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Old October 25, 2012, 02:04 PM   #17
Bart B.
Senior Member
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 6,318
Jimro sez:
From a practical standpoint I don't know of any service rifle shooter good enough to separate his/her groups by which were shot with ball or stick powder.
After the adoption of the M852 match cartridge in 1981, the last lots of M118 Match were loaded in 1982. After 1982, the M118 was referred to as M118 Special Ball denoting that it was no longer intended for match use, but rather for use by snipers. Some lots loaded in 1982 and 1983 were still loaded with a nominal charge of 42 grains of IMR 4895. In 1984 the powder type was changed to WC846, the regular ball powder used to load M80 ball, all lots loaded after this date use WC846. Shooters forced to use this ammunition were very disappointed in the special ball characteristics and felt that the accuracy of all lots of this ammunition left something to be desired. The not-so-accurate M118 match ammo was first noticed in the mid to late 1970's when curious shooters who had poor accuracy with some lots pulled bullets from the cases to check powder charge weight spread and wa la. . .ball powder inside!!!!

I'm one of them, so now you know of one. Lots of top NRA classified service rifle shooters noticed this in the early 1980's. I've had discussions with several folks from military teams in that era who all had tried various loads with ball powder before Lake City stuffed it in their M118 rounds; none got the accuracy that extruded powder produced. Some of those team members were snipers who had to zero their Rem. 700's with that stuff and also said any lot of M118 match ammo with IMR4895 was more accurate than M118 Special Ball. Even the US Palma Team developing loads in 1991 for Sierra's then new 155 grain Palma bullet tried several ball powders; horrible accuracy compared to extruded powders at long range.

Some military teams pulled the 148 grain bullets from M80 ball ammo loaded by Remington that had IMR4475 extruded powder then replaced it with a Sierra 168. Excellent accuracy through 600 yards was attained; better than any M118 match ammo. Replacing that bullet with 168's in cases loaded by Winchester with WC846 ball powder shot only a tiny bit better than the standard M80 ball ammo. I among many others have experienced this situation.

All that aside, there are folks who won't be able to tell the difference.

Last edited by Bart B.; October 25, 2012 at 02:20 PM.
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