.303 ID Help please

Hi All, Please can you help with some info? I am not clued up on the GB 303 identifications. I gather this is a Mkii, have read that the C could or should be a G?

How does one know if this is cordite or powder? Many thanks,


Hi Jonathan,

Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, England, Cordite, MkII


Thank you for that resource Sam3, is there any way of dating it?

Hi Jonathan,
I may be wrong, but; as a rough guidline:

I believe the MkII C introduction was around 1892-1893.
The MkIII was, I believe, introduced in October, 1897.

“Although briefly replaced in 1897-99 by the hollow point ball rounds, once these were withdrawn the Ball Cordite Mark II was reintroduced and continued in service until replaced by the Mark VI in 1904.”


So anywhere between 1893 and 1904, its easier when they have a date stamp :):):)

Thank you Sam3

As an aside, the MK III is one of the rarest of rare collectable cartridges. I believe there are only two known complete examples.

1 Like

Falcon, my understanding is that only 5 examples are known, one complete (up north from you), two drill and one arsenal sectioned in Tuscon and another arsenal sectioned in Prescott.
I have also heard about of one which is part of a display, it being physically attached to other .303’s somewhere in England.

1 Like

I wonder if any ever came to South Africa?? I got that MKii in a bag from a friend with other 303 stuff from 1936,37,38 and 1939. People here are still shooting these:(:(:(

Make that six examples Pete - I have this rather nice example converted to a Gallery Practice round…


You are a lucky man Jim. Question, did you know it was rare when you got it?

No, I actually thought it was a Mk.III gallery round.

I hope to be that lucky one day.

what should one do in a case like this, leave as is or remove the gallery bullet and enter the correct one? (newbie question)


I would suggest it should be left exactly as it is - it’s a perfectly legitimate, and interesting, military conversion. There is no way to remove the headstamp cancelling so the headstamp could never again be that of an original Mk III Ball and an original Mk III bullet would probably be just as difficult to get hold of as would a loaded Mk III round.

Makes sense.


Jim, as you say a gallery round, but not a MK III ball. Still a very very nice gallery.
For whatever it’s worth the arsenal sectioned headstamp.
Once belonged to Freddie Mead, Ralph Helmstalk, & then Bill Woodin to me

SASavage, really not at all correct to try to convert something & in the case of a valuable round such as this most everybody would consider it a fake. & as such, junk.

TonyE made a reference in his ‘Headstamp Guide’ book that “It was condemned for training use only, although some are known to have reached South Africa” (page 14)


I have been told that there is one in a war memorial in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa.

I won’t post where it is on the open forum as not to encourage anyone to try and vandalise the monument by removing it. Not that I think any members here would, but after all this forum can be accessed by anyone.

Apparently there is a date marking on the memorial made from .303 headstamps arranged into numbers. One of these is said to be a MkIII.

I have been unable to find any photos online. Are any of the South African forum members close enough to have a look?

I unfortunately do not know any members from Natal, maybe Will can help us?


Your question about knowing whether it is cordite or powder loaded. The C on the headstamp identifies the load as cordite.

1 Like

Thanks John, Is this true on all 303 cartridges?