WW1 load for .303 British

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Zerstoerer, May 10, 2018.

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  1. Zerstoerer

    Zerstoerer Member

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    Who can help?
    I am trying to duplicate the load for the .303 British as used during World War 1.

    Were there differences for rifle and machine gun loads?
    Different loads as used by British and let's say Australian troops?
    Bullet weighs, shape, powder?

    Any publications recommended that have addressed this?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. nambu1

    nambu1 Member

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    WWI .303 was loaded with strands of cordite.
     
  3. Zerstoerer

    Zerstoerer Member

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    Great, do we know what that would mean today? Powder? Quantity?
     
  4. quaid

    quaid Member

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    Better off using your chrono and duplicating it with modern powders.


    Interesting- originally 303 was designed with black powder.

    Even better off using your chrono and duplicating it with black powder.

    Good luck finding bullets. I’m unaware of any manufacturer making a wooden tip in their fmj. Might be a good excuse to use with the significant other that you just need an autoclave to sterilize your wooden tips for your authentic 303 bullets.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  5. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.303_British

    Yep Cordite, is interesting, Version 1 was very high nitro.

    Modern Lyman data looks a little lighter than that.
    Quite a few powders listed, but I don't shoot it so I have no idea of what would work best and of course what works best for one rifle may or may not want to work well in another.
    Rifles can be finicky about their diet sometimes
    Get your cases, bullets, a listed powder, work up from start loads.
    Not always but a lot of the time what is listed as the MAX vel load is not the most accurate load.
    In almost all cases I don't mind giving up some velocity for a more accurate load.

    I can't say for sure but I seem to recall hearing that lots of old .303 guns had headspace issue.
    Might be a good idea to get the gun checked by a gunsmith and of course check your fire brass for incipient case head separation.
    Walkalong has an excellent thread here on how to do that.

    Good luck, have fun, be safe, work up.
     
  6. Zerstoerer

    Zerstoerer Member

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    Thank you! That will get me started.
    If the British switched to the Mk VII in 1910, is it safe to assume that the Commonwealth did too? Meaning was their .303 ammo uniform so that, lets say the Australians could use ammo from the British and vice versa.
    Hmmm, who supplied it anyway? The rounds loaded on the Lusitania clearly never made it...
     
  7. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    So was WWII ammo.
     
  8. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    Hodgdon and Western (Ramshot/Accurate) have online data you could look at and get an idea of what powders might work.

    http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/rifle

    http://www.ramshot.com/load-data/

    Alliant does as well.
    They don't list start charges so the general rule of thumb is to reduce the MAX charge they list by 10% to get a start charge.

    Other powder makers have data on line as well.
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    For what purpose, are you just wanting the same velocity/bullet weight or are you wanting to make your own cordite?

    The first would be easy, almost any reloading manual should get you there. The 2nd will be more difficult.
     
  10. RugerOldArmy

    RugerOldArmy Member

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    I imagine cordite didn't meter well.
     
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  11. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    My .303Brit load to duplicate original load is the Hornady .312” 174gr BTHP over 43.5gr of BLC2. It gives just over 2,400fps and is very accurate from my 1943 Fazerkerley Mk4#1. It was FTR in 1953 and has a splendid 5-groove barrel. Pressure is less than original loads and gives lots of loadings from PPU brass. Another excellent load is RL15 under the Sierra MatchKing. The boat-tail hollow point bullet closely matches terminal effect of MkVII load.

    But I mostly shoot a Lee 160gr PtGC bullet powder coated and sized to .312” over 16.0gr of #2400. Mine wears a vernier rear sight and set to 500yds drops them into a SR1 100yd target easily at 100yds. Much cheaper than factory jacketed bullets.
     
  12. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    actually heard someone say how they had little old ladies stuffing straight wall cases with pre-cut strands of cordite then having a massive necking die hit several cases at once. Not sure if true but makes for an interesting mental image with the "mind the gap" and Keep Calm placards in the background :D lol
     
  13. JohnB-40

    JohnB-40 Member

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    Near where I grew up in Dorset,England was the old vacant Royal Navy Cordite Factory dating from WW1. It made the large diameter cordite sticks for the big naval guns. As kids we used to get through a break in the fence and go exploring in the many acre huge sight. A lot of it was underground,the buildings above ground were surrounded by blast berms. The bricks used in the construction of these buildings were glazed in brown and green and set in camouflage patterns. There were wood rails connecting various production sites where they would move the chemical components(nitro glycerine-nitro cellulose) on rubber wheeled trucks. A lot of these tracks ended in blocked off tunnels.The Germans knew all about the factory as a German company supplied and built a new N.G. plant there in the 1930s. German engineers and workers supplied all the information back to the Abwehr. During WW2 they changed the shape of the nearby shoreline with camouflage to give it different profile from the air and the Luftwaffe never hit it.
    Although there was said to be no remaining explosives on the factory sight or in the blocked off tunnels. In the 70s there was a heath fire there,the local fire dept responded in large numbers uncommon for such a fire. After it was put out a fire engine was stationed at the fire area for about a week after.....Made us locals wonder a bit.
     
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  14. gillmeister692

    gillmeister692 Member

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    You English blokes had all the fun (except for being bombed by Jerry). Thanks for your charming recollection !
     
  15. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I would duplicate the issue bullet weight and velocity using modern gunpowder. Which I believe is the open post question.

    As a side issue: Cordite is long obsolete despite improvements in the formula. The first version burned at a high temperature and eroded barrels. Cordite was nitrocellulose, nitroglycerin, vasoline, solvents, formed into strands that fit case head to case neck with a cardbord wad between the cordite and base of the bullet. I suspect I get hangfires from British military surplus (a click-BOOM almost like a flintlock) because the solvents in the cordite affect the primers after decades of storage.
     
  16. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    Check out good ol Wikipedia. Good details, lots of references.

    I believe it was Ross Seyfried that said that RL15 at 1.15/1 is a good replacement for Cordite.
    Cordite was soon replaced by other, better, propellants.
     
  17. Zerstoerer

    Zerstoerer Member

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    Thank you gentlemen. Awesome information.
    So the bullet was a 174 gr Spitzer?
     
  18. Archie

    Archie Member

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    The information I can find indicates the Mark VII version of the .303 Brit cartridge was adopted in 1910. The Mark VII version was used thereafter until retired.

    The loading was a 175 (or 175) grain spitzer bullet with an advertised muzzle velocity of 2440 fps. The Brits decided on 'nitrocellulose' powder in the early part of WWI. Various types of powder were used, but all nitrocellulose and to the same specifications.

    I have a couple of WWI Short, Magazine Lee-Enfields and load them to the then current military standards. Those standards are shown above with a 1% velocity variation (no lot is exactly the same an any other). (2416 to 2464 fps.)

    RL-15 seems to be pretty close.
     
  19. Zerstoerer

    Zerstoerer Member

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    Thank you all.
     
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