.303 black powder movie blanks

What was the purpose for these? The headstamp is blank too.

These could be movie blanks. Black powder can be used as it produces a better flash and cloud of smoke than NC powder. This looks better on screen.

I can only offer a suggestion. They are clearly not military but they are quite late. Cordite or equiv. doesn’t do blanks because it needs a bullet or resistance greater than a crimp but BP?. Black powder would not give a visually accurate image for films, any way they dub the sound on afterwards. Saluting blanks were not big on the British radar so the only thing I can come up with is bird scaring on airfields but it is a complete guess.

In the movie Zulu Dawn c1979 .303" Martinis were used to reenact a battle from 1879 and BP blanks were used. I suggest these are movie blanks.

Are you sure? .303 conversion martinis look very different to the original martinis with their short skinny barrels.


All of those are .303 but the commonest by far 99% are the short conversion carbines (bottom) issued to native troops. They look a bit like an afterthought. The purpose made two bands (top) that look like the standard military rifle are rare, it would be very hard to assemble enough to make a movie.

Ive just been watching some of Zulu dawn on youtube and I can see only original looking martinis with barrel bands. Actually the rifles used in the movie I am given to understand are mostly the .500/.450 no2 varients sold by Wesley Richards for private buyers because the big company that supplies these things to the movie industry bought them up for practically nothing years and years ago.

Zulu dawn was made in 1979 thats getting a bit late for Kynoch. But they could still be movie blanks

The arms used for fireing in this film are the short ME .303" carbines. A number of plastic MH replica rifles were also used.

IN the Film “ZULU”, the rifles used were a mixture of MH.450 (close up) .303 ME, and even some Mauser M1871 and MLE (Long Lee Enfields).
IN “Zulu Dawn”, a later made “Prequel” of Zulu, the Carbines used were of mixed types and origins; as well a lot of “dummy” rifles were used…over all, a much poorer production.

Now to the Blanks: Definitely a “commercial” Blank produced by Kynoch in the 1960s or later; given the Label printing and the style, and the missing H/S

Now a few ideas from practical experience in the Movie industry…
Cordite MkVII cartridges, with the bullet pulled, and star-crimped ( wad remaining on Cordite) Flash quite well ( almost a fireball)…we have done Hundreds of Iraqi .303 Mk VII this way, without a squib or failure…

Normal .303 In-house Blanks (made by us) use Shotgun Powder, No Wad, and starcrimp with lacquer colour code to seal crimp (Moisture proofing); we also make Full-length .303 Blanks for Lewis, Vickers GO, and Bren MGs. Vickers belt- fed can use either short or long blanks without trouble

As to Gunshot dubbing, in our experience, the sound of our Blanks is correct for the film, and dubbing is not required…otherwise why would the director require us to fire “Background sound” Blanks in Battle scenes??

Dubbing is usually done for special effects such as Close-up body shots (where we used reduced charges) or also shots “off”…anyway most of our sound guys have libraries of different gunshots, recorded from our blank-firers, during breaks in Filming.

One film where the original blanks were “dubbed over” was the First edition of “StarWars” back in late 70s-early 80s, where the Sterling “Pistols” could be heard to “bang” under the “zap” of the phaser beam.
IN older films ( especially European–French and Italian films) Live gunfire was dubbed over either nonfiring guns or over Blank firing guns, but occasionally, the sound dubbed was not synchronised with the gunfire…( “Viva Maria”…the firing sound continued after the gun stopped or jammed (Maxims) etc.

Military Blanks are made to serve one purpose only…to provide Functioning of a Semi/Full auto firearm, or to give a simple sound effect for a Bolt action.
Thus the (military) loads are calibrated for this purpose…in fact for “up front” movie use, a lot of Military blanks are mostly NOT used, because they either have low flash, low sound or both…the Film Directors all want super flash, super sound, and super function…sometimes we make it TOO good…“The Great Raid” had Thompsons running so hot they blinded the cameraman during a night shoot ( Long flash, etc. (not our blanks)

The one instance where one does find “Powder compression/burning Problems” is in Shotgun Blanks. Ordinary signal blanks and bird scaring blanks (commercial manufacture) use the Plastic shot column wad to compress the Powder, but in Film work, for safety reasons, we cannot do that…so we have devised a safer way to “compress” the powder, whilst reducing the “detritus” exiting the barrel to a minimum…I will not go into details ( violates the “no Reloading” Rule).

AS to the Kynoch BP blanks, they could have been made for a myriad uses, as mentioned above from signalling to race starting, to low quality movie use; even to training gundogs and security dogs.

BP blanks have a lower sound level than smokeless blanks.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics Film Ordnance Services