clearer picture of what the 30.06 black tip ammo is really capable of. The sample here was too small to be definitive.
7. I think I have an accuracy load for my Remington 700!
8. It was a beautiful day at the range. I am lucky to have a place like this to shoot.
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