Caps Percussion for 303 Inch

Just for interest, I picked up this box (sealed) of Caps Percussion at a recent ACCA Inc. meeting. The MS stands for Salisbury, South Australia and although not specified the box holds 1000 pieces in 10 trays. Box not dated but has 256 1069 D written in pencil. Salisbury made 4 Million GIIZ tracers in 1944 which were condemned and destoyed however some escaped destruction.

Are these .303 British primers? Also, why were they condemned? Were they bad?

British berdan primers were always identified by a two number code. I’m not sure because its been a long time but I think the 69 refers to the primer type ie for .303. Perhaps someone else has a better memory than me.

256 could mean feb 1956 (possibly). A bit late for .303 but that might explain why they were never used.

Don’t quote me on this until somebody more knowledgable confirms it.

I believe the 256 refers to the diameter of the primer.
Very neat find!

Firstly, they are 303 Inch primers, large Berdan type. British terminology calls them Caps Percussion and they are from 1944-45 era.
The MS 44 GIIZ were condemned and destroyed apparently due to problems with the tracer bullets found during acceptance testing, however a small number escaped this fate.

I have no idea of the numbers written in pencil on the box, possibly lot numbers.


MS ( also stamped “Ms”) was an Annexe (not a full-blown factory) which produced Primers and attempted to Load ( “fill”, not manufacture) .303 GII(Z?) Tracer in 1944. The cases were made by MH/MJ at nearby Hendon.
The tracer compound was a failure…interestingly, Tracer manufacture in Australia has always been a bugbear, as in the 1970s, attempts were made to make 7,62mm tracer in several years ( 71,73 and one other) Most were failures or poor performers. So much so that Remington and other US made 7,62 trace was used.

When Footscray closed in 1993-4, tons of unfilled 7,62mmn tracer projectiles were sold as scrap, and trickled into the trade. I use them for making Movie set-dressing Inerts.

Salisbury Annex closed in late 1944, early 1945.

The size of the primer is “Nominally” .250", and the Pocket is “nominally” the same. Actually the two items are made to selected tolerance for a “press fit” ( slight interference); the Europeans call the ".250 primer a "6,34"mm ( slighlty less than .250, which is 6,35mm ( from RWS catalogue)…for “256” to be a diameter, that would make it bigger than the “express Berdan (Kynoch #69 and #71) and also the standard Russian Large primer ( 6,45mm or .254”).

The packaging would be the standard for safe transport ( trays of 100, in boxes of 1000, then packed some 10 to 30,000 per crate. (or more); I have crates of Vihtavuori Berdan 5,5 Primers packed 100,000 per crate, in trays of 250 for boxes of 2000.

The Small town of Tamworth (NSW) also had a primer cap factory ( halfway between Sydney and Brisbane;) It supplied Rocklea (MQ) factory, as well as the Main factories in Melbourne etc.

Interesting Item, a Packet of Gov’t primers…probably sold off after the war to the Rifle Clubs for Reloading Purposes, or supplied to either Riverbrand or Super when they first started reloading .303 cases for trade.

Apart from the War History of the Second World War (“The Role of Science and Industry”) there is not much recorded about what went on in the Munitions Industry in Australia.
All the records from the Wartime factories were destroyed or lost at War’s end, and those of Footscray were burnt, along with its Cartridge and Packet collection when the Factory was “Demolished” according to UN dictates in 1994-5.

Doc AV
AV Balliistics.