View Full Version : bp in a 303 brit

long rider
November 11, 2008, 04:29 PM
Got this old 303 brit long gun, any of you guys
know if its worth loading bp cases? or even if you
can, i do not want to waste $ on a die set if its
a tricky thing, not sure on this, but the thing just
sits in a conner somewere, i am sure that there is
a few of you guys out there got idears. :rolleyes:

November 11, 2008, 04:47 PM
You can. It was originally a bp cartridge designed for the Lee-Metford rifle but if it was me I'd just get some modern .303 and have fun with it.

redwing 40
November 11, 2008, 04:48 PM
There would be no reason why you could not shoot BP loads in the .303. Many of us have shot BP in 30-30s etc. I would not shoot jacketed bullets at all. If you do you will end up sticking one. The other problem is BP pressures will not up set the jacketed round and accuracy will be poor.

I would shoot wheel weights sized to .311 or 312. You will most likely have to keep your velocity down around the 1,100 to 1,200 range. The other problem is you must wipe the bore often to keep them shooting.

All this being said I can't imagine why you want to shoot BP in the Ole Britt. BP is some times hard to find and is very expensive. You can go with a smokeless powder load with much fewer problems and a wide range of bullets. The fact that you must clean the gun and brass after each use gets to be a problem also.:(

November 11, 2008, 04:48 PM
I has been my experience that bottleneck cartridges even those originally designed for B/P are tricky to get to shoot well. I would think the case capacity of the .303 British would be limited to all but the smallest bullets(cast).As long as you fill the case with B/P and the bullet is seated so there is absolutely no air space between the powder and the bullet you might give it a try. I personally would not, their are better cartridges to play with.

Jim Watson
November 11, 2008, 04:49 PM
Possible? Well, the British did it so it is certainly possible.
Worth it? Nobody but you can tell that. I wouldn't bother.
Do a search on .303 British at
and see some discussion and trials.

redwing 40
November 11, 2008, 04:50 PM
Was it BP or Cordite? I thought it was Cordite.:confused:

long rider
November 11, 2008, 05:08 PM
The thing is that i can get lots of bp and i have got
lots of it in stock,+ i have bp guns so i know all about
keeping them clean , the 303 just sits there and i am not
going to spend cash on 303 ammo for that cal, its more
fun to shoot bp, it was just a thought, maybe its not worth
the hass. thanks.:(:(

November 11, 2008, 05:15 PM
The original load was 70 grains of compressed BP; the change to cordite came in 1892. (Barnes' CotW)
The problem with using BP in bottlenecked cases is two fold: avoiding airspace and providing compression. The trick is figuring out how to do that. The cartridges were NOT loaded as we are used to - powder in, seat the bullet. There is usually some kind of wad or filler that forms a buffer/seal between the bullet and powder. I've used a small wad of kapok fiber on top of the BP charge in other cartridges, should work OK in the .303. I've thought about doing something similar to some 30-06 cases, just to see. So far, I haven't.

November 11, 2008, 05:16 PM
Was it BP or Cordite? I thought it was Cordite.

The .303 was developed in 1889 with bp. Cordite was first used in 1891

long rider
November 11, 2008, 05:26 PM
darkgael thanks, MMMMMMM i dont know about this:rolleyes:
i can load 45 colt & 44 spl in bp have done for years but 303
this is a whole new game:eek: hell i will just let it sit there till
the end of time.:D

November 11, 2008, 05:28 PM
Do what I did with mine. Sell it.

long rider
November 11, 2008, 05:42 PM
OK how about this then, anyone want to trade a muzzle loading
rifle for it?????:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

November 11, 2008, 09:48 PM
PM sent. If you didn't get it, email me: [email protected]

November 11, 2008, 09:48 PM
"hell i will just let it sit there till
the end of time."
Naw. don't do that. Load up a few. The worst that can happen is that you'll have to clean your rifle.
No big deal. Probably fun.

November 12, 2008, 12:52 PM
What gun do you plan on running these reloads through? If you can't run regular loads of .303 through it then you might want to reevaluate shooting it in the first place.
Is it a Martini- Metford, or a Martini- Enfield? If so then seriously reevaluate the thought of shooting it.

long rider
November 12, 2008, 01:42 PM
WHO said you can not run smokeless loads in it:confused:
well i did not? infact i have run a good few rounds in that
303, the rifle is in good shooting order, and the reason why
i wanted to try bp is that i have lots of it in stock.:p

November 12, 2008, 01:53 PM
I was just making the statement that without knowing the gun model and other parts of it's provenance.
I know I am still more than a little ****** off that someone had tried to sell me a Khyber Pass Martini- Enfield while telling me that it was a shooter.

long rider
November 12, 2008, 07:31 PM
Hey w houle i was not ragging down on you:rolleyes:
i asked a Qs i even put it on the art of the rifle just
for more info and everbody says why do you want to
shoot bp with it , well that was not my Qs dah:p,
so it was not you that got me ****** of,
so if you know a lot about them there 303 you might
no what some of the markings mean.:rolleyes::D

November 14, 2008, 09:03 PM
I know I just started lurking around here but couldn't help but look at this thread. Years ago, before things like factory black powder loads, cowboy loads, etc. were available it was common to use black powder to shoot arms for which otherwise, you couldn't get ammo.

I had a .303Brit that handled black powder loads easily and it didn't require and tools or dies.

1 - remove spent primer using a thin punch(hopefully not Berdan type)
2 - push new primer into place using a wooden dowel inside the case onto a wooden surface
3- fill case with black powder
4 - cap the case mouth with a thin slice of cork or heavy paper and seal with icing glass or glue of your choice
5 - hold rifle muzzle down and drop bullet of your choice into the throat.
6 - chamber black powder shell which will then help push the bullet up into the forcing cone.

BTW, The original military loads that I had used cordite which was in a thin stick form. The individual sticks of that made great fuses too, when used in other applications.

Have fun!!

No sizing or dies needed and worked will with jacketed or cast bullet. Numerous groundhogs would attest to that.

long rider
November 15, 2008, 11:50 AM
Springer 99,

When you say fill the case up, do you mean fill
the case to the top? and what is the die of the bullet
would led be better for bp, you got me thinking now
that this might be a go on this.
If you have anymore info on this let me know+ i want to
shoot safe. thanks.:rolleyes::D

November 15, 2008, 01:42 PM
Hey Long Rider,

Assuming your brit. smle is in good shape you can fill the case by bp, or use a reduced volume to start with. If you go that route, just fill up the remaining air space with corn meal and then cap it. Bullets should be around .311-.315 and we used cast bullets without worrying too much about sizing. As far as lubrication, just stand cast bullets up in a pie tin and melt the lub. and then cut them out using a fired 303 case or something similar in size.

If you try jacketed bullets, give the .32 cal pistol rounds a try.

November 15, 2008, 03:55 PM
"- hold rifle muzzle down and drop bullet of your choice into the throat.
6 - chamber black powder shell which will then help push the bullet up into the forcing cone.

Sounds like what the Schuetzen guys do.

long rider
November 15, 2008, 04:04 PM

Ok pard this is geting more tempting by the min,
so i got the case and powder all worked out;)
now the bullet, you say just drop the bullet in first?
will the bullet not be to tight for the case when you
close the bolt? or will it be to lose:confused:
thanks springer99.:D

November 16, 2008, 06:57 AM
I don't mean to be rude here but dropping bullets into the throat and trying to seat them with the cartridge case just invites disaster - too easy to collapse a case neck, undersize bullet can get ahead of the case and so forth - any one or combinations of problems can turn that old Brit into a bomb.

Despite the massive amounts of INCORRECT information floating around the internet about black powder - you most certainly can blow-up a modern gun with black powder. Create the right conditions, such as an obstructed bore when the bullet gets ahead of the powder charge, and black powder can generate pressures in excess of 75,000psi.

For a total of $50 (shipping included) you can purchase a small Lee reloading press and a set of reloading dies and properly reload the cases and for half that cost you can get the little self-contained hand reloading kit

Prep the cases as normal for reloading clean, inspect, size, check length, de-prime & re-prime.

The .303brit is an easy BN case to reload but it still requires care and attention. You must ensure you have sufficient case-fill to prevent any possibility of an air-gap opening between the bullet & powder. I load for maximum consistency and accuracy using a drop tube and special compression dies I made and while you need to load carefully and consistently, you need not take it to extremes.

The Lee dippers are handy for measuring powder, consistency is the word of the day, do it the same way every time. Find the one that fills the case to a point where the powder is up into the neck no more than half the neck length. Gently tap the rim of the case on the table until the powder settles completely, it should not go below the neck - if it goes down below the neck, dump it out and start over with the next larger scoop. What you want is to have the condition where when the powder will not settle any further, it is just slightly into the neck, roughly 0.040" above where the shoulder starts. This condition then allow a very slight compression when the bullet is properly seated.

As for the bullets, you want to use soft cast bullets, sometimes WW alloy that has not been quenched will work fine but in most cases you'll find that cast bullets made from 10 pounds of pure lead and 1 pound of WW alloy will perform better. Bullets should be sized 0.001" to 0.003" larger than the groove diameter of the barrel you're running them through - measure the actual groove diameter of the barrel, don't just rely on mfg spec's because they vary for all guns.

Lube the bullets with a suitable black powder lubricant same as you would for a muzzle loader. Seat the bullet into the case. I won't get into the maximum accuracy issues related to adjusting the neck sizing and thinning necks or any of that - use a softer bullet alloy and they'll obtrude to fill the bore.

Word of caution: When you run the first loads, you MUST check the bore after every shot to ensure that the bullet alloy you are using is not too-soft and is allowing the bullet to shear lead off leaving it in the bore. This can be a dangerous condition as the lead left behind from the previous bullet can act as an obstruction!!!

Certain loads, powders, contaminants in the bore and environmental conditions can cause excessive fouling - excessive fouling will not only destroy accuracy but will also create erratic and excessive pressures - keep the bore clean!

I will not use any kind of filler or wad in a BN case - it just invites the possibility of problems and "possible problems" translates to "possible catastrophic failure of the gun". I don't know about you but I prefer when things do not blow-up in my face.

For powder, I would likely use 3F as the first choice - the larger the granulation of the powder, the more problematic it's going to be finding the correct volumetric measure and compression to prevent air gaps from forming because of settling.

November 16, 2008, 11:21 AM
FL flinter

You raise some good points about the need to make certain that there are no air spaces between the powder and the bullet. That requirement was one of the drawbacks of using the old method I relayed. It required long cast bullets or a short throat to reach the lands(with pistol bullets) in order to accomplish that. Optimally, the bullet was just forced against the lands and would compress the powder charge a bit.

Buying the Lee kit is a better option for sure, but that wasn't available many years ago when I just HAD to fire that 43 Egyptian or 577 Snyder, etc!

long rider
November 16, 2008, 05:32 PM
OK YOU GUYS :eek::eek::eek: thats it :mad:.
You know what, i am just going to go out and buy me
a 50 cal muzzle loader and send that 303 to hell:rolleyes:
i took it to the range this morning and shot the last of the
303 hunting loads, and thats it with it i will not shoot it no
more, haveing said all that i thank all the guys for the info
on this post, and god rest the 303,:D:

November 17, 2008, 07:31 PM
Don't give up man! BPCR is very much enjoyable and the more you shoot, the more you'll be hooked and the more you'll be tweeking and tinkering with loads. Then if you get into muzzleloaders on top of that....my friend you'll never want to leave the "dark side"! :D :D

November 17, 2008, 07:49 PM
You know what, i am just going to go out and buy me
a 50 cal muzzle loader

Skip the .50 and get a .54

long rider
November 17, 2008, 08:23 PM
Skip the 50 and get a 54, OH OK.:rolleyes::D

November 17, 2008, 08:58 PM
NAH! .58 minimum ... .62 even better ... .66 and now you're talking! :D