303 British Color Codes Identification


I have a number of 303 British cartridges made by Dominion, Defense Industries, Spennymoor, and FN circa 1942 to 1952. I have searched my meager resources but cannot locate either the color codes or the numerical codes for these cartridges.

Here are the Canadian headstamps and a description.

  1. DC G IV Z 1942 - grey tip (or dirty white)
  2. DI Z 1943 - grey tip
  3. DI Z 1942 - red tip about 5mm long, cupronickel bullet, flat tip
  4. DI Z 1944 - red tip about 10mm long, gilding metal jacket, flat tip

One from Royal Ordinance Factory in Spennymoor.

  1. SR BVIIZ 1943 - dark green tip, gilding metal jacket, flat tip

Here are three from FN in Belgium.

  1. F N 1950 - red tip, red case mouth, red primer annulus, cupronickel jacket
  2. F N 1952 - red tip, red case mouth, green primer annulus, cupronickel jacket
  3. F N 1952 - blue tip, blue case mouth, green primer annulus, cupronickel jacket

I have found some information about these but it isn’t quite enough to be definitive. I do know what the “Z” identifies. I would be most appreciative for any information about the functional purpose of these cartridges. Also any references that would help me ID color codes in the future would also be good know.

Thank you.



check this site - Small Ammo various .303 and color codes.


heres an example - the best site for english stuff


Thanks genkideskan. The website is very good and I haven’t seen it before, but none of these cartridges have a colored annulus like in the drawing above.

If I am not mistaken the the “Z” refers to a single-base nitrocellulose propellant. “B” refers to an incendiary round and “G” refers to a tracer round. I believe the grey tipped round is some type of tracer even though one of the grey tipped rounds does not have a “G” on the headstamp.

I can’t find anything that refers to a red tipped round or a dark green tipped round. I also can’t find anything that references the FN rounds.


Here is something about marking of 303 British.

Heavyiron–The definative work on the .303 is the book “.303 Inch” by Labbett & Mead. However, it only covers the British loads. The 4 vol. set by B.A. Temple, Identification Manual on the .303 British Service Cartridge" is also very good and covers rounds produced by Commonwealth nations as well as British rounds. The four vol. are #1-Ball Ammunition; #2-Blank Ammunition; #3-Special Purpose and #4-Dummy. There is also a pamphlet by A.O. Edwards called “Headstamps and markings on British Service .303 Ammunition” I know of nothing that covers the FN cartridges in depth.

As for the letter codes, there were 2 different sets, The first set were WW-I and the 2nd set Officially interduced in Dec. 1927. Some, but not all, of the letters are the same in both systems.

WW-1 System.

A.A. or AA–Pomeroy Incendiary P.S.A. Mark II
B–Buckingham Incendiary
F–Kings Noron Semi-Armour Piercing
K–Brock Incendiary
p. Kynoch Early Armour Piercing
R.G. or RG–Reduced Charge
S–Royal Laboratories Early Armour Piercing
T–Early “Sparklet” Tracer
W-- Amour Piercing

After 1927

E–Smoke Discharger
H–Grenade Launcher
U–Inspector’s Dummy
W-- Armour Piercing.

As for colored bullet tips, Green= AP, Red=Tracer, Maroon (Canada)=Tracer; Magenta (Belgium)=Tracer; Gray or White= Day Tracer, Dark Blue(UK & Italy)=Incendiary; Light Blue (Canada & Belgium)=Incendiary

C=Cordite Powder
Z=Nitricellouse Powder

There are more, but this covers the more common cartridges.

Thank you Ohms and Ron!

This is some great information and is of the type of information I needed. It will take me some time to sort through all of this.

I appreciate your time to help me.


There is also a pamphlet by A.O. Edwards called “Headstamps and markings on British Service .303 Ammunition”

That’s me folks.

The pamphlet is actually a 50+ page book with complete identification details for all British and Commonwealth .303 rounds. There are also pages of colour pictures of teh package labels. It explains all the changes in markings and codes over the years.

PM me if you would like details.

Regards and apologies for commercial break!


Tony–You must have put out an updated edition since I got my copy of your publication. Mine is only 26 pages and has NO color pages at all. Says it is copyright 1979.