Copyright International Ammunition Association, 2006. All rights reserved.
Cartridge of the Month May 2006

.50 Browning Armor Piercing Plate Test
Specimen and photos courtesy of Paul Smith


Plate test ammunition is used to test armor piercing (AP) capability at controlled velocities against specific targets. It may be desirable to determine how a particular AP projectile performs against a certain quality target at a certain range, but instead of placing a target at that range, the round is loaded to simulate the striking velocity of a normal round, but the target can be placed much closer to the gun. For example, it may not be practical to test a projectile against a target plate at 800 yards, so it is ‘down loaded’ to simulate the striking velocity at a target that is only 100 yards away.

US manufactured .50 cal AP plate test was first used in the mid-1930's. Depending on the nature of the tests, this ammunition can be loaded to give higher or lower than normal velocities. Early loadings were denoted by a silver tip, but during 1941, this was changed to a silver over black tip. Frankford Arsenal both loaded the ammunition and provided projectiles to the various test facilities who conducted their own tests.


The projectile is a standard M2 Armor Piercing. This round is headstamped ‘FA 41' and has a silver over black tip to identify the loading, but unless the original box is known, there is no way to know to which velocity the round was loaded. The cotton wadding is used to keep the reduced powder charge in a normal position.

Plate test ammunition was also produced in .30-06 caliber.

References: Hackley, F. Woodin, W.H. and Scranton, E., History and Development of U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition, 1978. pp. 128-129.

Copyright 2006 by the International Ammunition Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  Revised 30 APril 2006