Weekly DTIC: The Hall Report

Continuing my series on articles found at the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), today we will be taking a look at another landmark document in modern firearms history, An Effectiveness Study of The Infantry Rifle, by Donald L. Hall, and more commonly known as the Hall report. The significance of this work is difficult to overstate, as it was one of the first comprehensive examinations of lightweight, high velocity ammunition. It’s purpose is conveyed in the introduction:

In accordance with the request of Office, Chief of Ordnance in
their letter /00 474/18 (s) dated 28 Nov 50, a study has been made of
the effectiveness of an infantry rifle. This report was prepared without
regard to present established military characteristics of the Army
Field Forces, since the purpose of research is to provide basic data
which may assist Army Field Forces in developing future reqitirements.
The status of critical raw materials was not considered. The conclusions
contained herein are tentative and are subject to experimental
In evaluating such a weapon, it is necessary to consider its probability
of hitting when in the hands of a combat soldier, its ability to
wound, and the weight of rifle and ammunition. These characteristics
are somewhat dependent on each other. The probability of hitting of a
rifle is primarily dependent on the range and muzzle velocity, or more
explicitly on the flatness of the trajectory. The wounding power is a
function of mass, striking velocity, and bullet shape. Both the hit
probability and the wounding ability could be improved by increasing
the muzzle energy, but this would increase the weight of both the gun
and the ammunition thus decreasing the number of rounds that the soldier
could carry.
In this study a family of weapons was considered. The caliber was
varied from .30 to .21 and the weight of the charge was taken to be 1.0,
0.8, and 0.6 times the charge (53 grains) normally used in the present
standard Ball M-2 Cal. .30 ammunition.

Not all the premises of the Hall report proved true. For example, it was later determined that the probability of a hit of the rifle-shooter system was much more overwhelmingly influenced by the shooter, and not as much by the capabilities of his weapon as was previously thought. However, the Hall report represents the first baby steps of the small caliber high velocity ammunition concept towards its eventual adoption.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Whiskey Hammer

    Im actually working on a report about hit probability in less-lethal systems (like the FN303). I knew about the Hall report, but I’d like to know more about “it was later determined that the probability of a hit of the rifle-shooter system was much more overwhelmingly influenced by the shooter”. Can you link to the determining doc or provide it’s name/title?

    • I would look for documents pertaining to the ACR program of the 1990s. Unfortunately, I am not in a place to link materiel directly, at the moment.

  • Don’t forget the Hitchman report. If it wasn’t for Hitchman, Hall’s report probably wouldn’t have been requested.

    FWIW: I know that Hall wrote additional reports after this one advocating the SCHV concept, but they are not currently available online at DTIC.

  • Joe Hooker

    Some time ago I posted another study about combat ranges and individual weapons effectiveness, which was one of the studies that led to the adoption of the M-16. It’s on my web site: http://www.cfspress.com/sharpshooters/battle-ranges.html