South African .303 'overstamped marking'

This South African Mk 6 .303 cartridge appears to have been loaded into a Mk VII case and somebody has taken the trouble to overstamp the ‘VII’ with an ‘X’ and then stamp a number ‘6’. Is this likely to be a reloader’s creation or has it been carried out officially…and what reason could there be to load a Mk 6 bullet?

My wild guess is that it is a Danish (or Dutch) reload overstamp from 1946. Now I am ready to have someone correct me, because I’d like to know the right answer too.

I can not speak for other countries but this one is nothing typical for Denmark.

my wild guess would be around the time of the sanctions against SA? Make do and mend? Or Rhodesia?

Looking at the construction of this.303, especially the crimps on the neck, would indicate that it is what it says, a Mk 6 load in a Mk 7 case loaded by a factory, not a backyard project.

Unfortunately the date may bear no relationship to the year in which this was produced. From the photo, it appears to be a cupronickel envelope, which would be unusual for that date with the world wide shortage of nickel at the time.

It begs the question of why, if loaded in 1944, would they be using Mk6 projectiles?

One thought comes to mind. The .303 Q Mk 4 proof rounds specification allowed for the use of either the Mk 7 or Mk 6 projectile. The latter in Australia was used in the proofing of the Vickers MG. when the requirement was to proof at 26 tons. Must have been easier to obtain that tonnage with the Mk 6 projectile. However, the fact that the headstamp seems to clearly show it to be a Mk 6 ball load would rule out that theory I guess.

Right here is my stab at it, After WWII a mark VI round when manufactured would have had a “6” instead of the “VI” so the 6 is a correct headstamp for a MkVI round manufactured after the war it is quite possible then that this is just a mark MkVI round manufactured from a MkVII case with the “X” to stamp out the VII.

Extract from “identification manual on the .303 British service Cartridge N0.1 Ball ammunition”

“After WW2, when British headstamps displayed an Indo-Arabic numeral in place of the Roman mark designation,the Mark VI headstamp would be a “6” as shown. In addition during the period following the introduction of the mark VII, batches of Mark VI were made by some of the private factories - notably Kynock- using cartridge cases with the later patterns headstamp. This was presumably done as a matter of convenience.”

It is most likely then that this is just a mark 6 round manufactured after the war utilising spare cases.

“John” why would a cupro nickle envelope be odd for a MkVI bullet according to all my books Cupro nickle was the standard and only bullet material that was used on military bullets?



I agree with your explanation of the Mk6 markings, and that it is a Mk6 ball cartridge. My confusion comes from the use of the Mk6 loading at a date which is 1944 or later, however I have very little knowledge of the use of the .303 in South Africa so would like to know why I was produced.

My comment about the cupro nickel envelope came from the situation in Australia during WW2. We had good supplies of nickel, but there was otherwise a world wide shortage, thus the general change to gilding metal. To conform to the British standards, as we did with most ammunition, we changed to gilding metal envelopes, and continued with that metal thereafter, apart from one factory using up stock of cupro nickel for a short time around 1942 from memory.



I have learned a little further information on this cartridge. It’s owner tells me that it came from either The Kynoch or BMARCo works here in the UK which would suggest, certainly to me, that it was probably reloaded for some sort of in-house testing purpose…although why they would have used South African cases and with such unusual markings I have no idea.

If it were for some kind of in-house testing would they have bothered to re-stamp it??, also why use a MkVI bullet.

Rich :-)

[quote=“RichT”]If it were for some kind of in-house testing would they have bothered to re-stamp it??, also why use a MkVI bullet.

Rich :-)[/quote]

Perhaps John was on the right track with his mention of the Q Mk IV Proof with its heavy 215gn bullet for proofing the Vickers machinegun.

Here is another Mk 7 case, apparently recovered from the same facility, and restamped with a ‘6’ at 12 0’clock. Its interesting to note that this one has a 1955 date, eleven years later than the South African round.