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What Was the Powder Used During Early Vietnam?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Welding Rod, Mar 9, 2013.

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  1. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

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    What was the powder used during the early Vietnam era that resulted in problems with the M16?
     
  2. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    IIRC it was ball (bulk factory) powder that was just wrong for the cartridge. I don't know if I've ever seen the full inside story on that debacle.
     
  3. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    deleted...
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  4. SHR970

    SHR970 Member

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    WC846.

    Later, the tolerances for lots of WC846 were divided and the faster stuff became WC844...the slower stuff remained WC846. This happened in 1970.

    Win 748 is not and never was BLC-2. Contact Hodgdon's and they will tell you the same thing.
     
  5. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    deleted.....
     
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  6. MetalMan52

    MetalMan52 Member

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    M16

    It was one of those situations where the perfect storm of events came together with some tragic results.
    The part I find hard to understand is how the Army could state that the rifle did not need to be cleaned. As stated above, the rifles were issued without cleaning kits or any instruction on how to properly clean the weapon.
    When the decision was made to issue the cleaning kits, they had to come up with a way to instruct the troops in the field on how to properly clean the weapon. There was a cartoon like instruction manual issued with the kits.
     
  7. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I hate to step on your party but WC-844 is very close to H335, not W748 or BL-C(2). That would be WC-846.

    FACT:
    W231 = HP-38
    W296 = H110
    W540 = HS-6
    W571 = HS-7
    W760 = H414
    WAP = Silhouette

    While there are a handful of Hodgdon/Winchester powder clones and one Ramshot clone I was under the impression W748 and BL-C(2) were extremely close but not identical much like IMR4198 & H4198 and IMR4895 & H4895. Close but no cigar... ??? The current Hodgdon load data shows an almost 3 grain difference in charge weights in the 150gr 30-30 with almost identical velocities. Pressures are also higher with the lower powder charge than the higher BL-(C)2 charge. Almost 3 grains is a lot for powders that are the same???
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  8. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I think the fact that they didn't even send cleaning kits at first had at least as much to do with it as the powder.
     
  9. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Member

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    The .223 Remington was not developed for use with ball powder. It was developed for use with extruded powder.
     
  10. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

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    That is what I don't get. I have heard that "ball powder" was the problem, but H335 and BLC2 are ball powders and as far as I have ever heard, they work great in the 556 / AR and have for many decades. No?
     
  11. Otto

    Otto Member

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    In April 1964, the Army approved two powders for use in loading M193: CR 8136 and WC846.
    But there's much more to the story. Rather than type out a lengthy explanation, I'll just refer you to this link..... http://www.thegunzone.com/556prop.html
     
  12. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

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    Thanks Otto!
     
  13. jjjitters

    jjjitters Member

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    There was also the chrome lined barrel in the mix. I can't remember if that was one reason for the "not needing cleaning" deal , but I think it was added after the "issues".
     
  14. jdduffy

    jdduffy Member

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    my .223 shoots lights out with #7
     
  15. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Member

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    Because the gas tube is "self-cleaning" at some point they assumed the RIFLE was self cleaning.
    Waffle mags sucked.
    Quality control for ammo and guns was so bad, some, should have been called sabotage.

    It faced the AK47 for direct comparison.
     
  16. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    Like the report said it amounted to criminal negligence.
     
  17. briankk

    briankk Member

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    The first Stoner designed weapons in 'Nam were AR15s, bought for AF Mps, by Gen. Curtis LeMay. These weapons were supplied with armorers kits and ammunition. I heard that none of the armorers kits were even opened, non of the AF guns ever jammed or failed.

    So the Army had a go, immediately had problems, that later turned out to be related to an unfortunate combination of gas-tube design and ball powder. It seems that all those AF guns had been supplied with ammunition that used IMR powder, a MUCH cleaner burning powder than any ball that I know of, and the ball powder residue caused the Army guns to jam in short order.

    I heard that as soon as Stoner heard of the problem, he re-designed the AR15 into the AR18, an AR15 with gas piston operation, (and other changes) but the Army wasn't interested, went ahead with a bunch of gimmick mods and fixes until the thing would run on ball powder, and the M16 was born.

    Far as I know, the only other gas tube military rifle ever produced with the Egyptian Hakkim, most noted for its ability to resist damage from laying about in the sand...

    Recently, the H&K 416 upper finally does away with the regrettable gas impingement design of the AR16..
     
  18. Maj Dad

    Maj Dad Member

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    Sore Subject

    Have a retired Marine major friend who did 2 or 3 tours in RVN and who will still turn red in the face and pull out his soapbox at the mention of the subject. He experienced the problem, and let me tell you, he has the answers for the culpable parties, starting with McNamara (and not involving changing powder and proper cleaning). He was, is, and forever will be an M1/M14 Marine.
    Semper Fi!
     
  19. lakecitybrass

    lakecitybrass Member

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    I was in Vietnam when the Marines still had the M14 and the Army had switched to the M16.

    Too bad the parts chain for M14s is pretty much gone for the ones still being issued. Much if not all of the government machinery to make M14s was scrapped during the Clinton years, as I understand it.
     
  20. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    BUT, over in Afghanistan when they needed a rifle to shoot from mountain to mountain they broke out the M14's. Of course they don't look like then old M14's with their black synthetic stock, bi-pod and a bunch of other goodies but they are the M14's of old with a facelift. They are doing a great job over there in Afghanistan.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. SHR970

    SHR970 Member

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    Allow me to expand your knowledge........AG42 Ljungman. The Hakim is a decendant of the Ljungman.
     
  22. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I hope this helps. I was in Basic in the Army Spring 68.Several "volunteers" were gone several days and at the baracks at night they said all they were doing was firing 16's and cleaning at 500 rounds,repeat etc.We were concerned as most of us was drafted.They reported good functioning.In late summer I was in AIT Infantry and while we were using XM-16's,no malfunctions.Oct found me a grunt in the 4th Inf Div. my 16 saw a lot of use and no failures.The Battle on 947 lasted 36 hours and I went through close to 900 rounds,no malfunctions.I opened up a crate of 16 ammo and on each box was stamped"Dupont Powder".later in life I was to learn the original powder was Dupont,the Army switched to a Winchester Ball powder with too much calcium content.We did have cleaning rods and the then new LSA oil. My experience was good with the 16 and M-193.
     
  23. col.lemat

    col.lemat Member

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    I have been reloading for the 223/5.56 rifles for decades. I started in 1966 using DuPonts powder, never having a rifle freeze up. In the 1980's I was talked into trying Winchester powder as a cheeper alturnitive. After shooting two rifles I cleaned them as I always had before without the guns locking up, but this time after using Winchester powder a week later I could not retract the bolts. Once I got them apart I discovered that the bolt carrier, bolt piston rings and gas tube were a mass of light rust. I never had to clean these parts before using DuPonts. With Winchester these parts needed extra cleaning attention and a generious coat of oil to prevent the rifle and carbine from freezing up with rust.
     
  24. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I have heard that 1960s military grade "ball" powder was often made with recycled nitrocellulose rather than newly manufactured nitrocellulose. That would be a really bad substitute in a rifle designed around a cartridge developed for cleaner burning extruded "rod" powder.

    I suspect current commercial ball powder for reloading is a few steps above military ball powder of the 1960s.
     
  25. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    The decision to use WC 846 ball powder in the 5.56mm cartridge was a very bad one. WC 846 powder increased the cyclic rate of the M16 rile and accelerated wear and tear. That ball powder burned much dirtier than granular powder.

    Initially rifles were issued without cleaning kits. Robert McNamera was the ultimate micro-manager: He was personally involved in M16 issues. McNamera called the rifle "self cleaning" and claimed a chrome plated chamber bore and chamber were not needed. As a result chambers sometimes rusted and the rifles ceased to function. Early M16 magazines were easily damaged and were not reliable.

    During stateside testing the gas tube of at least one M16 rifle became plugged with residue from WC 846 powder.

    Since 1968 i have fired hundreds of thousands of M193 5.56mm rounds. i own multiple examples of nearly every headstamp of M193 ball ammmunition used during the Vietnam war, including quantities of WC 846 loaded rounds.

    http://www.thegunzone.com/556prop.html

    http://www.survivalprimer.com/G_AR_15_Rifle/The AR-15 Rifle.htm

    One of the powders Robert Hutton used in the development of M16 ammunition was IMR 3031. IMR 3031 remains my favorite powder for reloading .223/5.56 ammo.
     
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