View Full Version : unknown Garand ammo

DE Shooter
January 15, 2011, 03:48 PM
A friend has a bunch of old olive drab bandoleers full of what he says is non-corrosive M2 ball, in enbloc clips, for Garands. The head stamp is marked "L" at 12o'clock, "3" at 3 o'clock, "5" at 6 o'clock, and "S" at 9 o'clock. He says the guy that sold it to him thought it was Iranian. I told him it's probably corrosive. Anybody know? Thanks for any help.

January 15, 2011, 03:59 PM
i don't recognize your ammo, but it's very possible it was made in iran.
during ww2, the majority of US produced m2 was non corrosive, but up until 1950 there was a few that WERE corrosive. much of the ammo made for the US in canada was corrosive.
iran bought some 100,000+ surplus garlands, well after the war. the iranian ammo made in the late 60's is non corrosive. the spam can s/b dated.
that's the best i can tell you.

January 15, 2011, 06:32 PM
That head stamp is "S" in the upper left, "L" in the upper right, "5" lower left and "3" lower right.

Which means St. Louis Ordnance Plant, 1953 (date of manufacture).

U. S. military rifle ammunition made after WWII is non-corrosive. Clean the rifle anyway.

Just for the tally book, 'corrosive' ammunition was made with primers that deposited chemical salts in the bore when fired. The chemical did not (and still do not) eat the metal, it just attracts moisture which speeds up rusting. Cleaning the rifle will remove the chemicals and avoid the corrosion.

January 15, 2011, 06:36 PM
And it is Corrosive primed.... if it were 1955 or after I'd say otherwise.

January 15, 2011, 07:03 PM
If it is corrosive just go back to basic's and use soap and water to remove the salts left behind by the priming compound.

January 15, 2011, 07:18 PM

DE Shooter
January 15, 2011, 08:15 PM

January 15, 2011, 08:56 PM
I'm guessing it's USGI ammo from the St Louis ammo plant manufactured in 1953. (S L 5 3)

1953 was the first year for non-corrosive ammo at St Louis. Should be good stuff... At least the SL55 I had was good.

January 15, 2011, 10:06 PM
SL 53 should be noncorrosive.

January 16, 2011, 02:29 PM
Here's a link you might want to bookmark. It has initial lot numbers and dates for noncorrosive ammo.

Not all post WWII ammo is noncorrosive. Some ammo was made noncorrosive before the end of the war and some was not converted until 1955. All carbine ammo made in the US is noncorrosive.


If this ammo is ball ammo and SL and the headstamp is 53 then it is good noncorrosive ammo. The initial production lot for St Louis Ball noncorrosive was lot 9420 produced in May 1952.

Mike Irwin
January 16, 2011, 02:49 PM
First off, DE, do NOT post the same question in multiple forums, please.

This one should be in Rifles, not in handloading, as there is no handloading/reloading happening.

I didn't think that St. Louis was making ammunition in 1953, but apparently they were, being restarted for the Korean War.

I did find this neat bunch of pictures of the history of the plant from St. Louis Today.

Some really neat photographs.


Mike Irwin
January 16, 2011, 02:56 PM
Threads merged.

January 16, 2011, 03:01 PM
Great and interesting pictures!

Also, that chick in the first row 4th picture is kinda hot considering she's likely 95 now! Think I'm gonna look into an ammo plant job!

January 16, 2011, 04:17 PM
That sounds right. I believe the army phased out corrosive primers between '51 and '53, except one lot of Frankford Arsenal match ammo in, I think, 1958 that was corrosively primed.

The culprit is potassium chloride (KCl), a reaction product from the potassium chlorate (KClO3) oxidizer in the corrosive primers. I believe it promotes corrosion when it attracts enough moisture to partially ionize, allowing the chlorine to bring small amounts of surface iron into an equilibrium solution. The chlorine has more affinity for potassium than iron, but, nonetheless, enough temporary reaction occurs to leave iron atoms adrift and easy prey to oxygen whenever the chlorine finds its way back to the potassium.

IIRC, Hatcher indicated there needs to be at least 68% relative humidity for this reaction to start. I unknowingly shot corrosive ammo through my M1A out west one time, in dry desert, I cleaned it (probably with Shooter's Choice at that time) once and saw no rust during time out west. It was not until the gun had been back in Ohio and allowed to sit a few weeks that some surface rust started to appear in the bore. It did no serious damage and was readily amenable to removal by cleaning solvent followed by a scrub with JB Bore compound to polish it.

Hatcher says the old rule of thumb for corrosive primers was to clean immediately after firing, then again the next day. I'm guessing that the first cleaning was penetrating the carbon residue and softening it overnight for easier removal at the second cleaning. Hatcher said the Frankford Arsenal formula worked fine back then. Ed's Red (ER) is the modern counterpart to that formulation. It has both polar and non-polar solvents, so it will dissolve the tiny quantities of potassium chloride left in the carbon deposits if the carbon softens for removal. ER also softens carbon overnight, which is why I suspect that's key.

I think a good practice, especially if you are unsure of your primers, is to run a patch or even a bore mop wet with a carbon softening product through your bore immediately after shooting and before you even head for home. The carbon hardens further over the next hours after firing, so you nip that process in the bud by getting some Ed's Red or Gunzilla in there right away. Boretech Eliminator seems to soften carbon well, and it is water base, so it should dissolve potassium chloride, too.

January 17, 2011, 02:15 PM
There was some Iranian surplus M2 ball floating around recently. The CMP Forum has a thread on Iranian M2 ball (http://forums.thecmp.org/showthread.php?t=33305), but it does not have much info.

No word on what the Iranian headstamps were.