South African .303

This is one for Will R or any other South African members. I have not actually seen this round, only the attached photograph.

It is ball round with GM envelope headstamped “U (diamond) 1943 VII” and appears to have been chemically blackened. The blackening is even and the copper cap is bright not blackened.

Any ideas?


Match ammo with BTFMJ bullet? (Temple’s book)

I agree that a blackened case has been used to identify match ammunition in the past, but I think it unlikely in the middle of a war.


Hi Tony

I have not seen a South African cartridge like this. Is it possible that it was loaded / reloaded by someone else using surplus or left over cases? South Africa was doing its best for the War effort at that time, match & sporting cartridges were not on the list of priorities during 1943 (in fact only after 1945).



Many thanks Will. I guess it will have to remain a minor mystery pro tem.


Tony, just to bounce an idea or two around but I’m sure you have thought of them already. One possibility that occours to me is the close parallel between the idea of match grade and sniper grade ammunition. Was a black case only used for match or was it their equvilent of greenspot?

The other possibility is that chemical staining a case was just an easy way of identifying a load as being used for something other than mainstream production and they didn’t rigidly adhere to the concept that black means match. It just means non standard.

I appreciate the point you make Vince, but I did not think it was match ammo - that was suggested by Berdan III. Neither do I think it is likely to be “sniper” grade ammunition, as this was not made for British or Commonwealth service. Even if the South Africans had made something like that I think we would have heard of it by now.

Also, I must disagree with you that a black stained case simply means non standard. Black staining has been used in British service for two distinct reasons. It has been used to identify match ammo, although this was a very limited military use for a few years in the early 1900s and was really a civilian practice that continued for many years. The main use has been to identify discharger cartridges.

Military ammunition tends to be either experimental or issue, and the former is usually identified by coloured tips, stripes or whatever. I do not know what this round is, and I suspect we will never know, but given the date I don’t think it is as suggested.


Hi Tony, well it was just a thought. The only other possibility would be to pull the bullet but as you don’t have the round I guess thats out too.
It must be unusual if you don’t know what it is.