Clandestine .303"?

These come in the brown painted wood crates sourced out of England. All crates have lable inside lid burned off and bottom chopped out a bit as to remove some impressed markings or something. No headstamps. Packed in 20 round unmarked boxes, bundled in clear plastic bag stuffed in crate. The 176 grain projectiles are GMCS and have a pressed cannelure and tar sealant. There is 41 grains of tubular powder inside the berdan primed annealed brass casings. Extra small strip of card paper goes in bottom of box to prevent tips poking thru.


Edit: Just one note. Crate was sealed and so were the boxes. So whoever burned the labels off, had done it before the crates had the cloth seals applied.

These don’t look to be British to me, the primers look to be too small. Portugal would be my guess…but it is just a guess.

The primers appear to be the 5.5 m/m (.217 in.) type, never (rarely?) used in British .303, and the bullets seem too short to be mk. 7, so probably don’t have the nose filler. Portugal seems like a good suggestion to me, and perhaps also Italian. Jack

Joe, this was made in Pakistan but I don’t know the exact manufacturing date.

xjda68, is it possible to measure the bullet and tell us how long it is? (I am aware that you already listed charge and bullet mass, but ballistics freaks like me always want to know more.)

According to Graf & Sons it was made in 1981.


The length is 1.288"
Diameter is 0.310"


Thanks Fede. Yes that is what GRAF & SONS is claiming, but sometimes I wonder, as this was imported out of England…


I’m a gun collector who actually shoots the guns in my collection. For what it’s worth, the crates, crate markings and cardboard boxes look to me like typical British G.I. Pakistan would be my guess. Lack of headstamp and “sanitized” crates suggests this stuff was manufactured in the 1980s for use by Afghanis resisting the Soviet invasion. I’ve seen similar, U.S.-manufactured “sterile” .303 Ball Mk. 7 and 577-450 (made to circa-1920 British MIL-SPEC) cartridges. No, I don’t have any - at the time, it seemed like a bad idea to keep any of it.


Other small clues point to possible POF production of this .303 ammunition.

POF after its creation in the 1950’s tended to follow British ammunition packaging procedures (Pakistan came into existence in 1947 after Britain ended its rule of India).

The chiseled divot in the bottom of the wood ammunition box probably indicates the removal of the ammunition storage box type designation, this designation is typical for British and POF wood ammunition storage boxes.

The “6” in the white circle stenciled on the ammunition case side wall is probably the Group and Government Explosives Label for Government Ammunition Stores; #6 is the Group number typically found on SAA containers. Again this is typical of POF following British practices.

Two quarter circle cut outs at the top front of 20 & 32 round boxes is typical of POF packaging for .303 and 7.62 x 51mm ammunition. Similar British boxes typically have half circle cut outs.


A reliable source who was intimately involved in the U.S. program providing arms to the Afghan Mujahideen fighters during the Soviet invasion in the 1980s confirmed to me that this ammunition was in fact made by POF for that purpose.

Thanks a lot for the bullet data. At 1.288 inch it is within the length range of an ordinary Mark VII. (I had hoped Jack was right and it was a bullet without an aluminium front core.)

Thanks everyone for the info, I would have to say cased closed on this one.


Just one more thing Joe - would you set one aside for me please?!

I had a peripheral and unofficial connection to the anti-Soviet Mujahideen effort. I was told that the sterile U.S.-made .303 and 577-450 ammo I saw in the mid-1980s was made at Lake City. Packaging I saw was typical U.S.G.I. cardboard boxes, without markings. Can’t say what the bulk packaging looked like, but I suspect it might have been steel U.S.G.I. ammo cans. Millions (billions?) of them have been distributed around the world in the last 100 years, so they’re essentially sterile.


Given that this caliber was offered by this factory until about 2006, does anyone have examples of POF .303 cartridges of recent manufacture?

I would be interested in seeing a photo of this if anyone has one. It would make sense as there are a lot of rifles in that calibre in that part of the world.

I have even read stories on the internet about the Afghans shooting at the Soviets with matchlock muskets.


A box full of pulled or just one pulled round. Or do you want the box whole and sent to someone you would be meeting in person to take it to you?


email also sent.


I would love to see some of this as non-corrosive, reloadable, modern-production, surplus ammo! I know what my next rifle purchase would be!