.303 Brit "SR 45 8Z" cloth belted stain pattern

Why black paint?


Definitely one for Tony or the Doc

I can fill in a bit while waiting for the experts. SR was Spenimoor in the North East of England. It was a wartime “ad Hoc” factory producing or assembling ammo for what looks to me like aircraft use. Mk8 means loosely machine gun use although the experts will take me to task no doubt. The Z means non cordite because (as I understand it) cordite burns too hot for consumption in air cooled machine guns, as for the black, I don’t know.

I understood the Mark 8 was a boatail bullet, & the weapon was not considered.
The black??

I feel the black on the case, is just tarnish from the cloth belt it was in at one time. You are referring to the casing blackness I take it?


[quote=“PetedeCoux”]I understood the Mark 8 was a boatail bullet, & the weapon was not considered.
The black??[/quote]

The Mk8 was a boatail bullet but this question gets us into hot water with technicalities. I say as an armchair .303 enthusiast rather than an expert that Mk8 of this era “means” or strongly implies MG use. The bullet is heavier and when fired in a rifle the difference in recoil is noticeable and can be questionable, but it can physically be used in a rifle. Whether it was authorised for small arms use is a question somebody else will have to answer.

I would pontificate that the whole reason for the existence of Mk8 was to suit the different needs of the machine gun but there is always a better informed member out there to shoot me down.

When a lot of this sort of ammo was coming on the surplus market in the 70s and 80s the British Lee Enfield shooting Associations advised against its use, particularly in SMLEs. There was another problem with it though, poor accuracy, this could have been down to degradation.

Saying that we have been shooting HXP Mk8 for years. Early batches were harsh and there is anecdotal evidence that its use was linked to a few failures in rifles issued to Cadets. More recently it appears to have been toned down.

I have seen black Mk8 before but don’t know what the colour signifies.

The Mk 8 is a cartridge for long range machine gun use.
The Vickers machine gun firing table goes to 2800 yd for the Mk VII cartridge (elevation 10 degrees, 10 minutes).
At the same elevation the Mk 8 has a range of more than 3500 yd; its firing table goes up to 4400 yd.
(These figures are from a post-WW2 Dutch manual, I have no British table.)

This difference is mostly due to the bullet shape, because Mk 8 is not much hotter loaded than Mk VII.

I still do not think it is Black paint. Vlad, take a Q Tip soaked with some denatured alcohol. Tesst a small spot carefully . If it comes off readily as black paint you will instantly know. If it does not, then it is just staining like I have seen many times before, from we belts. I have seen brown and black staining together just like your picture shows. I think everyone is just assuming it is black paint.


Alcohol rubbing did not do anything. Here is an enlarged bullet section showing the original material under “paint”. The belt would not affect the projectile, would it?


Good picture. Did you try denatured alcohol or isopropyl? Isopropyl will do next to nothing. Denatured will remove paint, lacquer and die. Coloring or patina looks the same as where a cloth belt obviously was. To me that is definitely elemental staining from what I can gather from the very good picture. I will boldly state one thing. I have opened many vintage metal ammo boxes of various calibers on web belts over time, as I am an avid full auto fellow. I have bought oodles of surplus over the years and saved a round or two and shot the rest. I have seen this many times with cloth belted ammo. Ammo gets stained from the elements under the wicking cloth belt just like the notecable mottled pattern on this cartridge pictured and the projectile receives the same trolices. It has to do with some dielectric function of the two different metals, but I have seen this many times. Projectiles will not be this badly discolored unless the belted part of the casing was also. To me this is an exact example. I think any machine gunner that has avidly bought and shot surplus belted ammo over the past few decades would agree with me.


On his web site-> sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/ Tony E. has this note about the MK VIIIz

“Although the .303 inch Ball Mark VIIIz was designed for long range fire in Vickers guns, it could also be used in rifles and Bren guns in emergencies or special circumstances, contrary to what is often claimed about it being “hot” machine gun ammunition.”

Mark VIII/8 was developed to give better Long-range Results in Vickers Guns ( going on German and Earlier US MG experience with the sS and M1 Loadings.)

The Bullet was 175 grains (MkVII was 174), and the Cordite or Nitro Loads were commensurate with Bullet weight. SO NO “Hot” Loads.

What was found was that VIII and VIIIZ were NOT interchangeable is USE in the SAME Gun…the Cordite Erosion Pattern was different from the (Cooler) Nitrocellulose Erosion Pattern in the Barrels, so much so that “Overhead Firing” ( over advancing troops) was dangerous because of erratic “Killing zones”…Hence and order went out to Mark the Barrels “Mark VIII Only” or “Mark VIIIZ Only”.

It seems that the Erosion Pattern was not as Pronounced in Mark VII /VIIZ Loads ( probably due to the Flat Based Bullet).

As to the “Cadet Rifle” Failures, this was almost certainly due to the Age and Condition of the Rifles concerned, Rather than any cause by the Ammunition itself.

British “Emergency Use” of VIIIZ in Brens and Rifles, was more a “proforma” type regulation ( restrict VIII for Vickers) rather than any other Reason…by the time the VIII was introduced, the Rifle No.4 was quite capable of handling it.

The Yugoslavs, in any case, had no Problems with it, even marking the Crates (In Cyrillic, for Internal Use) " For Rifle, Machinegun, and Machine-Rifle “Bren” " ( Pushka, Mitraljez, v Pushka-Mitraljez “bpen” )"on their Mk VIIIz 1960s and 1980s Ammo. ( I have examples of both the Ammo and the Crates with complete (Cyrillic) Markings.). The Yugoslav Territorial Militias had large numbers of British-Supplied No.4 rifles and Brens from 1944-45. Yugoslavia also exported a lot of .303 Ammo to “Non-Aligned” countries in the 50s to 90s ( ie, Countries not formally part of the Soviet or US Power Blocs, but of “Social-Democratic” ( ie, Socialist Quasi-Marxist) Governments of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Doc AV

Sorry, I used isopropyl alcohol, shall try vodka instead.

The brass case and the bullet jacket are actually tarnished (chemically oxidized) so save the Vodka for other uses since it will not remove the tarnish. If you really want to clean the cartridge you will need to use something like Brasso and/or 0000 steel wool. Some collectors cringe at the mere mention of this but its a matter of personal choice.

A dip in white vinegar with a dash of salt added will remove most types of discoloration. You dip the cartridge in the solution, not yourself.

Sorry, I used isopropyl alcohol, shall try vodka instead.[/quote]

Vodka is no better than isopropyl. I have tried it and 181 proof Everclear grain alcohol. no good. Wood alcohols the same. You have to use denatured alcohol. I have tried various agents over they years and even have some made up just for me by an acquaintance that owns a local chemical supply company. Denatured is the most reasonable and least toxic. Be very careful with primer annulus and the like, as it will easily remove dies and lacquers in an instant. When using it to cleaning grime off lacquered cases, be very careful. Just gingerly wipe them briefly. If you want to take the lacquer someone applied to a round, that was not originally manufactured as such, denatured alcohol works very well and easily.


Edit: Many people like Acetone. I could go on and on about why not to use acetone and why denatured Alcohol is better. Even though the US FDA approves the use of Acetone in the food we consume here in the good old USA, I do not feel it is as safe as denatured alcohol. Also, acetone tends to initiate a patina of its own over time from the residue it leaves. Clean a piece of raw brass from the hardware store with acetone and let it sit for a while and do the same with denatured alcohol, you will see what I mean.

Ray, I have tried that, but have had trouble with the solution siphoning inside the cartridge thru capillary action. Thereby ruining the intact round as it was. I have even just suspended the projectile tip and had the same capillary action soak the solution into the mouth / projectile verge. Maybe you have had better success. The best thing I have tried is IOSSO case cleaner, as it is thicker and does not seem to siphon. I have even immersed whole rounds and not had any capillary action. Years later, no white fuzz starting around primer or mouth and the powder inside shakes freely. I only clean a cartridge in such a manner if it is extremely tarnished to the point of being blackened at least 90%. Just my experience and preferences. like Brian states, some people like steel wood and Brasso, Yes I am cringing at he thought. Of course 25+ years back, I used to collect coins in addition to cartridges and a cleaned coin in any matter, except for diloging grime and dirt is unmentionable and ruins the value immensely worldwide… The thing I like to do, is clean the excess grime off with denatured alcohol, then if I deem it necessary in my opinion, I clean some of the residual verdigris and other undesirables off with extra fine bronze wool. It will not remove any of the character or PATINA which is most important to me.