.303 Olympic Match cartridge


#1

Here are some pictures of a rather unusual cartridge that I found at a cartridge meeting here in the UK. I initially thought that it was an experimental dummy cartridge of some sort but as far as I can make out it’s actually an Olympic Match cartridge. The primer assembly is easily unscrewed and removed, the cartridge is loaded with propellant, a primer is inserted and the cartridge is reassembled to fire. The theory is that the ignition takes place at the end of the primer vent tube and this was supposed to give an improved ignition. Not successful because too much powder space was taken up by the brass primer assembly. The case is of brass and the bullet appears to be a Mk 7. The cartridge weighs 437.6gns.
There are no markings on it and I’ve no idea who made it.


#2

I have information that these (or at least something very similar) were made in Australia for the Defense Service Laboratory at the Footscray Ammunition Factory in the late 50s. Known as a ‘Frontal Ignition Case’.


#3

That would be good news for me if that was the case as it might make this more of a ‘military’ cartridge (which I collect) rather than a sporting cartridge (which I wouldn’t collect!)


#4

To my (limited) knowledge the “front ignition” makes up for a better combustion of the propellant which otherwise is often expelled from the barrel before it can burn. So when ignited further up the propellant located at the top will burn first and then the flames will make their way backward where propellant can not escape.

Now I wonder if such a system is not increasing chamber pressure when used in a weapon system which was not initially designed this way.

This for example is a wide spread system in artillery cases.

Anybody out there with detailed knowledge on such systems?


#5

I know of this but only at a very superficial level. You need to direct your question to the curator of the NRA museum at Bisley, On the other hand I would not be suprised if TonyE has a handle on this, knowing Tony as we do.

I may be wrong but I think you have a real “find” there


#6

we had one in our last sale. I’m not at my home computer, but go to my site (link below) & download the free catalog titled #12.pdf it & an explanation is in one of the .303 lots.


#7

Thanks Pete, for simplicity I’ll paste that particular entry here;

[color=#000080]308 Manufactured by Footscray Ammunition Factory, this unheadstamped .303
experimental front ignition drawn-brass case has a threaded brass base insert with
spanner notches and an at least 1/4” deep empty Boxer primer pocket leading to a
.182” / 4.63mm diameter tube which directs the flash to the front of the charge.
Unsuccessful, the insert took so much space that even with a compressed charge it
did not equal a factory loaded .30 W.C.F. Showing a little uneven light toning and a
tiny shoulder ding, it is in very good unused condition. estimate- 70-100[/color]


#8

I can’t say anything about your particular cartridge, but the front ignition idea for small arms cartridges has been around for at least a century, the stated purpose being to increase propellant burning completeness and uniformity. I remember reading an article mentioning front ignition published in one of the earlier editions of Handloader’s Digest, but I don’t have it. Apparently it sort of works, but the benefits are negligible and outweighed by the complications.


#9

The problem with any cartridge is that the burning process starts at the back but as it proceeds strange, and undesirable, things happen to the powder at the front. Basically it gets compressed and then pushed down the barrel.
Attempts to get the primer flash to the front, although a good idea on paper has always failed to come up to expectations. Mainly because the distance the flash has to travel reduces its energy giving less than consistant ignition.

Some of these experimentals go half way and try to direct the flash into the middle of the charge. A compromise. With modern powders today the lack of space problem can be overcome but there appears to be no interest.

The short fat modern cartridges ( dumpies as they are called) are more sucessfull trying to create a burning zone as close to spherical as can reasonably be achieved. Approaching the problem from a different direction.


#10

That would be good news for me if that was the case as it might make this more of a ‘military’ cartridge (which I collect) rather than a sporting cartridge (which I wouldn’t collect!)[/quote]

[Lie mode on] I’m sure it’s a sporting cartridge, send it to me. [Lie mode off]


#11

Frontal ignition has been around a lot longer than that. Many of the very first firearms had the touch-hole located midway or to the front of the powder charge. Flash tubes were tried in copper and brass cartridge cases from the very beginning in the mid 1800s. It usually takes about a generation for the idea to come around again since most of us tend to repeat history rather than learn from it.

The bottom line - it has been tried numerous times, and it doesn’t produce any miracles of better ballistics, accuracy, or anything else. In most examples it usually has a negative effect. The only application where flash tubes work is in very large cartridges with very large charges of powder.

Flash tubes are easily confused with artillery primers which are a different thing altogether. Artillery primers have numerous holes in them that serve to ignite the very large powder charges.


#12

These strange rounds were in fact manufactured at SAAF Footscray in Melbourne, around 1956/57 for use at the Moscow Olympics in the running deer event. They are not headstamped because they were not to be loaded at the factory.
We had 4 shooters for the event, using a number of different rifles including a P14 and a modified Garand.
The projectile used was 100 grain, supposed to run at 3500 fps, made by Sid Churches in Adelaide, South Australia. Powder used was 4227.

As said, they were not successful due to insufficient powder space in the case.
Military or commercial??? Commercial, manufactured at a military factory.

Cheers
John


#13

John, thank you for the additional information. The downside is that if it is ‘commercial’ its not really one for me anymore…:-(


#14

Sorry Jim, but Armourer could have a happy Christmas if you so desire.


#15

Nice idea John, I shall do that!..:-)


#16

Can we get into a bidding war for this cartridge Jim :-)

Rich


#17

[quote=“JohnKindred”]These strange rounds were in fact manufactured at SAAF Footscray in Melbourne, around 1956/57 for use at the Moscow - (World Championships) in the running deer event. They are not headstamped because they were not to be loaded at the factory.
We had 4 shooters for the event, using a number of different rifles including a P14 and a modified Garand.
The projectile used was 100 grain, supposed to run at 3500 fps, made by Sid Churches in Adelaide, South Australia. Powder used was 4227.

As said, they were not successful due to insufficient powder space in the case.
Military or commercial??? Commercial, manufactured at a military factory.

Cheers
John[/quote]