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Us Propellants 1910-40?


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#1 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 0256 AM

Did the US military use the same propellants for small arms rounds in 1940 as they did before WW1? I recently came across some info that implied that wasn't the case despite better propellants being on the market.
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#2 GregShaw

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 0809 AM

Yes and No. .30-06 used Dupont Pyro DG for WWI, then went to IMR 1185 for M1 ball in 1926, which evolved into IMR 4895 for WWII and stayed with it as the primary powder for M2 ball until the end of .30-06 production. AP rounds did go to the newer and slower 4064 which used more of the case volume for better velocity than 4895 could manage with the heavier bullet. All the IMR extruded powders prior to the most recent temp insensitive series are derivatives of the original Dupont single base extruded. Incidentally both 4895 and 4064 are still very versatile and popular for reloading any milsurp cartridge from 5.56x45 mm to 7.92x57 mm. I have 3+ lbs of IMR 4895 in my stash and try not to ever be without some.

 

For the .45 ACP I've seen loading data for both Bullseye and Unique, both pre-1900 double base flake powders that are still popular for loading .45 ACP. They seem to have stuck with those two, primarily Bullseye, through the end of WW II at least. If it ain't broke, don't break it. Bullseye as the name implies is still a favorite for target shooting, and Unique is still the single most versatile handgun powder on the market.

 

My guess for the reason to stick with 1185 / 4895 rather than go to newer improved powders is that the M1 Garand's gas system was essentially designed around medium burn rate powders in that class, and the newly introduced 4350 was too slow and led to higher gas port pressures than the M1 was designed for. As a reloader, the general rule for M1 Garand is still nothing faster than IMR 3031 or slower than IMR 4320, which knocks 4350 and 4831 out of consideration. The US also had a bias against double base rifle powders that didn't go away until the introduction of ball powders for the M1 Carbine and they weren't adopted for the Garand until even later with WC 852. Bad experience with throat erosion in the .30-40 Krag with the original double base powders led to the requirement for single base only. I think that also explains why the .30-06 is higher capacity than any contemporary service cartridge, they had to go bigger to come close to matching 7.92x57 performance without adding nitroglycerine for more energy.


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#3 shep854

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 0854 AM

Yet another example of how firearms development actually peaked in the early 20th century.


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#4 Markus Becker

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 1018 AM

Tank you for the in depth info. 

 

Let me see if I got this. More powerful propellants than the ones used by the military were available as early as 1900-ish but not used because of problems with the 30-30 Krag and in the 1930’s other new propellants were not immediately adopted because they would have required a redesign of the M1 Garand. 
 
 
A few more questions:
 
How does Dupont Pyro DG compare to IMR1185/4895? Particularly with regard to energy?
 
What propellants were used in civillian ammo around 1905, 1925, 1940 and how did they compare to each other and the military propellants? Again with regard to energy. 

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#5 GregShaw

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 1157 AM

All the Dupont powders were single based extruded, there wouldn't be any significant difference in energy. The differences were in burn rate and how fast they released that energy. Burn rate was/is controlled by varying the geometry of the grains, diameter and length. And by adding perforations lengthwise. The greater the surface area the faster it burns and releases that energy. Unperforated kernels have a regressive burn rate, as they burn the surface area decreases and burn rate decreases as well. By changing number and diameter of perforations you can control the burn rate, from regressive to neutral to progressive.

 

Early dual base powders were somewhere around 40% NG, and coupled with early steel they ate chamber leades like a blowtorch. The UK had the same problem with Cordite, their response was to lower NG content and replace the Metford rifling (6 shallow grooves IIRC) with Enfield style (5 deep grooves and equal sized lands). I believe they also had a cardboard over powder wad at times. Even at that the Lee-Enfields had a lower accuracy life than US Springfields. Germany also had barrel wear issues with the 7.92x57mm, IIRC they tweaked the NG content of their powder as well.

 

The US had just adopted the M1 Garand, was replacing the original external gas system (somewhat like a Bang system) with a gas port in the barrel, and was just adopting M2 ball to replace the ballistically superior M1 ball. The requirement for M2 ball was to match the original M1906 ball, and it did so easily with 4895, actually bettered it by about 100 fps. 4350 was introduced right about that time, it could have managed another 150-200 fps, but that wasn't required.

 

Civilians would have had versions of the same IMR series and some others as well. Hi-Vel #2 comes to mind, which was double based (about 15% NG) and did have a reputation for burning barrels. Otherwise I was about -62 years old in 1905 so don't have any direct knowledge of what was available. A lot of early civilian cartridges, particularly wildcats, didn't really come into their own until the '50s when IMR 4350 and 4831 surplus came available.


Edited by GregShaw, 21 February 2018 - 1157 AM.

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#6 Rick

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 1819 PM

Remember reading somewhere U.S. WW2 rifle ammunition produced more muzzle flash than their German and Japanese counterparts. True?


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#7 Markus Becker

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 1421 PM

A last question.

With the double base rifle powders used of .30 Carbine would it have been possible to shorten the cases of older rounds like 25. Remington without losing performance? Or was that something only post WW2 propellants could do?
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#8 GregShaw

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 1256 PM

Remember reading somewhere U.S. WW2 rifle ammunition produced more muzzle flash than their German and Japanese counterparts. True?

I haven't seen comments about muzzle flash, but I seem to remember comments from Normandy about US small arms being smokier than German ones. 


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#9 GregShaw

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 1314 PM

A last question.

With the double base rifle powders used of .30 Carbine would it have been possible to shorten the cases of older rounds like 25. Remington without losing performance? Or was that something only post WW2 propellants could do?

Are you referring the 1906ish .25 Remington, or the wildcat .25 that became the .25-06 Remington?

 

The original was pressure limited to about 32-36k CUP, more energetic powder in a smaller case is just going to run into pressure limits sooner, and the original .30 Carbine ball powders would be too fast burning, they're more suited to the .357 Mag than they are to rifles.

 

The .25-06 was one of the cartridges I mentioned that needed the post WWII intro of SLOW (20mm cannon) powders, ie IMR 4831, to reach its potential. Checking my Hodgdon 2017 annual reloading booklet still shows IMR 4831 as the highest velocity with 120 gr BTHP, and 2nd highest velocity with 117 gr BTSP, about 16 fps lower than newly introduced IMR 7977. 


Edited by GregShaw, 25 February 2018 - 1319 PM.

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#10 Markus Becker

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 0631 AM

Are you referring the 1906ish .25 Remington, or the wildcat .25 that became the .25-06 Remington?

 

 

 

The original was pressure limited to about 32-36k CUP, more energetic powder in a smaller case is just going to run into pressure limits sooner, and the original .30 Carbine ball powders would be too fast burning, they're more suited to the .357 Mag than they are to rifles.

 

The the 1906ish .25 Remington. What's the factore limiting the pressure? I assume the guns that are chambered for .25 Remington? 


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#11 GregShaw

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 0813 AM

 

Are you referring the 1906ish .25 Remington, or the wildcat .25 that became the .25-06 Remington?

 

 

 

The original was pressure limited to about 32-36k CUP, more energetic powder in a smaller case is just going to run into pressure limits sooner, and the original .30 Carbine ball powders would be too fast burning, they're more suited to the .357 Mag than they are to rifles.

 

The the 1906ish .25 Remington. What's the factore limiting the pressure? I assume the guns that are chambered for .25 Remington? 

 

The cartridge is essentially a rimless .25-35 Winchester itself limited to 36k CUP. It was used in the Remington Model 8 which was long recoil operated semi-automatic, that entire generation of Remington cartridges for that rifle were loaded to < 33 - 38k CUP, and were all basically rimless versions of Winchester rimmed lever action cartridges.


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