1948 Israeli .303 - Leftover German powder?

I recently pulled a very early Israeli .303 headstamped "*

The two letters should be MEM and YUD, which stand for MIFAL (factory) and YITZUR (producer). These are often followed by a NUN for NESHEK (weapons) or a TOF for TACHMOSHET (ammunition). It was made in the new-at-that-time IMI factory just outside of Tel-Aviv, recently relocated from the underground Ayalon factory. They used a mish-mash of surplus US, German, and other European machinery, so I guess any flavor of primer or powder could have been used. I don’t know if they were actually producing powder yet. I will ask and post any answer I get.

Thanks for the info, looking at the table of Hebrew letters on Wikipedia, they are Mem and Yud as you say. As they are so small, and I am not familiar with the language, they do look similar to Resh and Tav.

Falcon: is the Israeli bullet a mk.7 type? If you have access to scales a weight comparison would be easy, but even without scales a comment on length would be of interest. JG

I do have scales. The Israeli bullet weighs 194 grains. A mark VII bullet weighs 197.5 grains. This bullet is not a Mk VII type, it is too short. (1.230" for the Israeli bullet compared to 1.3" for a Mk 7. The Israeli bullet is GM jacketed, lead cored, non magnetic.

The Mark VII (and Mark 7) ball bullet should weigh 174 grains. The shorter Israeli bullet is probably because of the use of a lead core without the aluminium tip lightener. American WW2 Lease-Lend ammo and later HXP ammo, whilst having the correct weight bullet, are also short due to the lack of a compound core.


Ammo made by the Tel Aviv factory in mid to late 48, would have used Czech Powder, as this was readily available ( along wioth czech made and refurbished Kar98k’s etc.
“IMI” as it became, was also using the Boxer primer system, as the Major part of its cartridge heavy forming Machinery came from New England in 1946-47, smuggled into Israel as “Agricultural scrap iron” (?Ploughshares into swords?). When the USG sold up a couple of WW II GOCO Plants attached to Winchester and Remington, Israeli Agents bought them up at scrap iron prices, dismantled them, mixed the parts with other scrap steel and iron, crated the scrap, and loaded it into a tramp steamer which took to to Haifa Port under the very noses of the British Troops… The Initial batches of Primers came from the USA (Remington mostly) and whilst Nickeled, were mostly the US FA70 corrosive composition. Only when production of NATO ammo got under way in the mid 1950s, did IMI make its own Noncorrosive, NATO spec primer.
As the Bullet making machinery was also US origin, they made a .303 projectile without the aluminium inner tip, and hence the Jacket (even if slightly less that a proper Mark 7 in length, was much heavier…same thing happened when Portugal, in the 1920s, began making “Cal 7,7” ammo (.303)…their Bullets were also in the 190 plus grains weight, and of similar length to the Mark VII bullet.

It seems that Israeli .303 Ammo manufacture was short lived…because by the Mid 1950s, they had standardised on 7,9mm and then 7,62 Nato (with .30 cal for MGs on Armoured Vehicles).
Also, the Israeli numbers of .303 calibre firearms was minor compared with the large quantity of 7,9mm arms smuggled and openly bought from 1945 to the early 1950s. The .303 were relegated to Kibbutz guards and other minor operations, where ammo resupply would not be a problem, and eventually surplussed off in the 1970s ( I have had a couple of SMLE’s (one Enfield, One Lithgow) with Star of David Accptance markings.).

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Powder is notoriously hard to identify. The German military powder looks identical to many of the modern commercial powders available today.

Has anyone ever attempted a way of doing it?

I very much doubt if loose powder could be accurately identified without the facility of a good chemistry lab, certainly not just visually.

i agree with the Doc though, I suspect this will be Czech powder, given the relationship at the time and the number of Czech arms being smuggled and used. I pointed this out to Falcon when he picked up the round last weekend.


I calibrated the electronic scale with the weight provided before use and it shows 20 grams, which is stamped on the weight. For all the Mark 7 bullets I weigh it shows around 200 grains. If I put two bullets on there at once which weigh around 200 grains on their own, the wights do not add up properly when both are on there. It looks like the scale must be faulty.

Falcon, Gravelbelly: Thanks for the information on the Israeli .303 bullet. I suspected that perhaps they’d not opted to duplicate the compound core. JG

I see I responded before reading Doc’s interesting comments on this matter. It’s going to be necessary for me to break out my scales and see what they have to say. Again, thanks to all. JG

The breakdown of my 1948 Israeli:

Bullet weight 171.4grns
Bullet length 31.3mm (1.232")
Bullet diameter 7.875mm (.310")
Bullet material GM envelope, flat based lead core, 1 milled cannelure.

Case is boxer primed and on the light side at 172 grns.


My Israeli .303 cartridge weighed 386 gr., which seems to be well within the ball park. Thanks to all. JG