Quick .303 question

A quick question that I should know the answer to but have forgotten.

The Winchester 303 ammunition supplied to the British Gov’t during WW1, headstamp W 15. What is the meaning of the blacked case?


Drill, scroll to the middle of the page https://sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/-303-inch/-303-inch-drill---other-local-pattern-expedient

Thanks Vlad. I should have looked there first. Much appreciated.


1 Like

I am surprised to see that the cartridge shown on the website has a primer. The blackened case, alone, is a poor identification for a drill round, especially since, as I recall, proof loads at the time often had black cases.

I am not questioning the ID, just the advisability of such a poor identification for a service cartridge type.

John Moss

Hi John.

The proof round had a tinned case. However, your point is well taken. This round could be easily confused at the time if the person handling it wasn’t aware of what the blackened case referred to. Even though UK and the US use the same language, sometimes things are lost in translation.


Will - I see that the headstamp on that round is “W 15” in the odd (for Winchester) 9 o’clock/3 o’clock headstamp configuration. I was just looking thru my old catalog of the .303 collection I had, and I had a dummy with the same specs, (tinned or CN bullet, black case, grey primer cup - except bullet was FMJ round nose, not pointed). Headstamp was W.R.A.Co. .30 BRITISH. However, my dummy round had what I described in my notes as 2 tiny holes in the case, and a wood spacer within. At least the holes would be a tip-off to it being a dummy. I could not see any case holes on the pointed-bullet black-case dummy on that website.

John Moss

Hi all,

Below is a picture that shows a bit better detail than what is shown on the link that Vlad provided.




I think the case hole and wood rod spacer confirm the “drill” diagnosis.

Th two types mentioned are certainly what the British would have called Dummy/Drill, being used for a number of purposes.
They differ from British specifications in only having two holes in the case. The use of the blackening of the case would seem to predate the British blackened cases for Dummy/Drills, and leads me to wonder if that’s where the short lived idea came from.

Now it is clearly a drill cartridge. The case holes were not visible in the original picture. as to the case and primer, they are the same as the W.R.A. .303 BRITISH sporting round dummy that I described. Of course, both made by Winchester.

John Moss

Hmmm. I didn’t notice the holes. Thanks for pointing those out. When we went through the collection we were moving very quickly and I didn’t notice everything at the time. When you enlarge the round they show up nicely.