about tracer ammo use,,,,

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by dammitman, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. dammitman

    dammitman Member

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    i have seen some opinion that tracer ammo will damage your rifle's barrel and others that state it cannot. i dont shoot the rifle crazy fast and generally might shoot 20 to 30 rounds at a time but always give it time to cool between mags. (10 -15 minutes) it is a AR-15 bushmaster .223. what is your opinion on the use of TRACER AMMO thru a barrel and as long as not used rapid fire, i know the downfall of rapid extensive fire with no cooldown time so thats not the issue, thanks!
  2. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    The Bushmasters, depending upon model, have chromed barrel bores. Newer manufactured spotting/tracer ammo does not ignite until it leaves the barrel - much safer than the older phosphorus rounds that ignited from the powder ignition. You should be OK using the newer stuff.
  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Many states, counties and cities as well as ranges disallow the firing of tracer ammo because it starts fires. You had best check the legality before shooting anymore.

    LDBennett
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Aside from the legal and safety aspects which LDBennett mentions, all the tracer ammo I have fired left a gritty residue, like sand, in the barrel. I don't know what it was, but I know neither water nor bore cleaner would dissolve it. So my concern would not be with erosion or corrosion, but with what happens when the next bullet grinds that residue into the barrel. As in many matters relating to guns, this is a case where the army simply didn't care. First, they never normally fired tracer from rifles, only from MGs, and MG barrels are expendable. If that is not the case with your barrel, I suggest not firing tracer.

    Jim
  5. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    In basic training at Ft. Dix (1967) - after qualifying with the M14, we were taken to a "live fire range" on which were placed targets (a tank, a couple trucks, a "Jeep", man sized silhouttes, a couple steel plates with openings cut into them placed again a pile of dirt to simulate pill boxes, etc.) set out at ranges up to 600 meters. We were issued three 20 round magazines loaded with the current crop of tracers. The range officer called out the target and the number of rounds to fire and were could then observe the trajectory and impact of the rounds we fired. It was one hell of a lot of fun. We used the same rifles that we were issued at the start of Basic and with which we and probably hundreds of other recruits had qualified. We cleaned our weapons before returning them to the arms room where they were, as usual, inspected - don't recall any special problems after firing the tracers. Perhaps they had changed formulations between when Jim K was in and that time.????
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  6. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I loved it when the tanks were doing range time at night, off in the distance the choppers were doing some night fire too. It looked like a steady stream of light from the air to the ground. Fun to watch.
  7. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    When ever I saw a Cobra "working out, rock and roll" I was simply glad that I wasn't on the receiving end of all that $hit coming out of the sky. I remember being rained on by empty .50 casings one night when they were working just outside the wire. One hell of a light show - and those 3.5 FFAR were a trip - purple and silver sparks lighting up their path - just plain beautiful.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Jim,

    Quite possibly a different formula with the 7.62 NATO. We were never issued tracers for our M1 rifles in the service, though it sounds like a good training aid. But I found that grit in the barrels of M1 and M1903 rifles I fired with tracer in civilian life later on.

    Jim
  9. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    Hi Jim K.
    You got me to thinking on this matter. Checked some reference books - the NATO 7.62mm M62 Tracer ignites at approx. 100 meters from the muzzle. The .30-06 tracer M1 ignited before leaving the muzzle and the M25 ignited at 75 yards. So, I'm guessing that the M1 (which is listed for use in the Rifle M1 as well as the machine guns) would/could leave a residue from ignition of the tracer compound. The same source also lists the M26 .45 ACP tracer... I carried one magazine full of these while on a recon flight crew - for signaling - we also had the Gyro Jet pocket pen flare launchers.
  10. carver

    carver Moderator

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    Another thing to remember is that tracers were loaded at every three, or 4 rounds. A 30 round mag might have no more than 6 - 10 tracers in it.
  11. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

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    This reminds me of a war story:

    In the Nam we always took the tracers out and loaded only ball ammo in the mags we carried (tracers at night tips off where you are. Then we'd load magazines with all tracers to use for practice fire in the daytime.

    When I was just new in country I hadn't had time to acquire more mags so I only had an initial issue of six which is inadequate for carry in the field (most guys normally carried anywhere between 18 and 30).

    As a field radio operator I could end up at any type unit from infantry to motor transport. I was initially assigned to an engineer bn. The engineers mostly worked in the daytime, conducting mine sweeps along Hwy 1, repairing the road, and building/repairing bridges and culverts. But we ran nighttime ambush and recon patrols.

    On my very first night patrol I had asked to borrow some mags from a couple buddies. One guy who had a ton of them told me where he kept a bunch and said to help myself. So I went to our tent and grabbed a couple 3 mag assault pouches.

    That night a couple hours into our patrol we came upon a mortar position 2-3 hundred meters away in the process of mortoring our cp. While the others immediately opened fire I was on the radio reporting the enemy position to bn. They in turn called an arty strike but as they had to relay the coordinates to the battery there was a couple minute delay.

    In the meantime at my first opportunity, I opened up with 10 or 12 rounds of ALL TRACERS which was promptly answered by enemy fire from a half dozen locations all very close. At the same time ma deuce on our cp's perimeter opened up on us as well thinking we were the VC. We were on a rice paddy dyke and had to dive off into the water. This was my baptism of fire...and almost my baptism of filling my pants.:D

    Needless to say the patrol members weren't thrilled with me. But the worst response was from my buddies. The guy I borrowed the mags from upon seeing which mags I had taken yelled "YOU DUMB ASS, did you bother to look at which mags you got?" as he pointed to one of the pouches. On it in black magic marker was a large T. "What do you suppose T stands for?" The other guys just :lmao2: and never let me forget it.


    Now to answer your question: I never noticed any difference in dirt in the barrel even after running several mags full of nothing but tracer ammo.
  12. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    That was a GREAT story, RunningOnMT! (I linked the first 20 rounds in the belt of my M-60 Doorgun with all tracers for quicker on-target time)

    And thanks, Jim K for that infor on the .30 tracer ammo. I had thought that all of the .30 tracer ammo had the sealed cups over the tracer compound as does the 7.62 NATO, and did not know that the tracer compound on the .30 ammo ignited in the barrel. So maybe not to use old tracer ammo, but newer than 1960 should be OK.........?
  13. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    jim brady,
    According to the source I found, different low melting point alloys were used as the plug for the tracer compound cavity - depending upon the desired ignition range. The 7.62mm NATO standard ammo was listed as being "standardized" after 1955, with the M62 being designed to ignite at a distance that supposedly wouldn't give away the firing position.

    Running On MT - great story - old axiom: "TRACERS WORK BOTH WAYS" - guess you learned that pretty damn fast.

    Further research: The 5.56 M856A1 Tracer round was designed to: "...trace shall be visible from a point NOT GREATER than 75 yards from weapon to a point not less than 500 yards from the muzzle."

    POI: During WW2 "Headlight" tracers were developed for use in defensive machine guns (.50s) on bombers. These rounds were loaded with magnesium compounds and projected a very bright white light forward. These proved to be effective in halting incoming enemy interceptor aircraft at a much greater distance than the usual, standard red tracers. They were designed to "get the attention" of the enemy pilot and give him a chance to reconsider flying into the stream. Lot's of good info on tracers in the right sources.
  14. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    Jim - Never heard of those "headlight tracers". Pretty interesting. Back in the caveman days (60s) we learned pretty quick about RED and GREEN tracers. The bad guys usually used green tracers, except when they used captured (ours) weapons.

    Saw a convoy heading up the valley to Khe Sanh (we were 1000 feet over head and going the same way) when a bunch of green tracers let loose on a 5000 gallon fuel tanker. Nasty. Green tracers into the convoy answered by red tracers going up the hillside. A Duster pulled up and let loose with those twin cannon (40 MM?) and ended the problem pretty quickly.
  15. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

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    Jim when I mention green tracers people look at me like I'm either crazy or lying.

    I also remember the distinct difference between the sound of AK vs M16's. I remember the AK's making kind of a hollow popping sound. The odd thing is that now when at the range, Ak's and SKS's don't sound all that different from any other weapon to me.

    My apologies to dammitman and all for the thread drift.
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