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Old January 13, 2006, 03:33 PM   #14
Mike Irwin
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Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 35,891
Of course they didn't use little old ladies, Mal.

They used urchins from the streets of Liverpool.

It may be in his "Notebook," but Julian Hatcher recounted an experience from the National Matches years go. Apparently a competitior decided to pull some of the issued match ammo apart and weight each charge. Apparently he found quite a variation, and was very loudly bitching about the quality of the military ammo loaded at Frankford Arsenal. Hatcher noted that many National Match records fell that year.

AH! I found it!

Page 313 of my Stackpole, second printing, 1966, version of Hatcher's Notebook.

"For example, when I was at Franford Arsenal some years ago, we were loading the National match ammunition with Du Pont No. IMR No 1147, wihc was similar to the modern IMR No. 4320. This powder was cut into very short grains only a twenty-second of an inch long, and they would pack very uniformly in the loading machine powder measure, and the variation between the highest and the lowest charge in a test sample of cartridges would be not more than six tenths of a grain.

WE then tried a very similar powder with the grains cut twice as long, that is, eleven to the inch. The charges thrown by teh loading machines were not as uniform, having a maximum variation of about a graind and sevent tenths from one cartridge to another from the same machine. But on machine rest tests the coarser powder made smaller groups every time. Naturally we loaded the ammunition with this more accurate powder, and the scores at Camp Perry ran exceptionally high that year. But the Ordnance Department came in for some very sarcastic and bitter criticism from a self appointed local dispenser of wisdom at the matches who carefully pulled the bullets from a number of cartridges and weighed the charges, then spread the word that the extreme variation between charges was twice as great as it had been before.

The critic was accusing the Department of very great stupidity, and could not understand why in the world they used apowder that did not load quite as closely as to weight variations as the finer powder. He talked loud and long and no doubt there were many who gained the impression from him that it was a matter of indifference to the makers of the ammunition whether the accuracy was good or bad.

Actually, this critic knew noting whatever about powder or the problems of loading small-arms ammunition. He just weighed the charges in some cartridges, and found that the variation was about a grain and a half; and he heard that the variation was less with the finer powder, so he at once began to should his discovery. I suppose it never occurred to him that the Ordnance engineers, wtih all their vast testing resources and their vital interest in producing the best possible ammunition, had made hundreds of tests much more elaborate than any shooter could ever afford before they finally decided to use the large-grain powder instead of the other. Truly, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
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