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Old October 30, 2007, 08:41 AM   #1
tyrajam
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What happened to the 303 British?

When I was growing up, you could find several in every sporting goods store for about $40. They push a 150gr bullet at about 2600fps and were great on deer. There are still millions of them floating around, but nobody I know shoots them. I read that more moose have been shot in Canada with it than any other caliber, because it was the canadian milsurp and its what they had. I know the '06 is Americas caliber, and the 308 beats the old 303 in speed and accuracy, but how can such a useful round in such a good action just die out?
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Old October 30, 2007, 09:01 AM   #2
dm1333
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I still shoot my Enfields

My primary deer rifle is a sporterized 1903, my back up is a Handi Rifle in .308 (it still needs some work but the groups are getting tighter) and my back up to my back up is a Savage No. 4 Mk1 * that is very accurate. I put a micromiter style rear sight on it and with Remington Core Lokt ammo it shoots close to MOA.
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Old October 30, 2007, 09:02 AM   #3
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I don't think it's died out. Less visible, yes...dead, no. There's gotta be lots of 303's still in hunting use. Even more in target use. Enfields are fun to shoot...who'd give that up? Problem might lie in Enfield availability. Not as many as there used to be, and there aren't any modern manufacturers that I'm aware of who are chambering it.

It's a good action...which lends itself to custom rifles.

It's a very useful round...Google around for 303 British. There are lots of articles about what it has taken. Chuck Hawk's site is another good resource.

Besides, others might say, who'd wanna talk about an old service cartridge when there's so many new and improved things out there?
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Old October 30, 2007, 09:02 AM   #4
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I think it has fallen back out of the spotlight, but not completely died off. I don't think it is as popular of a hunting round as it used to be, but there are still plenty of people that use them as fun guns. I bought one a long time ago as a project o build a mountain rifle off of, but I haven't ever done anything with it. It is a good round to use, good heavy hitter, but I think the hunting territory has been run over by newer magnums and guys have forgotten about the older calibers like that for fun hunting guns.

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Old October 30, 2007, 09:03 AM   #5
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I too remember when an SMLE could be had for pennies on the dollar, but unfortunately those days are long past. Quite a few hunters I know back in WA still use an enfield for their deer rifle, and one uses his for his Elk rifle. I still find a british rifle on used gun racks here and there, but there won't be a massive influx of them to the surplus market ever again (the democrats are in charge...)

Snap up those Yugo Mausers while they are still here to be had. The Mosin Nagants will be with us for a little while longer, but start stocking up now.

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Old October 30, 2007, 09:59 AM   #6
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Enfields, gone? Not mine!

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Old October 30, 2007, 11:45 AM   #7
azredhawk44
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My friend has a hunting rifle that is a re-barreled Enfield action, chambered for 30-06.

It ain't a .303, but it is at least an Enfield out there getting used.
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Old October 30, 2007, 12:02 PM   #8
Ramcharger
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They are there but cheap ammo is kinda scarce so I don't shoot mine as much as I used to.
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Old October 30, 2007, 01:18 PM   #9
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as far as the American sporting market was concerned, it didn't really do anything that .30-40 didn't do and if it weren't for the cheap surplus rifles it would probably have died years ago, but they kept it going (sort of). Now the ammo is no longer cheap and plentiful those British .303s are not so ubiquitous . While bargains like those of the '60s will never be available in those quantities again, the Moisin-Nagant probably stands in the same relation as those cheap .303s did. Perhaps in forty years people will be saying the same thing about them.
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Old October 30, 2007, 01:33 PM   #10
DMK
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Quote:
as far as the American sporting market was concerned, it didn't really do anything that .30-40 didn't do and if it weren't for the cheap surplus rifles it would probably have died years ago, but they kept it going (sort of). Now the ammo is no longer cheap and plentiful those British .303s are not so ubiquitous . While bargains like those of the '60s will never be available in those quantities again, the Moisin-Nagant probably stands in the same relation as those cheap .303s did. Perhaps in forty years people will be saying the same thing about them.
Perhaps, but the charm of the Enfield wasn't necessarily in the round, it was in the unique action and design of the No.1 and No.4 LE. You just can't compare the Mosin-Nagant to any of the Lee action rifles. I also think the No.4 LE has the second best sights of the period, second only to the Garand and even that's debatable.

Now, comparing 7.62x54r to .303 Brit. I'd say the Russian round has the edge.
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Old October 30, 2007, 07:18 PM   #11
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Two years ago they changed the rules for Deer hunting in my county, requiring that Bucks have at least 4pts on one side to be legal. My normal Deer rifle was an Unscoped Marlin 336 30-30 that I'll never put a scope on. I decided that it might be a good idea to get a scoped rifle to better be able to count points at a distance. Being of limited means I was able to pick up a sporterized 1942 Long Branch in 303 british at a local public Auction. For $175 I gave it a good home. The one deer I've had the opportunity to shoot with it didn't make it more than 30yrds from the point it was shot. I really have no complaints about the purchase other than I consider it a shame that it was altered from it's original configuration.



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Old October 30, 2007, 07:29 PM   #12
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double post *sigh*
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Old October 30, 2007, 07:52 PM   #13
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The supply of No. 1 and No. 4 Lee-Enfields, in decent condition, dried up long ago. Along with milsurp ammo.
As a military cartridge, it hasn't been used by anybody since the early 60's at the latest. Mid 50's in Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth.
However, bubba'd Lee-Enfields are still being used up here for everything. Not that there's any milsurp around up here either though.
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Old October 30, 2007, 08:51 PM   #14
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The Lee-Enfield is one of my favorites. I got into collecting late in life. These were all purchased in the last three years! Surplus ammo is hard to find, but they are still VERY fun to shoot.



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Old October 30, 2007, 08:59 PM   #15
oldbillthundercheif
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I've been in the market for a nice Enfield for a while now. Every time I go to a gunshow there are piles of beat up old junkers and Indian-made examples but I have not seen a clean British or American-made Enfield in quite a while.

Of course when I was young and broke they were everywhere.
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Old October 30, 2007, 09:10 PM   #16
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I have several Lee Enfields. A few of them are in really good condition (No4 Mk1* Longbranch, a No1 Mk3* Lithgow and a No4 Mk1 BSA), a few are shooters that not in the best of condition but work well.

I am still trying to convince my wife to let me track down an L42a1 and I need to add a No5 to the collection.
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Old October 30, 2007, 09:18 PM   #17
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'Smelly' is a dandy old bolt gun in about any configuration- and I have had most of them. The old .303 Brit was the first centerfire rifle round I shot extensively as a kid- and at considerable distance. I still have a healthy respect for it to this day. I knew an old man who had been stationed on the Burma Road during WWII, and for grins those boys would go out tiger hunting on their days off. Some of them came back scratched up a mite, and they soon noted that the Tommys were getting better results with their SMLE's than the GI's were with their Garands and Springfields. Ray stated emphatically that on 'Tiger hunt days' there were often one-day trades of a .30-06 for a SMLE. Hey- Ray was there: I wasn't. Conventional wisdom or not, I don't argue with the man whose been, seen and done.

Don't worry about the .303...it'll be squashed shorter, have the shoulder blown out out and be introduced next year as the "7.65 Super Ultra Short Rimmed Euro-Mag!"

Or something like that.

The fact is that "303's" have never been about the cartridge at all- although that cartridge has been proven 'plenty good enough' on seven continents. It's always been about the elegant, yet utilitarian works of the gunmaker's art that chambered it. As Tidewater's collection aptly illustrates, there is plenty to love about them both.
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Old April 27, 2011, 08:15 PM   #18
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303 v 30-06

I have great respect for the 303, and the 30-06. Have rifles in both calibers, shoot a lot of each. The 303, great cartridge that it is, as some politician stated during a presidential debate (or something like) "mister...you're no 30-06". Anyone that would swap off a Garand for any 303 is a few cards short of a full deck...and, well, I'll get in that line with my 303. No offense intended.
I have seen some pictures of the 303 being used in Nam, although some of those Mk IV's were converted to 7.62 x 51 NATO. It has a sterling service and sporting history....but you have to admit, it has no advantage over the 30-06, anything it can do the 06 can do better.
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Old April 28, 2011, 01:04 AM   #19
Father Time
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Nothing happened to the .303 British.

The Lee Enfields can still be bought for a $200-$400. And several companies are manufacturing new .303 ammo.

The only thing that happed was that the super cheap old surplus ammo has dried up.

But Prvi Partizan makes great .303 ammo and Wolf sells it under their "Gold" line. Wolf just sticks it in their box and sells it, it even has the same headstamp.
(This ammo sells for $16-$19 a box depending on where you buy and what name is on the box it came in)

It is good ammo it shoots straight and unlike the old surplus ammo it is not corrosive and won't give you any surpises when shooting.

Winchester also makes a Soft Point that is great for hunting.
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Old April 28, 2011, 02:47 AM   #20
Eagle0711
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A friend bought one last week for $160 at a pawn shop. We shot it Sunday and it's a handy rifle. Didn't kick quite as much as my 30:06.
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Old April 28, 2011, 06:15 AM   #21
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Supposedly Ruger is chambering their No. 1 single shot in .303 British, if you want something different. You'd probably have to order it. Sooner or later they'll probably get around to .303 Savage, too, which would also be different.

Also, supposedly, the No. 4 rifle in .303 is still on issue to a Canadian militia regiment in the far north of Canada. It is a true militia unit in that their uniforms consist of little more than a jacket with their name, though they have issue equipment. They patrol the northern borders of the country, which presumably someone else wants.

Rifles in .303 are probably still in the inventory in India and probably Pakistan and Bangladesh, although India manufactured SMLE's in 7.62mm even after we had quit making M14s. Great Britain had planned to convert their stock of Lee-Enfields to 7.62mm but I believe very few were actually converted.
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Old April 28, 2011, 08:12 PM   #22
.300 Weatherby Mag
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Quote:
Supposedly Ruger is chambering their No. 1 single shot in .303 British, if you want something different. You'd probably have to order it. Sooner or later they'll probably get around to .303 Savage, too, which would also be different.
http://www.ruger.com/products/no1Lig...ets/11348.html

I really doubt that you will see a number one in .303 Savage as that round never caught on and its difficult to find ammo for.. Now the No. 1 in 300 H&H.. I could adopt one of those pretty easily...
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Old April 28, 2011, 10:03 PM   #23
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.303

The Taliban in Helmand province seem to like the .303 SMLEs. See NY Times
September 15, 2010, 12:44 pm
What’s Inside a Taliban Gun Locker?
By C.J. CHIVERS
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Old April 28, 2011, 11:53 PM   #24
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Realizing this thread is 4 years old, but the reason the .303 never caught on here is the same reason the .30-06 never caught on in the UK. Dad, or granddad, or great-granddad used it in the war, so when he got a hunting rifle, that is what he got, and passed down his preference to his kids.

The surplus ammo is long gone, and commercial ammo is generally more expensive than the common .30 loads. The problem for the handloader is that the selection of .311-.312 bullets is much smaller than the more common .308, and because the cartridge headsapces on the rim, and military rifles generally have pretty generous chambers, case life sucks unless you neck size only. And while my #5 is a fun little rifle to shoot, it is hard on softpoint bullets: the points tend to get deformed. From what I read from other owners, this is pretty common.
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Old April 28, 2011, 11:58 PM   #25
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1942 Longbranch

I have a 1942 No4 I bought when I was a teenager on the recommendation of my grandfather - $70, almost mint. I hunted with it for decades. Great sights, great bolt, decent cartridge. Now that my eyes are not as good as they used to be, I really need a 4x scope on it, but I can't bring myself to remove the back sight!

The rear sight is graduated to over 2000 yards. I can only imagine the level of marksmanship they used to train the average "Tommy" for.
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