.303 British Mk VIII and VIIIz

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



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.


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

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.


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

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
CDN303Mk8z008 CDN303Mk8z009

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.


Yesterday I found a dozen of MK VIIIZ in a 10 m radius in the place whera a battle was fougth in october 1943. Double arrow markings, 1942

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Royal Ordnance Factory, Spennymoor, Co. Durham 1940 to 1942


Richard: I just checked Labbett and Mead on the double broad arrow and they say probably Spennymoor. Has that ID been confirmed after their book appeared? Jack

Yes, its in Tony Edwards files and on his website as Spennymoor


Richard: Thanks; will add a note in my Labbett and Mead. Jack

Where - what country?

peashooter & Jack Isn’t the MK VIII a boattail bullet?

Pete: in the UK the mk.viii was produced as the mk.viiiz, that is, with nitrocellulose propellant. The Yugo so-called mk.viii is an approximation of the British original. Its bullet is similar to, but not identical to, the British original. Jack

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Hi Jack I was talking about just the original MK VIII bullet shape, but see where I led you astray with the Yugo MK VIII round in the thread. Sorry about that.

I see on Tony’s site it was a boattail design.

I’m unsure of the publication that this plate came from.

Here are some other drawings showing streamline .303 bullets. The Kynoch S.L. resembles the Mk VIII, where the other one lacks the canellure.

The original version of the British mk.viii bullet had a slight offset where the ‘tapered heel’ joined the full diameter forward portion of the bullet. The later version had a more conventional shape with no offset (the early version can be seen in Mayhem’s drawings). There was no change in designation, and headstamp continued as mk.viiiz. Jack

Southern Italy, for more info see https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/italiancampaign/gambatesa.htm

This is the earliest MKVIII/Streamline bullet drawing I have, just very small differences from the 1927

BK46 14A .303 Stream line Bullet FI 1925 Model.pdf (444.0 KB)

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