303 ammo .... I/D please?


May 31, 2003, 09:36 PM
I have all sorts of old 303 ammo lurking around and rediscovered this recently. IIRC (I have had it ages) .... it is tracer but ... I seem to remember that maybe tracer in larger cal's needs over 100 yds before it ''lights up''.... and so when I tried a coupla rounds a while back ... only at 100 yds ..... didn't prove anything!

Prior to being able to try it at longer range .. any ideas from ammo experts? Don't think it's AP but .. open to suggestions.

BTW .. headstamp is F N 52 .. probably cordite I'd think and corrosive .. treated it as such anyways..


If you enjoyed reading about "303 ammo .... I/D please?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Mike Irwin
May 31, 2003, 09:44 PM
FN is most likely Fabrique National in Belgium, with 1952 as the year of manufacture.

Most likely cordite, as it doesn't seem to have the standard headstamps for smokeless powder.

Tossup on the corrosive.

May 31, 2003, 09:48 PM
It's definitely Fabrique National but I think it's also Bren or machine gun ammo and it's loaded to a higher pressure than a Lee-Enfield should be subjected to. I have a box of similar vintage ammo, still in the box. It's specifically marked for the Bren, with cautions to not use it in rifles.

May 31, 2003, 10:37 PM
Thx for your thoughts - but .... I don't think I was very clear ... I only think it's tracer ..... does anyone recognize the colors on bullets for I/D purposes.?? Tracer/AP? What should it be?

Point taken BTW re pressure factor ... A useful thing to be mindful of.

Andrew Wyatt
May 31, 2003, 10:42 PM
can you scan the headstamp?

June 1, 2003, 01:00 AM
It's definitely not BREN ammo. Bren guns never used belts. Maybe a Vickers MG.

June 1, 2003, 01:46 AM
The belt is actually disintegrating links for a Browning machine gun. The Brits did use Brownings in 303 in early versions of the Hurricane and Spitfire.

Ammo is FN, made in Belgium and is probably not cordite as I believe the Brits were the only one to use cordite propellent. The Belgins did use lots of British equipment post-WW2 until they re-equiped with their own production.

Dave Markowitz
June 1, 2003, 09:42 AM
FN made in 1952. NOT Cordite, but almost certainly corrosively primed. Not sure if the purple tip indicates tracer. Belted for use in a .303 Browning. All you need is a Spitfire to shoot them from. :)

June 1, 2003, 11:53 AM
Further thx ... in case of interest ... here's small pic to show headstamp. I'd agree about manufacture of course .. and as mentioned not cordite .. realize now that Brits only ones using that pretty much.

I am still assuming tracer for this cullet color but .. one small point - I would have expected this to be supplied loose if tracer, cos IIRC, tracers added to belt one per 5 or 10 . in other words belts made up specially ... odd maybe to have all these together on common belt.


Mike Irwin
June 1, 2003, 03:03 PM
OK, I think I have a solution...

Likely not tracer.

Most likely heavy ball ammo, which is logical for use in a machine gun.

The Belgians during this time were apparently following standard French marking practices, and violet stood for heavy ball ammo.

As far as I cant tell the British never used purple for a bullet tip color.

There is some indication that FN HAS loaded cordite ammunition on contract, but it most likely isn't given the absense of a headstamp indicator.

June 1, 2003, 03:17 PM
Many thx Mike ........ I think I'll pull one and see what is there .... weigh bullet etc ......

June 1, 2003, 03:46 PM
Mike .... further info in case of interest .......

Pulled a round and this is what we have .....

Powder ........ flake

Bullet ....... weighs in at 168 grn (some std ball bullets I have are 174 ... fairly standard IIRC). So ... not specifically a heavy-weight but ...... I have added two closer shots of bullet ... which you can see is long. In the base is a metal insert, quite hard ... but oddly enough a sorta ''brassy'' color. Thought it might have been a steel core insert but now not sure.

Maybe now if I get to it ... section this bullet and see what core actually is. First a pic of all components ..........


Then, two views of bullet .... showing something of base appearance and length... depth of field a bit problematic.

http://www.patriotnetwork.net/cb_gun/bullet_only_end-side.jpg ......... http://www.patriotnetwork.net/cb_gun/bullet_only_end_s.jpg

June 1, 2003, 07:43 PM
Ok ...... curiosity got the better of me!! I wanted to do a longitudinal section (still might, on another bullet) ..... but holding it for that is tricky.

Decided to do cross section approx ''on the thirds'' ...... and below is pic .. (best I could manage without setting up special lighting).

The pieces are all viewed from bullet front orientation ...... so, nose (left) was cut off middle section (center) and rear of middle section is same cross section of course as front of rear part (right). get the drift? Hope so.

This shows several things ....... firstly, the front third X-section went thru outer steel and then exposes soft core .. lead one would assume.

The rear third X-section is interesting ... first we go thru outer steel jacket, then another layer (of the brassy color material) and finally a core. This is quite hard and seems to contain a sorta purple ''matrix''.

From this I have to come to conclusion .. for now at least ..... that this has to in fact be a tracer. The ''base cap'' evident from earlier pic of base does I think probably ''burn thru'' whilst high temp gases present ... and then the core can ignite ... constrained within the ''brassy'' color enclosure.

As I mentioned in my first post ..... I am led to believe that many 30 cal type tracers cannot ignite fully in just 100 yds .... if we assume MV of 2400 fps then after 100 yds ..... there will be an elapsed time of some 125 ms, plus an amount due to velocity fall-off .... say 150 ms or so. This is not all that long and then perhaps full ignition is achieved and the ''burn'' maybe lasts out to 500 yds (maybe an approx elapsed time of around or approaching one second).


Do you think this makes sense ... Mike??

June 1, 2003, 10:42 PM
Sorry if pics don't show ..... damned server is messin about .. again........ take another peek soon.

Mike Irwin
June 2, 2003, 01:10 AM
Wow. That's certainly interesting, P95.

I'd have bet that this would have been heavy ball.

I can't find any indication in any of my references as for whom this would have been made.

Not to bust your chops or anything, but sectioning an unknown bullet is NEVER EVER a good thing to do.

Sometimes even pulling unknown bullets is never a good thing to do.

.303 has been made in MANY variants, including incindiary AND explosive.

It's unlikely that you would have tied into an explosive bullet made at FN after WW II, but anything is possible.

A friend of mine some years ago showed me a cartridge he picked up from a junk dealer at a gun show...

A Japanese 7.7 round with an explosive bullet...

June 2, 2003, 10:21 AM
but sectioning an unknown bullet is NEVER EVER a good thing to do. I did take considerable care mike .. aware that I was slightly into the ''unknown'' .... I wore my thick leather welding protection jacket and real thick eye protection glasses, over my own! And went slow!!

Did prove rather interesting tho eh!

Mike Irwin
June 2, 2003, 11:30 AM
You need to go to the range and shoot a few of these over the 600 meter course to see if they trace.

June 2, 2003, 01:04 PM
My thinking exactly .... trouble is to get more than 100 yds (local range) means a bit of a trip ..... will do tho sometime.

June 8, 2003, 09:23 PM
Mike...... if ya see this ...... an update for ya!

Used the base section from the ''pieces'' I had sectioned ...... and set it up in my forge .... in amongst refactory brick etc . put on some protection and applied torch.

Some delay, which included an apparent melt out of small qty of lead and then ...... FFshhhh!

Red trace phosphor burn! The piece fell on floor but was all burned out in .. what .. maybe .5 second.

So yep .. this is tracer .. now to try it at a longer range when i get chance.:)

Andrew Wyatt
June 9, 2003, 02:14 AM
You have a forge? That's Worth like 350 Kickass points.

Mike Irwin
June 9, 2003, 02:19 AM
Pretty cool, K!

Now if we could only figure out for whom this was made!

It doesn't correspond to any marking schema I've been able to identify.

June 9, 2003, 08:18 AM
You have a forge? That's Worth like 350 Kickass points.Andrew ...... probably not quite the picture you may have!! It is actually a very crude device! I maybe should have said ''forge''. It resides next to my weld bench.

It does however - and has for years - proved invaluable for many things .... by directing a gas torch onto refractory brick pieces, sitting on top of larger bricks, I can get a good hot area, for case hardening for example .... and sometimes by shuffling the bricks around make a small enclosure ... which can act as a small kiln effect, tho not easy re temp control.

Here is a pic ...... somewhat burned out in center where refactory bricks are, cos of very bright sun .... but you'll see ...... it may only be worth just a coupla kickass points!:p


Mike Irwin
June 9, 2003, 12:02 PM
Uh, you didn't attach the picture...

June 9, 2003, 12:22 PM
Shows for me Mike .... unless there was a server glitch givin a red ''x''. This is same link again ..


Andrew Wyatt
June 9, 2003, 01:07 PM
it's 200 kickass points at least.

can you hammerforge barrels? :D

Mike Irwin
June 9, 2003, 01:09 PM
Uh, this is weird.

Not only do I NOT see a "red X," I don't see anything in either of your messages that would indicate that a picture has been attached.

June 9, 2003, 01:26 PM
''Hammer forge barrels''?? Hehe . I wish! Nope, not something I have tried or even could do successfully i think. Although I am an engineer ... and do quite a bit of minor gunsmithing ... I otherwise leave it to the experts.

Still use my ol lathe now and again to help make parts if necessary ..... and then if need be use that forge deal for heat treatment and sometimes case hardening.


Mike .... odd re pics. Only think I'd normally suspect here would be you having your browser switched off for pics showing . Do other pics show on other threads? Do my pics earlier this post show?

June 9, 2003, 01:48 PM
I can see the pics ok.:confused:

Mike Irwin
June 9, 2003, 02:04 PM
I just realized that none of the pictures in ANY thread in ANY forum is coming through.

The technogeeks at my office must have been messing with the stinking firewall settings again.

Don't know why I didn't think of that earlier.


June 9, 2003, 02:31 PM
It definitely is tracer - I have some FN 50 that looks exactly the same. It was made for military use, but I'm not sure whos military. How many countries besides the UK used Enfields?

FWIW, here's a huge list of .303 ammo information:

Mike Irwin
June 9, 2003, 03:12 PM
Holy crud...

That website indicates that the ammo in question may very well be tracer incendary...

June 9, 2003, 05:13 PM
I noticed that, but I think it's a case of missing commas. If it were incendiary tracer it would need a glob of incendiary stuff up in the front of the bullet.

June 9, 2003, 06:14 PM
Thems holy fire german vampire killin bullets ye got thar.

June 9, 2003, 08:38 PM
Well, after what became quite a long thread ... and finding out thru experiment ....... here comes this link ...

Ian .... Thx a lot for that .. excellent.:)

Other counties using .303 ... or at least did? Mostly I'd say ''colonial'' stuff .. India, Australia earlier on ..... probably lot of old .303's around in Africa still ......... can't think of more right now.

Mike Irwin
June 10, 2003, 01:28 AM
Just about anywhere the British were, the Enfield was.

If you enjoyed reading about "303 ammo .... I/D please?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!