Celluloid 0,303" bullets

After spending a couple of years trawling through the archives at the Armouries in Leeds I’ve finally got round to getting a Readers Ticket for the Public Records Office in West London.

In one of the contracts ledgers from the Ministry of Supply SUPP 4/348 I found a reference to 0,303" bullet envelopes and ‘cups’ being made from celluloid, does anyone have any idea what this was for?


Hello Peter,

I can’t seem to load my Photobucket, but here is a link to a photo that may help… Seems like the “top wad” of a grenade cartridge.



The celluloid plug must have burned up in the bore otherwise you would have had a tell tail smoke signal out of the muzzle. Obviously it was some experiment that did not work.

A real interesting cartridge. Thanks for bringing it to light.
I don’t think smoke from firing this would have been a problem as it was a special purpose non service round. Basically constructed as a Cartridge, Grenade H Mark 4.
Don’t know what its exact function was, but note the nomenclature: Grenade, Proof Q H Mark 1.

I’ve never seen a double description like that i.e. Q for proof and H for Grenade cartridge.

Pity there is no drawing of the headstamp.

I would point out the qty suggests it was for an experimental cartridge. Glad to see you have taken up Tony’s former position as the forum’s representative at Kew. I can recommend the restaurant there.

Back before WWI, several (European) suppliers of 7,65mm and 7mm Mauser Blank ammo used celluloid bullets/wads/hollow sleeves filled with Nitro Powder for both Rifle and MG Blanks.
They are quite rare, nowadays. They were to replace wooden “bulleted Blanks” which, even with a Bullet “shredder” were still dangerous at close range…the Celluloid Bulleted Blanks were not. The Celluloid ( dissolved Cellulose and Cellulose Nitrate Mixture) would ignite and give a larger “Flash” but with no residue to inflict any injuries. (and sufficient “Pressure” to permit Operation of MGs.)

The Fragility and Climate damage to the celluloid eventually caused the abandonment of the idea, just before WW I. The Idea is still used by some manufacturers of “Movie Blanks” for larger calibre cartridges (eg, .50BMG, 20mm, etc, and even Artillery Blanks, such as 75mm and 105mm), but they use synthetic analogues for cellulose, which combust just as well.

Doc AV

.30-06, excuse me Ray, Caliber .30 M-1906 bulleted blanks were also made in experimental quantities with celluloid bullets.

I ought to have added, but forgot to do so, that Ledger SUPP 4/348 is titled “Experimental orders for Small Arms and Gun Ammunition, Projectiles and Components.” and lists contract awarded between 1943 and 1946.

The last time I saw Tony he pressed upon the the fact that, where paying out money is concerned, the State and its Ministries are rigorous in their record keeping and that it would be well worth my while trawling through the SUPP 4 series which are all contract records ledgers.

The really complex job will be looking through the MUN series which are from the Ministry of Munitions in the First World War. With these the catalogue seems dauntingly vague in a lot of cases.

I’m still finding my way around the place and the catalogue and I’ll post anything I find that might be of interest.


correct, and for those who are not an IAA member (if you are not, please consider joining. it is great value for money),
here is a small extract out of my last article on grenade-launching cartridges (May-June 2015 issue)


A further trawl through SUPP 4/348 yields up this order, specified for blanks but in a different plastic type.

There’s also a drawing number, does anyone have a copy of this ?

There was also this, for a larger order in celluloid with a different drawing number.