View Full Version : Duplicating the M1 Ball Round
10-19-2011, 07:16 AM
Most of us probably know the story, but I'll give a brief summary for those who may not. The M1 Ball round was developed after World War I to improve the effective range of machine guns. It used a ballistically efficient bullet of 174 grains with a 9 degree boat tail, and had a muzzle velocity of about 2600 feet per second. The round worked well and retained a lot of velocity at longer ranges. Unfortunately it worked too well, and was penetrating the army's wooden backstops on their practice ranges. The solution was the adoption of the M2 Ball cartridge to replace it in 1938.
I have been fascinated by the M1 Ball cartridge for some time. It was the round that the Garand was originally designed to fire. In testing, it proved more accurate in rifles than the M2 Ball. It was coveted by snipers in World War II. Most stocks were exhausted in the war, and M1 Ball rounds today are highly collectible and expensive.
So... has anyone tried to duplicate (or approximate) this round on the reloading bench? If so, how did it shoot? What components would you recommend?
10-19-2011, 08:23 AM
Try one of the Hornady 178s. These have proven to be quite accurate (for me). I don't think you will be able to squeeze 2600 out of an M1 unless you exceed recommended charges, but they shoot just fine at 2500 or so.
Penetration was not the problem, as I understand it. ( I have never seen a "wooden backstop" on a military range, they tend to use dirt or no backstop at all.) The bullets just flew too far and exited the impact zone. However, I was not there and may be incorrect.
10-19-2011, 08:24 AM
It is basically the same round as the National match load. I don't know exactly remember what the load was but it used H-4895 which is what the original powder was. You can find the load in Cartridges of the world in the back section. I have some bullets if you're interested in buying them for a decent price. I have shot thousands of them over the years and they shot great in some rifles and good in some others. I always sorted them out by weight. The bullets I have now was bought from the DCM.
10-19-2011, 07:16 PM
I like using the Lapua 170 gr FMJ Lockbase bullet and either IMR 4064 or Accurate Powder AA4064, with a CCI standard large rifle primer. Good luck.....
10-19-2011, 08:18 PM
They are not particularly accurate, any commercial match bullet will outperform them and probably any Sierra bullet they make. We bought them for $5 a hundred in the 80s. A 168gr match bullet is a better choice. The Army match ammunition isn't that great either, brass is great, but not that accurate.
10-22-2011, 09:50 PM
It is basically the same round as the National match load. I don't know exactly remember what the load was but it used H-4895 which is what the original powder was.
That's not precisely correct. H4895 was originally surplus IMR 4895 that Bruce Hodgdon bought from the military after the end of WWII and started his company with, selling it as H4895. Todays H4895 is made in Australia and isn't the same formulation. IMR 4895 is basically the same, though.
Neither Frankford Arsenal or Lake City used the surplus H4895 in National Match ammo. They had their own fresher lots, but even so, they only used IMR 4895 in NM ammo from 1957 onward. This is because IMR 4895 wasn't introduced until 1942, and the last National Match ammo produced before 1957 was 1940, before IMR 4895 existed. NM ammo production was suspended between 1941 and 1956 because of the war efforts.
Since M1 ball was officially made obsolete in 1944, it seems unlikely it was ever loaded with IMR 4895.
The 1940 National Match ammo, going back to 1931 was loaded with IMR 1185. For two years before that it was loaded with IMR 1186, then in 1928, before that, it was IMR 1185 again. Before 1928 all the way back to 1903 (before .30-06 existed) NM ammo used a variety of powders most have never heard of: WA, Pyro DG, HiVel 2, IMR 17½, and IMR 1076 and IMR 1147.
Today if you want to copy M1 ball, you have to look at the specs and cross your fingers. Hatcher remarked that some of those NM ammunition powders were similar to the IMR 4320 that is available today, but I don't believe M1 ball used that. Frankford Arsenal and others competing to produce NM ammo all tested powders for accuracy and selected them just for NM ammunition based on that. As near as I can tell from pressure and velocity specs Hatcher published, actual M1 ball was likely loaded with something faster. That makes historical sense. As you back in smokeless powder history, the ability to make it burn progressively is more primitive and less effective, so it tends to be faster. That's why velocity achieved with 1906 ball is lower than for M2 ball despite having about the same bullet weight. The Pyro DG powder used in the older round was too fast to be able to use enough to get equal velocity from it.
Hatcher reports M1 ball averaged 48,000 psi (which was measured in a copper crusher, and would be called 48,000 CUP today, and be about like 58,000 psi measured in a modern Piezo pressure gun). He says the velocity was 2647 fps. That would be at 78 feet from the muzzle, which means it would run about 2688 fps at 15 ft from the muzzle as SAAMI measures it today. You can get close to those numbers with a number of powders, but Vihtavuori N140 looks like a good possibility with low enough energy density that it fills the case better than most would. If you want to replicate performance of original M1 ball, I think that's what I would start with.
10-22-2011, 10:07 PM
Cal .30 M1 was the Standard during development of the Garand but it was pretty much obsolete by the time the Garand was used in any numbers. In 1936 a few of the new Garands were being tested with M1 and complaints were immediately received of malfunctions. (But, that's to be expected with any new rifle) In 1937 the first 15 million rounds of M2 were ordered and by 1938 it almost completely replaced the M1. By 1940 only the Navy and aircraft machine guns were still using M1 and Frankford Arsenal discontinued production in October 1941.
Unclenick is correct about the powders. IMR 1185 was developed especially for the Cal .30 M1 ammunition. I doubt if IMR 4895 was ever loaded in the M1 ammunition.
And, I don't think H4895 was used in any of the Match ammunition, either Cal .30 or 7.62MM. It was always IMR 4895. (Except for a few odd lots using WC 846 ball powder).
10-23-2011, 01:48 PM
47 grains of IMR 4895 168 grain match king works well. Alway start at start loads and look for pressure signs first.