Question about cordite powder


July 30, 2010, 04:21 PM
Why cordite powder come in stick that look like spargetti ? Can I cut them in to small pieces like modern extruded powder such as H 4895? It is such time consuming to pack this into the case but I do not want to waste the componet and it is quite accurate on Enfield rifle .

Do we have any British Commonwealth forum member (may be old timer ) who load with this type of powder ? What is the trick to put this things in the case really fast ?

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July 30, 2010, 04:37 PM
NO you can't chop it up into small grains like 4895.

It would change the burn rate to "very faster" and probably blow you up.

But a more important question is:
Where in the heck are you getting cordite powder for reloading in the first place? Nobody has made it or used in the last 50+ years.

To answer your question on how they got it in the .303 case?
Supposedly, the drawn case was primed, and the cordite spaghetti sticks added to the straight-walled brass.
Then the straight case was final formed to bottle-neck .303.

BTW: Cordite burns way hotter then modern powder.
It is infamous for causing accelerated bore erosion and shorter barrel life.
I wouldn't use it in a rifle I cared about.


July 30, 2010, 05:20 PM
A friend of mine pretty much destroyed a No. 4 Mk 1 Enfield by shooting several surplus .303 rounds out of a box of 20 he had gotten at a gun show. They had Arabic markings on the headstamp and were extremely hot. One of the locking lugs on the bolt was cracked off and he was very lucky that he didn't get the whole bolt assembly back in his face!

Apparently they were loaded specially for either the Hotchkiss or Lewis machine guns of WW-1 and the markings on the box (after I had them translated) said for machine gun use only.

He gave me the rest of them as "show and tell" items for my reloading classes.

I pulled all the bullets (174 grain FMJ flat base) and discovered the cartridges were loaded with cordite. There was a cork wad between the base of the bullet and the top of the cordite sticks.

I now have lots of cordite to show to people, most of whom have never even heard of the stuff, let alone seen it.

One stick burns very slowly (would create pretty high pressures when fired).
Looks like 2" or so pieces of off-colored nylon monofilament fishing line.

I seriously doubt there is any published reloading data on cordite of any kind and for that reason alone, it would be very bad juju to even consider using it to load your own ammo with. Especially if you value your eyes and other useful appendages.

July 30, 2010, 06:00 PM
Thank you very much for this valuable information. I got a hold of WWII era .303 ammo that are hang fire ( bad primers ) but I want to salvage the component . I guess I will only keep the bullets and scrap the powder 'cause I sure don't want #4MKI bolt struck on my face:).

Mal H
July 30, 2010, 07:02 PM
I think rcmodel answered it best with his very first word - NO! ;)

sandy, if you don't mind, since you've gotten the answer to your question from both responders, I'm going to go ahead and close this thread. I've seen too many other threads where someone eventually comes along and says, "Well, I've done that a bunch in the past and nothing ever happened to my gun. Sure go ahead and do it."

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