CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Vintage Puzzler still 100% BOGUS

RAY: During World War II, American infantrymen carried a rifle that used .30 caliber ammunition. Now, you may ask, what is a .30 caliber bullet? I don’t really know what the arcane measurement is, but it happens that 7.62 millimeters is .30 caliber bullet, or 308/1,000 of an inch.

When hostilities broke out between us and the Japanese, they hurriedly began to make rifles that would fire a .31 caliber bullet, or a 7.7 millimeter bullet. Why would they do this?

Answer:
RAY: Well, one part of it, I think, is pretty obvious. And that is, if they had to vacate a position and their ammunition were captured, it would be unusable to the Americans. But the other part of it isn’t so obvious. If the reverse happened – that is, if the Japanese captured our ammunition – the smaller-caliber bullet would fit in their rifles, and they would be able to use our bullets to fire on us.

The U.S. .30/06 7.62mm bullet diameter by 63mm case length is 5mm (.2 inches) to long for the Japanese 7.7mm bullet diameter by 58mm case length chamber. Neither cartridge will function in their enemy’s weapons.

Thank you, I was wondering about the case. We have a lot of different 30 cal sizes available in domestic hunting rifles. 30-06 will not work in my .308 WIN chamber, neither will a 30-30. Very few cartrigages are interchangeable, in my handgun I can use a .38 in place of the .357 Mag, but not the other way around.

I thought the Japanese used mostly 25 caliber ammo during WWII. That was a long time ago and maybe I was thinking of their machine guns.

The Japanese 6.5X50mm (.25 caliber) cartridge went into service in 1905 and was used in type 38 rifles and older machine guns through WW2. The 7.7X58mm (.31 caliber) cartridge went into service in 1939 and was used in type 99 rifles which were introduced that year plus some machine guns from the earlier 1930s through WW2. A lot of the .25 caliber ammunition was used in WW2 but probably not more than .31 caliber as that was used in all aircraft machine guns.

1 Like

Planes never even occurred to me.

Don’t know much about that particular subject, but I had a chance to take a tour of the Winchester Gun Museum here in San Jose the other day. Very interesting exhibit they have there. Apparently the 30-30 lever-actuated Winchester rifle has been one of their most popular sellers for a long time. I had always thought “30-30” meant the gun’s bore diameter was 0.3030 inches. But from what I could tell from the signs next to the guns, I believe my thinking has been faulty on that subject. The second “30” refers to the amount of powder the bullet contains, 30 grains I think is the unit they said it referred to. So “30-30” refers to an appx 0.30 bore diameter and a 30 grain charge for the bullet. They didn’t have an 30-06 on display, so don’t know what that “06” means, but doesn’t seem likely it means 6 grain bullet charge.

As far as interchangeable bullets, the only experience I’ve had is with the 22. There’s a normal length, and a 22LR, or “long rifle”. It’s actually a longer bullet, same diameter, but longer. The 22 caliber rifles I used could fire either size.

Another thing I learned, remember that tv show “The Rifleman”? I always thought that gun was a 30-30 Winchester. It was a Winchester apparently, but not a 30-30.

I enjoy this type of discussion, love guns and bullets, and wish I could join in, but it’s only fair to give you the same admonishment I receive when I wander away from talking about cars as Ray and Tom so often did. (I listened for years and years and years and it is what made the show great).

However …

Could we bring this discussion back to cars, please. :policewoman:
CSA
:palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:

3 Likes

.45 perhaps? I have some 22s in my collection, including a Winchester.

And a 30-30 Winchester and a 30-30 Marlin lever action in my collection. Both have a long history.
CSA
:palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:

Since Tom and Ray started it, I think this thread should be an exception to the rule. We’ll call it the Tom and Ray Started It rule. Anything they talked about on their show should be fair game here.

2 Likes

I think the -06 in 30-06 is the year it was first made. Definitely not the powder charge.

The Rifleman use a Winchester 44-40.

Yes, per wikipedia the 30 stands for the 0.30 caliper of the bullet in inches and the 06 is for the year the cartridge was adopted:

Yes. I think the General Discussion, The Show, and Site Feedback categories would be exempt.

1 Like

As noted at the Wiki link, there are variants of the .30-06 cartridge, and military rifles (esp. the M1 Garand) used a particular (narrower) range of those variants

1 Like

You are correct. The 30-06 cartridge replaced the original 30-03 cartridge in the 1903 Springfield rifle. The Rifleman used a model 1892 Winchester 44-40 which was historically inaccurate as the time period of the show was set in the late 1870s to early 1880s. The 44-40 "92"s were frequently used as props in films and TV since they were plentiful, cheap, and used the 44/45 universal blanks.

in addition to that, the Garand uses a gas operated system for energy to expel the spent cartridge and load the next round – that system is sensitive to the particular .30-06 ammo being used (using the wrong ammo can damage the rifle and possible injury)

this gets me back to the Puzzler, which I have not heard – it may be based upon the similarities similarities to the .303 British (7.7×56mmR) cartridge

The gas operated M1 Garand was designed to use the standard military ammunition. Similar to modern vehicles designed to use a specific octane gasoline. When using non specified ammunition or fuel results may vary. The Japanese tended to copy successful designs rather than reinventing the wheel. Their 7.7 ammunition though not a direct copy was very similar to the battle tested .303 British. Of course their domestically designed and produced A6M2 “Zero” fighter aircraft was so superior it was a major wake-up for the rest of the world. I owned 4 vintage British sports cars plus 1 motorcycle (1960 to 1966 models) from 1970 to 1986. Fortunately a buddy taught be that they were much more maintenance intensive than comparable American cars. I had no mechanical or electrical problems. My later used Japanese Yamaha 650 Twin motorcycle and new 1996 Mazda Miata were amazingly improved tributes to my 1966 Triumph 650 Bonneville and 1966 MGB.

I prefer not to use analogies, and this is an example of why – differences in ‘load’ between .30-06 variants can cause damage to a Garand and possible injury to the person, which is not quite the case with octane differences from 87-93 by common retailers for commonly purchased, mass produced vehicles

Never knew the 06 for 30 06 referred to the year adopted. I was looking for a 30-06 lever action rifle, had no idea it was discontinued, as la year I think it was a new Browning.

And I am unaware of an M1 Garand rifle being damaged or firer injured using commercial variants of 30-06 ammunition. Are you referencing ammunition hand loaded far in excess of SAAMI standards?

I never thought they made one. Who did?