MkVI .303 with magnetic bullet

Can anyone tell me if there were ever any round nosed AP bullets for .303 because I have 5 rounds that were in with my MkVI rounds to catalogue the headstamps are K14 VII & K13 VII but these rounds had what looked like MkVI bullets in them. I have been finally cataloguing the rest of my .303 and I always have a magnet handy but when I tipped out the bag of MkVI rounds out on my desk 2 of the rounds stuck the magnet which I thought was very strange and on checking I have 5 in total with this magnetic MkVI bullet

any help greatly appreciated

It looks like there was a Round nosed AP bullet in around 1907 “Roth Armour Piercing Bullet” but surely these would not be in a 1913 or 1914 dated case ???

Hmmmm…strange. Just out of curiosity I have just passed a magnet over my .303 ball rounds and one round was strongly attracted - a Mk VI loaded into a Mk VII case with a headstamp of ‘K12 VII’. None of my other Mk II or Mk VI bullets show any magnetic attraction. No idea Richard.

How does the weight compare with a known mk.VI? Jack

It is strange that your is a K12 VII and all mine are K13 VII or K14 VII


I will weigh them tomorrow, I would like to section one of the bullets but not if there a rare one :-) it would be interesting to see what is inside


I can’t remember the reasoning for loading Mk VI bullets into Mk VII cases but I do know they’re not unusual. I can’t find any explanation in Labbett’s book nor in any of Tony E’s works - which is surprising. I have a feeling it was done to boost the ammunition supply to the front during WW1, any old bullet in any old case, but I may have got that wrong.

Peter Labbett told me, years ago of course, that these were made for troops, such as some of the Indians, who were still armed with the old rifles needed Mk VI ammunition. Production was resumed using cases originally intended for MkVII. Are you sure that these are steel cored or CNCS jackets? A true AP is less attracted to a magnet than a ball with a CNCS (or GMCS) jacket.


Jack, my Mk VI rounds weigh about 390gns with little variation. My one & only magnetic round weighs in at 407gns. Strange.

Jim, Oh well I have 5 so I will section one tomorrow when I get home from work and see what is inside.

Dave I cant find any reference to CNCS MkVI bullet envelopes anywhere, but I am no expert.


Dave, that sounds a good explanation for the loading of Mk VI bullets into Mk VII cases, certainly a lot better than my explanation anyway. Having said that I am very surprised its not covered in his book.
According to Labbett the Mk VI bullet was ONLY made with a curpo-nickel jacket & lead/antimony core. He makes no mention of it ever being made with a steel jacket or a steel core.
The magnet is strongly attracted for the whole length of the bullet which I suggest indicates a steel jacket rather than a steel core.

[quote=“RichT”]I will section one tomorrow when I get home from work and see what is inside.


Rich, before you get too carried away with your angle grinder remember there will almost certainly be a manufacturer’s code stamped into the bullet base. It would be interesting to know what that is!

I’ve been through some of Roger Mundy’s ‘for sale’ lists and he mentions several date variations of Kynoch and Eley Mk VII cases from the same era being reloaded with Mk VI bullets. He describes them as being ‘surplus military contract cases reloaded for commercial sale, mainly to shooting clubs’.
If anybody would know it would be Roger. It seems they’re a commercial venture :-(

I have pulled the 10 rounds there are 5 MkVI non magnetic bullets with K stamped into the lead at the bottom of bullets and all 5 magnetic have no stamp on bottom of bullets at all. It just seams strange that some have magnetic and some dont it was an even mix of 1913 & 1914 headstamp as well no one date. on closer inspection of the primers some have flat and some have bevelled primers but again no pattern just a mix of primers to dates??

Why would CNCS have been used as a bullet envelope for commercial bullets though


[quote=“Jim”]I’ve been through some of Roger Mundy’s ‘for sale’ lists and he mentions several date variations of Kynoch and Eley Mk VII cases from the same era being reloaded with MkVI bullets. He describes them as being ‘surplus military contract cases reloaded for commercial sale, mainly to shooting clubs’.
If anybody would know it would be Roger. It seems they’re a commercial venture :-([/quote]

I cant find any reference to that, but I have found in Temples .303 identification manual -

“During the period following the introduction of the MKVII ball round, batches of MkVI were made by some of the private factories - notably Kynoch - using cartridges cases with the later pattern’s headstamp. This was presumably done as a matter of convenience”

so no mention of commercial and surely with the onset of war commercial production would not have been a consideration you would have thought war production would have come first.


I really have no comment on the CNCS bullet envelope.

My belief is that the Kynock loadings were definitely loaded to be Mark 6, even though the cases are marked Mark 7. Probably it was a matter of expediency, maybe because of a relatively small order for this loading, making it uneconomical to produce new heading tooling. Far easier and more economical to utilize cases currently in production.

The Mark 6 cartridges were manufactured in Australia and New Zealand up to early 1918, due to the numbers of Lee Metford and Lee Enfield rifles still in use. The difficulties of changing the sights to handle the different trajectory of the Mark 7 round, made it easier to keep using the Mark 6 cartridge. With the change to the SMLE, it became practical to commence production of the Mark 7 round.
The same would apply to other members of the commonwealth who still had the older rifles in service.

The MkVI .303 magnetic bullet was discussed on BOCN, and forum member ydnum303 provided the following:

" I was told by a knowledgeable .303 collector of long standing that these bullets started life as 8mm bullets for Mauser rifles. Kynoch had a surplus of them, and swaged them down to .311", and loaded them in to cases that were surplus to a contract for the Government of Mk.VII Ball ammo. They were put in commercial wrappers, and sold mostly to Rifle Clubs. The bullets were CN coated steel jackets with a lead (or lead and antimony) core. Never weighed one, but I assume they were 215 grains or thereabouts"

Yes I have read that from Roger but my main concern about that explanation is that these magnetic bullets are found in cases dated 1912, 1913 & 1914 surely 2/3 years is a long time to have empty MkVII cases just lying around at Kynoch waiting to be completed or to make batches over the three years you would have thought that just one batch would have been made to use up all the Mauser bullets you would also have thought war production would have been more important than making commercial rounds in 1914


If we consider the possibility these bullets started out as Mauser, there’s a good chance they were in fact for the 7.65 m/m Mauser. A 7.65 m/m round nosed bullet would substitute very well for the .303 mk. VI bullet as to weight and wouldn’t even require a reduction of diameter. Further, the 7.9 m/m bullet would be about 12 grains too heavy, and in the pre-1914 period there was far more international market for the 7.65 than the 7.9. Jack

The whole idea doesn’t make sense. I agree with RictT that the time period makes the theory unlikely. Also, why would Kynoch have heaps of 7.65 Mauser projectiles just lying about for three years.?
If they were 7.9mm bullets, surely swaging them down would have tended to do something strange to the bases.
Unfortunately even the knowledgeable amongst us can get carried away with theories for want of concrete data, and the result can be incorrect information in the public domain, which is taken for gospel. Even Tony Edwards, and I don’t say this lightly or to diminish his work, has a number of erroneous statements on Australian data which I’d like to be corrected because it is taken as fact and is simply wrong.

According to Peter Labbett’s book the identifying features of the Mk VI bullet are that it is 32mm in length, weighs 215gns, and has one wide cannelure approximately 3mm from the bullet base.

I have one of the magnetic Mk VI rounds as described by Rich, headstamped ‘K12 VII’, and I have pulled the bullet. It is 34.37mm in length and weighs 227.2gns. It is perfectly smooth and does not have a cannelure however there is a very faint mark around the bullet about 6mm above the base which could have been a cannelure - before the bullet was swaged. The lead base is perfectly flat but the core appears to have been squeezed out of the jacket very slightly and is proud of the base by about 0.5mm. I’d say my round has been loaded with a swaged 8mm Mauser bullet. I don’t have a British-made 8mm Mauser bullet to compare this with to confirm whether the faint mark would have been a cannelure or not.

I have also pulled my only British 7.65mm Mauser (made by Nobels Explosive Co in 1917) and found the bullet to be absolutely identical in every respect to a .303" Mk VI. It is 31mm long, weighs 214.2gns, has a non-magnetic cupro-nickel core and has one identical cannelure in exactly the same position as the .303". It also has a very pronounced concave shape to the base.

I am satisfied that my .303" round has been loaded with an 8mm Mauser bullet and this would go along with Roger Mundy’s theory that Kynoch had a surplus of 8mm Mauser bullets & Mk VII cases, put the two together and sold them off to shooting clubs.

The really confusing point now is that Rich has also pulled a couple of his rounds but found that his bullets weigh about 214gns - the correct weight for a Mk VI bullet. I don’t know the first thing about ballistics but I can’t believe that bullets with a 3mm difference in length and a 11gn difference in weight are going to perform reliably.

I’m sorry to have added to the confusion!