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Old March 23, 2013, 09:26 PM   #1
Thunder12
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303 British reloading

Just started reloading the 303 and I noticed on the first 3 cases I deprimed and resized that the shoulder of the cartridge, after resizing, appears not to be at a sharp angle as it did before resizing and as compared to a factory loaded cartridge. The 303 has a small shoulder at a very sharp angle, these that I have resized do not appear that way.

Any thoughts? Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:35 PM   #2
Mike Irwin
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The chambers on Lee Enfields were cut somewhat generously. The theory was that the gun would feed and shoot even when dirty.

That's not a problem because the case headspaces on the rim, but it does become a concern during reloading as full-length resizing can dramatically shorten case life.

If you neck size only, you'll increase your case life quite a bit.
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Old March 24, 2013, 07:04 AM   #3
Mike / Tx
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The 303's can be a nightmare to keep brass in one piece, due to as pointed out above, the generous sized chambers. I have had extensive practice at retrieving the forward portion of the cases when we wee loading them years ago.

Our solution was to only neck size them after the initial firing of a new case. Now some 30 years later I have found that most use a small rubber o-ring around the base of the case just ahead of the rim in order to keep it securely pressed against the bolt face. This allows the case to expand and fill the chamber to the exact dimensions. Then they simply neck size and their cases last quite a bit longer.

Here are some post which will help you out and ease the mind numbing issue of splitting cases.

This one gives great detail on the use of the o-ring trick.
Reloading for the .303 Enfield

This one is from several discussions on the Lee Enfield and techniques of loading for it,
SMLE Discussions

This one is from EnfieldRifles.com and is load with load discussions,
Reloading the 303 British

There are also several more great pages dedicated to handloading and shooting these fine old rifles. Do a few searches and you will find them pretty quick.

Hope this helps.
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Old March 24, 2013, 11:21 AM   #4
Thunder12
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303 Brit - thx

Thanks for the info fellas. Looks like neck resizing only. Never done that before. How do I know when I have lowered die enough in press but not too much to accomplish that?
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Old March 24, 2013, 11:33 AM   #5
Old 454
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Lee classic reloader

I also reload for the British 303, I user the the old Lee Classic reloader known as the Whack-A-Mole.

It only resizes the neck and will extend your case life greatly, as per what was said in the previous post.

I the Whack-A-mole due to I dont shoot a ton of 303 and if I shoot a couple boxes at the range that is a good day and the ol Whack-A_Mole is exactly what I need to reload, and there fun to use.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:40 PM   #6
Mike Irwin
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"How do I know when I have lowered die enough in press but not too much to accomplish that?"

That's simple.

Get a candle and put a nice layer of soot on the case neck, shoulder, and a little down the case body.

Then back the die out so that when you run the case up on the ram you don't feel it contact.

Then, with the ram up, you turn the die back in until you feel it hit the case.

Then, lower the ram, and start turning the die in a quarter to a half a turn, and run the case into it each time. When you back the case out, you'll see how much of the neck has been sized by the soot that has been removed.

Stop when you have maybe 1 to 2 MM of case neck right above the shoulder with soot still on it, but you haven't removed any of the soot from the case body.
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Old March 25, 2013, 12:05 PM   #7
Mike40-11
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Quote:
The chambers on Lee Enfields were cut somewhat generously
That's an understatement. SMLE's are notorious for case head separation with reloads. Chambers have plenty of clearance to work when filthy. I currently load for 2 Enfields. Each has its own dedicated batch of brass fireformed with the O-ring method above. Mine shoots Prvi and my daughter's uses R-P, that way I have no trouble keeping them separated. I use a collet die to ensure that I only neck size. I don't shoot these all that often so I'm only up to a max of 4 reloads to a case. Annealed the necks after 2. I've only lost a couple of cases.
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Old March 25, 2013, 12:15 PM   #8
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I have 2 SMLEs (thanks to my dad) and have found that I can get by quite well with just neck sizing. But, I also keep each weapons loads separate, one will accept both and the second is a very hard bolt closing.

Even with neck sizing only, I seldom get more than 4 or 5 loadings before the web begins to get rough

Enjoy,

OSOK
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Old March 25, 2013, 12:46 PM   #9
mwells72774
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Re: 303 British reloading

I also load for 303, but I use an ancient set of C&H dies that seem to only neck size. I get maybe 4 loads out of the brit brass before the brass isnt usable anymore
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Old March 25, 2013, 05:38 PM   #10
pathdoc
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Mine shoots Prvi and my daughter's uses R-P, that way I have no trouble keeping them separated.

Now that is a clever idea if I ever own two at the same time again. Mind if I steal it?
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Old March 25, 2013, 05:40 PM   #11
chiefr
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Agree with most NSO is the way to go. Having 3 of these rifles, I too have dedicated cases for each rifle.
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Old March 26, 2013, 09:17 AM   #12
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Whenever I've wanted to keep cases separate for use in two different rifles (.300 Savage cases for use in my 99 vs in my 722), I pick the cases for one rifle and dip them part way into Birchwood Casey Brass Black.
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Old March 26, 2013, 05:56 PM   #13
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I definately am going to get new brass and try the O-ring trick. Can you tell me what size O-ring to use? Thanks-
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Old April 8, 2013, 04:07 PM   #14
Mike40-11
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Quote:
Can you tell me what size O-ring to use?
7/16" ID
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Old April 8, 2013, 06:25 PM   #15
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Thank you oh so much!
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