WRA 1943 vintage .303, Very different powder types


Have begun to pull down a bunch of old surplus .303 to make some match ammo out of the bullets and was a bit surprised to see how different powders can be in otherwise identical cartridges. Winchester of course made sure the characteristics were the same no matter what powder was used. As a fairly new “collector” I just had not seen this before.
Bullets identical:

HS from the one with ball powder:

And the one with stick powder:

Not much difference there.


I have always thought that the inside of a cartridge, and the bullet, was just as interesting as the outside. Even more so. I’m not alone. Others feel the same.

During WWII, WCC ball powder was loaded primarily in 30 Carbine, 303 British, and 20mm. At least that has been my observation.



That’s one reason ammunition has lot numbers. The fact is, from big factories, there is no guarantee that any of the components, even in the same year and caliber, are going to be the same from one lot number to another.

I have pulled bullets on sporting cartridges of the same caliber and make, and same headstamp, and found powders that look the same, but with different weight charges (same weight bullets), and with powders totally different from each other. Each lot of powder is tested and the amount selected from that specific lot that will give the desired pressure and velocity. Sometimes the same powder from two different powder lots will vary slightly, and require slightly different loads to achieve the same results.

I agree with Ray on the inside of cartridges. We wondered for years about the color of primer seals on Canadian 9mm, and figured it was just what ever color lacquer was available. Eventually, the information came out that it identified different internal case construction and that was verified by taking apart some cartridges and looking inside. All is not always as it seems from the outside of a cartridge.

John Moss


That WRA headstamp is a good example of evidence of using a single bunter for both final heading of the case and headstamping. As the brass is flowing under the pressure of the forming operation it “skids” across the letters/numbers, this can be seen on the headstamp. Cases which are finished to size and then marked with the headstamp have clearer, neater lettering.