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Do old tracers still trace?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Old Scratch, Apr 23, 2014.

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  1. Old Scratch

    Old Scratch Member

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    Thirty years ago I tried shooting some well-preserved wartime era 7.92x57mm German SmK L'Spur (black tip tracers) at a gravel pit through an old beat-up Mauser. They hit the target, more or less, but I couldn't see any trace.

    Question: how old can this stuff be and still be expected to trace?
     
  2. RCArms.com

    RCArms.com Member

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    What range were you shooting at. Some tracers don't light at the muzzle and if too short of a range, they won't ignite until into the backstop.

    I have no idea on the shelf life of the tracer compound though.

    Don
     
  3. Ro1911

    Ro1911 Member

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    +1 on what RCA said, every tracer I've ever shot didn't light for aways, maybe 200-300 yards just guessing, and I've shot tracers that were loaded pre WWII and they worked, but they were us military stuff not from the fatherland.

    Edit 200-300 maybe to far, but they went a pretty long way. Sorry but I never got curios enough to try and figure out the yardage lol
     
  4. Old Scratch

    Old Scratch Member

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    The targets were at a roughly measured 100 yd, but the backstop hill was another 30 yd at least. My concern was that tracers don't have much shelf-life, moisture and age both taking their toll on reliable ignition.
     
  5. Old Scratch

    Old Scratch Member

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    And who says ditch the .22? Ditch him instead.
     
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    See, that's the problem.
    There probably is no 'well preserved' WWII German ammo.

    Storage conditions were often less then ideal during the war.
    Immediately after the war, it might have set in piles in American ammo depots in the rain and snow and sun.

    Then ammo dealers bought it and shipped it half-way around the world in ships before leaving it set in non-climate controlled warehouses awaiting future sales.

    And who it to says it was 100% reliable trace when the Germans made it crunch time towards the end of WWII.

    Other tracer mil-sup ammo comes on the market because it failed testing for 100% trace when it was made!
    Or after years of military storage.

    It is what it is!
    If it lights, it lights.
    If it doesn't, it doesn't.

    rc
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  7. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    In the late '70s I scored 2 wooden-crate cases of British Besa MG ammo (7.92x57 used by the Brits in some AFVs, IIRC). It was a mixture of Ball, AP, Incendiary and Tracer.

    The guy selling it told me that the Incendiary & Tracer wouldn't work because they were ~35 years old.

    He was incorrect.

    All of the tracer ammo that we fired at dusk lit ... every one of them.

    That was the last time I fired any tracer ammo as I do not like the fire risk.

    FWIW. :)

    EDIT: These tracers appeared to ignite shortly after leaving the muzzle. The tracer headstamps were GIIZ (so the propellant was nitro-cellulose rather than cordite), one case being MFR/Year marked K44 and the other, K2 43.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
  8. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    I have only fired .22 tracers and some of them don't trace until they are 50-75 yards out. These are new manufacture(at least I guess it's new). Others lite up right out of the barrel. I have been out of them since the ammo shortage but we used to blow through them right at dusk. Pretty cool for the kids to see what they've seen in the video games.
     
  9. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    Some tracers don't become visible till after they've traveled over 100m or more.

    Just sayin!
     
  10. AlexanderA
    • Contributing Member

    AlexanderA Member

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    This is an issue because the use of tracers in the woods (say, for hunting) could be a fire hazard. Bottom line is that you cannot be sure that any tracer is "dead" merely because of age.
     
  11. Hullraiser

    Hullraiser Member

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    Very true! They can be a fire hazard. SE Ky has fire watch right now. I'm sure conditions could at times be worse in other areas of the country. I've seen some interesting videos of them being shot at bodies of water and seeing how wild the ricochets are
     
  12. desidog

    desidog Member

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    About a month ago i was up in VT, and found some tracers i bought back in HS or college...well 20+ years in a nice dry safe, and what used to be bright red didn't light at all; there were about 20 rounds. Some green ones i had in the same location from the same era worked fine....

    Oh, they are. I've seen and participated in torching a couple vehicles with a tracer to the gas tank...only do that if you're in a war zone!

    ...and i also set a grassy backstop on fire one dry July 4th weekend a few years ago. I was wondering what the heck was wrong with my scope...turns out the smokiness in the lens was caused by...you guessed it...smoke...
     
  13. dodge

    dodge Member

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    Not always. I had some tracers for my M1 Garand and some of them lit and some didn't. I don't recall how old this ammo was but with older ammo it's just luck of the draw in my opinion.
     
  14. Old Scratch

    Old Scratch Member

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    Thanks for all the input, gang.

    Your responses are greatly appreciated.
     
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