.303" Mk. VI ball with Mk VII headstamp


Just a mix-up on what bullets got loaded?



Looks more like a commercial bullet than a MK VI, from want I can see.



Here it is on the right compared to a known Mk. VI round from Royal Laboratory, Woolwich on the left.
One issue, it does weigh 10 grains more that the Woolwich round.




Something is wrong and maybe you see something I do not in the profile. I weighed it against 15 rounds of various maker Mk. VI and it is 10 - 12 grains more that the other Mk. VI rounds. Well, I suppose I should pull it?



Joe look at the area between the arrows on your photo, they are more curved then the MK VI, being straighter. Why I say commercial, likely the weight is close because of similar sights on the firearms & trajectory.


227 grain magnetic bullet with stylized “M” on the base. Inside of the case it normal configuration with factory installed top wad. My problem is however, it took some effort to pull as it was factory crimped in place.



It appears to be a German 7.9 m/m J bullet swaged to .311 inch for whatever reason. In German practice the M would designate manufacture by the arsenal at Spandau. The magnetic jacket and the weight also agree with the German bullet. Jack


A few issues, this bullet is 1.320" long. A 7.9mm J bullet would be 1.209". It may very well be a swaged J bullet as it does have the Munitionsfabrik Spandau’s exact “M” monogram on the base, just a bit squashed. The lead is also squishing out the base envelope. I feel Jack is right with his assessment. Now, how did it end up in this case factory crimped? Did the Brits pull German ammo and swage the bullets or did they obtain these from Spandau before the August 4th 1914 declaration of war on Germany. Also notice the nose profile, as it does not match the German J ball. I have swaged a lot of bullets over time, it does not change the nose profile. Maybe I do it a different way pushing thru the die using the base.

One thing I have a very positive felling of from disassembly, is it was factory crimped.




I think there’s a plausible and simple explanation as to how there was so many Spandau 7.9mm J bullets available to Kynoch for re-swaging in to .303 Mk.VI just prior to World War I. At the time the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, and there were two major ‘private armies’ on opposing sides at the time, the Ulster Volunteer Force (‘UVF’, Unionist, who’s objective was maintaining Ireland’s position within the UK), and the Irish Volunteers (‘IV’, Nationalist, who’s objective was breaking Ireland’s constitutional link with the UK). The UVF at this stage already had imported relatively large amounts of firearms and ammunition in small batches by 1914, but on the 24th/25th April 1914 landed a major single importation at Larne, Belfast, Bangor and Donaghadee on the Northern Irish east coast. This consisted of around 20,000 7.9mm rifles (Steyr-Mannlicher 1904 models, and Mauser Gewehr 1888 rifles), and 5,000 10.4mm Vetterli-Vitali rifles). Along with these were 2,000,000 7.9mm M.88 cartridges in five round clips and 1,000,000 10.4mm Vetterli cartridges. All these were purchased in Hamburg from the dealer Bruno Spiro (from his father Benny’s business). All these cartridges were made to order, the 7.9mm being manufactured in Germany, the 10.4mm in Italy. They were all slightly modified from the original military equivalent (the 7.9mm having a reduced charge with no over powder wad, and the 10.4mm having an M.90 style jacket, but weighing 250 grain and a hollow base, with a reduced charge and no over powder wad). All these cartridges had no headstamp, and were presumably meant to be ‘clandestine’, however every 7.9mm bullet, which were cupro nickel clad steel, had Munitionsfabrik Spandau’s gothic ‘m’ marked on the bullet base.
Along with a number of these cartridges being seized at the time by the Royal Irish Constabulary, a short time after this incident World War I broke out, when there was also a large number of the cartridges passed to the British government along with rifles to help the war effort, as both the UVF (36th Ulster Division) and the IVs (16th Irish Division) joined the British Army to fight for the allies in the war. Meanwhile, the RIC used Mk.VI .303" ammunition up until 1920, and a lot of these steel jacketed re-sized Mk.VIs turned up in Northern Ireland. Therefore I think a lot of these seized 7.9mm cartridges were ‘recycled’ to a more useful calibre that was required by the RIC during the period. In 1921 twenty six counties of Ireland separated from the UK, resulting in the forming of the two current nation states in Ireland, Northern Ireland (UK), and what is now known as the Republic of Ireland. The IVs had a gun running operation starting on 24th July 1914 at Howth (and a short time later Kilcoole) on the east coast of southern Ireland consisting of 1,500 11mm Mauser M.71 rifles and 45,000 cartridges, which all appear to be surplus stock, as opposed to ‘made to order’ (which one source describes as M.71/84, although a lot of IV cartridges that have been recovered are actually the very similar 11mmx58R Werndl). These were purchased from the dealer Moritz Magnus jnr, also of Hamburg. An interesting point with the ‘K 12’ that I pulled (shown below), there is no glazeboard disc over-powder wad present and had a slightly heavier charge of cordite (33grain, 42 sticks, 0.045"x1.530") compared to the conventional Greenwood & Batley Mk.VI beside it (31.6grain, 70 sticks, 0.032"x1.585"). In addition, all the ‘K 12’ of this ‘recycled’ type I have seen have stab crimps half way up the neck, whereas the other years ‘K 13’ & ‘K 14’ have lower stab crimps further down the neck.9mm Bullets side
L-R Greenwood and Batley standard Mk.VI; Resized ‘K 12’ Mk.VI; UVF contract 7.9mm (these last two both have a feint gothic ‘m’ on the base that isn’t very clear on the image below
9mm Bullets base
Base of bullets, same order
9mm Cases
Cases belonging to above, same order
9mm UVF Ball and Drill
UVF contract 7.9mm ball round beside a locally produced drill round (machined solid brass rod, chemically coloured silver on bullet portion, and wooden ‘primer’ dyed black)



For the sake of completeness, please see below a number of images linked to the above entry about UVF and IV ammunition from the Pre-WW I era.4mm sectioned
Sectioned UVF Contract manufactured 7.9mm Mauser and 10.4mm Vetterli cartridges
4mm Clip and Charger
UVF Contract 7.9mm in clip and 10.4mm in charger
4mm Vetterli UVF cartridge headstamps ES and Blank
On the right hand side, the UVF 1914 Contract unheadstamped 10.4mm cartridge, on the left cartridges that were supplied to the UVF prior to that shipment, marked simply ‘E S’. Before the 1914 shipment, the UVF had already smuggled 1,822 Vetterli-Vitali rifles in to Ireland
IV 11mm Mauser side
An IV 11mm Mauser M71/84 cartridge, most of which were headstamped Spandau, from the 1880’s
11mm Mauser cartridge heastamp Blank
An unheadstamped 11mm Mauser M71/84 found in Northern Ireland
11mm Werndl cartridge side
An IV 11mm Werndl…
11mm Werndl cartridge headstamp
…and it’s headstamp
9mm Box
This is a photocopy Mr Bill Woodin gave me about 25 years ago of a box that contained cartridges identical to the UVF contract ones. Bill described it as a tan card box with a green circle around the sticker, and black print on a white background
4mm Box
UVF 1914 Contract 10.4mm (unheadstamped) eight round box. The only markings on the orange paper wrapper are ‘Mo1870e’ and 'Mo70/87’
11mm Werndl 10x cartridges in Box
Ten round flat pack of IV 11mm Werndl cartridges, plain tan card box with pasted paper at the top, although no lid present.

The UVF also bought 3,000,000 rounds of .303" between August 1913 and September 1914 from a London company (Eley Bros?), as they had a stockpile of Lee-Metford rifles (3,123), Martini-Enfield carbines (9,330), and a small number of Vickers MMGs.



Thanks for the additional info.



That is a superb article Pete, excellent work!