.303 British Mk VIII and VIIIz


#1

How common are these? I definitely don’t see many comparatively to MkVII.


"303 BRIT." headstamp
#2

I cannot speak for the US, but Mark VIIIz is pretty common here in the UK.

It was intended for long range fire in Vickers guns and has not been made in the UK since about 1960, although some was made in Canada by IVI in the 1990s . The Yugoslav Mark VIII (which is really an VIIIz loading since it is nitrocellulose and not cordite) was probably made on contract for a country that still used Vickers guns.

Although often described as “hot” machine gun ammo, Mark VIIIz was authorised for use in rifles and bren guns when low flash was important (e.g. night patrols) and in emergencies. The actual pressure difference between Mark VII and VIIIz is small and well within the proof pressure of rifles. The important point was not to mix Mark VII and Mark VIIIz in Vickers barrels since the two had very different burning and hence erosive characteristics and mixing could lead to a barrel becoming shot out in a very few rounds.

Regards
TonyE


#3

Who was the batch that IVI made in the 90s for?


#4

I believe these were made for the Canadian Rangers who were still armed with No.4 rifles at the time. Rangers are a quasi-military government organisation intended to watch and protect the north west coast, but I am sure our Canadian friends can give more info.

I understand it was an error to order Mark VIII rather than Mark VII, but since then the Rangers have given up their L-e No.4s.

Regards
TonyE


#5

Tony is Correct. Rangers are still issued .303 ammunition. The Canadian Rangers are mainly on Patrol to assist the Police in very remote areas of Canada and small communities. They perform Police, Conservation and all aspects of enforcements and community service where there would normally not be a presence. Below is a link
army.forces.gc.ca/land-terre … rc-eng.asp


#6

To pick up on a thread that Tony mentioned, yes I’ve also heard that it was an error that 8z was ordered. The idea was that they should have the most current version of ammunition, as opposed to what was appropriate for the rifles.

The ammunition was not manufactured every year. It was manufactured in at 1983, 1985, 1992, 1995 and 1998. It is likely to have been manufactured after 1998, but I don’t have any samples.

Box label variation

Typical headstamp for hardpoint ammunition


(Yes, fired from an Bren (an Inglis made Mk II dating from 1943))

Proof round with copper washed case

Soft Point ammunition

At some point between 1992 and 1995 it was recognized that a change in projectile type was required as a good deal of hunting was being done with the issued rifles and ammunition. The Marine Mammal Act prohibits the hunting of marine mammals with hardpoint ammunition. At this time the 8z designation was dropped altogether.



Typical headstamp for softpoint ammunition

At least in Nunavut, the Rangers were not responsible for any police work as there were RCMP Officers station in all of the 26 communities.

Paul