American Rifleman - February 2015 - 44

Technical |

quesTions & answers

5.56x45 mm NATO In Early Colt Sporters

Q

I own a Colt AR-15 Sporter
Rifle, serial number SP1 472XX,
manufactured in 1975, and it
is marked as chambered for ".223."
Where can I get information about
converting this rifle to safely accept
5.56x45 mm NATO ammunition? I'm
particularly interested in whether the
bolt carrier needs to be replaced.

A

If, as you say, your rifle was
produced in 1975, and it features
its original barrel, then it is likely
suitable, as is, for firing both .223 Rem.
and 5.56x45 mm cartridges of the type
available during that period. Until 1984,
the U.S. standard 5.56x45 mm cartridge
(M193) utilized a 55-gr. spitzer boattail bullet, similar in design to commercial 55-gr. full-metal-jacket bullets.
The twist rate was typically 1:12" for

commercial and military barrels.
Because the 5.56x45 mm cartridge
eventually became standard for NATO
forces, it has also been subject to NATO
revision. In 1980, NATO revised the loading to feature a 62-gr. bullet (M109).
That change made it necessary that
barrels sport a faster 1:7" twist rate, and
a somewhat enlarged and lengthened
chamber throat to accommodate the
longer, heavier bullet.
Keep in mind that not all cartridges
with military, NATO, or 5.56 mm headstamps, or packaging so noted, are
loaded with the 62-gr. bullet.
In order to ensure that your rifle

can safely fire M109 ammunition, I see
that you have two options. First, if your
rifle does not feature a chrome-lined
barrel (in all likelihood, it is chromelined), the chamber can be altered with
a 5.56x45 mm NATO chamber reamer,
or throating reamer, to enlarge and
lengthen the throat to accommodate
the cartridge. The 62-gr. bullets may,
or may not, properly stabilize with the
original barrel's twist. Another option is
replacing the barrel with a faster-twist
barrel already chambered for the M109.
No other alterations should be necessary. In my opinion, the second choice
is the most desirable. With either choice,
conventional .223 Rem. ammunition
may still be safely fired.
-John W. Treakle

Getting The Facts On A Military & Police

Q

I am writing to get information
on a recently purchased firearm.
I would like to get any history
you can give me on this revolver. I
think it is an early .38 Smith & Wesson
Special. Thank you for your efforts.

A

Without the opportunity to
personally examine your Smith &
Wesson .38-cal. revolver, I cannot
absolutely be certain of its identity, but
given your description, I would say that
you are likely in possession of what is
known as the .38 Military & Police 2nd
Model, or the Model of 1902.
At the time of the introduction of
the .38 S&W Special cartridge, in 1899,
the official U.S. military revolver was
the Colt-manufactured Model 1896,
the then-current variation of Colt's
continued efforts to produce an
effective and reliable double-action
revolver. It was chambered for the .38
Colt, either the short or long versions.
Smith & Wesson was able to introduce a superior revolver, firing a superior cartridge that would also safely
chamber and fire the competition's
proprietary round, which, at the same
time, was the standard U.S. military
cartridge. It was an engineering and

44

marketing coup, and S&W was not shy
about pointing it out by way of the
barrel markings.
The S&W Model of 1899 (1st Model)
was not without some shortcomings,
so after the production of some 21,000
units, the improved 2nd Model was
introduced in 1902. The changes
included the addition of the front
locking lug under the barrel, along
with internal modifications. The Model
of 1902 was produced in the 19021903 timeframe, and was replaced with
the Model of 1902, 1st Change. S&W
added another five model variations
before 1915, when the company was
apparently satisfied with the design.
That held until 1944, when a change
to the hammer-block safety was
introduced. The Model of 1902 was

available in blue and nickel, with hard
rubber or walnut stocks, and barrel
lengths of 4", 5", 6" and 61/2", in the
serial number range of 20976 to 33803.
The only way to be absolutely
sure of your revolver's originality and
production and/or shipping date is
to request a "factory letter." The cost
is $50, but the letter will definitively
date your gun, specify any special order
features and indicate to whom it was
shipped. Letters can be requested by
mail to: Mr. Roy Jinks, S&W Historian,
Smith & Wesson (Dept. AR), P.O. Box
2208, Springfield, MA 01102. Make sure
you include a complete description of
the gun including finish, stocks, barrel
length, sights, the complete serial
number and a photo, if possible.
-John W. Treakle

From the thousands of questions and letters on guns, ammunition and their use that American
Rifleman receives every year, it publishes the most interesting here. Receiving answers to technical
and historical questions is a privilege reserved to NRA members.
Questions must be in the form of letters addressed to: Dope Bag, NRA Publications, 11250 Waples Mill
Road, Fairfax, VA 22030-9400; must contain the member's code line from an American Rifleman or American
Hunter mailing label or membership card; must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed, legal-size
envelope; and must be limited to one specific question per letter. Non-members may submit a question
with a membership application. We cannot answer technical or historical questions by telephone, e-mail or
fax, and we cannot place even an approximate value on guns or other equipment. Please allow eight to 10
weeks for replies.
"Questions & Answers" is compiled by staff and Contributing Editors: Bruce N. Canfield, O. Reid Coffield, Garry James, Charles Pate, Charles E. Petty, Matt Sharpe, John M. Taylor and John Treakle.

February 2015

american riFleman



American Rifleman - February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - February 2015

Contents
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover1
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover2
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 1
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Contents
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 3
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 4
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American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90b
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91b
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90c
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91c
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90d
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91d
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90e
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91e
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90f
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American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover4
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