Unknown .303 SLICS Find (2)

I found this .303 at SLICS. There is no headstamp. I thought possibly Japanese, but the bullet looks very British. The primer made me think Japanese, somethng about it doesn’t look right for British production.

Does anyone know for sure?


Firstly, is it an empty case (no propellant) or is it Cordite? Only Britain and Empire countries made .303 with Cordite (Japan used Nitro powder).
The Bullet design ( and case neck stab crimp) put it in the 1907 to 1940s time frame ( mid neck crimp, CuNi Bullet jacket.)
UN-ringed (crimped) primer: Common in British production up to middle of WW I;
Flat primer Introduced WW I ( original primer was rounded, and partially flattened by seating Punch)

And the Most common “Unheadstamped” Ball cases are found in WW I production ammo. Cases were Head-stamped separately from Heading, so cases could “escape” the HS stage, quite legitimately, and still be loaded.

In late WW II, RG also made unheadstamped L Mark V blanks. ( from packet Label ID).
IMO, Just a manufacturing Variation, probably by any one of the WW I British .303 makers…is there a case maker ID letter inside the case between the two Berdan flash holes? does the bullet base have any design or ID letter?

Doc AV

I believe the bullet to be of gilding metal and of 1942-44 vintage with the low cannelure groove. Is it magnetic? It may be possible to see some sort of letter or design in the lead of the bullet which would be an indicator of its origin. Having said that, many bullets do not exhibit any impressions and those that do generally are obliterated in the tumbling/cleaning process. Also, if it was originally loaded with cordite the inside of the case should be quite clean and may have a letter/number between the flashholes as mentioned by DocAV. If it was loaded with nitro-cellulose it will probably be black from the graphite and hard to see anything.
Australia loaded some 303 without headstamp (1944?) but with primers ring-crimped and with normal purple annulus.


Dear Les B, I think the jacket is CuproNickel, NOT Gilding Metal ( or red brass), for two reasons…in the photo it is silvery colour, and the Low crimping cannellure was typical of the CuNi bullet, but GM bullets only came into use late in WW II, and then had either Low crimp cannelure ( 44-45, or the higher Mouth cannelure ( 1945 to end of production.) IN all then other matters, we agree…did not know Australia made specifically any Unheadstamped cases, only supposed they were “strays” in the production process.

Doc AV

Doc Av, the reason I made the assumption that the bullet was GM as I have been breaking up (dodgy primers) MJ 1942 VII cartridges with GM bullets and low cannelure. The photo to my eyes is that the bullet has a coppery tinge. From Australian cartridges in my collection the changeover from CN to GM appears to be late 1941 to early 1942. Some such as MF 1941 & 1942, MG 1941 & 1942 and MH 1941 & 1942 showing both types, MJ 1941 CN and MQ 1942 & 42 GM. Have not seen any CN on MW cartridges. MJB 1942 BIV was loaded with Mk VII GM bullets. MG continued with both types even up to the changeover to mouth crimping in 1944.
Re the unheadstamped Australian cartridge, seems to be a bit of a mystery, one suggestion was that it was produced at MS Salisbury prior to them making GIIZ tracer ammunition - more research required.


I think it is much earlier than WW2 and so will not have any identifier between the fire holes. It is not ring crimped and so my suspicion is that it dates from WWI, which is also supported by my “gut feel” about the shape of the rim.

I cannot tell if it has a purple p.a. or whether it is just the shadow around the cap, but even if it has, that would not rule out late WWI (although I would then expect it to be ring crimped)


Dear Les B,
You obviously have a better knowledge of Aussie mark VII production, and since I have disposed of my .303 collection, I am working on (Poor)Memory.
I do remember that Britain was still using CuNi later in the war ( 43/44?) from loads of ammo I pulled down back in the late 1960s (CP,C-P, K2, ^ and ^^, etc. which was all “Red Label” ( in Browning Links)…nearly all the projectiles were silvery.

But the cartridsge in question ( as Tony E also supposes,) is most probably WW I date.

Doc AV

I pulled this cartridge after the show so that it would be UK legal. Unfortunately I do not remember what type of powder came out of it.

There is no maker’s mark inside between the flash holes. It does not have any annulus that I can see, it is just how it appears in the photo.