Rox, thanks for confirming what I've heard about the Brits using ammo from an other supplier.
When at international matches and talking with the Brits and others from the Commonwealth countries, they've pretty much all envied us Yanks for being allowed to shoot handloads. Lots of folks don't quite understand why that is.
It all began about a century ago when the Brits running their shooting games felt that the best way to find out who was the best shot was to level the playing field such that only humans were the variable. To that end, they insisted and made rules that everyone had to use the same rifle and ammo. Well, it's rediculous that only one .303 SMLE rifle was on the range and 200 people had to shoot it with the same lot of ammo to see who was the best shot. So the rule put in the books said all the rifles had to be the same make and model and shoot the same ammo. Didn't matter that the minute variables in bore and chamber dimensions as well as parts fit would make a few rifles very accurate, some just average and the rest would best serve as fence posts. When folks from the USA Palma Teams went to the rifle issue place at international matches to draw their rifles, thoughts of "I think the locals tested these and picked the best ones for them and left the less accurate ones for the rest of us." prevailed. Sometimes, that's the way it was. It was not that way when a couple hundred Winchester 70 Palma rifles or M14NM's were issued for International Palma matches at Camp Perry decades ago.
Regarding the ammo, the Brits back then also felt that if handloads were allowed, or commercial ammo could be used, only those who could afford to do that and did it best would have an unfair advantage over some poor bloke who held, aimed and fired rifles more consistantly than anyone else but couldn't afford time and costs to make or buy his own ammo.
But the rules have been for several years such that a lot of ammo made for the upcomming world championships would have samples sent to other participating countries so they could make barrels that shot it well before the competition. Sometimes a country would do sneaky things to win. Example; 1988 World Championships in Sydney, Australia. The ammo they sent to the USA Palma Team in 1987 was very good; it shot no worse than about 1 MOA at 1000 when we tested it. When we got to the ANZAC range in Sydney April, 1988, our practice day on the range told us something. The ammo issued had different headstamps than what we were issued in 1987. It was loaded hotter than what we got earlier. None of our 16 rifles shot it well; a few would hold about 15 inches with it, mine barely 20. The Australians won. . .handily. My daughter in law's father was a doctor (psychiatrist or psychologist) working in Sydney at the time and my wife and I visited him while there. We told him about that and he said that was typical of most Aussie governing bodies for so many of their sports disciplines; especially their America's Cup Yacht racing team.
That mind set on ammo still prevailed in the early 1990's when the International Palma Committee (comprised mostly of British Commonwealth folks) changed the rules that Sierra's 155-gr. Palma bullet would be "the" bullet for world championships. And many countries, Commonwealth or not, also named it for use in their own matches. There's still several rules and restrictions on sights; some do not allow spirit levels on front sights. And trigger pull weight has to be 3.5 pounds (1.5 kilograms) based on the old British rule stemming from "no light pull triggers are reliable and safe" mindset.
I think the Brits and their Commonwealth siblings as well as other countries have finally realized that the best marksmen handload ammo good enough that it's not a factor. More and more handloads are now being allowed. One of these days, the world's governing bodies may let folks use any bullet they want; caliber, weight, case or whatever; just go shoot a rifle and ammo of their choice and see who does best.
Last edited by Bart B.; November 25, 2012 at 08:28 AM.