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reloading .303 with 150Gr Barnes TSX

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by tmoenner, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. tmoenner

    tmoenner New Member

    i just startet reloading .303 british[150 rounds so far ] and want to load leadfree Barnes TSX 150Gr.for hunting.
    TSX Bullets like it fast to mushroom as wide as possible.So i read lots about barrellenght, powder, pressure
    and bulletspeed.After all that studying i found out that Hodgedon H335 or BL-C2 [ballpowders] would be a good choice.I have to add that i use a cheap Lee Powder meassure and this thing has problems with extruded Powder [ less accurat ].

    My load would be:
    48 Gr. Hodgedon BL-C2 that gives 2750ft/sec the preassure would be 39200cup which is not to high imo.

    So what do you think about it.May be somebody has a better idea.

    Thanks a lot for your thoughts
  2. nicholst55

    nicholst55 New Member

    My first question is - what diameter is this Barnes bullet? If it's .308", I would expect poor-to-terrible accuracy in .303 British. Groove diameter in Lee Enfields can run the gamut from .311-.316" - sometimes even larger. You will also probably find that .308" bullets won't stay put in your brass, because they're too small.

    Second, the load you list is Hodgdon's MAX charge for that powder with a 150 grain bullet. IIRC, the Barnes solid copper bullets are longer than typical copper/lead bullets for their weight. That increased bearing surface is going to raise chamber pressure over what a standard bullet will give. How much higher pressure? Who knows.

    I would suggest that you start at 43.0 grains of BL-C(2), which is Hodgdon's starting load for a 150 grain bullet, and work your way up as pressure signs indicate. I would also worry more about finding an accurate load, as opposed to the fastest possible load - but that's just me.

    I'd also find some .311" or .312" bullets for my Lee Enfield. I've had excellent results with the Hornady 150 grain spire point in my Lee Enfields.

    One other thing which you may already know - Lee Enfield rifles are hard on brass. Their chambers are huge, so that they can chamber muddy, corroded ammo. As a result, brass stretches badly every time it's fired. Full-length sizing forces the brass back to it's original shape and size, and then it stretches to fill the chamber again, every time you fire it. As a result, it fails rather quickly - sometimes after as little as two firings. Shooting full power loads exacerbates this process. I normally shoot reduced loads - usually the starting load - for a given bullet/powder combo for target shooting and plinking, and reserve full power loads for hunting.

    An excellent source for info on Lee Enfield rifles and load data for the .303 British is www.303british.com. Steve Redgwell has a tremendous amount of experience with these rifles, and I highly recommend his site.
  3. shinz

    shinz Member

    Twoenner, what nicholst55 says is very fair & good advice in a general sense regarding 303s, BUT, it will depend on what type of 303 you're shooting as to whether that advice is totally applicable. The sort of pressure you state is probably OK for a #4 as they have the strongest action of the Lee Enfield type 303s but their chambers are notoriously loose as has been stated. Careful attention to resizing techniques with mainly neck sizing can compensate for this a fair amount but then again neck sizing & max loads aren't good friends either. I have had a #4 with a really tight chamber & barrel but they're unusual. Earlier Mk3 No1 lee Enfield have a weaker action & so you should approach this load with care, in any case, start with a lower charge & work up as advised.
    If, like me, you have a P14 based 303 with a neat chamber, you can load probably quite a bit hotter than the max Hodgdon load as these rifles will handle it, they can be loaded to do anything a 308 Winchester will do pressure wise.
    Nicholst55, Barnes TSXs are now made in .311 cal, 150 gr, I have some for my P14, waiting to get some BL(C)2 now. Keep us up to date with progress twoenner, I'll do likewise when (or if) my powder shows.
  4. nicholst55

    nicholst55 New Member

    Thanks for the heads-up shinz - it occurred to me after I posted that I should probably check to see if Barnes had finally begun making bullets in that diameter.

    Thomas - a P14 will definitely handle warmer loads than a Lee Enfield, as shinz stated. And, neck sizing is the way to go for everything except hunting ammo - you want to full-length size that to insure reliable functioning. The Lee collet die is the way to go for neck sizing.

    A wise investment is a case gage of the type made by Wilson, Dillon, or Lyman. They cost very little and will help keep you from accidentally loading up a bunch of ammo that won't chamber in your rifle. They are a steel 'die' with a SAAMI-spec chamber cut in them, and they will help identify brass that needs to be trimmed, as well as brass or ammo that has either not been sized far enough, or has been sized down too much. I use and recommend them for every one of the 35+ cartridges that I load for that they are available for.

    Good luck!
  5. tmoenner

    tmoenner New Member

    Thanks a lot for your help,
    just a few more questions,
    i do length size the brass , so is it better just to necksize?
    The #1mk3 has a 24" barrell, would it be better to use a slower powder?
    As far as understand means:
    short barrell-slow powder-lower pressure-muzzleflash-lost energie
    [like a #5mk1]

    Would Reloader 15 powder be an alternativ for the #1mk3?

    Thanks again Thomas
  6. shinz

    shinz Member

    A 24" barrel is neither here nor there, stick to the powders that work best. Bl(C)2 has always been regarded as a stand out powder for the 303, But Imr 4895 & 4320 also work well & are only just short of 2700 fps in my Lyman manual. Hornady list 43.9 gr of Rl15 as a max load at 2700 fps in a 25" barrel. You will only give up a few fps in a 24" tube.
    Regarding resizing, as nicholst55 has said, you will want to Fl resize for hunting loads, but the trick to resizing the 303s is to resize as little as possible to avoid working the brass too much, so back you Fl die out a bit & try it till you are only resizing enough for reliable chambering. This might take some trial & error.
  7. shinz

    shinz Member

    I gave up waiting on the Bl(C)2 that was 'sposed to be coming & tried some W748 instead, some reading, some thinking & a bit of a punt led me to try a load of 46 grns of this powder behind the 150gr TSxs I had, only 10, a sample from a supplier, so I couldn't do a whole workup series. The cases were WW2 Canadian production & may be slightly heavier than commercial ones, so I was surprised when this load came right up to the base of the neck. Anyway, & keeping in mind this load is for a P14 rifle, NOT, a Lee Enfield, in which case I would have chosen a lesser load, this load chronoed at a tad over 2700fps & shot about 1 3/4" at 50 metres. There were no signs of excessive pressure. Good enough to buy a whole box & get serious with some load working, though in truth I wasn't unhappy with that one. That should anchor anything I'm likely to come across.:D
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009

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