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American Heritage Shooting 24" AR-15 Target Barrels

Some variations on a .50 BMG theme
by Keith Pagel
Contributing Editor, Very High Power Magazine
Fifty Caliber Shooters' Assn./Fifty Caliber Institute
Easy link to this article:
http://ammoguide.com/?article=kpagel0510 (Copy & paste into emails, forums, etc.)

Beyond what I'm writing about such designs here and in Very High Power Magazine, there's practically nothing in print or on the web about rounds such as these. Occasionally you'll see a book on cartridges mention a design or two, but nothing comprehensive.

I've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 different .50 BMG caliber cartridges & projectiles in my collection, including variants and derivations, and still going. Some are common, some are just different by headstamp or country of mfg, some are experimental predecessors of the commonly issued rounds, but then, some of them are wild experimentals. This is just a sampling of items I pulled out of just one of about 40 display cases I have.


FSAPDS is "Fin-Stabilized Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot". Experimental project from AAI circa 1980's.


SSB are Salvo Squeeze Bore projectiles, 5 coneshaped projectiles per round, some variations experimented with in Viet Nam, for a taper bore design. .50 caliber at the breech/.30 caliber at the muzzle. There are about a dozen or so variants of SSB, different projectile and "sabot" materials. (Those are not really 'sabots,' just plastic or other materials designed to retain the projectiles. They liquify and promote projectile separation during firing. They don't "discard" like a sabot is designed to do.)

High Pressure Test from Thunderbird Cartridge Company, Inc. HPT

HPT is a commercial load for gunsmiths and gun manufacturers. A Proof Load, High Pressure Test. This sample is from Thunderbird Cartridge Company, Inc. (TCCI). TCCI is the only source for HPT loads in .50 caliber outside of the US Government's plant at Lake City. Absolutely NOT to be fired by civilians.

PPI by SFM / Anthena PPI

PPI is a French design by SFM / Anthena. This is their G2 model which is intended for civilian sport competition and is based on their AP2 super armor piercing design. Difference between G2 & AP2 is the AP is hardened steel core, while G2 is Zinc NON-armor piercing core. What's unique about the SFM design is that they intentionally set out to make the core as big as possible, the opposite trend in armor piercing designs. The core has no jacket on its forward end, to maximize the space available for the core, only the lower portion of the bullet, just enough to engrave rifling.

High Pressure Test from Thunderbird Cartridge Company, Inc. SLAP

SLAP is the armor piercing design by Winchester, developed for the USMC. Tungsten steel penetrator, approx .32 caliber. Designated M903, it is Saboted Light Armor Penetrator. SLAP is NOT intended for rifle use due to the presence of muzzle brakes.

PPI by SFM / Anthena M858

M858 is the "ball" version of Practice ammo in .50 caliber. Low lethality, lightweight bullet falls out of the air quickly. There is a tracer variant as well, M860.


(NOTE: Amtec was a different company than the one now carrying the name.)

Amtec's focus was on producing light weight, less expensive ammunition. They did work on polymer cased ammuntion in .38 SPCL, 5.56 NATO (.223), 7.62 NATO (.308), .50 BMG. The only caliber that made it into production and onto the commercial market before the company went under was the .38 SPCL caliber. The concept was later revived by some of the principals of Amtec in a new company, NATEC. Currently NATEC is selling several loads in the 5.56 caliber with 7.62 NATO due out in 2005, and .50 BMG caliber some time afterwards.


The DAG blanks are .50 plastic blanks of varying colors. They are different from the Practice loads in that the practice load actually throw a projectile, while the blanks have serrated "bullet" noses, designed to open up when fired. They are just noise makers.

SSB M1 Blank

Used by the M2 machine gun (flexible only). The cartridge is used to simulate firing in training exercises, identified by the absence of a bullet and the large crimp at the cartridge case mouth. Type Classification: CONT - OTCM 36841

SSB M1A1 Blank

Used by the M2 machine gun with the M19 Blank Ammunition Firing Attachment, the M85 machine gun with the M20 Blank Firing Attachment, and the M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle. The cartridge is used to simulate firing in training exercises. The cartridge is identified by the absence of a bullet. The M1A1 differs from the M1 in that the M1A1 has a rosette crimp at the mouth. Type Classification: STD - MSR 02806015


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