303 British with red base

Why would 303 British with a .303 W.R.A. 1941 with 4 square stabs holding the primer in place have a red base? Thanks Vic

The red is not a associated rust, I tried to remove some of it to read the headstamp better and a eraser did little to the color. The red is not only on the headstamp but it does go up the side of the case by about 1/2 inch. Thanks Vic

Vic, a similar cartridge I can think of is a tracer loading having a red primer seal and GM bullet with knurled cannelure (no color on the tip). Maybe you have a sloppy made tracer round?

It won’t be tracer as we did not purchase any tracer from Winchester in WW2.

I cannot say what it is but I suspect it is a test round of some kind and has been marked to identify it. I have a couple of different British military .303 rounds which have a similar red lacquered head and base.



This doesn’t answer your question, but it does tend to re-inforce what Tony E said. Red painted Cal .30 LR cartridge ca. 1944/45. The red paint on the base (and bullet tip) were very likely intended to identify the cartridge for some particular use, but once removed from the carton, all is lost. Not even Woodin Lab can tell you what this one is for.


Ray - I know it is not definitive because I have no documentation, but the .30LR round has all the earmarks of a high pressure test (proof) round. The rad head (and base) and an all red bullet (sometimes found as a red tip only - I have a .38 Auto proof from a box with red tip only, not the whole bullet) are common markings for U.S. Proof loads, especially since WWII. A blackened case was an early marking for commercial proof, and a tinned case for military, but with a cartridge like the .30LR, of limited production, it probably would not have been economical to tin the cases.

Ust a WAG on my part, I readily admit.


That’s a perfectly reasonable WAG, one that myself and others have made. But still, only a WAG. It’s been several years since Bill was last asked about this, so maybe it’s time for a follow up to see if he or Norm have added anything to their data card on it.

BTW, I do have another cartridge, same vintage, that is a HP test round, and it has a tinned case.


Ray - the existence of the tinned-case proof load is pretty damning of my theory (Better know as a guess). Still, I suppose it is not impossible that they produced a run of tinned-proof loads only to find they needed more and took the easier road using standard brass cases, or for the matter, the opposite.

I will readily admit though, that it sure does case doubt on it being a proof load. Those are nice rounds by the way.

Thanks for the information on the tinned round.


Until, and unless we find out more, a HP cartridge is still a valid guess.

I often criticize others for not providing details, and here I’ve done it myself. I should have said:

The red-base hs = SUPER SPEED 300 SAV, 168 grain M2 AP bullet.

The tinned case hs = SUPER-X 300 SAV, 174 grain M1 HPT bullet.

So these are actually pre-LR cartridges.


Thank you for the response, so my description will show that it is a specialty round, possibly a proof round but nothing definite. Vic