Frankford Arsenal .303"?

I have just been given this unmarked .303 Mk VII Ball cartridge and the person who gave it to me suggested that it was made by Frankford Arsenal for the UK in 1941. He also said that this identification was made by Tony Edwards. I was sceptical about this identification and went through my copies of HWS and Labbett & Mead’s ‘.303 inch’ but I did not find anything to suggest that Frankford Arsenal ever made this calibre for the UK or anybody else. The bullet weighs 173.4gn, is of gilding metal and is non-magnetic. It is 29.41mm long.
The primer is distinctly domed and there is a machined groove above the extractor rim which I understand is a feature found on US rimmed cartridges.



I also found this link in the archives in which Tony suggests that he has the same cartridge. He goes on to say that he was told by Bill Woodin that Frankford had indeed made a trial run of .303 in 1940 with a view to supplying it to the UK.

Is the bullet jacket copper-colored? You mention it is gilding-
metal. In the photos, at least as I see them on my computer
screen, the bullets appear to be Cupro-nickel jacketed, rather
than gilding metal.

Just wondered.

John Moss

In our sale #7, lot 574 we had one of these & at that time asked BIll about them and Gene was also giving us input.
Below is what we wrote, hope it is of help.

Unheadstamped, with a round brass Boxer primer, and a 174 gr. cupronickel jacketed bullet, this .303 British has a {thought to be from Col. B. R. Lewis} handwritten sticker “FA ?” on it. Our best efforts have not found any evidence that it was made or assembled at Frankford Arsenal, but we can not wholly discount it either, and we note a strong similarity to early W.R.A.Co. ‘ W date ‘ headstamped brass.


I do have one of these for a long time however there is a slight difference the case is rimmed the
bullet is round nose cupro Nickel and the primer seems to be Berdan copper it has the configuration
of a mark 2 I had always wondered about this one who made it and why no stamp.

John, my mistake…I meant to say that the jacket is cupro-nickel.

Pete, thank you for adding your photo. I appreciate that its not ‘evidential’ but to my mind it adds weight to the possibility of this being a Frankford Arsenal cartridge.

Sherryl, your cartridge sounds rather like a Colonial Ammunition Company Mk II to me.

by mentioning Bill & Gene (E.L. Scranton) having input & our not finding an evidence it was either made or assembled at FA, and the similarity to early WRACo. brass should lead you to thinking it was not FA.

Col. B.R.Lewis was a very knowledgeable collector of the 1st order, but he had no proof it was by FA, so the question mark.

Jim Tillinghast had several of these & sent them down to Bill before I was involved with his collection (ca 1994), so Bill knew about these for quite some time.

I pulled an extra apart & here is what the powder looks like. Perhaps someone can help this this?


It’s hard to believe that FA would have made a CN jacket circa 1940, though certainly the case looks U.S. or, possibly, Canadian. Jack

Pete, would you have a 1940/41 W.R.A. round that you could pull and compare propellants?

Hi Jim
I’m sorry my auction description wasn’t more to the point when I mentioned the W - date style headstamp I was referring to W 4, W 5, W 14, W 15 & such, so WW I era.

An example of such was posted by 30 ARMY at this link

The bullet noted in 30 Army’s box is different but you can see there were several documented headstamps being used at this time, so an unheadstamped example would / could not be totally out of the process, but might well only be undocumented. Until someone turns up a box or a factory paper. We can only hope!

Sheryl - that could be an early MkII made by either CAC in Australia or CAC in New Zealand, as both were known to have produced these rounds without a headstamp. I have two of them in my collection.


Thank you MAYHEM for your reply learned something again