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Old December 22, 2010, 03:06 PM   #1
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british 303

does anyone have tips on where to start reloading with what kinda bullets and powder for the british 303?
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Old December 22, 2010, 03:38 PM   #2
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Bullet: Speer #2300 (*.311 dia.) 150 grs

Powder: H335 36.0 grs

OAL: 3.015

Case Length: 2.215

*Bullet diameter will be determined by your bore size.
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Old December 22, 2010, 04:49 PM   #3
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Like he said it depends a bit on your bore diameter, but here's a starter for you.
Try 41 Gr of IMR3031 powder for a MV of 2650 with a Hornady 150 Gr SP bullet.

Enfields can be picky about boat tails so avoid them, & 3031 was the single-base powder used to load for the military after they quit with cordite.
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Old December 22, 2010, 06:07 PM   #4
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If you don't already have it, buy the Speer reloading manual. They cover most the bases for 303 British.

It depends what rifle you have, what its bore size is, and how the headspace is on it. Generally you're going to have to neck-size once-fired cases for 303 to preserve case life and you'll want to anneal every so often. Rimmed cartridges are terrible on case life and the rear-locking mechanism of the enfield bolt also hurts case life. Look at the enfield rifle forum I linked to because they have a large forum just about reloading 303 british.

Here are some links from my 303 British bookmark folder:
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Old December 22, 2010, 06:12 PM   #5
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I went through this a few months ago. I settled on a 174 gr Sierra Match King, .311 diameter. 38.0 gr of Varget, loaded to my rifle's length.

This load has performed wonderfully out of my Rifle No 5 Carbine. Every other bullet I tried shot very high.

Additionally, make sure you have your cases trimmed to length as needed, and I would recommend full length dies as well. I tried neck sizer's and could not get the rounds to chamber in my rifle. Full length solved the problem right away.
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Old December 22, 2010, 06:14 PM   #6
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150 is on the light end of the .303 bullet range. Not the lightest, but not what service ammo used, which was usually a 174gr ball. Some guns will shoot well with the 150 (assuming proper bore to bullet size) others won't.

Specs for the .303 call for a .311/.312 dia bullet, but these old rifles have a lot of variations in actual bore diameters, they have, after all, been to the wars!

I have had good luck with IMR 4895, in virtually all the military calibers, .30 US, .30-06, .308, 7.62x54R, .303, .7.7mm Jap, 8mm Mauser. Not always the absolute best powder for a given rifle, but always usable, and seldom giving unsatisfactory results.

Be aware that the SMLE has a reputation for having ..generous.. chambers, and even with carefully adjusted loading methods, brass life is often rather short, compared to many other calibers and rifles.

Also, be suspect of "once fired" brass in .303. .303 British is the only caliber I have loaded that has given me failures on my first firing of reloaded "once fired" brass bought at a show. And it was commercial stuff, too!

So, for the .303 I buy only factory ammo, or new brass to reload, and use them until they finally pack it in. I also recommend neck sizing only, after the first time, to maximize case life. Don't go pushing the .303 to max top end, either. You will shorten case life for very little gain.

The .303 works very well at its standard speed. If you need, or want more, get another caliber, and go for it.

Just noted the previous post recommending full length sizing. Every rifle and sizing die combination can be different, enough that what works best for one, will not work for another. Neck sizing is the way to go, but only if it works in your rifle. Full length sizing usually isn't needed, but sometimes, its the only way that works acceptably well. Which ever one works best, for you, is the best one for you to use.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old December 22, 2010, 07:37 PM   #7
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I used to load for accuracy in No4's 36 to 41 grains of Accurate 2230 behind an Argentine 185 grain boat tailed FMJ...and it was a very good long range accurate combination. 4895 , 4064 , 3031 and even 4350 proved all good powders for me with the Hornady 174 grain RNSP bullet.
I full length size my 303 brass as I hae more than one 303 rifle. I fyou have one or wish to dedicate brass to a particular rifle neck sizing prolongs the life of the brass a good bit.
I do suggest that all bullets be crimped especailly when using soft points as the 303 round if it nosedives or catches can easily have the bullet knocked into the case.
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Old December 22, 2010, 10:44 PM   #8
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I get the best accuracy from 180 grain .312 bullets. Many, but not all, .303 bores are oversize. Some are as big a .314-.315, in which case only lead custom cast bullets will do. But generally the .312's will work very well. I have never been happy with 150 grain bullets in .303.

As 44 AMP says, learn how to neck size, the brass will last a long time and be more accurate. It is a tricky business. If you do it right it works well but if you don't, the rounds will not chamber.

And never use S&B brass. It is garbage. Even if you neck size this brass you will get a ton of case head separations. The Prvi brass is some of the best on .303. I buy the ammo, shoot it for decent accuracy and keep the brass to work up my own loads.

I have never crimped this round.
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Old December 22, 2010, 11:45 PM   #9
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"Rimmed cartridges are terrible on case life"

Funny, I have never found this to be true in my .219 Donaldson Wasp, .22 Hornet, .30-40 Krags, .38-55 Win., .40-50 b.n., .40-70 str. & b.n. or .45-70.
Maybe it's just me?
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Old December 22, 2010, 11:59 PM   #10
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Here are some good directions for slugging a bore (measuring bore size)...

But I'll be the first to say if you are planning on shooting commercial jacketed bullets, whats the point? You are just going to be shooting the same .311 and .312 bullets as everyone else.

I would recommend starting small and see if you get decent results (meaning acceptable to you) before doing too much spending and experimenting. Buying an Enfield is something akin to buying an Epson, they aren't selling you the printer they are selling you the ink. I'd recommend...

1. Buy 2-3 boxes of factory ammo to start your brass collection. I use PRVI Partizan because it is affordable and as others have said brass isn't going to last forever. Remington will cost more but can usually be found at most sporting good stores.

2. Get a set of dies. I bought the Lee set with both the full resize die and the neck only. Because the first time I fire the brass through my gun it is factory ammo I only use the neck sizer die.

3. Try at most 2-3 boxes of bullets and 1-2 types of powder, and enough primers to shoot all your bullets. I like Hornady bullets, but the paper I've shot has never complained (much) about Speer or Sierra bullets either. I've been using medium burning powders myself, IMR 4064, Reloader 15 and more recently BLC-2 because I can use it in my 7.62x39mm and 30-06 as well. Any standard large rifle primer will do. Always remember to start at 90% powder charge and slowly work up to, but not past, max charge! Check every case for signs of over pressure before firing the next.

There is a good chance you will find that when you combine the sights, trigger, barrel and shooter you aren't going to have a tack driver no matter what, but it is still a fun gun to shoot anyway.
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Old December 23, 2010, 01:39 AM   #11
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IMR 4064 powder, 38 grains. The bullets are 147 or 150 grain, .311 caliber.
The only ammo has been fresh Prvi Partizan from the blue/white factory boxes. Neck-sizing only, on single stage Lee gear.

I've let too much brass get mixed together, but used about ten marked cases in one of my #5 Jungle Carbines and each was reloaded over five times.

Many reloads allow the bolt to close in one of my Jungle Carbines, but not in the #4, or vice versa. I chamber the reloads and mark the plastic bag with ammo for whichever gun.
Yesterday just sitting on the ground by the bench, somehow got two strings of three shots each. One string is about 2 & 1/2" long, the other about 1". Both touching or near the 3" bullseye.
Can't figure why sitting on the ground (no training whatsoever) made much tighter groups than resting the #5 on the bench.

Maybe simulating shooting large feral pigs next spring in south Texas helps? Will be my first hunt.

Last edited by Ignition Override; December 23, 2010 at 01:47 AM.
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Old December 24, 2010, 04:33 PM   #12
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I have lots of 303 Brits that want to destroy my brass.

But I frustrate them with headpacing shims soldered on the bolt face, and super wimpy loads with slow powder.
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Old December 24, 2010, 04:38 PM   #13
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I'd cast for it, that's what I intend for my yugo mauser when I get around to info.
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Old December 24, 2010, 06:21 PM   #14
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another bullet

My Brit likes Hornady 123 grain bullets that are suppoese to be for the .7.62x39. In fact, I am often tempted to try one out on a coyote.
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Old December 25, 2010, 10:11 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the info!
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Old December 27, 2010, 10:41 PM   #16
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i use 37 grains IMR-4895 with a magnum primer... using pulled down 7.62x54r projectiles. cheap and fun. use the hornandy 150grn sp as well but the other is by far more economically friendly.. u'll want to neck size for sure saves lots on brass
My Calibers- 9mm, .38spl, .357 mag, .45 acp, 30/06, 303 brit, 7.7 jap, 7.5 french.
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Old March 29, 2011, 12:03 AM   #17
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My first 2-groove Enfields (LB) were bought in Jan-Feb.

Both have equally shiny bores, and using new Prvi SPBT (174?), one rifle made clean holes at 100 yards but the other Longbranch made only 'keyholes'.

I expected 'keyholes' to only come from an AK-74 assembled by Century Arms...

Anyway, since those Prvi SPBT rounds, pulled x54R .311 have made clean holes. Have not tried beyond 100 yards.
Checking "", it is difficult to find/identify Prvi rounds which are Not boat tail.

Last edited by Ignition Override; March 29, 2011 at 02:00 AM.
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Old March 29, 2011, 06:46 PM   #18
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the secret is a lee collet die and not hot rodding your 303 loads, enjoy.
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