.303 Brit surp ammo - pics and questions

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Nov 20, 2003

I came into some surplus .303 British ammo, and wanted to post pics and ask a few questions. Typically I have fired factory or reloaded ammunition, but sometimes surplus (very dirty but reliable mixed headstamp stuff). But a friend was cleaning out his storage and offered me this for sale.

Was hoping folks might comment on this, what it is, whether it's "good" ammo, and what it might be worth at today's prices.

Below, a 350-round crate of MkVII ball ammo. The tin is sealed inside the box, black sealant on the can, and it smells like petroleum resin. I think this is South African, due to the SAM and U on the box. Of course, I've not seen the headstamp.


Below, three 300-round cans of Greek HXP-71 ammo. This is on chargers, and those in bandoleers.


Below, a whole bunch of UK surplus ball ammo, all on chargers. There is another pile like this ... total of about 1500 rounds. It's nice and clean, and the headstamps read "GB" at 10 o'clock, "7" at 6 o'clock, and either "50" or "49" at 2 o'clock. I have not fired any of this stuff yet.

The Greek "HXP" is excellent ammo, and yes, reloadable. Let me know if you'll part with some.

The "SAM" is South African. I haven't shot any of that, but I would expect it to be fine. It is Berdan.

The "GB" is UK mil-surp. That stuff tends to be a bit inconsitent. Also not reloadable.

Good finds.
Do you hear that? That's the sound of me seething with jealousy.

Seriously though, that HXP is very good stuff. It is reloadable, but the primers are crimped if memory serves. I think you will need a swager or reamer to seat new primers.
As mentioned, the Greek HXP-71 ammo is boxer primed and non-corrosive, and it also is just beautiful ammo...

If you so wish, you'll be able to sell it in a flash...

The South African is also very good ammo...

The 50s dated British (49/50) is, as has also been mentioned, inconsistent...

The British ammo is also loaded with cordite, if that makes any difference to you.

Thanks for all your replies. I hadn't meant to make anyone jealous! It's just hard to pass up a deal when they come around ... and it wasn't free!

I've already promised a local friend one of the HXP tins, and I have to keep my promise no matter how much I want to keep them for myself.

Regarding the UK stuff ... by inconsistent to you mean with regards to ignition, or do you mean inconsistent in regard to bullet/charge/case weight?
The UK has inconsistent ignition. Some of the recent stuff has had lots of click...bang issues. Definitely worth trying, though.
I wish I had friends like you. The GB is british made by Greenwood & Batley Ltd, UK, the HXP made by Greek Powder & Cartridge Company, Athens, Greece and SAM is South African Mint, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa( later became PMP). The HXP are usually Boxer primed, the SAM may be boxer but the GB is Berdan primed. I have shot so HXP and it is great ammo.
Can anybody help me ID this stuff?


There was also some that just had K51 and a 7.... any ideas what it might be?


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The ammo I bought as being South African came in a 50rnd cardbaord box & is labeled 7,7x56R


Also have some Jugoslavian(?) .303 ammo. Came in boxes of 15rnds.


Can anyone confirm their origins? Both are very reliable & clean shooting ammo. Accuracy has been a bit disapointing, with the Jugoslav stuff being the better of the the two. Very nice quality brass, but they are both Berdan primed. Just for fun, I have been reloading them with RWS #5620 primers, Win. 760, & 180gn Rem RNSP for about 2MOA thru my Lee Enfield #4.
Bad part is that the SA ammo is Berdan primed. Brass is nice though. Bought 700+ rounds years ago for less than $10/box. Good old days!
The 303 Berdan primers are much easier to reload than the smaller primers in the likes of 7.62 Nato stuff if you can get the primers. The first time is the hardest, due to the crimped in primer. I made up a pick after reading a piece in an Elmer Keith book in which he described digging primers out of Brit big game cases. A Lee case debur tool with a hole ground in the point to clear the Berdan anvil took care of the crimp. After the first reload I use a rod with two pins epoxied in to knock them out. I made the pins from 1mm piano wire. A Lee priming tool with a 1/4 inch bolt reshaped to be the priming rod after drilling out the plastic housing works fine. All in all not too hard & very therapeutic. I learnt the hard way to anneal my case necks & be sure to flush the bore with hot water after shooting the original loads, the original primers are almost certainly corrosive, the Brits were some of the last to ditch corrosive primers.
Shinz said:
The 303 Berdan primers are much easier to reload than the smaller primers in the likes of 7.62 Nato stuff if you can get the primers.

Actually both my So. African & Jugoslav cases use the smaller 5.5mm berdan primer. I managed to pick up 2500 RWS 5620 primers when I was overseas a couple of years ago, but have little hope of finding any others when they're gone. Oh well, I have a stash of S&B, & Federal boxer primed cases for when that day comes.....won't be as much fun though!
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