This article was published in The Fouling Shot #192, March / April 2008
Tales from the Back Creek Diary Re-visiting .30-’06 "Guard” and "Gallery Practice” Loads with Bullseye Powder By Ed Harris, Annandale, VA
Friends recently gave me several thousand pulled Cal. 30 Ball M2 (150-gr. FMJ) bullets and fired empty cases. These had been accumulated from DCM .30-’06 ammunition from which they had pulled the GI bullets and replaced them with Sierra 155-gr. Palmas over the original powder to use for competition. I was offered half the fired brass and pulled bullets to use my Dillon Auto-Swage 600 to rework the cases and work up a gallery
load for Junior training and rapid-fire practice at 100 yards in bolt action military rifles. My intent was to approximate the old M1906 Guard cartridge. An article in Rifle Magazine, March-April 1990, by Jeffrey W. Houck, p49 was a useful resource to assist with this.
Reduced range guard cartridges were developed for use in the M1903 Springfield on urban installations I settled on a charge of 8 grains of Alliant Bullseye as the best compromise with pulled Ball M2 150-grain jacketed bullets. Bullets were crimped using the Lee Factory Crimp die. Velocity from my 22” Mauser sporter with European style, long tapered throat is 1080 f.p.s. and from a Sako A2 silhouette rifle with 24” Douglas Premium barrel with tight-necked target chamber and SAAMI throat 1160 f.p.s. Report and recoil are very mild, like shooting a .32-20.
The average of five consecutive 5-shot groups fired at 50 yards from the Mauser sporter with 4X scope was 1.2 inches. The point of impact at 50 yards was 3.5” below that of normal Ball M2, which enabled using the heavy duplex reticle as a short-range post, using my normal zero for 180-gr. hunting ammunition. The Sako with 10X scope shot very consistent inch groups at 50 yards. So it was time to go to out to 100 yards and stop
The Mauser sporter struck much, much lower at 100 yards, and would require re-zeroing, but accuracy was fairly good, averaging 2.6” for ten consecutive 5-shot groups at 100 yards. This compares to firing full up Ball M2 ammunition. The Sako with 10X scope averaged 2” for ten consecutive 5-shot groups, also typical of M2 Ball ammunition in that rifle.
While I was at it, I decided to load and test cast bullets, fired without the GC, to compare their performance against the Ball M2 pulled bullets.
The cast bullets were not of match quality, but highly satisfactory as practice, training, small game and utility loads useable in any sound .30-
’06 rifle. Cast bullet groups were equal to or better than the M2 pulls, an inch at 50 yards and 2 inches or less at 100 yards. Bullets were cast in
gang moulds of wheel weight alloy, sight culled only, tumbled in Lee Liquid Alox or Rooster jacket and loaded as-cast without sizing. Velocities with the lighter cast bullets were around 1400 f.p.s. with 8 grains of Bullseye, so it may be advantageous to reduce the charge by a grain or so if
leading impairs accuracy over longer strings of fire.
The M1919 Gallery Practice cartridge used a 140-grain, plain-based, round-nose lead bullet shaped very much like the Ideal #308241. Prior to WWII it was reclassified as the Cartridge, Guard, M1. This lead bullet reduced load was originally intended for indoor and outdoor short-range practice. It was alternately used as a Guard cartridge around defense plants and military installations in noncombat areas which didn’t require the FMJ bullet of the M1906 Guard cartridge for compliance with the 1905 Hague Convention. Gallery Practice cartridges were loaded with a charge of Sporting Rifle No. 80 powder to attain about 1100 f.p.s. Guard units commonly reloaded indoor practice ammunition. Ideal Reloading
manuals prior to WWII and Phil Sharpe’s Complete Guide to Handloading (1937) featured data for assembling gallery center-fire rifle loads.
Cast loads which approximate the M1919 Gallery Practice cartridge are shown in the table. These light loads do not cycle the action in semi-automatic rifles, but can be fed from clips in the Garand if the action is worked manually. These charges can be used in the 7.62x54R Russian cartridge with similar results. To produce similar loads for the 7.62 NATO, 8mm Mauser, 7.65 Argentine, 7.7 Japanese or .303 British, maximum charges should be reduced by one full grain.
When using reduced charges of dense, fast-burning pistol powder it is absolutely necessary to visually inspect 100% every case for correct powder fill using a penlight to positively prevent missing or double charges or spilled powder. Another solution is to use a bulky powder which would obviously overflow the case if inadvertently double-charged. The late Col. Townsend Whelen’s favorite small game load for the Springfield used a charge of 18 grs. of SR-4759 powder, which bulks up nicely in the case.
I wrote an article in the Handloader’s Digest, 10th Edition in which I reported results using a charge of 13 grains of Red Dot in a variety of military rifles. "The Load” with Red Dot gives results almost identical to the Whelen small game load, about 1600 f.p.s. These approximate the energy of the .32-40 Winchester and are more accurate at longer ranges, but are louder than the M1906 Guard and M1919 Gallery Loads.
If low noise and minimum danger space are the goal, carefully load 8 grs. of Bullseye in the .30-’06 or 7.62x54R Russian, or 7 grains of Bullseye in the 7.62 NAT0, 8mm Mauser, 7.65 Argentine, 7.7 Japanese or .303 British with any jacketed bullet or cast bullet of the same weight or lighter than the military service one appropriate for the caliber. Do not reduce charges further with jacketed bullets because much below 1000 f.p.s.,
you may "stick” a bullet in the bore.
You may substitute lubricated lead cast bullets of a weight similar to or less than the service bullet with good results and reduce the charge in typical military rifles to as little as 4 grains of Bullseye, Clays, 700-X, Red Dot, Unique, W231 or TiteGroup. Lead bullets will exit the barrel reliably down to about 600 f.p.s. and accuracy is reasonable to about 50 yards. Do not reduce charges any further as ignition is erratic. I don't recommend extreme reduced loads with other powders.