.280/30 British Experimental

Below is a list of colour tips for the .280/30, however I have 2 rds that I can’t identify as one has a mauve and the other a purple tip (hard to see the difference in the photo). Anyone know the meaning of the Mauve/Purple colour tips ?

.280/30 Bullet tip colours:

Blue tip 130 grain Lead core Type A
Plain/no tip 130 grain Mild Steel core Type A
Yellow tip 140 grain Lead core Type B
Green tip 140 grain Mild Steel core Type B
Salmon Pink tip 140 grain Mild Steel core Type C
Chocolate* Brown tip 140 grain Mild Steel core Type AA
Brown Tip 140 grain Mild Steel core Type AA (modified)

*The Chocolate tip was originally used on Inert Tracers but later allocated to Ball.

Tracer: White Tip

Inert Tracer: White over Blue tip replaced with Chocolate tip

Armour Piercing: Eggshell Blue tip

Armour Piercing Incendiary: Black tip

Observing: Red tip

Inert Observing: Red over Blue tip, later replaced with Grey tip


Left mauve tip Right purple tip

Headstamps: RG 70 IZ & K49 280/30

Assorted .280/30 rds

Your ‘RG 70 IZ’ is a fairly regularly encountered round, I have one and mine also has a purple painted tip - but exactly why I’m not sure! The development of the .280/30 was abandoned by the UK/Belgium/Canada committee (BBC Committee) in about 1953 having lost out to the US T65. For some reason Radway Green again produced a small quantity of .280/30 in 1970 - your round! I’ve looked in Peter Labbett’s booklet ‘British 7mm Ammunition’ and, although he does mention this production, he doesn’t say what it was for. I seem to remember something about an ‘Ideal Calibre’ trial being conducted in about 1969/1970 (the UK was also producing the 6.25x43mm at about this time) so I’d guess your round was something to do with that trial. The purple tip was a commonly used colour to indicate ‘experimental’ ammunition in the UK.
I have no idea on the ‘K49’ round - again I’ve looked through Peter’s book but he doesn’t mention it.
Did you want me to send you Peter’s book to borrow?

Jim, I have Labbetts book, thanks.

I can’t find any mention of the purple/mauve tips in any book I have.

Not much help I’m afraid, but Gordon Conway (who I believe usually copied his titles from packets) in his Conjay catalogue no.33, March 1984, listed under .280/30":

“ROUND BALL 7MM 1Z . Case (B), primer (B) purple, purple (paint) tip jacketed spitzer bullet © (mag) N/C. Large (RG 70 1Z)”

He was asking £15 for it.

John E

The same tip color also exists on the 4.85 UK round.


To answer your question - I have absolutely no idea so you’ll have to ask somebody else, preferebly somebody who knows. ;)

I do have my own Q for you guys.

It seems that the few Brit cartridges that I do have from the pre NATO days have tip colors that looked like they were sprayed on. Is that how they did it? OTOH, the mauve & purple tips look as though they were dipped.


TonyE told me what the K 70 IZ round was made for the other day when I saw one and asked him about it. Unfortunately, I have now fogotten it!

He’s away for a few days at the moment, I’m sure he will see this when he gets back.

Jim is correct. The rounds were produced for trials. They were used as a base line round to determine the effectiveness of other options.

I’ve just had a close look at a selection of my British rounds from this era and most of the coloured tips appear to have been sprayed on - these are mainly yellow, green, pink, brown & blue. I only have three or four of the purple-tipped rounds (4.85mm, .280/30 & 9mm) and I’d say these have been dipped. Could post a colourful pic if it’ll help.

Peter White in Australia has a huge collection of 280/30s, I seem to remember him telling me about 180 examples.
He got them from one of the EM2 test shooters who pocketed one of every lot given to him to fire.
Lots of them have hand painted tips/ stripes/ blobs/ strokes/ notes etc and positive identification would be impossible.
I believe there was also a story about the shooter potting crows with the EM2 while shooting at Bisley.
Now that sounds like some good old fashioned family entertainment :)

RG 70 IZ box from our sale 8, lot 568

Sectioned .280/30

The top round is the AP load with eggshell blue tip. The round on the bottom is a factory dummy loaded with the Type A which has a shorter mild steel core. The dummy round has a felt(?) wad over the flash holes and is filled with some inert black granular material. This stuff does not burn. Anybody have any idea what it is? Regardless, check your factory drill rounds. Some are so loaded, others will have an empty case.


If you’re referring to the normal green-tipped dummy round I believe these were filled with coal dust.

Jim - this round does not have a tip colour. The projectile matches the D6/L/613 description that is 31.5mm in length and weighs 130 gr. The green tipped ball projectile is the Type ‘B’ that is 34.1 mm in length and weighs 140 gr.

My first guess would be coal dust, but I would have thought that it would have burned. I used a butane torch…flame temp is 1000 C+. These little lumps would glow, but not burn.

I love this 7mm series. Here’s an interesting .280 round dated 1949. It is the only 1949 dated .280 round I have, and assume that only alloy cased .280’s were made in 1949.



Does anyone have any theories about the placement of the base blobs - i.e. between the date and caliber vs. a blob between the RG and year? I think that it means something, but don’t know what.


Also, does anyone know which round is associated to this box label?


Last week I took all my .280, .280/.30 and 7mm series rounds in for x-rays. I haven’t had the time yet to analyze the results, but will post what I learn.!

I will try to answer some of the questions.

The purple colour is officially called “violet” and indicates any type of experimental item, so it will be found on anything from a cartridge to a missile. It seems to have been introduced around 1960.

It is my understanding that the 1970 headstamped .280/30 were made for a small arms design study/course that was taking place at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham (now the Defence Academy). Whether this was connected with the work on the proposed 6.25mm rifle and cartridge I do not know. Remember that the 6.25mm round based on the necked down .280/30 case design was only a ballistic vehicle for bullet design. The “real” round, had it ever been made, was a longer thinner case more like the later US 6mm SAW.

The K49 round with the “purple” tip I am suspicious about. It is too early for the use of that colour, the colour looks wrong and it apears to have an “edge” to the bottom of the tip colour as though masking tape has been used.

Paul - that is a nice round, and late for .280. Also, the use of that colour case is unusual at that date. I have a similar round but dated 1947. By 1949 most aluminium cases were orange as you know.

Your FN box probably contained what was effectively the 7mm Mark Iz with the S12 bullet, possibly with a yellow tip and headstamped “FN 51 280/30”.


The K49 round with the “purple” tip I am suspicious about. It is too early for the use of that colour, the colour looks wrong and it apears to have an “edge” to the bottom of the tip colour as though masking tape has been used.


Thanks Tony, I’ll mark it up as possible “fake” in my notes. I’ll bring it to the next Bisley meet in case you are there.

I would have said the same Tony but why would the box say .280 instead of the expected .280/30?