.303 British with lead bullets


#1

I found four of these .303 British with knurled lead bullets. Based on the lack of mold marks and the knurled groove on the bullet, and the marked out headstamp on two of them, I suspect they are legitimate factory or arsenal guard loads, but I am unable to locate any information on them. Also. the headstamp on the third cartridge has me stumped. The 9 (or 6) and the C are clear, but what is the third character. I assume it is Canadian, as are the opthers, but who produced this headstamp?


#2

Guy: Perhaps a badly struck Roman two? JG


#3

According to me the symbol is a greek letter


#4

[quote=“Guy Hildebrand”]I found four of these .303 British with knurled lead bullets. Based on the lack of mold marks and the knurled groove on the bullet, and the marked out headstamp on two of them, I suspect they are legitimate factory or arsenal guard loads, but I am unable to locate any information on them. Also. the headstamp on the third cartridge has me stumped. The 9 (or 6) and the C are clear, but what is the third character. I assume it is Canadian, as are the opthers, but who produced this headstamp?

[/quote]

Guy,

I am betting beer on the third headstamp being 6 C II. So the case started life as a Cordite Ball mark II and was reloaded in Canada as a Canadian Gallery Pracice Mark II cartridge.

gravelbelly


#5

Shouldn’t there be a letter in the headstamp to represent the maker? I’m leaning in Pivi’s direction. That ‘tail’ on the bottom right of the letter looks too thick and curved to just be part of a ‘II’.


#6

The maker of the case is hidden behind the code number 6. It’s my understanding that these are mostly unknown. JG


#7

Gravelbelly and Gill are correct. The character is “II” for “Mark II”. I had the same exact headstamp, for cordite loads, with factory denominator l, 6, B, E, GB, KN, K (two sizes and styles of letters), R^L, R^L., R^L C II 3, 5, D^C, etc.

I had them also loaded as blanks and gallery loads, not in every headstamp shown, of course. I had two that had cancelled headstamps, as you show.

I also had a blank R^L C III, but with the “C” line out.

In the format “8 C IV” I had it with 8, B, R^L, 3.

And so on thru the marks. there is simply no wuestion, despite the numbers of variations in the way the II is stamped, that it is the Roman Numeral reprsenting the Mark of the cartridge.

I am glad I kept my own catalog of the .303 collection I had. It is proving useful as a quick reference on headstamps and loads.


#8

Thanks Gravelbelly, J Gill and John. Now Mr. Gill, if you will fly me over and put me up for a week or two, I’ll be happy to buy the beer.


#9

Hi Guy,

I am no expert on .303 British ammunition but I tend to agree with the others and may expound further. What I am going to repeat comes from Tony Edwards’ fine reference on Headstamps and Markings on .303 Inch British Service Ammunition, 2004.

The circle inscribed on the case head is what I interpret as a cancellation mark which means the above case is a re-used case. According to Mr. Edwards, the cancellation mark was first authorized in February 1897, specifically for Ball Mark II cases used for Practice Ball Mark I cartridges. Therefore, I (unknowingly) would say that the third cartridge was originally British in origin and may or may not have been reloaded Canada. I don’t believe the third case is Canadian but I could be wrong.

British cases were undated between 1891 and 1907. From about 1890 until about 1898, the headstamps were marked with numeric code for the case manufacturer. The numeric manufacturer code appears in the 10’o’clock position on the headstamp. According to Mr Edwards reference, all these cartridges were loaded by Royal Laboratory at Woolrich.

Numeric manufacturer codes known to have been used include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8. Unfortunately, a list of the manufacturers has not been found so the meaning the numeric codes is more or less unknown. It is thought that the following were the case manufacturers:

Birmingham Metals and Munitions Co. Ltd.
Eley Brothers
George Kynoch Ltd.
Kings Norton Metal Co.
Lorenz&Co.

Tony will know more about this than me and correct any errors.

I hope this helped.

Heavyiron


#10

First,a thank you to Heavyiron for the plug for the book. Consider a virtual beer to be winging its way to you!

Second, there is no doubt that the original headstamp of that round was 6 C II, and it has been re-loaded as a Gallery Practice round in Canada and the original headstamp cancelled.

To expand slightly on the quotes from my .303 book, there were three methods of headstamping rounds made at the Royal laboratory.

Rounds made with cases drawn from metal from RL’s own foundry were headstamped in the normal way with R^L.

Rounds LOADED at RL with cases supplied by trade contractors were headstamped with a number code. These were 1 to 6 and 8; there is no 7 code known. The identity of which contractor used which code is unknown, but some educated guesses can be made.

Rounds made at RL with metal supplied from trade foundries were headstamped with the R^L cypher plus a code number for that contractor. Again the allocation of these codes in not known. Although scarce, the headsatmp most often found has both R^L and the code 5.

I agree that the light strike on the case in question makes the “II” look like the Greek character “Pi” but there is no doubt that it is a “II”

Regards
TonyE


#11

Just an aside - I believe the code number 6 was allocated to the King’s Norton Metal Co. - but I’m not going to go into the evidence here - wait til my booklet on KNMCo appears. Always wondered if there is any significance to this hst with reverse ‘C’ - perhaps to diffrentiate another batch of cases?


#12

John - you answered a question I was afraid to ask. My catalog of the collection I had has the headstamp with the “C” reversed. I actually didn’t have the exact one shown. I thought I had just stupidly drawn it wrong, and frankly, felt dumb in having to ask, since I collected .303 for a pretty fair number of years. Now I know I drew mine correctly in my catalog. Thanks!