Number of 303 British headstamps?

I am just starting to get serious about collecting 303 British.
How many different headstamps would there be (approximately)
Is there a list somewhere that could be used as a checklist?

It depends what you mean by “headstamp variations”.

Ignoring foreign made .303" (a study in itself), there were about 110 different marks of .303" introduced to the British and Commonwealth service. There were more than 80 manufacturers, and although every manufacturer obviously did not make every mark of ammunition it begins to give you some idea of the variety.

Then if you collect dates there are about fifty years of dated .303" so that widens the choice somewhat…

After that there are variations in headstamp style by the same manufacturer, e.g. R^L 16 and R16L (different factories within RL Woolwich) and so on.

AFAIK nobody has ever calculated the figure but it will be several thousand.

Of course, if you want to know all the different possibilities you have no choice but to buy my book on .303 headstamps!

(Did you like that plug?)


Tony- Can I look on the Buy-Sell-Trade page to find out how to order your book? Remember, posting on the BST page is a free benefit for IAA members, although anyone is able to view (and order items).

what i meant by “headstamp variations” was if it looks different on the headstamp it gets counted as different.
I am biased towards Canadian then Commonwealth then the world.
I began by thinking about the datestamped ones from the early 1900’s, where it shows month and year on the headstamp. Then I wondered if anyone had a list of those because they may not have had a new run every month. Then I wondered if every country/manufacturer followed the same pattern. Then I made my original post because I knew that some of you had been doing this a long time.
Please forgive the rambling :)
And I wouldn’t mind knowing more about your book TonyE . I liked the plug

I found the book by TonyE to be of great help when I started looking at .303 rounds.


I’ve collected headstamps for a long time-about a half a century and can offer a bit of advise, inspite of your rude comment about 9x19mm (I collect 9x19 as some on the Forum have figured out).

The more you learn about headstamps in general and your own speciality in in particular. The best and fastest way is to buy the books. Many of us have “Cartridge Headstamp Guide” by White and Munhall that is tatty and dogeared from decades of use. The true headstamp collectors have probably added lots of notes and drawn in new headstamps we have learned about. Tony Edward’s book is a great source of 303 specific knowledge.

Join the cartridge associations, or at least the IAA and ECRA.

Visit collectors and look through the 303s and you will learn a vast amount.

Attend gun shows, but particularly cartridge shows. SLICS is excellend as is the ECRA meeting. A major 303 collection sold in the IAA benefit auction at SLICS a few years ago. Bags of 303 headstamp and load variations-all different. Some collectors got a great deal.

Take notes!!! No matter how good your memory is today, there is just too much to know, so you need a good set of notes you can refer back to.

Collect dates. Many of us have found new headstamp variations by picking up what we thought was a date variation when described in an email, or at a show and then get it home to find out it is actually a variation in the basic headstamp.

No headstamp variation is too small so look at every headstamp closely. I had a headstamp in my collection for decades before I realized there were actually three variations. Mine had two dots on the headstamp. the other two variations had no dots, but one had 9MM and the other 9M/M. These relatively minor variations identify where the cases were made (dots= Sweden, 9MM=Finland, 9M/M=Canada). Only in the past couple of years have I added the other two to my collection.

Have fun, 303 is a great field to collect-world wide distribution and many interesting cartridges, all with some historical significance.

Good Cartridge Collecting!!!


PS: A 303 is just a 30-06 set on stun!

Actually, I have a softspot for the old 303. My first deer rifle was a 303 Jungle Carbine (one of the legit ones back then) and in Wyoming it put a lot of meat on the table when we first got married.

Lew - Can you post a picture of those three headstamps you are talking about - the 9mm ones from Finland, Canada and Sweden? I would suggest starting a thread with them, rather than posting them on the .303 thread. I am not familiar with them.

John, Sure you are, they are the Herter’s headstamps. I think I learned there was more than just the one when I looked in your collection, but I could be wrong about that!!!

I have duplicates of all three if you need any.

I can also post them if there is interest.



I’m sorry. I didn’t relate them in my feeble mind to Herter’s. I thought about Federal, but the countries were wrong (Germany, Austria and the U.S.).
I think I have all three myself, but didn’t know any were made in Finland. I will email you and you can sort them out for me. Thanks.