.30 Caliber M2 Armor Piercing penetration info


October 3, 2007, 07:32 PM
So, aside from collecting c&R guns, I dabble in ammo collecting too.I just received an unopened box of 1942 St. Louis factory made .30 caliber M2 Armor Piercing Ammo, and it got me wondering...does anyone now how much armor plate this round was designed to penetrate? I have only found 1 tidbit in an hour or so of googleing, and it briefly mentions .42" minimum at 100 yds, but I have no idea if this is even remotely accurate.Anybody know?

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October 3, 2007, 07:36 PM
IIRC, the requirement was for 0.5" penetration of armor plate at 100 yards. That info came from an old Army FM on ammo that I read YEARS ago.

October 3, 2007, 07:40 PM
That number seems a little high, if only by a mm or two. I don't know much about .30 cal AP, but IIRC the 7.92x57mm IS AP could penetrate roughly 7-8mm of hardened steel armor plate @ 100m.

October 3, 2007, 08:08 PM
Had some 30-06 black tip AP from the Korean War era 30 years or so ago. It went through a one inch thick piece of cold rolled steel after penetrating a 1/4" angle iron. 1 1/4" of steel penetrated at 50 feet or so, that was all the steel we had with us so never did know just exactly what it would penetrate. I still occasionally use the core as a center punch, that was left against the rock we had the steel leaned against.

October 3, 2007, 08:57 PM
.30 M2 ammo isn't the same as .30 AP. It used a 152 grain lead core bullet. AKA ball. .30 AP uses a 168 grain bullet with a hardened steel penetrator. The .42"(10.66mm) penetration is accurate. .30 AP was made for shooting at armoured vehicles. It was for light armour like that found on half-tracks, etc.

October 3, 2007, 09:08 PM
Sunray-the original box I have is marked :Armor piercing
Caliber .30 M2
Ammuniton Lot S. L. 7306

you are correct that AP is is 168gr, and not the same weight as 150gr ball M2 fmj ammo.thanks for confirming that the .42" is correct.Just seemed like that was kinda low, and thus wouldn't have been very useful with that little of penetartion, but maybe I'm WAY off on how thick I THOUGHT the armor on WWII vehicles was...interesting....

October 3, 2007, 09:39 PM
AP ammo was the prefered carry ammo in WW2. Not only did it penetrate well but it was more accurate than M2!

Livin in Texas

October 3, 2007, 09:47 PM
FWIW, jrfoxx is correct, the .30-06 Armor Piercing ammo is also referred to as M2 by the gov't. I would guess that M2 Ball and M2 AP would be the correct way to distinguish them.


October 3, 2007, 09:56 PM
It will do apx. 1/2 of hard plate steel--and the hard core will make it though a couple of feet of oak logs (my test). Right or wrong, and yes, it is apx 165 gr., it is refered to sometimes (often) as m2 AP. It is sporting ammo per ATF. Other m2 is plain lead or sometimes mild steel core, a bit ligter.

Just refer to it as m2 ap and everyone should get the idea. Very stable, accurate bullet also.

October 3, 2007, 11:43 PM
I've never played with the original loads, but I handloaded some 162 gr. AP bullets for .30-06. The loads were really warm, but at 30 yards the rounds either poked through the backside or completely penetrated 1" mild steel plate. I don't have the chuck here at the house or I'd snap a photo. (I keep it at work to amuse customers)

October 4, 2007, 12:25 AM
I agree that the black tipped AP rounds were approximately
162 grains +/- . They are much more accurate out of the
Garands than the 150 grain ball ammo. Yearly qualifications
in the Marine Corps, the issue ammo was these 162 grain
AP rounds :D

October 4, 2007, 12:57 AM
I read that back in the day snipers would use AP more often then ball because it was more consistant, and could be used against enemy MG's etc.

October 4, 2007, 01:03 AM
Correct me if I am wrong, but I read that 5.56mm AP (M995) penetrates 10mm of hardened steel at 100 meters, and that 7.62mm AP penetrates 15mm at 300 meters.

I would think that the .30-06 AP would do a lot more than either of those.

There are many, many types of different metals out there however, so that may make a difference in the comparisions.

October 4, 2007, 02:26 AM
My experience is the same as eliphalet, only with painful results. About 20 years ago, when I was young and stupid, I got ahold of some WWII AP. I set up three or four pieces of half inch steel I dug out of the scrap pile, and touched off a round from about 40 feet away. The hardened steel core punched most of the way through the second piece and nosed into the third. The copper jacket, on the other hand, peeled off when it hit the steel, and flew straight back to hit me right between the eyes. The scar has faded over the years and is pretty much gone now.

October 4, 2007, 05:47 AM
Armor Piercing Ammunition is in fact no joking matter, little understood by most. Brings a whole new meaning to the word small arms.

October 4, 2007, 06:08 AM
I'm looking at a 1961 technical manual (9-1305-200) that gives the folowing minimum penetration standards for 30-06 M2 AP: "At normal impact at 100 yards against 7/8-inch homogenous armor plate, penetration is 0.35 inch." That's against armor plate, so penetration in mild steel or most other things will only go up.


October 4, 2007, 06:12 AM
Other m2 is plain lead or sometimes mild steel core, a bit ligter.

Correction: M2 AP has a hardened steel PENETRATOR (core). Most USGI .30 caliber ball bullets made since the middle of WWII have had a MILD steel JACKET (not core) with a copper wash. This includes M2 ball as well as M80 ball. There were only a couple of years in the mid-60's when Lake City reverted back to full gilding metal jackets (copper) but then went right back to copper washed mild steel jackets till production of M2 ended in the 70's.

Best regards,

Garands forever

October 4, 2007, 09:22 AM
True enough swampy--most of the ball will pull a magnet on account of the jacket. Mild steel core .06 is not common at all (unlike 7.62 x 54 Soviet and other calibers). If I knew now what I didn't know then, I would have bought a ton of that Tallon re-loaded AP when it was around. Oh well...

October 4, 2007, 10:50 AM
Back in my high power days we were to shoot military ammo.
AP was on average more accurate than ball. Now and then you could find a lot of ball that shot better.
The AP won't compare favorably against modern match bullets and hand loads, though. Guess you can't expect it to.

Penetration-I shot through the narrow part of a piece of railroad rail. That is the only time I ever tried testing AP for penetration.

I used to have a bunch of WWII AP, but sold it. I didn't want to shoot corrosive ammo any more and my reloads were more accurate.

October 4, 2007, 12:49 PM
I recently bought an unopened spam can of the m2 AP at an auction for $5. No one knew what it was LOLOL to bad for them!!!! SCORE!!!!:neener:

October 4, 2007, 01:06 PM
I read that back in the day snipers would use AP more often then ball because it was more consistant, and could be used against enemy MG's etc.Wasn't 30-06 AP actually more widely issued than Ball for all arms in WWII?

I'd imagine a 1919 or even a BAR loaded with AP could do some pretty good damage against most things.

October 4, 2007, 01:14 PM
Keep in mind that shooting at steel with any high-power rifle is very dangerous!

If the bullet goes through, all is well and good.
If it doesn't, bad things can happen.

A friend in high school (1962) tried to shoot through a foot long section of railroad rail with an 03 and 30-06 AP.
At about 20 yards, the AP core failed to penetrate and bounced back, missing is head by inches.
It completely penetrated the rear fender and trunk liner (bullet hit sideways spinning) of his 55 Ford parked behind him. We found the undamaged AP core laying inside the trunk.
There is no doubt it would have killed him if it had hit him in the head.

Another HS friend lost his left eye when he was about 25 years old.
He shot a bridge railing support at about 15 yards with a .243 and the jacket frags took out his left eye!


Jim K
October 4, 2007, 01:38 PM
On the nomenclature, in the 1930's the army went from using the year as a model name to using M1, M2, M3, etc. So every major item thereafter was given an M number. The rifle was the M1; the carbine the M1 or M2 or M3; ball ammuntion was M1, M2, etc.. Trucks were M1, M2, etc. Tanks were M1, M2, M3, etc. (The famous Sherman was the M4.)

So the correct name would be Cartridge, Caliber .30., Ball, M2 or Cartridge, Calliber .30, Armor Piercing, M2. Two different cartridges, but both the second version adopted after the nomenclature change.

It is interesting how AP bullets pentrate. When a bullet strikes a solid object that stops it, its remaining energy is instantly transformed into heat. In the case of an AP bullet striking steel, that heat melts the steel in a small area. If the plate is thin enough, it will be melted or at least softened all the way through. This allows the carbide core, which won't melt, to penetrate. If the plate is too thick, the core will either bounce off or remain stuck when the molten steel "freezes". It was common to see AP bullet cores sticking out of the steel of tank armor; the cores did not penetrate because the armor was too thick for the heat to melt it through, and the cores were trapped when the steel solidified.

(Think about the above and you will figure out why a barrel bursts when a fast moving bullet hits an obstruction.)


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