Age of .303 blank


Today I acquired four .303 blanks headstamped: "K /|\ V"
Am I right in thinking there are pre-1900 made? They are in very good condition for their age. Also in the same box (not cartridge box) with these was another .303 blank headstamped “R/|\L 13 VII” Were these early blanks loaded with nitrocellulose or something else?


They probably aren’t pre-1900. The British remanufactured a lot of obsolete ball rounds into blanks. The Ball Mk V - my guess as to what the case originally started out as - was introduced in 1899, so these blanks were made after that.


Thanks, that would make sense, as the broad arrow looks like it was added after the original headstamp, so would presumably have been added when the obsolete ball round was remanufactured.

Your profile says you are a college student. I am 16, and in my last year of UK compulsory high school. I thought I was one of the only young people around interested in ammo. What started your ammo interest?


Heh…you’re still one of the youngest here, as I’m 45 and going back to school for a career change!

But I’ve been collecting since I was 16…my dad had some fired cases and bullets on a piece of pine board, some stuff he picked up at a local range when he was a kid. I always thought it was cool, and decided to make my own. Little did I know!


Oh right, I thought college student meant you would be just a few years older than me! What started me off was when I was (i think) seven and someone gave me a belt of five fired 7.62 NATO blanks. I still have them, and will never trade/sell them.



What you have are Cordite Blanks L Mark V, not blanks converted from Cordite Ball Mark V. If they were converted rounds the headstamp would have been K C V, as Ball Mark V rounds were only made during the period when C for cordite was included in the headstamp.

Your rounds date from the period around 1907/8, as they are undated (and thus pre 1908) but do not have the C code for cordite, which was dropped from headstamps around 1907, although formal approval for this was not given until 1913. During this period there were considerable anomalies in headstamping practice with respect to the Cordite identifier.

Also, during this period (c. 1907 - 1913) all rounds purchased from commercial contractors were overstamped with one or two broad arrows to denote government ownership, as yours is.

Is the colour of your K V blanks a very yellow brass? I ask this because I have weighed a couple of these K V blanks and they were too light for normal .303 spec. When I sectioned an example I found that it was made with a semi-balloon head case, definitely not British spec! Were Kynoch trying to save money on a government contract? Seems unlikely.

Your R^L 13 VII is also a Mark V blank made from a reject ball case and loaded with Cordite. The first nitro loaded blanks were the LVz of WW2 vintage.

You obviously have not read my .303 headstamp book very well!



Thanks. I should try and memorise that book more. Three of them are overstamped with one broad arrow, and the other with two. Yes, they are a very yellow brass, and are in good condition. I thought they seemed slightly light. Still, five early blanks for nothing. These were found in a house clearance by someone who does the local car boot sale, and they save this sort of thing for me. They wanted rid of them so gave them to me for free.


Here is a photo of the K V blank on the left and a normal .303 case on the right. As you can see, the K V is of much lighter construction, with thinner case walls and a much weaker head.

Sorry about the poor sections but they were done in a hurry for a post on another forum.



Interesting sections, despite you claiming them to be poor, they show what you are saying. Perhaps done to save on cost of brass? Is the primer pocket and anvil a separate piece? This reminds me of the head on the early .455 Webley cases.


Falcon, you started collecting at age seven after someone gave you a belt of fired 7.62 NATO blanks? LOL, I started collecting at six after someone gave me a belt of fired 7.62 NATO blanks. And yes, I still have that belt 25 years later.


Well all I acquired in between age 7 and 10 was 2 used shotgun shells, and a few more rounds from 10-13. I began more seriously collecting about three years ago,


No, the primer pocket and anvil are an integral part of the case, I think it is just the light in the picture that makes it look like they could be a separate piece.

These L.Vs are indeed formed in a similar way to the early Webley brass.

I hope you get as much enjoyment out of collecting over the next forty or fifty years as I have had.



I should do. That is if all firearms and ammunition are not banned from public ownership first.


Neat find Falcon - its an interesting type of blank. The idea I’m sure was one of economy. I have a similar lightweight blank with arrow overstamp on a ‘G ^ V’ hst perhaps suggesting Govt did allow lightweight spec for blank. Going back to Kynoch I have a ball round (Mark VI type) with similar lightweight case & unusual hst ’ KYNOCH * *’. Perhaps they tried to make an ‘economy .303 ball rd’ during the same timeframe? Nice section TonyE.


I thought these looked interesting when I got them. A house clearance trader who attends one of my local boot sales saves any ammo he finds that I can legally posess for me, this is where these came from. I mostly fired cases etc. Any FAC stuff goes to a military trader at the same boot sale who has an FAC.