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Old August 1, 2013, 02:20 PM   #1
DarthNul
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"They could shoot ours but we couldn't shoot theirs"

Not sure if this is the best forum for this question. Feel free to move it...

So many times during oral discussions of military weapons, I've heard somebody chime in with "they could shoot ours but we couldn't shoot theirs", referring to ammunition. I've heard this said about the civil war, WWII and Viet Nam. The "we" always referred to the Americans (not sure which side in the civil war). The "They" usually meant the enemy of the day, but sometimes it meant allies. As far as I've been able to discern, the guy chiming in was just repeating something he once heard and could not deliver any specifics.

Anybody know were this proclamation originated, and/or in what circumstances it was actually true?
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Old August 1, 2013, 02:52 PM   #2
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The Civil War version I have heard and read was that because of the numbers of .577 Enfields and .58 Springfields in use, commanders of units armed with Enfields would, when issued .58 Springfield ammunition, have their troops load the bottom of their cartridge boxes with the more correct .577 rounds and the tops with .58 rounds, as the troops fired off the .58 rounds and their muskets became fouled they could then use the proper .577 rounds.
The Vietnam version is that "they" could use our 81MM mortar rounds in the Combloc 82MM mortar. I know of no one who has tried firing 5.56 ammo out of any firearm chamber for 7.62 x 39.
One time I fired-inadvertently-a 9MMP round out of a 40 S&W barrel in my Browning HP. It functioned normally, ejected properly. Accuracy was.....
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Old August 1, 2013, 03:09 PM   #3
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It was something my Dad, a WW2 veteran, heard about the Japanese and he used to tell as one of his sea stories. It was proof to the WW2 generation that the Japanese had been planning their dastardly deed (Pearl Harbor) for a long time. Supposedly the Japanese had chambered their rifle to shoot their ammunition and American ammunition, but since the Japanese round was 31 caliber, we could not shoot Japanese ammunition in our rifles.

What was not discussed was why the inscrutable Japanese would also make the receivers of their Arisaka’s so short that a 30-06 would not fit in the magazine.

In so far as the Civil War, a book I have read by CSA General Porter says the Confederates were armed with everything, from flintlocks, with the majority being armed with smooth bore muskets till about 1863, when they had captured enough Yankee cap locks that they could standardize ammunition. Till then, General Porter had a heck of a time supplying ammunition to units which had every different type of sidearm conceivable.

The Confederates recycled anything that could be recycled. As an example, the rusty M1840 and scabbard was found in a barn in Monticello Arkansas in 1951. The last military action of the Civil War in Arkansas was a skirmish at Monticello on May 24, 1865. I believe the sword and scabbard to be an example of Confederate recycling. The scabbard construction is not the same as the original Ames shown in the photograph, lead solder, brass rings, and I believe the scabbard is Confederate even if the sword is not.








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Old August 1, 2013, 04:24 PM   #4
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" ...the Japanese round was 31 caliber, we could not shoot Japanese ammunition in our rifles."

In fact, that is one of the "we...they" stories that happens to be true in a sort of reverse way. The .30-'06 is obviously too long to fit the chamber of a Japanese 7.7 rifle. But what about the opposite?

Normally, those stories are nonsense and can be ignored, but I heard the story that Japanese ammo could be fired in a M1903 rifle from a man who claimed to have done it in combat. I tried it and he was right. Not only did I fire five rounds of Norma 7.7 Jap from a Model 1903A3, but the Japanese clip fit the clip slot of the rifle just fine. I did not check for accuracy but I am sure it would have been good enough in an emergency.

The cases come out with a short neck but otherwise appear normal and with no signs of high pressure.

(FWIW, the 7.7 Japanese rifle bullet is .311", exactly the same as .303 British, and a mere .003" larger than the .308" of the .30-'06.)

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Old August 1, 2013, 04:59 PM   #5
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It is also something of a myth that the Confederate States Army had only old scrap weapons until they captured quality guns from the Yankees.

True, the CS did use what they had, and some less formal soldiers preferred shotguns to rifles, but there is no record of any front-line C.S. unit being armed with junk. While some soldiers reported for duty with family shotguns and hunting rifles, by the time of the first battles, rifles captured from Union depots and arsenals had been distributed to front-line troops, and Gorgas had ammunition production well underway. By late 1861, arms from England began to come through; one ship carried 10,000 Enfield rifles for the C.S. Army, plus 4000 for state governments and 1000 short rifles for the C.S. Navy. Meantime, the U.S. was also buying Enfields and other European arms; their need was not as great, but one purpose in buying those weapons was to deny them to the Confederacy.

That one shipment also included 1 million rounds of .577 ammunition and 2 million percussion caps for the Enfields and 1000 rounds each for the Navy's short rifles. And similar shipments continued for several years until the Union got its blockade organized. The .577 Enfield was officially adopted by the C.S. Army and was so common in the U.S. Army that they began to issue only .577 ammo, which would function in both the .58 Springfield and the .577 Enfield rifles.

Did the Confederates use captured U.S. arms? Of course, but they did not depend solely on them; their main source of supply was Europe. One problem was that, as the war continued and Union forces began to use more "patent" guns (especially carbines), the C.S. had no way of manufacturing ammunition for many of them. But there is no record of any C.S. defeat due to lack of small arms or small arms ammunition.

Edited to add: There were local shortages of ammunition, as in all wars, and the C.S. transportation system was poor. Still, the Southern fighting man almost always had the means to fight. The main shortage in the C.S. Army was not arms and ammo, but food and clothing, especially shoes. And the shortages of both became more acute as Union forces captured or burned areas like the Shenandoah valley that supplied cloth, leather, and, of course, food. Worse, Southern farmers who had supplies refused, toward the end of the war, to sell them for Confederate money. It is to the credit of the C.S. government that they did not simply confiscate civilian property, even in Yankee territory; it was always paid for, even though the money was valueless outside the C.S. (and had little value even there.)

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Old August 1, 2013, 05:40 PM   #6
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At the Battle of South Mountain on September 14,1862,Union forces took a large number of prisoners. The colonel of one of the New Jersey regiments told his men to stack their smoothbores and take the Enfields they had just captured, one solider wrote home that "we upgraded our armaments at no cost to Uncle Sam." The Union took about 30,000 small arms in the Fall of Vicksburg.
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Old August 2, 2013, 07:51 AM   #7
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They could shoot ours, but we could not shoot theirs!

In Vietnam, early on, we had m-14's, that fired 7.62 x 51 NATO ammo, before changing to the the M-16. Of course throughout the war we used the M-60 LMG, also in .30 cal NATO. I was told,as fact, that the Vietcong would scour the battlefields for the NATO ammo, and could fire it, single fire, from their Soviet Bloc bolt action rifles. As the NATO round did not have a rim, after firing it, to extract the shell casing, they used a cleaning rod, and would knock the spent casing from the chamber. I, for obvious reasons, have never attempted firing a NATO round from a Soviet 7.62 x 54R rifle.
Anyone out there ever tried this, or do I relegate this to the urban legends/bigfoot/UFO files??! Hmmm! Feedback would be appreciated, from a braveheart out there that has done this, and still has all the body parts, God issued them...DD
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Old August 2, 2013, 08:25 AM   #8
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I was told,as fact, that the Vietcong would scour the battlefields for the NATO ammo, and could fire it, single fire, from their Soviet Bloc bolt action rifles. As the NATO round did not have a rim, after firing it, to extract the shell casing, they used a cleaning rod, and would knock the spent casing from the chamber.
Don't think so. You're not going to get a 308/7.62 to fire in a Mosin. Look at the case dimensions.

What is true about that fact is the VC did scour the battlefields for ammo or any thing else they could find. GIs were big on throwing crap away and loosing stuff.

They didn't pick up 308s to fire in Mosins, they picked up 308s to fire in 308 rifles, which they did have, 308, 30-06, 30 cal Carbines, and even 5.56, because they had those rifles. The got those rifles from the ARVN troops. Mainly after a battle with ARVN troops.

It wasn't until the NVA got fully involved that they started standardizing their weapons. But even then they scrounged everything they could get their hands on.

This isn't an new concept, its been that way in every war. Indians didn't pick up 45-70s to shoot in their bows, they picked it up to shoot in their Springfield rifles.

Same way now, enemy troops pick up 5.56 to shoot in their captured 5.56 rifles.

Heck the British picked up 8mm stuff in WWI, not because they shot them in their Enfields, but to shoot in the German sniper rifles the picked up.
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Old August 2, 2013, 09:15 AM   #9
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There was a long time member here who was of the firm opinion that the 7.7 Arisaka was so designed that a desperate Jap could stomp the bolt closed on a .30-06 cartridge. The only use I can see for the practice, if at all possible, would be to shoot himself in a losing situation, but there it is; we were told so in any thread of this type.

Quote:
Heck the British picked up 8mm stuff in WWI, not because they shot them in their Enfields, but to shoot in the German sniper rifles the picked up.
The British picked up (and loaded) 8mm because their standard tank machine gun was the 8mm BESA.
The STEN gun is 9mm because when they needed guns so badly after Dunkirk, they had a lot of 9mm ammunition captured from the Italians in North Africa. They were probably set up to load it, too; and nothing to shoot it in after the Smith & Wesson Light Rifle debacle.
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Old August 2, 2013, 10:27 PM   #10
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One of the more common 8x57 rounds in the 1960's was Canadian, boxer primed and non-corrosive, made for the British for use in the BESA.

It is also a recorded fact that the British punched or crimped the rims of 9mm so they could use it in their Enfield and Webley .380 revolvers. (Yes, I tried it, and it works, but I don't recommend it because even standard 9mm P. runs a lot higher pressure than those revolvers were designed for, even the S&W K200.)

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Old August 4, 2013, 08:59 AM   #11
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"There was a long time member here who was of the firm opinion that the 7.7 Arisaka was so designed that a desperate Jap could stomp the bolt closed on a .30-06 cartridge. The only use I can see for the practice, if at all possible, would be to shoot himself in a losing situation, but there it is; we were told so in any thread of this type."

I went round and round with him a couple of times on that subject.

I can't even imagine how high pressures would run if you were even able to make a stunt like that work. Probably high enough that the bolt would be pretty near impossible to open without something to beat open with.

There's one weapons system in which international ammunition interchangeability was somewhat possible -- the 81mm mortar.

A number of nations, including the US, Germany, and Russia (others, too, IIRC) all adopted a mortar developed in the 1920s and 1930s by the Edgar Brandt Company of France.

All nations made slight modifications to it to suit their own requirements and manufacturing capabilities.

The Soviets increased the bore by nominally 1mm because they had already done a lot of development with 82mm mortars and had lots of that ammo on hand.

But, given the general freebore that a mortar shell normally has in the tube, I think it might be entirely possible for a Soviet 82mm shell to be fired in an American 81mm mortar.

I know the reverse is true.
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Old August 4, 2013, 07:41 PM   #12
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I was told,as fact, that the Vietcong would scour the battlefields for the NATO ammo, and could fire it, single fire, from their Soviet Bloc bolt action rifles. As the NATO round did not have a rim, after firing it, to extract the shell casing, they used a cleaning rod, and would knock the spent casing from the chamber.
I read a book by a Navy Seal who served in Vietnam. He relates the same story. Dimensionally the 7.62x51 will fit in a 7.62x54mmR chamber and maybe fire. But the 7.62x51's dimensions are still wrong plus the pressure is much greater. Anyone trying this might wind up wearing part of their rifle. The VC were in combat and didn't know better, so don't try this at home.
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Old August 4, 2013, 09:29 PM   #13
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I guess I am the "long time member" mentioned. (At least you didn't call me an "old" member!)

If so, I never said that the 7.7 Jap was "designed" to be used in a .30-'06 rifle, "stomped in" or otherwise. That kind of thing is never (AFAIK) intended, only the result of coincidence. I did say that I have fired 7.7x58 in a .30-'06 rifle. In fact, since first posting that, I loaded an entire (Japanese) clip of 7.7 into an M1903A3 and fired them. There were no signs of high pressure and no need to "stomp" on anything to chamber the rounds.

I always recommend firing only the proper ammunition in any firearm, but the 7.7 in a .30-'06 rifle would work in an emergency.

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Old August 4, 2013, 09:37 PM   #14
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I suspect most of these "They could shoot ours" stories are either urban legends or Old Wives Tales if you prefer, what interchangeability of ammunition between different countries rifles-unless they were using Mausers-were purely coincidental. Regarding the British selecting the 9MMP for the Sten Gun, their.380 revolver cartridge was unsuitable for SMG use, and any 9MM ammunition captured from the Italians would have been 9MM Glisenti, probably too weak for SMG use. Plus it would have stayed in North Africa-shipping was pretty tight then.
In the Cuban Campaign the Rough Riders had 2 Colt M1895 "potato diggers" chambered in 7MM Mauser-does that count?

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Old August 4, 2013, 11:31 PM   #15
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The oddity of those "they could use ours" stories is that they often are directly contradictory. I was told by WWII vets that the Germans could fire captured American rifles with their ammo, but we couldn't fire captured German ammo in our rifles. Now if you think about that for a minute....

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Old August 4, 2013, 11:38 PM   #16
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No, Jim K, the member in question said nothing about shooting 7.7 ammo in .30-06 rifles he was adamant that the 7.7 Arisaka RIFLE was meant to be able to use .30-06 AMMUNITION in a pinch.

It is frequently said that the Makarov is meant to be able to use captured .380 ammunition. Right. Like which army still issues .380 sidearms? The Italians and Dutch quit a long time ago.
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Old August 4, 2013, 11:52 PM   #17
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Not quite the same thing, but a relative brought back from Europe a beautiful German Mauser sporter but couldn't find any ammo for it. He had gone to or written (pre-email) every place, with no luck. He asked me to find him some ammo, cost no object, he would pay anything reasonable and take all I could find.

I didn't take him up on the offer, but I was sorely tempted to order him a freight train full. The rifle was marked "7.62x63".

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Old August 5, 2013, 06:43 AM   #18
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"I guess I am the "long time member" mentioned."

No. You're not.

You've never claimed that you could crush fit a .30-06 into a 7.7 Arisaka.

At least I don't think you have.

Please tell me you haven't.
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Old August 5, 2013, 06:45 AM   #19
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"7.62x63"

Damn.

That's rare stuff. Unicorn farts are FAR more available.
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Old August 5, 2013, 02:12 PM   #20
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Yep. At that time it was selling by the ton at around $4 a hundred rounds, $3 if you bargained hard. I almost asked the guy where the siding was to park the freight train. The quantities were staggering. From late 1941 to summer of 1945, Frankford Arsenal alone produced 1.1 million rounds of .30 ammo - per day. Remington and Winchester started later but each just about matched that. We talk about lot numbers; at FA, a "lot" was a 100 car freight train, and that is really a "lot" of ammo.

.30-'06 into a 7.7? Not even with a big boot. I said the reverse.

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Old August 5, 2013, 07:59 PM   #21
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Quote:
It is also something of a myth that the Confederate States Army had only old scrap weapons until they captured quality guns from the Yankees.

True, the CS did use what they had, and some less formal soldiers preferred shotguns to rifles, but there is no record of any front-line C.S. unit being armed with junk. While some soldiers reported for duty with family shotguns and hunting rifles, by the time of the first battles, rifles captured from Union depots and arsenals had been distributed to front-line troops, and Gorgas had ammunition production well underway. By late 1861, arms from England began to come through; one ship carried 10,000 Enfield rifles for the C.S. Army, plus 4000 for state governments and 1000 short rifles for the C.S. Navy. Meantime, the U.S. was also buying Enfields and other European arms; their need was not as great, but one purpose in buying those weapons was to deny them to the Confederacy.

That one shipment also included 1 million rounds of .577 ammunition and 2 million percussion caps for the Enfields and 1000 rounds each for the Navy's short rifles. And similar shipments continued for several years until the Union got its blockade organized. The .577 Enfield was officially adopted by the C.S. Army and was so common in the U.S. Army that they began to issue only .577 ammo, which would function in both the .58 Springfield and the .577 Enfield rifles.

Did the Confederates use captured U.S. arms? Of course, but they did not depend solely on them; their main source of supply was Europe. One problem was that, as the war continued and Union forces began to use more "patent" guns (especially carbines), the C.S. had no way of manufacturing ammunition for many of them. But there is no record of any C.S. defeat due to lack of small arms or small arms ammunition.

Edited to add: There were local shortages of ammunition, as in all wars, and the C.S. transportation system was poor. Still, the Southern fighting man almost always had the means to fight. The main shortage in the C.S. Army was not arms and ammo, but food and clothing, especially shoes. And the shortages of both became more acute as Union forces captured or burned areas like the Shenandoah valley that supplied cloth, leather, and, of course, food. Worse, Southern farmers who had supplies refused, toward the end of the war, to sell them for Confederate money. It is to the credit of the C.S. government that they did not simply confiscate civilian property, even in Yankee territory; it was always paid for, even though the money was valueless outside the C.S. (and had little value even there
This is what General Porter had to say:

Fighting for the Confederacy, General Edward Porter Alexander,

Chapter 3, page 60

It was on the morning after the battle of Bull Run that Gen Beauregard sent for me and told me that I was promoted to the position of Chief of Ordnance of his Army…. My duties as chief of ordnance were to keep the whole army always supplied with arms and ammunition.

We had great trouble from the great variety of arms with which our troops were equipped both in small arms and artillery. Every regiment and every battery would have some apparently of all possible calibers and would want every possible variety of ammunition. They objected always to swapping and the matter only got better materially in the fall of 1862 when we captured enough rifled muskets from the enemy and enough good guns to supply all our deficiencies. We first got a full supply after Chancellorsville.

At the beginning we had not over 10 percent, if so many, of rifled muskets. The balance were old smooth bore muskets and some even had flintlocks
.

Chapter 5 page 121

I was occupied in re accumulating supplies of ammunition & in improving our armament of small arms and of artillery, by our captures in the recent battles, as well as by all the arms we could make or get in through blockage. The great point desired was to equip all our infantry with the rifle musket, caliber 58/100 instead of the old fashioned smooth bore musket, caliber 69/100, which nine out of ten of our men had to start with. …My recollection is that Gettysburg was our first battle in which we were at last entirely rid of smooth bore muskets. The captured Federal guns, and artillery ammunition too, were much superior to most of ours….


Up to Gettysburg the South ended up retaining possession of most of the battlefields. If you look at the number of muskets picked up by the North at Gettysburg, about 35,000 after that battle, if the winning side could pick up 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 muskets after a battle that have surely helped the Army of Northern Virginia in rearming. But as General Porter says, they did get muskets through the blockage.

Now just how many that got through the blockage arrived to the front line would be a interesting number. I have read that the South would have folded in 12 to 18 months without English supplies. However, given that in all the wars I have read about, every REMF gets a nice warm winter coat before one front line soldier gets one, the closest source of supply might have been the Union Army!
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Old August 6, 2013, 10:41 AM   #22
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Dear SIGSHR, 9mms from Italian supplies might have been also 9mm M38, a special (and hotter) reoload for use in the MAB submachinegun.

BTW never fire anything than a 9mm Glisenti in a Glisenti: it would blow up that nice pistol in few rounds.
9mm parabellum, 9mmM38 and 9mmGlisenti are all the same size while the "load" is much different.
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Old August 6, 2013, 03:33 PM   #23
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Years ago I was working in a gun store when a younger guy came in with an old canvas carrying case.

Inside was a gorgeous MAB 38/42 or 38/43 (can't remember if the barrel was fluted or not) with all the goodies, just as it had left the factory.

His grandfather had captured it and brought it back during WW II.

Unfortunately, there was absolutely no evidence that it had ever been registered with BATF.
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Old August 6, 2013, 05:39 PM   #24
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I wonder if someone complained about that in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
The French used .69 caliber, the British .75. Hence you could fire French ammunition in a Brown Bess but not the reverse.
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Old August 7, 2013, 07:09 AM   #25
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It's interesting to see the more historical examples.

It seems these days more people get confused about the interchangeability of all of the various 7.62 calibers (which generally aren't).
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