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Question for shooters of WWII era rifle ammunition. Login/Join 
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
posted
If you have used rifle ammunition made by the US or Germany during WWII, or you are familiar with its characteristics, this question is for you.

A book I’m reading about combat in Europe includes a comment that German snipers were hard to spot because they were shooting “flashless” ammunition (with no mention that it was at night or under low light conditions). My first reaction to the statement was skepticism that the Germans had more than one type, not least because of the many obvious technical and factual errors in the book, but I’m always interested in learning if I’m wrong about something.

If you’re knowledgeable about the subject,
Did the German army use ammunition that was particularly good at suppressing the muzzle flash?
Did/does US rifle ammunition of the era produce such bright muzzle flash that it would be obviously visible in daylight? I know that some M1 rifles were equipped with a cone shaped flash suppressor, so was that the reason?

Thanks for the replies.




“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
Posts: 40099 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
Picture of RogueJSK
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The Germans did have a variety of 7.92x57mm cartridge types available beyond their standard ammunition, including low velocity training, tracer, AP, API, spotting, high velocity, etc.

However, I have never heard of, and none of my reference books mention anything about, any special "low flash" 7.92x57mm sniper ammo. German snipers reportedly used standard rifle ammunition, with two exceptions:

A) Towards the end of the war, the German military authorized German snipers on the Eastern Front to utilize "B-Patrone" explosive rounds, which were initially intended as spotting rounds. This was in retaliation for the use of exploding rifle ammunition by Russian snipers. Using explosive rifle ammunition against enemy combatants is a violation of the Hague/Geneva Convention (although it's curious that explosive bombs, grenades, mines, and artillery are fine, not to mention napalm, flamethrowers, etc...)

B) Some former German snipers reported having acquired "V-Patrone" ammunition, which was ~15% higher pressure/velocity ammunition intended for use in aircraft machine guns. This allowed them to engage targets slightly farther away than when using standard ammo, due to the higher velocity and flatter trajectory.


Regarding flash hiders, German snipers did not use flash hiders. In fact, the only K98ks I can recall being fitted with any muzzle devices at all were the special run of 8x63mm K98ks produced on contract for the Swedish military for issue to MG crews utilizing 8x63mm machine guns, although those were only produced in small numbers and are very rare. They were known as the gevär m/40 in Swedish service, and had a muzzle brake to help tame the stouter cartridge:


However, as you noted, US M1C and later M1D sniper rifles were equipped with conical flash hiders, and later pronged flash hiders, intended to help mask their muzzle flash.



 
Posts: 23285 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
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Great information and photos, RogueJSK; thanks.

I was familiar with the issues with explosive bullet ammunition and had heard of higher pressure ammunition, but it’s good to get those confirmations.

What about US ammunition of the era for the Garand: Did it produce unusual muzzle flash, or perhaps greater than the German ammunition?




“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
Posts: 40099 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
Picture of RogueJSK
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I've fired WW2-era US M2 ammo, and don't recall it having unusually bright muzzle flash, nor do I recall ever coming across any reports or reference books in which excessively bright muzzle flash was expressed as an issue.
 
Posts: 23285 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
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All right. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

Like many histories of military sniping, the book I’m reading now was written by someone who was careless and credulous with the content and was obviously not familiar with either firearms in general or long range shooting in particular. Such authors often garble the information they cite from other sources because they don’t know what it means. To be fair, though, when quoting or taking information from other sources, that information can be simply wrong as well, and I suspect that was this case. Just because someone was a military sniper, for example, is no guarantee that he had accurate information about what he was facing either.

Thank you.




“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
Posts: 40099 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Non-Miscreant
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I spent my youth (1960ish) shooting the cheapest 8mm ammo I could acquire. Most of it was maybe Egyptian surplus. It was suspect do to bad storage conditions that might have included high temps in the desert. We had a gun shop that specialized in finding and selling stuff that no one else would touch.

One year, maybe 1964 or so, he had a big barrel of 8mm with headstamps that were unreadable to us. Lucky for us, no one else could read it either so we bought most of it really cheap. That fit our budget. There was no way we could afford US surplus ammo. Everyone wanted it and it was priced up by the ceiling.

We've never discussed the price progression of ammo. We all know that gun shop prices of commercial ammo is pretty high. Back in the day, you could pick off top shelf ammo for $5 a box of 20, maybe less. The tragedy of the Walmart decision is that small shops will be able to charge list, which might approach $40 a box of 20. Even walmart prices have been creeping up since the obaminations election when you almost couldn't buy any ammo.

We'll probably approach the point again where reloading will be the only way to continue shooting. I'm going to the next gun show with pretty much ammo for guns I no longer own. Guess its time to take inventory and declare some surplus and then price it attractively.

Sometimes I feel bad about my practice of shooting up all the cheap ammo I could get.

I'm not fluent in German, Eqyptian, Turkish or all the languages Germany produced ammo for.


Unhappy ammo seeker
 
Posts: 16498 | Location: Kentucky, USA | Registered: February 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
Picture of MikeinNC
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The following can be added to ammunition to reduce flash, but all have the byproduct of adding smoke.

Potassium chloride
Potassium nitrate
Potassium sulfate
Potassium bitartrate

These were used in large caliber cannons like we used aboard ship. I’ve never heard of flash reducing compounds being added to small arms ammunition...ever.



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

 
Posts: 6248 | Location: Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
Picture of RogueJSK
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quote:
Originally posted by MikeinNC:
I’ve never heard of flash reducing compounds being added to small arms ammunition...ever.


I'm not sure about modern military small arms ammunition, but a number of modern duty/defensive handgun and rifle rounds are advertised as using "low flash" propellants. And I can attest that our duty ammo (Federal HST) produces noticeably less muzzle flash during night training than practice FMJ ammo.


For example, from https://www.hornady.com/ammuni.../critical-defense#!/

"Low-flash propellants won’t disrupt night vision and deliver consistent performance"


Or from https://www.federalpremium.com...cro/11-P38HST1S.html

"Clean-burning, low-flash propellants"


Or https://www.hornadyle.com/rifl...gr-gmx-tap-patrol#!/

"Loaded with temperature stable, low flash propellant"
 
Posts: 23285 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
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Speer also advertises that Gold Dot handgun ammunition has flash suppressed propellants, and that is true based on my own low light shooting experience.




“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
Posts: 40099 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
fugitive from reality
Picture of SgtGold
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The flash hider on any modern military rifle is there to keep the user from being blinded by their own muzzle flash. they actually do almost nothing to help hide your position. While I wouldn't put it past the Germans to have developed a special sniper round with low flash properties, I've never heard about it despite all the readign i've done on the subject.

quote:
Originally posted by sigfreund:
If you have used rifle ammunition made by the US or Germany during WWII, or you are familiar with its characteristics, this question is for you.

A book I’m reading about combat in Europe includes a comment that German snipers were hard to spot because they were shooting “flashless” ammunition (with no mention that it was at night or under low light conditions). My first reaction to the statement was skepticism that the Germans had more than one type, not least because of the many obvious technical and factual errors in the book, but I’m always interested in learning if I’m wrong about something.

If you’re knowledgeable about the subject,
Did the German army use ammunition that was particularly good at suppressing the muzzle flash?
Did/does US rifle ammunition of the era produce such bright muzzle flash that it would be obviously visible in daylight? I know that some M1 rifles were equipped with a cone shaped flash suppressor, so was that the reason?

Thanks for the replies.


_____________________________
'I'm pretty fly for a white guy'.

 
Posts: 6281 | Location: Newyorkistan | Registered: March 28, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hop head
Picture of lyman
posted Hide Post
while the M1's did come with a flash hider, the 1903A4 did not,

only thing I recall reading about ammo was that some like AP better than ball, (if M72 was not available) since it tends to shoot better in a 1903



www.chesterfieldarmament.com
 
Posts: 7791 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
fugitive from reality
Picture of SgtGold
posted Hide Post
The same things hold true for the M1 as well. During the Ardens fighting, Matthew Ridgeway knocked out a german SP gun with a 1903 loaded with AP rounds. Post WWII 30.06 black tip was issued by the military as match grade ammo for rifle competitions.

quote:
Originally posted by lyman:
while the M1's did come with a flash hider, the 1903A4 did not,

only thing I recall reading about ammo was that some like AP better than ball, (if M72 was not available) since it tends to shoot better in a 1903


_____________________________
'I'm pretty fly for a white guy'.

 
Posts: 6281 | Location: Newyorkistan | Registered: March 28, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
Picture of MikeinNC
posted Hide Post
I wasn’t clear, I meant in military issued small arms ammo from the era the op was asking about.

I know they add it to even today’s pistol ammo, and it is added to some rifle specialty ammo (also military small arms ammo)



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

 
Posts: 6248 | Location: Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by MikeinNC:
The following can be added to ammunition to reduce flash, but all have the byproduct of adding smoke.


I can’t find what the “special chemistry” is today to suppress small arms muzzle flash, but it’s evidently not the additives you cite. A smoke signature would be far worse for military snipers than flash, but I’ve never heard of that’s being a problem in modern times. (I realize you did not claim that they are the additives to small arms ammunition; just commenting myself.)

Again, thanks for all the replies.




“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
Posts: 40099 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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