Interesting fired .303 brass from a ross rifle

I was able to shoot my ross rifle this week and I found after firing all the cases did some thing strange.
have a look at the photos. the base is very thick but the body bugled out to a big extent. I thought I would just share as it interested me. I would like to cross section one of these but not sure how?
the cases are dominion and remington and imperial.

have a look.

The story is that the Ross rifles used by Canadian forces in Europe in the first war had trouble with extraction, so they were chambered out–effectively an oversize chambering reamer was run into each rifle’s chamber. That procedure may have improved ease of extraction, and it for sure resulted in brass looking like that you have shown. Jack

I was recently shooting a 1905 Ross with a friend. The fired cases looked almost like a straight-walled case! Apparently the US ordered some significant chamber reaming to ensure efficient extraction, but boy howdy, you sure could not reload the cases! I’ll try to find one of those fired cases to show on this thread.

The oversized chamber would serve the same purpose as the fluting in for example the Heckler & Koch G3, yes?

I envy your Ross, Trevor, they sure are very interesting rifles.

  • Ole

I think all the .303 military rifles are interesting and fun too. .303 has lots of age to its history.
my cousin gave me a big box of about 3-400 rounds of WW2/Korea ammo all on stripper clips and even in original cloth bandoliers. then there was just a couple of these hunting rounds so I just thought would get out the ross and give it a try. never expected to see the brass act like that. it does have the over board chamber in it so I’m sure that’s the reason its bulged like you guys said.

Lee Enfields have large chamber dimensions also, to make extraction of fired cases easier, since the classic Lee Enfield action does not have as effective initial extraction as do the Mauser types. I do not recall any of mine bulging the cases that much though. Still, the cases can only be reloaded a very few times before the probability of case-head separations becomes reality. I simply never reloaded for mine. They are great fun to shoot, and historically very important. If I had to fight with a bolt action rifle, as much as I love the classic Mauser and the 03 Springield, I would pick an SMLE over any of them.

I had a Ross rifle with a ‘hogged out’ chamber. I cannot recall what letters were hand stamped on the barrel to indicate the modification. ‘LC’ comes to mind. Full length sizing really worked the brass. I do not know how long the cases would have lasted. I neck sized them in a 7.7 Japanese neck sizing die, but got rid of the rifle before I finished the experiment. The 1905 Ross action is really a nice, smooth operating action.

Ross Mark III (M1910) Rifles sent with the Canadian Expeditionary Force to Britain and the Front in France were reamed out to “LC” Chamber specifications…The Body diameters were increased, and the Shoulder moved Forwards somewhat, after Poorly-Manufactured British ammo caused a lot of Jams in the Flanders Mud n( Specifically from two or three “New Factories” (M, J, and N) because the shoulder Position was not correctly formed when, after filling the case with cordite, the neck and shoulder were formed around the Bullet.

The Ross Rifles were toleranced for Canadian Peace Time ammo, and with this worked Fine… in the trenches, Soldiers soon got to “Trying out” all their ammo before entering the Line, and Lots with H/S as marked above, were rejected and sent to MG units (the Heavy ramming force of the Vickers soon “full length sized” the Defective cases)

This QA problem ( the New Factories had NO experienced floor staff, only civilians off the street). The Technicians from Nobel and BSA could not cope with the Large volumes required in 1915 and early 1916, when Most of the defective shaped cartridges are found.

The simplest solution for both Ross and SMLEs was to have an Increased Chamber dimensions…that allowed for Mud fouling as well. The details are available in “The List of Changes”

Hence in Ross Rifles with “LC” chambers, a variety of "Ballooned " cases will appear…strangely, those in Naval Service seem to have been more conservatively “enlarged”…I have a Chilean DA (Naval) Ross, with Chamber LC marks, but the Cartridges show very little signs of Distortion ( about the same as a New Lithgow Barrel (SMLE)…and I use Prvi Military, Brit. Military, and Canadian (DIz) Military in my M1910… Both Factory new and Reloads ( neck size Only). NO Extraction problems…But then our range is Concreted and Well-grassed…NO Mud in sight, even after Tropical Rain…

Doc AV

This is the fired brass from my friend’s 1905 Ross:

It is not uncommon for rifles chambered for rimmed cartridges to have the case shoulders fire-form to a different shape, although in the Ross, it is a big change. After all, these cartridges headspace on the rim, so the initial shape and position of the shoulder in relation to the shape of the chamber in which they are fired is not as critical as it is with those rounds that headspace on the shoulder of the case.

You see the same thing with the Enfield Jungle Carbines. Claim was they had larger chambers to accommodate the Jungle conditions and dirty ammo. I know that none of my cases could tolerate full length sizing, they just came apart. Neck sizing worked just fine and it made a great deer/antelope gun in Wyoming for a poor young Staff Sgt. The issue sights didn’t result in a lot of 300 yard shots though! Still, we ate a lot of deer burgers and antelope sausage.

Oversize chambers for rimmed cartridges in tough conditions makes great sense in combat.


Lew - I agree with the fact that the oversize chambers, as long as they don’t interfere with headspacing, make some sense under poor conditions. However, I believe, from scholarly information received years ago when I collected British service rifles, that the primary reason for the oversize chamber on Rifles No. 1, No. 4, No. 5 and others in the LE series, was that the resulting contraction after case expansion resulted in easier initial extraction, and a faster action. The Mauser types break the case loose, so to speak, because as the bolt handle is turned upwards and the bolt rotates, it is also moving to the rear. After the cases “frees up” retracting the bolt is pretty effortless. It also is in the LE rifles because of case contraction.

I have a lovely condition NO. 5 made at ROF(F). Almost new condition. Kicks a little harder than my equally new No. 4 Mark 2, and is not quite as accurate, but still a great little combat carbine out to 300 yeards or so. My favorite is still my Lithgow No. I Mark III* made during WWII. A nice gun, and quite accurate, but my old eyes won’t do the job with the small open sights anymore.

I like the .303 cartridge even. A bit old fashioned, but still decent combat accuracy and effectiveness with less felt recoil (at least to me) than the 7.9 x 57 or .30 US. The rims can be problematical if one either doesn’t know the proper arrangement for the rounds in their chargers, or if loading the magazine singularly, is not careful about the rims when he pushes down the cartridge, but that doesn’t have to be a problem. Same old question of just learning the right way.

Not at all surprised that your No. 5 made a good, short range deer rifle.

Although the Rimmed .303 headspaces on the rim, the Problem with M,N & J 15 and 16 ammo was that the SHOULDER was too far Forward…a result of improper setting of the Form and crimp dies when seating the bullet over the cordite. This had the effect of having an “Increased Headspace” effectively, as the case was now seating on the shoulder, not the rim…so much so that the bolt would NOT close…and if it was "hammered shut " (hand or size 8 Boot), it remained “Shut”, even after firing… (Hammer open again…);

There were also rim thickness issues as well, which did not help. Wartime Headspace was moved from .068" to .074" Max, for this problem. ( .064 Normal).

Doc AV

Reloading the .303 for Ross and Enfield rifles is only a problem because of the chambers employed in those weapons, and the resulting bulge in the cases that if constantly sized down and then bulged again, very quickly can lead to the very serious hazard of case-head separations. That is all I think I can say regarding the reloading of these cases as reloading is a prohibited topic on this forum. This was already basically discussed on this thread.