Some Advice-Collecting 280/30


I would like to start collecting the 280/30 British pre Nato cartridge. My question is because it was a experimental cartridge made for only a short time and not made in this country am I going to be able to find it easily in the US?
Thank you, Carolyn


If you decide to collect all the variations from the .270 through to the various UK/Belg./Can. 7mm’s you can probably amass a decent collection of 15-20 or so without too much trouble, but some of those will not come cheaply. I have 33 in this category, and most were found in the US.
Try to find Tony Edward’s great presentation on the UK 7mm’s and NatoDave’s on the Pre-Nato trials. Dave’s article will appear in the IAA Journal pretty soon.


Hi Carolyn

If you do decide to collect the .280/30 then as Jonny says, you really need to collect the whole 7mm series to set it in context. The British efforts to produce a round that would meet the requirements of the newly formed NATO covered a number of years and at least six different 7mm cartridges. Their optimism at the chance of success must be seen in the light of history as rather niaive, given the attitude of the American ordnance Department at the time, but they came up with some great cartridges.

Some you will find easily in the United States, whilst others will be very hard to find. To give you some idea, I have been collecting this series for over forty years and have well over 100 different types/headstamps. There are still a good many I need as well, so if you come across a blue anodised aluminium .280/30 or an orange .270 just let me know!

here are the case types, (l. to r.)

7mm 2nd Optimum
7mm High Velocity
7mm Compromise
7.62mm NATO for comparison

Have a look for my article in the Journal sometime in I think 2007 on this and other british 7mm rounds. If you would like to see pictures of some of the diffrent 7mm types just shout.




I have a very modest collection of the 280/7mm cartridges that came about as an off-shoot of my Cal .30 Light Rifle collection. I found the majority of them right here in the USA, over time. If you are in a hurry, it would not hurt to cultivate friendships with some of our Brit collectors and those in Canada and Belgium.

Your first step should be to get all of the reference material you can find. Tony’s articles are a must, as well as the Labbett & Mead booklets. Once you have them you can see exactly what you are up against. You already know this, but start with the basic case types, build on them with the basic cartridge types, all the while keeping an eye open for the harder-to-find specemins, such as those using the US FAT1E3 case. Finally, headstamps.

Even peripheral references, such as manuals on the British EM2 and Belgian FN rifles, add to any cartridge collection.

Good Luck



The key one by Labbett & Mead is “British 7mm Ammunition”, a 24-page booklet including many line drawings which covers the evolution of case and bullet types. An essential starting point for anyone wanting to collect these.


Thank You for all the help and information


Heres my meagre selection
L to R, FN 7x44mm, 280, 12 of 280/30, 7x49mm, 7x49.5mm, and a couple of 7x51’s.
Always after more as they are very few and far between down here in New Zealand. hint hint :)


Personally, as a Brit, I find the whole subject deeply frustrating because to me it is just a saga of time wasting and missed opportunity. A classic example of boffins with endless amounts of time and budget coming up with nothing. Interesting historically but nothing happened.


Now, now, Vince. Boffins are not unique to Britian. Every country has it’s share. And they are vital to the world’s economy, and to cartridge collecting. Their motto is, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”;) ;)



Craig, did you check if there might be a relation between the oxidation of your brass cases and the wooden drawer they are stored in?


Actually, the .280 was a good idea at the time - and still would be today, in my opinion.

The .270 could be even better, given a different loading (heavier bullet for longer effective range). Probably as close as anyone’s got to the optimum compromise infantry rifle/MG round (although the .276 Pedersen also came close).


EOD, when I had those drawer liners made I sealed them inside and out with polyurethane,
then lined them with cardboard then sealed the cardboard.
However I have just realised that the dividing strips arent sealed along the top edge and are probably oak.
Cheers for that, I might have to rethink a few things :)


A lot of the British made cases of that era are quite matt in finish and dull looking. They don’t age well either. I don’t know if it was the brass they used. Look at some of Tony’s examples, same thing.