.303 find


#1

Although the .303 ball Mark VII is always known as having a 174 grain bullet, the original Mark VII adopted in March 1910 had a 160 grain bullet. The earlier bullet had a longer aluminium tip filler and no cannelure.

In August 1910 a newly made batch failed accuracy proof and production was suspended. A new design to RL 17069 was adopted and approved in November 1910 as the now familiar 174 grn bullet. The Mark VII designation was not advanced, probably to avoid embarrassing questions in the press and parliament.

Yesterday I pulled a Greenwood & Batley 1913 dated Mark VII for a totally different reason and to my delight found an uncannelured bullet. Weighing confirmed it was a 160 grain bullet, and even better the base was stamped “GB 7”.

Although this is after the introduction of the 174 grain bullet, it seems G & B used up stocks on hand of the 160 grain. I knew from someone else that these G & B 160 grain loads existed but this is the first one I have found.

Regards
TonyE


#2

Any bullet that Tony gets excited about is a find indeed. Congratulations Tony.

I have often wondered, and indeed said on here in the past, why they didn’t develop a lighter bullet and now we have an example to show that they tried.

I still say they should have tried harder but is all history now. Good one Tony.


#3

Tony, short of pulling the bullet, were there any external indications of what kind of bullet would be in the case? Lack of neck crimps for example? Also the jacket on the 160gr seems to be shinier than the 174gr?

Thanks
Will


#4

Hi Will

I think the difference in “shine” is just that the 174 grn bullet I used is duller than the other one.

There are no external differences between the two types, both have 3 x 120 degree neck slit crimps. The easiest way to tell is to weigh the round. Normal Mark VII go 395-400 grn depending on manufacturer so the 160 grn will go 380-385 grns. My G 13 weighed 381 grns .

Regards
TonyE


#5

Tony: Do you think this cartridge was delivered as part of a government contract or was perhaps employed otherwise–for internal testing purposes or sale to a rifle club or something of that sort? Jack


#6

It is difficult to be sure after all this time, but I think it was probably a government contract. If it had been dated 1911 or 1912 I would have been more certain, but it is not unknown for contractors to use superceded components. I suspect we will never know.

The only caveat I would make is that at that date I would have expected to find two broad arrows on the headstamp, indicating government acceptance.

Whichever it is, I am just pleased to have an example of the 160 grain Mark VII bullet.

Regards
TonyE


#7

That all seems reasonable. Whatever the story is, the bullet is most interesting. Jack


#8

Its interesting to note the three year time lapse between the trial and the headstamp on the case indicating it wasn’t one from the failed batch.

As Tony says we will never know why they used them. If it had been headstamped 14 it might have been more believable to assume it was down to shortages at the outbreak of WW1. That is still a possibility all things being equal. Maybe the cases were old stock as well having also failed inspection for some minor defect and were sitting in store. However, in that case its unlikely the round would have survived as it would have been shipped off to the front.

Another possibility that would explain its survival is that they used the “gash” (reject) bullets and cases for machine testing/setup within the factory and the resulting rounds produced were never intented to leave the plant. Internal factory use only.