It looks like a 303 but it is not a 303

  • On the left a 303
  • On the right the strange ctge.
    Rim, base, an neck diameters, length, bullet diameter are the same than for a 303.
    Only the neck shape is different
    Hstp : VII KF AI 4-18 (A is the harrow)

Any idea ?

The shoulder does look odd, but it has an Indian-made (Kirkee) headstamp for a Mk.7 .303 cartridge.

So ??? not the right loading you mean ?
the ctge doesn’t seem to be reloaded

JP - is that a colored neck seal on the bullet of the cartridge with an odd shoulder, or just a shadow or discolored area? If a neck seal, that is not typical of Kirkee .303s of any Mark, that I am aware of. It definitely is no longer a .303, and if it was made that way, it is a cartridge malformed in the manufacturing process, and odd that it would get through inspection and survive until now.

If that is a seal on the bullet, but there is none of the lacquer on the case mouth, even on the top edge, it is a big tip-off that the cartridge is a reload.

I am not into European sporting loads, British or otherwise, but it is possible that someone reworkd a cartridge to a sporting caliber or to some other military caliber. Thailand is close to India - is this case dimension and shoulder anything like either of the 8mm Siamese rounds? I am not even thinking that Kirkee might have made 8mm Siamese - I am thinking someone long after the round was made may have tried to make this into a caliber for which he had a gun and no ammo.

It might also be some sort of case-type conversion for use in a country where military rifle calibers are banned. Australian companies made a shortened version of the .303 for use in one of the States down there where the .303 couldn’t be used by civilians, as I recall. I think that was the reason for it. I had one of the cartridges in a case by Bertram, I think, when I had my .303 collection. Of course, this is not the same thing, as it is the shoulder that is changed, not the case length.

Just some avenues for further exploration of what this might be. I really have no idea, myself.

It does look like an 8x52R Siamese in profile, but the case length would be way off.

How’s about 8 x 58R Danish Krag ?..Randy

Although, the neck looks a bit strange for 8 x 58 Krag…

If the KF ^ VII 4-18 is a typical Khirkee headstamp.

(Note to Jean-Pierre, “^” in denoting the “Broad Arrow” of British Gov’t property is a sufficient indication in Typing…using “AI” tends to confuse things)

If the cartridge ,the roundnose" is the "mystery’ case, I would say that it could only be a .315 Indian, a calibre developed In India, to Civilianize the .303 SMLE with a Cartridge that was not “Military”
(British law of 1907, banning Rifle bores of “.303, .450 and .577”) so that “anti-Gov’t people could not utilise captured equipment or ammunition”…stupid Gun Control measure that was a complete failure, but introduced the “8mm BSA Lee”, and the .465, and .577/500 to Indian Big Game shooting.
The 8mm BSA was nothing more than the Austrian 8x50R cartridge…which Khirkee did make during WW II for captured Italian Steyr M95 rifles (from East Africa)

After Independance in 1947, the Indian Gov’t continued a lot of British Laws, and one such was the over-arching Gun-control and ammunition calibre regulations…so the Indian Ordnance Board designed a Cartridge using the Austrian 8mm projectile, in a Cordite loaded .303 case…and called it the .315 Indian…and made Sporter (Shikari) Rifles using SMLE actions.

These were for Forestry Guards, Park Rangers and “Shikari” (Professional Hunters) in the still wild areas of India (Tiger, etc). They are still available today, after about a 6-18 month wait, and with a limited number of Factory made cartridges a year.

The difference in “Shoulder” Position is to interfere with exchange of .303 (Military) ammo. (ie, a .315 Indian cartridge won’t fit a .303 chamber (Bullet too big) and a .303 could fit a .315 chamber and fire, if the shoulder was not of the correct diameter to cause interference.)

A lot of the early .315 Indian was simply Mil. .303 with a .315 Bullet replacement and recrimped.

As to the Aussie types made on the .303 base, aside from the "sub cal. wildcats( 22,25,26,27 etc) a “legal” version for NSW ( “No Military calibres,” from 1931 to 1975) there was a "Civilian version called the “7,7x54R” ( a .303 with the case trimmed 2 mm (from 7,7x56R) and the shoulder set back. The SMLE rifle was converted by taking out the barrel, cutting off ONE thread (about 2mm, as it is 14TPI) and cleaning up the extractor slot. The resulting “Short Chamber” was then NOT a MILITARY cartridge, and available to “NON-NRAA” shooters. NRAA shooters , being under the Federal Defence Act, were exempt from any state regulations.
All these stupidities now no longer exist, we are just saddled with greater anti-gun stupidiites…

The Only other cartridge which comes to mind is the Dutch Patroon Scherpe Nr.23, 7,9mm (7,9x57R, MG cartridge for Schwarzlose) which is indistinguishable from a normal .303 Mark VII except for the packet labels ( H/S is similar to Dutch-Made .303, also for (Aircraft) MG use in the 1920s and 30s. FN did make a batch for Holland in 1948, and it is often confused with .303 of the same (FN) Headstamp.
Given the Khirkee headstamp, this cartridge is definitely NOT a Dutch Nr.23

If the RN is about 245 grains (244-247) then it is the “Austrian/Indian” genetic modification…if the projectile is 215 grains, then it is a “retro made” Mark VI using a mark VII marked case.

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Doc - I don’t think it is the RN-bulleted cartridge that is in question. That appears to be a standard .303 Mark VI or earlier Mark. It is the one with the pointed bullet that is in question, which has a shoulder not at all like a .303 in position or shape.

Are you sure Kirkee made 8 x 50R? Never heard of it before. Of course, that doesn’t mean much since it is about as far out of my line as it could get. Does anyone out there have a Kirkee-made 8 x 50R in their collection?

John M.

thanks to all;

The round nose bullet 303 is a DWM one.

We are talking aboiut the other one.

  1. The black seal mouth is because we cleaned the bullet. It is a residue of oxydation . IT IS NOT A SEAL MOUTH

  2. I checked carefully the diameter of the bullet .
    It is : 7.86 mm, meaning the regular size for a 303 bullet

  3. about the hstp:
    If we call the symbol /I\ an arrow,
    the hstp is : VII (at 9 oc) KF (at 12 oc) arrow I (at 3oc) 4-18(at 6oc)

The arrow is followed by I. (More excatly the I is under the arrow).

  1. The primer is copper and there is stab crimp

  2. the bullet is NON magnertic

  3. The crimping of the bullet is made with 3 stabs

Hopping all these details help,

The “odd” round appears to be simply a mis-formed ,303, although how it got like that I have no idea. I don’t think it is anything special beyond that but without examining it it is hard to tell.

John - I can confirm what Doc said. The Indian army took large quantities of captured Italian weapons and ammunition into service in WW2 and I have the Kirkee ammunition manual that lists 6.5mm Carcano, 8mm Mannlicher and 8mm Breda as Indian service stores. All the illustrated rounds are Italian manufacture but I know Kirkee continued to manufacture the 8mm Mannlcher as the .315" Indian post war. They made at least ball and drill rounds.

I do not have one but I have seen an example.


The late and lamented P. Labett, in his “Cartridge Notes” (UK “Guns Review”) notes the labels of Khirkee-made 8x50R ammo, as well as the two common Italian cartridges(6,5mm M91/95 and 8mm Breda).

Just to clear things, the “.315 Indian” is a 8mm (.324) M93 Austrian design projectile on a .303 mark VII case.

The discussion on the "Broad Arrow, used on Indian Ammo is the “^” of an arrow, over the I (capital I) indicating Indian manufacture.

Shoulder shape in .303 ammo.
This is a variable feast, as the manufacture of Cordite filled ammo uses a “straight” case to fill with a bundle of cordite strands, then the neck and shoulder is formed subsequently to filling to compress the cordite, and lock in the over-cordite wad and crimp the Bullet in place. If the machine is badly set, it necks too far (as in this case) or not far enough, as occurred in 1914-5 with some(British) lots of ammo going to Ross Rifles, which would NOT chamber it, in the trenches of 1915. Chambers were subsequently re-lieved to allow for this tolerance exaggeration , and also for the Mud of Flanders.

As the Photos of the headstamps of the two cartridges were not shown, I was a bit confused as to what was what…
DWM did in fact make Mark II/VI ammo from the late 1890s up to WW I.( they also made Martini-Henry and Snider ammo as well, to compete in Africa.
–ALFA Catalogue, 1911).

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Addition: The DWM case is made by conventional means (fully formed case, filled with Flake rifle powder, and bullet seated…see note on Cordite manufacture above.

[quote=“TonyE”]The “odd” round appears to be simply a mis-formed ,303, although how it got like that I have no idea. I don’t think it is anything special beyond that but without examining it it is hard to tell.
Hi !
So you think it is only a mis-formed 303 ?

How this can be done in the manufacturing process ?
Usually the cases are cut down after the necking process. and after loaded.
And checked.
This makes at least 3 check up.

Dear JeanPierre,
The .303 case for Cordite loads is formed and trimmed to the cylindrical, slightly tapered stage, primed, and then filled with Cordite (like a cork into a wine bottle).
After the pre-cut length of twisted Cordite (it comes from the Poudrerie as a Wound cable of Cordite strands, the number of strands correct to give a weigth of 37 grains AVDP when cut to the correct loading length (about 45mm). This bundle of pre-cut cordite is then slipped into the open cylindrical case, by the Filling Machine, in a manner replicating a Wine Bottle corking machine.
The filled case then goes to the case forming machine, where the card wad is placed over the cordite, then Black Ashphaltum seal is applied to the inside of the “neck”, the Bullet placed on top of the wad, and the case is then “neck and shoulder formed”, to compress the cordite, Lock the wad in place (its diameter is equivalent to that of the inside diameter of the body of the case at the shoulder), and the Crimp ( three stabs into the middle of the neck) is applied by the crimping die, before the completed cartridge goes to final inspection and packaging. This is done on a machine called a “Dial Plate press” (the cartridges are fed to the different stations by a large diameter dial, the cases held in the shellplate in a tapered slot, with its apex towards the centre axis of the disc, thus holding the cartridge by the rim…when it comes time to expel a cartridge, a lever moves to cartridge to the wider circumferencial end of the slot, which is wider than the cartridge rim, and the case can slip out.)

The importance of the operation of forming the shoulder and neck is to set the shoulder at a suffficient distance from the Mouth of the case, so that the cartridge will chamber and the bolt will close on the cartridge. It is immaterial if the actual position of the shoulder is shorter than the Chamber, as the cartridge headspaces on the rim, the any short body distance will "fire-form (blow out) on fireing.

A major problem did occur in 1914 and early 1915, with two ( at leasyt) british factories newly producing .303 with semi skilled new staff. The Shulder was too far forward, resulting in a shorter than normal neck. This led to “De-bulleting” (not sufficient crimp was applied) and distortion of the ammunition, but the worst problem was in Riufles…the ammunition would chamber, but the Bolt would not close, as the Bolt to Shoulder lenght of the cartridge was greater than the Bolt to Chamber-shoulder length.

This problem was especially noted in Canadian Ross Rifles, which had been chambered to accept Canadian pre-war ammunition, which followed the British Imperial Specifications exactly; Soldiers in the field immediately started sorting ammunition to make sure that only well sized ammo ( pre- WW I, and only certain factories) was used, otherwise the Ross rifle would jam repeatedly, with often fatal results.
The problem with “M” and “N” headstamped 1914 and 1915 ( Nobel factories opened late 1914) was noted after some months of problems in the field, and corrective measures taken at the factories (Resetting shoulder forming tools) and also giving instructions to field armourers to “Relieve” chambers to allow for both the Muddy conditions, and defectively manufactured ammo.

All these problems did not occur with Nitrocellulose filled cartridges (US Contracts, late war Nitro filled British cases (“VIIz”), where the entire case is formed, and trimmed Before Priming and Filling with Powder.

AS European makers (SFM, DWM, etc. ) used Nitro Powder rather than Cordite, they followed Normal case forming methods.

As to the KF cartridge, the more sloping shoulder, further back could be due to a number of things…first, a wrongly set Case shoulder/neck forming die at Bulleting stage;
An incorrectly set crimping die, or an improperly applied “Gauging” Die ( a tool which ascertains whether a cartridge is within specifications.

In any case, such a small defect(which would still allow the cartridge to chamber and fire safely) in WW I with all production urgently required, would not be cause for “rejection” as would happen in peacetime.

Hope this has cleared up some of the mystery for “non-British” aficionados;

Some of the methods used in British cartridge manufacture would seem strange or “Quaint” to most European Cartridge makers. ( EG, back in 1870, Snider ammunition was primed AFTER the entire cartridge (rolled case, Powder and Bullet ) had been assembled…a special vent allowed discharge into a cheminee in case the primer discharged during loading, and the entire machine was built of heavy cast iron and bronze.)

regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

As is often the case with the forum - questions open up other interesting questions.
No comment on the re-shaped .303 - except DocAV that the N or M hst’d .303’s were not late 1914 factories - but N for Nobel started up in 1915 and M was used from 1916 (both made at the old F.Joyce factory at Waltham Abbey).
DWM .303 cases were loaded in Britain by the Smokeless Powder Company (using pre-necked cases & flake powder)
Doc’s reference to the use of the 8mm BSA in India is really interesting.
Is there any positive evidence that Kirkee has loaded .303 cases with the 244 gr Mannlicher bullet??? I would be very surprised. Kirkee certainly made the 8mm Mannlicher ctg after WW2.
As far as I was aware the only known manufacturer of the 8mm BSA was ICI Kynoch Ltd during 1924 - Ball, Dummy & Proof - all cordite loaded (attached photo of 8mm BSA Proof rd in my collection - hst ‘KYNOCH .303’ with purple stripe across base - came from Birmingham Proof House).
The 8mm BSA seems to have faded from view immediately. Although it would seem some L-E rifles were made up in 8mm BSA calibre - BSA, Manton and Parker-Hale catalogues all offered ‘8mm BSA rifles’ in 8mm Mannlicher calibre. These ‘8mm BSA rifles’ were offered in sporterized and Mark III target versions - in 8mm Mannlicher calibre.
Any info on Kirkee-loaded 8mm BSA (.303 case loaded 8mm bullet) greatly appreciated. Regards JohnP-C.

If one goes to the Web page of the Indian Board of Ordnance, and searches through it, one will came across the “commercial” section, where they offer currently the 8mm (".315") SMLE Sporter rifle and ammunition, and also a .32 Rimmed revolver and cartridge( a .32 Colt clone, I think) and several other permitted “Civilian” firearms.( .22 and .38 as well)

There seems to be some confusion between the term “8mm Mannlicher” ( for which numerous rifles were made from 1907 for the India Trade, both by BSA itself, and by Proprietary Gun makers, and several derivations lumped under the “8mm BSA” name, of the 1920s. If the "8mm BSA ( and its contemporary, the.322 Swift ( pointed bullet version of the 8x50R Mannlicher) are just different names for the same cartridge, or actually two different cartridges(body size etc) I am unaware…I have seen Packet labels of “8mm BSA” in Cartridge Collectors Bulletins, but no actual cartridge descriptions.

If , as is intimated, the “8mm BSA” is simply a .303 case with an 8mm projectile, ( a .303/.323 ) then the Indians copied it (they are good at copying) after WW II, as they already had the Bullet making machinery for the 8mm projectile, as well as naturally, .303 case making equipment.

On another matter, the F. Joyce plant had the headstamp “J” during WW I; and the problem with badly-made .303 cases was first noted in late 1914, and was obvious in early 1915, when the Canadians arrived in France…
Nobels of Glasgow initially was allocated “N” ( for Nobel), but I don’t know where they actually filled their cases, or who actually made them…I will have to dismantle an “N” and an “M” to see the Inside headstamp, between the two flash holes, which was applied when cases were made by one contractor, and then headstamped and filled by another.

Like you said, one question leadst to another etc…this is not the first time a thread has wandered far and wide, by extension of related topics, what was it, Six Degrees of Connectivity?

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Hi Dav - thanks for your response though I’m afraid you are mistaken in some respects.
As you suggested I checked the Indian Board of Ordnance catalogue and this shows beyond a doubt that the 8mm (.315") rifles and ammunition made there are for the 8mm Mannlicher (8mm x 50R) calibre. This is evident from the photographs of the 8mm (.315") cartridges and from the accompanying ballistic data.
The 8mm BSA (.303 case necked up & loaded with 8mm bullets) evidently was never copied by or made in India. Production of the 8mm BSA only took place at Kynoch during 1924.
It follows from this that the 8mm BSA was not a contemporary of the .322 Swift cartridge which was designed in 1908 - there being 16 years between them.
Also - the .322 Swift was not an 8mm Mannlicher with a pointed bullet. The .322 Swift (and .322 Match) case was actually a rimmed version of the .318 Westley Richards cartridge.
I have spent 30 years trying to clarify the exact relationship between the ‘B’, ‘J’, ‘N’ & ‘M’ headstamps on WW1 .303. Certain facts are known however. Firstly the ‘J’ headstamp is known from official documents to show manufacture by Birmingham Metals & Munitions. The ‘J’ headstamp was introduced in 1915 after all ‘B’ headstamped .303 was condemned as unfit for service after problems with hard extraction during late 1914 - early 1915 & as a result of a Board of Inquiry.
Nobel’s (of offices in Glasgow & explosives factory at Ardeer) owned both the BMM & F.Joyce factories. The manufacture of .303 cases by Nobel took place in Birmingham or Waltham Abbey. As for loading - this certainly took place behind the F.Joyce factory and at Streetly, north of Birmingham. It is unlikely (though possible) that .303 loading took place at Ardeer.
It will do you no good to check between the internal flashholes of WW1 ‘N’ & ‘M’ headstamped cases to distinguish case manufacturer from case filler & loader - since this practice did not begin until 1942.
Many thanks for pointing to the Indian Ordnance Board & their 8mm/.315" ammunition production.
Regards JohnP-C

To JohnP-C,
I thinbk we are going at cross purposes here, over exactly what is a “.315 Indian”.

Some two years ago, I had a Long Internet correspondance with an Indian who had just purchased (after a 9 month wait) a SMLE in .315 Indian.
He supplied photos of both rifle And cartridge, and the cartridge was definitely a .303 case with a round nosed Austrian style projectile… It was NOT standard 8x50R case, which besides being bigger at the base, is “dumpier” in profile…I have a 1907 BSA in 8x50R (ex Indian trade), so I can compare the difference in cartridge profiles and dimensions.

Anyway, I will have to search (if possible) my old Emails to see if I still have the Photos (I think I actually printed them out for filing…,)

If India was still making actual 8x50R ammo, then I am sure some enterprizing Importer would be selling it , especially in the USA and Europe, where there are still a Lot of M95s in original calibre…In fact, the Indian LE of mine, actually came with several hundred rounds of Czech for Bulgaria 1935 contract 8x50R ammo ( surplussed out of Bulgarian in the 1980s)…so if the rifle from India ( along with several hundred others of various calibres at the time) obviously came without any ammo , in the Importer’s Purchase.
(Local Aussie Importer, nothing to do with the “Bigs” of the US trade.) it means that either the importer didn’t bother about ammo, or there was noe available in India of the relevant calibres.

Anyway, I suggest we agree to differ over this point, until we get better information.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics

Are you sure Kirkee made 8 x 50R? Never heard of it before. Of course, that doesn’t mean much since it is about as far out of my line as it could get. Does anyone out there have a Kirkee-made 8 x 50R in their collection?

John M.[/quote]

John see IAA issue 448 page 32 for a color photo of a box. & Mr. William Woodin has the rounds noted in the caption

Pete - thanks. The others have already educated me to the existance of it. Unfortunately, and shamefully, I don’t get to the Lab much and when I do, I only have time to do research in fields that I intend writing articles on in the future. I seldom have time to just enjoy and study all the wonderful stuff in fields outside of my own. I should have noted it in the IAA Journal though. I make copies of everything in the Journal so they can go in the appropriate file. I have cut back a little on that, now, thanks to the wonderful Index that Chris Punnett provided us. Major articles can now be quickly found!